Friday, March 13, 2020

SOAP advice

Unfortunately, not everyone who applies for a residency position will match, and it's particularly difficult for IMGs. My own clients have a very high success rate, but I've never had a year when they all matched. With that in mind, I encourage each of them to prepare for SOAP, even if they had multiple interviews and feel "safe" about their chances. Here are some of the suggestions I share with them:

* Have you participated in a new externship, observership, research project, volunteer experience, or something else noteworthy since you originally applied? Perhaps you can request a new LOR and have it uploaded into ERAS. You're still only allowed to send four LORs to each program, but they don't need to be the same set of four you used in September.

* Did you get a new USMLE result? The residency programs might not have your most recent scores, so go to the Additional Documents section of ERAS and look for USMLE Transcript. While there, click the action to "Resend" your scores. This will transmit any new scores (including information about recent failed attempts) to all programs you apply to during SOAP, as well as the programs you previously applied to.

* If you were still in medical school when you originally applied in September, you probably have new grades on your transcript, so consider having the latest version uploaded to ERAS. If you ask, some medical deans will even add the newest evaluations to your MSPE and then help you get it uploaded to ERAS.

* Whatever you do, remember that the ERAS/ECFMG upload process can be quite slow, so please act quickly to be ready far in advance of SOAP!

* You're limited to 45 applications during SOAP, in any specialty. That number is fixed regardless of whether you apply to one specialty only, or a mix of specialties. While you are technically allowed to apply to some programs on the first day of SOAP and hold back some other applications until later in the week, I've never known that to be a winning strategy, so I suggest applying to all 45 on Monday.

* Try to be somewhere with a strong (wired not wireless) internet connection, as both the ERAS and NRMP websites will feel glacially slow with thousands of people logging in at once.

* Contact your advisors as soon as you find out that you need to use SOAP so they know what's going on. However, there are NRMP policies that greatly restrict contact with programs, so familiarize yourself with those.

If you didn't match and can't find a program through SOAP, I encourage you to get in touch with me - we can work together in the coming year to help you find the residency program you've been dreaming of!

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