By Sasmit Sarangi
Vamsi wrote an excellent introductory post on the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) last year. The SOAP is the current system for filling unmatched positions in the Main Residency Match. This post is primarily a companion piece to Vamsi’s post and I would encourage reading both.
An unmatched applicant can apply to up to 45 unfilled programs (35 max in the 1st round of applications and 10 max in the 2nd round) using the ERAS website. These applications are followed by communication initiated only by the program.
The SOAP system is slightly different from the Main Match as applicants do not make a rank order list. Rather, programs enter their preference list of applicants, and based on this list, several rounds of electronic offers will be extended till all positions are filled.
Offers are time-sensitive and will lapse if no response is obtained by the deadline. The positions thus offered and accepted are a binding commitment on the applicant, just like the Main Match. There are no fees to participate in SOAP, if you had previously applied to at least one program through the Main Match.
All applicants will receive an email from NRMP, informing them of their SOAP eligibility on March 14th, 2014. This email is sent to all candidates regardless of their Match Status and does not imply in any way that you have not matched. Only unmatched candidates who are SOAP eligible will obtain access to the list of unfilled programs and participate in the SOAP.
Statistics from the 2012-2013 Match seasons indicate that SOAP is extremely competitive and seats will definitely fill quickly. 13,808 candidates were eligible for SOAP in 2013 and a total of 939 unfilled positions were offered across all specialties. The majority of SOAP available positions (57.6%) were preliminary or transitional year positions. That said, if you think you might have to participate in the SOAP, there are a few points to consider before Monday, March 17th.
- All of your application materials will remain available to you when ERAS re-opens for the SOAP on Monday, March 17th, at 12pm EDT.
- If you didn’t match in your primary specialty, you need to consider whether you wish to (1) pursue a preliminary or transitional year position and re-apply to your primary specialty in the next cycle or (2) apply to another specialty through the SOAP.
- If you decide to apply to another specialty, you may want to have a specialty-specific personal statement ready to upload before March 17th. You may also wish to contact one of your letter writers to have their letter of recommendation reworded to suit your secondary specialty. You may be able to find another faculty member who could write a letter of recommendation that is tailored specifically to that specialty, but this may be difficult on such short notice.
I hope this post will help all of you who are registered for the Match this year. A prior knowledge of this system could be vital if you need to go through the SOAP process. You can find more information from the links provided below and I welcome any questions that you may have about the entire process. Best of luck for the Match!
How does SOAP work?