Here are five steps that you can take to make sure that you are prepared for the post-match Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) in case you plan to apply for the post-match or for any reason you are unmatched or partially matched come Monday of match week.
1. Confirm Eligibility
The number one step is to make sure that you are in fact eligible for the post-match SOAP and there are different eligibility requirements for U.S. medical graduates versus IMGs. As an IMG, you have to make sure that you will be ECFMG certification eligible by the week before match week. The ECFMG will report to the NRMP everybody who is eligible to participate. That means you have Step 1 and Step 2 CK complete.
2. Research SOAP Data and Trends
You need to look at past data for the NRMP and post-match SOAP results so that you understand which specialties actually have positions available during the post-match. There are certain specialties that have the most positions and if you did not apply to some of these specialties during the main match that leads us to step 3 which is to update your application materials for the post-match.
3. Update Your Application and Supporting Documents
You have to make sure that all your personal statements and letters of recommendation are edited and up to date so that you can apply to all the most common SOAP specialties if need be. Additionally, if you did not match there could be reasons for that some of which tend to be your personal statements and letters of recommendation. If they were not well edited or well put together they could have sunk your chances for interviews or for matching.
4. Learn about the SOAP Timeline and How it Works
Research the post-match soap timeline so that you understand exactly how the process works. It is super fast-paced, extremely competitive and it can be very overwhelming if you go in unprepared. So take this time to make sure you understand the post-match SOAP timeline and how it works.
What you need to be doing starting from Sunday night before match week even starts all the way through Friday of match week is to make sure you understand the post-match soap timeline and the NRMP guidelines and rules for how you are able to act during the post-match SOAP.
The number one thing you should be aware of is that you cannot reach out to programs during the post-match soap. Do not reach out to programs to initiate contact if you are participating in the post-match as that can have devastating consequences. It is against the NRMP policy.
5. Prepare to Apply to 45 Compatible Programs as early as possible
Make sure that you will be prepared to send all 45 of your applications on Monday as soon as possible if you are at all able. The reason for this is that you want your application to be among the first reviewed by programs as they are going to generally be reviewing applications in the order that they are received in addition to their typical filters.
You have to make sure that you are applying to compatible programs during the post-match SOAP just like you would during the main match season. A recommended compatibility search system is electronicresidency.com that can help you instantaneously find compatible programs during those first few critical hours of the post-match.
Most residency applicants do not wish to consider the Post-Match Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) unless they have no other choice. That’s very understandable! Thinking about the Post-Match can make you fearful of not earning a Match through the Main Residency Match.
But, whether you like it or not, if you have less than 10 programs on your Rank Order List, it might be time to think about Post-Match SOAP preparedness. If you believe the Post-Match is in your future, the best thing you can do for yourself is begin preparing early.