What You Should Know Before the Post-Match SOAP
The Post-Match SOAP begins with a whirlwind of activity followed by long periods of waiting. It can be a very confusing and overwhelming time for residency candidates, especially if they were not anticipating being a part of the SOAP to begin with. There are small things residency candidate can take care of and keep in mind to make the SOAP process go more smoothly. Below are some final suggestions candidates can do in the days before the Post-Match to improve the process.
Last Minute Post-Match Tips
- You might need to be prepared to apply to more than one specialty as the number of unfilled positions per medical specialty varies every year. For example, you may be prepared to apply to Pediatrics, but there were only 12 unfilled programs in Pediatrics last year which would leave you with 33 out of your 45 SOAP applications left to apply to. So, what do you do?
- Make sure you have dedicated Personal Statements for at least two, if not three or more, specialties to ensure you can properly utilize all of your SOAP applications. You REALLY do not want to end up in a position of applying to General Surgery with a Family Medicine Personal Statement or vice versa. See an analysis of the unfilled positions per specialty at: http://blog.electronicresidency.com/…cal-specialty/
- Additional, specialty-specific Letters of Recommendation are ideal, but difficult to get on short notice. If you cannot get a hold of more LoRs, at least try to use LoRs that are similar to the specialty. For example, using Internal Medicine letters for Pediatrics since they are both primary care specialties
- Be sure to set aside time for the Post-Match SOAP
- Ask for time off work well in advance
- Take care of anything that might get in the way such as laundry, work, or grocery shopping
- At an absolute minimum, you will want to be available Monday, but ideally, it is best to be free through the Thursday of Match Week
- Make sure your contact information is correct
- Your voicemail should be professionally appropriate and set up. Without a voicemail, programs that try to call you may immediately move on
- Use a professional email address
- Be prepared for a phone or Skype interview
- Have Skype downloaded
- Have a clear, clean, and quiet area set aside
- Have an interview outfit picked out
- Read more about SOAP interviews at: http://blog.electronicresidency.com/post-match-soap-interviews/
- Choose the programs you apply to very carefully. Programs still have minimum requirements during SOAP, so you will need to review the requirements for each program to make the right choices.
- For example, if you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG), you do not want to waste any of the 45 maximum SOAP applications on a program that does not accept IMGs. Or, if you need a visa, you will not want to apply to a program that does not accept J-1 or sponsor H1-B visas.
- Do not rush you initial SOAP applications. The NRMP Unfilled List of Programs will become available at 11 a.m. (EST) to start researching programs. Then, you will have from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EST) to continue researching, selecting programs and applying. It makes no difference whether you apply at 12 p.m. or wait until 2:45 p.m. as ALL submitted SOAP applications will be released to programs at the same time (3 p.m.). So, take enough time to ensure you are applying to the right programs with the correct supporting documents.
- If you get an offer, don’t let it go. The Post-Match SOAP is not a good time to be picky, and you might not get a second opportunity. Since an application is binding, do not apply to any programs you absolutely cannot see yourself being a part of.
- Get a support system in place. This is a good time to call in any favors and get all hands on deck to help you this week.
- (Optional) Leave one slot for potential opportunities.
- If you know you have connections within a residency program (family, friend, or colleague), contact that person to keep an eye out for vacancies for you and hold an application for that program just in case
- In this last few days, take care of yourself. Try to do stress-relieving activities such as reading, watching TV, or whatever you do to relax.
Of course, in the last days before the Post-Match SOAP, the absolute best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to gather as much knowledge about the SOAP as you can.
(Content updated March 7, 2018.)