What is SOAP?

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SOAP is the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program – the process by which applicants who are unmatched or partially unmatched are able to apply to programs which have unfilled residency positions. This takes place through the NRMP (National Resident Matching Program) Registration, Ranking and Results system. Applicants who take part in SOAP will be able to apply to 45 participating programs in a short, four day window. These programs can be either programs to which you have already applied, or entirely new programs. However, you must only apply to programs which are taking part in SOAP and have unfilled positions for which you are eligible. When you have submitted 45 applications, you must wait until SOAP ends, at which point you will receive any potential offers.

SOAP Dates

The exact dates for SOAP will vary from year to year, but we can use the 2023 timeline as an overview for a typical year. The 2023 SOAP begins on the 13th of March, at 10am ET. It then continues until Thursday, 16th March, at 9pm ET. Application begins at 11am and programs cannot review applications until Tuesday, March 14th at 8am ET. This means that the entire process is highly efficient – especially when compared to the much greater length of time that the previous match took. This efficiency allows programs to quickly fill their positions, and removes much of the uncertainty and doubt that might otherwise plague applicants.

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Applicant Eligibility for SOAP

It’s vital to understand whether you are eligible for SOAP or not. An applicant is considered to be eligible if they are registered for the main Residency Match, is either unmatched or partially matched, and is able to enter into graduate medical education on the 1st of July in the year of the Match. Therefore, eligibility for US medical school seniors and for prior-year graduates will be determined by their medical school, whilst for IMGs their eligibility is determined by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

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SOAP: An Overview of the Process and Timeline

First, applicants will learn whether they are matched, unmatched or partially matched on the Monday of Match Week. If you are a fully matched applicant, you will not be able to take part in SOAP – you are not eligible, as you are already bound to a program. However, those who have not fully matched will be able to participate, and will have access to the list of programs with unfilled spots. If you are partially matched, you will only be able to view the types of positions for which you are eligible.

Applicants who eligible will then review the List of Unfilled Programs and express their preferences by applying to programs – this is done through ERAS. There is no ranking system – ranking or the forming of preferences is not done during SOAP. Rather, programs review ERAS applications and express preferences with lists of applicants to whom they would like to offer a position. This is a less complex system than the main Match. Program directors are not able to ask applicants to indicate whether they will accept an offer if one is extended through SOAP. Positions are then offered to applicants via the NRMP’s R3 system, and at this point applicants will receive an email if they are the recipient of an offer. Applicants can receive multiple offers in any SOAP round.

It’s important that applicants do not accept any offers until all the offers in a round have been generated. However, when this is complete – which will be communicated by the R3 system – applicants will have just 2 hours in which to accept, reject, or to let offers expire. If an applicant accepts an offer, they are automatically  ineligible for the same type of position in another program, and offers that are rejected/expired will NOT be extended again.

When SOAP is complete, the List of Unfilled Programs posted is updated to include all Match-participating programs with unfilled positions – no matter the program’s SOAP participation status. At this point, any applicants who remain either unmatched or partially matched at the conclusion of SOAP will be able to access the List to view positions for which they are eligible.

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