Wednesday, March 10, 2021

SOAP during the pandemic

In December 2020, the AAMC's Chief Medical Education Officer announced she had seen "a maldistribution of residency interview applications" (or to rephrase this like one of my clients did, "interview hoarding"). In short, this meant that top-tier American applicants were accepting far more interview offers than ever, presumably because it was cheap and easy to interview virtually, instead of the normal practice of taking time off from rotations and paying to fly around the country for in-person interviews. Unfortunately, this hoarding led to IMGs missing out on interviews that they might have otherwise received, since some residency committees were so happy that these American graduates wanted to interview at their lower-tier programs, and didn't bother to interview as many IMGs as they usually did. 

But those committees didn't realize that these American graduates weren't likely to rank those programs highly, so they probably won't match there. If those same programs didn't interview enough IMGs to fill the bottom of their rank lists, they might have unfilled positions, which could be a great opportunity for residency applicants like you.

This year, Match Week begins on Monday, March 15, which is when you will find out if you matched, but not where. The week concludes on Match Day (Friday, March 19), when the name of the program you matched to is revealed. In between those two dates is the "Supplemental Offer & Acceptance Program," better known as SOAP. During that week, eligible unmatched applicants can apply for free to a total of 45 programs (it's your choice if you want to apply to all 45 in one specialty, or spread that out among multiple fields, but you can't pay ERAS to apply to more than 45 during SOAP). Be thoughtful about where you apply, and consider following the SOAP advice I've previously posted. For the first time ever, the NRMP has added a fourth "round" when programs will make offers to applicants, so it's more crucial than ever to be prepared for a quick interview during Match Week.

If you don't match next week, either through the main process or during SOAP, please don't give up hope! This was an incredibly tough year for applicants, due to the disruption of USMLE exams (particularly Step 2 CS), and the loss of many in-person training opportunities. I have more than twenty years of experience supporting medical students and graduates, particularly focusing on the needs of the IMG community. I would love the opportunity to help you achieve your dreams. After I review your ERAS application, personal statement, USMLE history, and other aspects of your application, I can try to help you succeed when you reapply next time. I offer a free consultation to all potential clients, so please contact me!