Medical student resources

Cleaning Up Match Day Scramble With SOAP

SOAP-residency

You worked for years to get into medical school, spent countless hours studying for MCATs and chemistry tests, devoted endless time and energy dazzling admission committees in your interviews. And finally, after this painstakingly long process, you're forced to choose your residency in a matter of minutes.

This is what many fourth-years have faced over the years when their residency applications did not match with their programs of choice. But with Match Day 2012, the Scramble morphed into what the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) hope is more civilized, sane, and compassionate for everyone involved.

Historically held on the third Thursday in March, Match Day moved to the third Friday of the month to accommodate those applicants who need to go through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, better known as SOAP. The SOAP revision was created to address some of the prevailing complaints of the Scramble:

  • No one at the helm of the Scramble.
  • Lack of trust, transparency, and integrity in the Scramble that is inherent in the Match.
  • Forcing applicants to make hasty career decisions, often in minutes.
  • No separation between application, interview, and appointment.
  • No consistent or orderly process for applying to programs.

Instead, through SOAP, the AAMC and NRMP hope to instill the same level of trust that already exists in the Match to the Scramble process. Here are a few of the wrongs that are righted through the Match Week SOAP:

  • Information regarding unmatched applicants and unfilled programs will be released simultaneously.
  • A “time out” period for unmatched applicants to submit applications before programs make offers.
  • Forms sent and received only through ERAS, the Electronic Residency Application Service.
  • Offers must be accepted or rejected within a specific timeframe; offers not accepted or rejected will expire.
  • Positions will be deleted from the dynamic List of Unfilled Programs once an offer has been accepted.

“We believe the majority of positions will be filled on Wednesday," says NRMP's executive director Mona Singer, "so unmatched applicants who receive an offer in the early rounds should carefully consider whether to reject it in the hope they’ll receive another offer in later rounds.”

For a more detailed understanding of the SOAP process, visit the AAMC's overview. And check out the NRMP's Frequently Asked Questions about the Match to learn more.

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