The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in competition for residency positions. Interestingly, there has been a 56% increase in unmatched applicants and a 54% decrease in unfilled positions. This trend has unfortunately led to a very competitive “Scramble,” which statistically fills the majority of the remaining positions within 48 hours of starting Match Week.
The “Scramble” system has little organization and often pressures applicants to make decisions very quickly. Also problematic is the fact that it lacks transparency, integrity, and rules between applicant and program. Finally, programs often complain about getting hammered with phone calls, faxes, and emails during this time.
In order to address the above, the AAMC and NRMP have partnered to create SOAP, which through ERAS will facilitate a second match process. The rules are as follows:
- During a “time out” period, applicants will send applications (via ERAS) to the unfilled programs of their choice. No offers can be made by programs during this period.
- Unfilled programs will create their list of preferred unmatched applicants.
- Applicants will then get offer(s) by xyz program(s), which they must either accept or reject within a specific timeframe (otherwise the offer will expire).
- Unfilled positions are offered to applicants in order of preference until all positions are filled.
Timeline for SOAP 2012:
March 12, 12Noon ET:
- You find out if you matched!
- Filled and unfilled results for individual programs are posted online
- Locations of these unfilled programs are released to SOAP eligible applicants
- Unmatched applicants can apply to unfilled programs
- Telephone Interviews will begin
March 13, 11:30AM ET: Unfilled programs can begin entering SOAP preference lists
March 14, 11:30AM ET: First-round preference lists must be finalized
March 14, 12Noon ET: Offers sent to applicants
March 14, 2PM ET: First offers expire
March 14, 3PM ET: Programs still unfilled send out second round offers to applicants still unmatched
March 14, 5PM ET: Second offers expire
March 15, 9AM ET: Third, fourth, and fifth rounds
March 16, 9AM ET: Sixth, seventh, and eighth rounds
March 16, 1PM ET: Find out where you matched!
March 16, 5PM ET: Last offers expire and SOAP concludes
As with all things new, there will be some confusion, anxiety, and possibly even computer glitches. Familiarize yourself with the above schedule and speak to administration at your medical school so that you are ready for all outcomes. Also, you may want to take a look at the chart below, which can help fill you in on the proposed changes for this year. As you approach Match Week, hope for the best but also be prepared for SOAP 2012. Good luck!