US Medical Residency Reapplicants: Considerations

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

Many applicants will fail to match – as much as 10% of US DO Seniors, and around 5% of US MD Seniors as well. Therefore, it’s vital to be realistic, resilient and adaptable – there is no shame in failing to match, and many successful doctors will have to battle through an initially difficult start, having failed to match. Here, we will work through some of the core considerations for those in this position.

First Consideration: SOAP

Before you think about reapplying, you must consider whether SOAP is the right path for you. SOAP, or the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, allows applicants who are either unmatched or partially matched to apply for positions that have gone unfilled during the Main Match. SOAP takes place during Match Week, and is a fast-paced, efficient system designed to quickly fill positions that would otherwise go unfilled. However, with this come sacrifices – many positions are not categorical, meaning that those who take them up have to apply again for PGY2 training, whilst other applicants might receive an offer of a categorical position, but in a different specialty to the one that they had initially set out to match into.

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Second Consideration: Pinpoint your Weaknesses

If you either decide not to apply through SOAP, or have been unsuccessful following attempts to match using SOAP, then it’s time to honestly pinpoint areas of weakness, such that you can develop them for the next year. Core areas in which students often make a mistake include any of the following:

First, they may simply have applied to a specialty that did not suit them or their experience. You must reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and be honest with yourself when applying; if you had set out to apply to anaesthesia, but had little experience of the field and no letter writers who were able to provide suitable references, then it would be unsurprising if you failed to receive interviews, and in turn failed to match. Commonly, students might seek to match into more prestigious specialties, failing to recognise both that a) their qualifications and experiences do not align with the specialty and b) that there can be great reward in the less-competitive specialties as well.

Next, consider how many programs you applied to. Often, students that failed to match simply didn’t apply to enough programs. For some specialties, it’s necessary to apply to as many as 40-45 different programs if you wish to stand a strong chance of matching.

After this, you need to consider the application documents that you supplied. Were they of a high-enough quality to justify an offer, or at least an interview? Often, in the cold-light of the reapplication process, it can become clear that certain documents offered were simply not of sufficient quality. In particular, it might become apparent that there was a relative lack of focus or narrative in the personal statement; that the CV either lacked focus or lacked granular detail in certain areas; or even that there were still some grammatical accuracies or misspellings present in the documents. Any minor error could serve to differentiate your application negatively from the countless other strong applications that a program director or faculty member may be sifting through.

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Third Consideration: Rebuild your Areas of Weakness and Refocus

When you have worked through the above steps, it’s time to develop weak areas and refocus as needed. Let’s say, for example, that you failed to apply to enough different programs, and that your CV lacked a little quality – but that your experience and raw scores were strong. In such a situation, your path to success is relatively clear – you need to reapply, and you need to significantly increase the number of programs to which you are applying. Of course, you also need to apply with a new, much better CV. It would therefore be sensible to seek help from faculty members at your medical school, and perhaps Medicine admissions specialists, in order to polish and hone your CV – which is the simplest way for a program director to understand who you are as an applicant.

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