SOAP (Supplemental offer and acceptance program) – the RIQ STRATEGY

All of your hard-work comes down to this. First, we want to thank you for working with us for your residency match journey and using the  RIQ Strategy. We hope we have been able to help you and we’re here to support you all the way to the finish line. Here’s a rundown of what to expect and do for Match Week.
On Monday March 14th – 11 am EST you can login to your NRMP profile and see IF you have matched.

If you have matched – congratulations! You don’t need to do anything until Friday when you will find out where you have matched.

If you did not match, DO NOT lose hope. The SOAP process is another opportunity for you to find a spot in training. Here is our algorithm.

We recommend you prepare ahead of time! Go to the NRMP website this weekend to understand how the process works in detail.
The date and time schedule for SOAP matching:

We won’t rehash it here because the NRMP gives a great overview with videos – watch them all. Basically, unfilled programs will offer positions to their most preferred candidates from March 14th to March 17th. Candidates have a 2 hour window to accept the offer in a series of 5 rounds. It is in your best interest to wait and see which offers you get at the end of the round before accepting prior to the 2 hour deadline instead of the first offer you get in any single round.
Steps to do before SOAP:

  1. Make sure you have set up a professional voicemail on your cell phone in case you get a phone call from a program
  2. Check your email very frequently, including the SPAM box
  3. Be prepare for phone interviews and calls. You may perform interviews over SKYPE. If you’re local, you may be asked to visit the program. Be prepared to answer why you may not have matched. Remember to go back to your training and rehash your answers to ‘Tell Me About Yourself’.

A good way to frame not matching is to say:

“this was a challenging, competitive year. I feel that I am a strong candidate with excellent credentials. I can say that I am truly passionate about <insert field>….”

Then, from there, start your ‘tell me about yourself’ answer. Our system gives you a clear algorithm on how to nail that question. Definitely finish by emphasizing how excited you would be to match at their program.

Remember your goal is to get as many offers as possible.
We’re going to go over what to do in regards to strategy for SOAP. Basically, if you don’t match a list of unfilled programs will be available to you on March 14th. Your job is to quickly go through this list. You have a maximum of 45 programs you can apply to in each round.
The SOAP is different for each applicant. For highly qualified AMGs that did not match at a highly competitive specialty (e.g. Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, ENT, Ophthalmology), they can be more selective about programs they choose on the unfilled list.
For IMGs that have graduated many years ago, we believe that overall it is better to match at ANY programrather than go unmatched and apply again next year. The reasoning is that by matching at a program you will net an important letter, demonstrate clinical confidence, and strengthen your application for a full position. If you don’t match and choose not to go through SOAP, you have 1 year to strengthen your application. Unless you have a very strong research year set up, then it is unlikely that you’ll strengthen your application. By getting into the American residency training system, you will ultimately improve your chances of finding a categorical spot. You prove you are able to perform at a high level in the American healthcare system, even if it is in a field different than the one you ultimately want to be trained in.
Here we offer the order of preference for SOAP offers. Let’s assume we have an applicant applying in categorical medicine. We recommend the following order of preferences

  1. A categorical program in your preferred field (medicine)
  2. A categorical program in a non-preferred, but related field (family medicine or neurology)
  3. Preliminary spot in your preferred field (preliminary medicine)
  4. Preliminary spot in a non-preferred field (surgery)

When you submit your application, offers start to come in based on the round. For your first 45 choices, we recommend applying to every categorical program in your preferred field. However, there may be good programs in a non-preferred field OR preliminary medicine one year program that you may apply to in the first round. We recommend going through this process until all the categorical programs and preliminary programs in your preferred field have been applied to.
The challenge is deciding when to take an offer when the position is NOT a categorical program in your preferred field. Ultimately, everyone else in the SOAP is thinking the same. As the rounds go forward in time, there are less total spots available. Offers made in earlier rounds DO NOT get extended again. This means that there will be less categorical medicine program spots every round the SOAP continues (same is true for all unfilled programs).
Ultimately, you have to pick a program and spot that fits with your career goals. You have to do this as early as you can – preferably the first round. If you see that there are very limited number of categorical medicine program spots available and you are not extended an offer for one in the first round, we recommend you take a preliminary medicine offer or a categorical offer in a non-preferred field in the subsequent rounds.
Below you will see the list of the unfilled programs in 2015:
For the subsequent rounds, you can then start considering applying for preliminary spots in a non-preferred field such as surgery or obstetrics and gynecology. These spots are typically the least competitive. We don’t recommend you burn one of your 45 choices in the earlier rounds on these programs as they may still likely be available in later rounds. If you are set on internal medicine, then it’s safe to wait until the later rounds to apply to these programs. At the end of the day, we still recommend taking one of these positions if nothing else is available.
Let us know if you have any questions,
Good luck on the Match!
David, Steve and Amin – the RIQ Team