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Didn’t Match? Learn All About the 2024 SOAP

​​On Monday, in mid-March, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) will send out Match emails to eager, awaiting medical students. Most will be overjoyed that they matched, securing a spot in a coveted US residency program. However, some receive a less auspicious email. Although not matching can be disappointing at first, it’s important to keep in mind that you still have a chance to get a desired residency position this cycle through SOAP!

If you’re here from last year’s post on not matching, you’ve come to the right place! Don’t give up—check out if you have a shot at matching through SOAP and if that’s the right choice for you. 

What is SOAP?

SOAP stands for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program. It provides residency opportunities for eligible applicants who did not match this cycle. Though not a guarantee, SOAP allows unmatched candidates to apply to residency programs with unfilled positions, often in a different, less competitive specialty. It is an opportunity for unmatched applicants to score a coveted US based, ACGME accredited residency spot so don’t sleep on it. 

Who is Eligible for SOAP?

SOAP eligibility includes:

1. Registered for the Main Residency Match

2. Eligible to enter graduate medical education on July 1, 2024, as verified by the applicant’s medical school or the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) 


3. Unmatched or partially unmatched on Monday of Match Week

Of note, there is no separate NRMP registration or fee for SOAP and an applicant’s current verification status will be shown on the applicant’s Home Page in the NRMP website starting on Monday, March 11th. 

The SOAP Process

The process of matching through SOAP is similar to the initial Match process in that after deciding to participate in SOAP, you select programs you want to SOAP into, then you may be offered a very brief phone/virtual interview with the program director or other leadership staff of residency programs with open slots remaining. 

You’ll have to rank those programs for your own convenience (though an official rank list is not needed) and select and decline based on your ranking. 

Once you decline a program, you will not receive another offer from that same program and if you accept a program’s offer, you will match with that program and not receive further offers. This may seem confusing and is perhaps difficult to explain in a blog post, so for a more detailed timeline and process of the 2024 SOAP, check out this video from NRMP with examples:

Preparing for SOAP

During SOAP, applicants submit new applications to residencies, interview, and then might be offered positions in several rounds of the SOAP process. It is important to strategize beforehand and think critically about which programs you turn down and ultimately which program you accept. 

Be sure to have everything ready for SOAP by reviewing the SOAP checklist from NRMP.

Pay special attention to programs closest to or most useful for your desired specialty. Be aware, however, that most unfilled spots will likely be in a primary care or general surgery specialty. 

For example, if you applied to radiology and failed to match, but are eligible for SOAP, there may be 2 unmatched radiology positions available in the entire country, as well as 40 internal medicine slots, and 30 preliminary surgery slots.

Applying for SOAP

Some schools require SOAP applicants to apply to all available programs, and I would advise you to cast a wide net. After applying, you are not allowed to reach out to any program personally, but the programs can contact you for an interview.

Check out this guide for 2024 SOAP applicants from NRMP.

Begin applying to programs. Please note, the 45-application maximum begins on Monday, March 11th. Assign supporting documents, including board exam transcripts, in the MyERAS system to programs in your SOAP application. Remember that you may reapply to programs you applied to during the 2024 ERAS season as well as apply to new SOAP eligible programs. 

During the initial match process, you may recall having months to interview, strategize, and plan your rank list. For SOAP, however, you only have hours to days to take similar action. 

The SOAP process begins at 10 a.m. ET the Monday of Match Week (March 11th, 2024) and closes at 9 p.m. ET the same Thursday (March 14th, 2024). Programs and applicants alike scramble to conduct interviews as well as to finalize their rank lists for SOAP. 

If you plan to SOAP, keep your phone nearby and on loud volume at all times to respond to calls and emails from eager programs and schedulers. This process happens quickly, so prepare yourself to receive multiple calls from program directors of various specialties to interview you. During these interviews, stay humble, refrain from slandering other programs, and keep your eyes on the prize: an available residency spot.

Next Steps

Plan Your Rank List

Once you have interviewed, plan your rank list. Tips from this post on how to choose a residency program still apply, though you will not have as much time to decide. 

Programs participating in SOAP that did not fill in the Main Residency Match can begin reviewing applications and contact applicants once their applications are received as early as that Tuesday. Please remember that during the SOAP week, do not contact programs unless the program initiates contact with you. 

Clear Your Schedule

Next step: prepare to accept the offers as they come. Clear your schedule. There are four rounds of offers made. During that period of time, applicants can accept or reject offers they receive. This is where having a running rank list is helpful. As the offers come, you’ll only have a few hours to decide whether you want the spot, or if you want to pass it on to another applicant. 

Check out the 2024 SOAP schedule from NRMP for a clear breakdown of the timeline.

Accept or Reject Offers

Log in to your application to see available offers where you’ll have the option to accept or reject them. Be aware that you may not get an offer for your desired specialty. You could be an aspiring orthopedist SOAPing into a year of general surgery, or a hopeful dermatologist starting out a year of transitional medicine. 

Don’t be discouraged—you will still fulfill your dream of being a doctor. Look forward to your residency year and use it to hone your skills in other areas of medicine!

After SOAP

The SOAP comes to an end on Thursday evening. If you accepted a spot in a residency program, congratulations! For those who don’t find a program with SOAP, however, there are still many options to consider.

Find Other Positions with Your School

After SOAP, work with your school to identify available positions from transitional years to research years or other positions on websites like the FREIDA™ AMA Residency Database. If you are still unmatched, you can also contact programs (available from the R3 system) directly about any remaining unfilled positions. 

While this can be a lengthy and stressful process, luckily, your school deans and student affairs office are familiar with it and should help you through the process, as they have much more experience in the area from students in years prior. Use your student affairs office as a resource as they help students match and participate in SOAP year after year.

Lastly, check out if there are any local transitional year slots available at your medical institution or at other schools in your area. If not, perhaps your school has a potential research fellowship for a year.

Build Your CV

Your school’s dean’s or student affairs office has supported plenty of unmatched students over the years—it’s nothing new. They are prepared to help you through SOAP and beyond! Connect with them and find ways to continue building your medical CV to strategize and have a better shot next year.

During this time, you can conduct research in your specialty of interest and improve your competitiveness for the next year’s match. See this post on how to bolster your CV and become a more competitive resident reapplicant!

There are many ways to get where you want to be while improving your skills and enriching your resume in the process!

About the Author

Mike is a driven tutor and supportive advisor. He received his MD from Baylor College of Medicine and then stayed for residency. He has recently taken a faculty position at Baylor because of his love for teaching. Mike’s philosophy is to elevate his students to their full potential with excellent exam scores, and successful interviews at top-tier programs. He holds the belief that you learn best from those close to you in training. Dr. Ren is passionate about his role as a mentor and has taught for much of his life – as an SAT tutor in high school, then as an MCAT instructor for the Princeton Review. At Baylor, he has held review courses for the FM shelf and board exams as Chief Resident.   For years, Dr. Ren has worked closely with the office of student affairs and has experience as an admissions advisor. He has mentored numerous students entering medical and residency and keeps in touch with many of them today as they embark on their road to aspiring physicians. His supportiveness and approachability put his students at ease and provide a safe learning environment where questions and conversation flow. For exam prep, Mike will help you develop critical reasoning skills and as an advisor he will hone your interview skills with insider knowledge to commonly asked admissions questions.