Match Week: What to Do If You Didn’t Match

Match Week: If you didn't match, we're here to help!

Match Week can be a whirlwind of emotions, especially for those who don’t receive their dream residency placement. It’s crucial to remember that you are not alone. Many medical graduates face this challenge, and prioritizing self-care during this time is vitally important.

Didn’t Match? Here’s What to Do Now:

The first step? Take a deep breath. You aren’t alone, and you aren’t the only one going through this. Let’s help you dig deeper into why you may not have matched and find ways to improve your chances next year.

  • SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program): This is still an option! SOAP runs from Monday through Thursday of Match Week, so check the NRMP website for the latest deadlines. It allows unmatched applicants to connect with programs with unfilled spots. 
  • Talk to Your Advisors: Your medical school’s deans and advisors have valuable insights. Discuss the reasons you might not have matched and explore the next steps.

Understanding Why You Didn’t Match

The factors influencing matching are constantly evolving. Here’s a breakdown of some key points:

  • Application Strength: This includes your USMLE/COMLEX scores, grades, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
  • Interview Skills: Strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial. Practice mock interviews beforehand.
  • Specialty Choice: Competition varies by specialty. Research competitiveness and consider all your options.
  • Number of Programs Ranked: Don’t limit yourself! Cast a wider net by ranking a strategic number of programs.
  • Red Flags: Address any potential concerns in your application, such as gaps in your resume.

NRMP data is an excellent resource for assessing competitiveness in your chosen field.

Strengthening Your Application for Next Year

Maybe your application wasn’t strong enough this year. That’s okay – sometimes you need to try again. Here are some ways to make sure you stand out next time:

  • Tailoring Your ERAS Application: Highlight experiences, skills, and attributes most valued by your chosen specialties. Select work experiences, volunteer activities, and research projects that align with the programs’ goals and values.
  • Personal Statement and Letters of Recommendation: Craft a compelling statement articulating your passion for the specialty, career goals, and how they align with the program’s strengths. Secure strong letters highlighting your clinical skills, work ethic, and professional demeanor.
  • Research and Targeted Application: Conduct thorough research on programs to better understand their requirements, culture, and priorities. Then, customize your application materials to address each program’s interests and values. Be sure to apply to a strategic range of programs.
  • Understanding Filters and Red Flags: Be aware of filters used by programs (USMLE scores, graduation year, visa requirements). Proactively address these potential red flags in your application and interview.

Strategies for Next Year

These tried-and-trued strategies may help you stand out and get your perfect match next year:

  • Reapply to the Same Specialty: Strengthen your application with research, publications, or another year of clinical experience. Consider if staying enrolled for a 5th year is an option for you.
  • Explore Different Specialties: Research alternative specialties that align with your interests.
  • Consider a Research Year: This can boost your application, but be realistic about what you can achieve in a year.
  • Preliminary Year (PGY-1): This can be an option in some specialties, allowing you to gain experience and potentially secure a residency spot later.

Additional Tips for Reapplicants

  • Continuous Improvement and Feedback: Seek feedback from programs that offered you interviews or mentors to identify any areas for improvement. 
  • Enhance Your Application: Consider additional clinical experience, research, or improving your interview skills.

Remember: The Match is competitive, but it’s not the end of the road. Utilize online forums and connect with mentors in your desired field. You can achieve a successful match next year with a strategic plan and a positive attitude.



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