"The Scramble" or Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) takes place in the days just before Match Day, when students learn they have not matched into any residencies and must then seek out new opportunities among the unmatched residency slots that are still available.
Learning that you have not matched into your chosen specialty is one of the most stressful events of medical school. Students sometimes feel angry, frustrated, or that they are a failure. These are all normal feelings. However, there are multiple reasons for not matching: Some specialties are so competitive that even good students are routinely unable to obtain spots; students may have been limited by geographic or family reasons; students may not have applied to a sufficient number of programs or gone on enough interviews; and some students simply have unrealistic expectations given their academic history. The good news is that the majority of students who scramble are able to obtain a spot for the next year. This may not always be in their chosen specialty: it may be necessary to perform a preliminary or transitional year, then reapply. Some students will choose to take a year off to do research and strengthen their application.
On Monday morning of Match Week, the Office of Student Affairs will be notified of the names of their unmatched students. Monday at noon, applicants will be able to find out if they are matched or unmatched via the web or via the NRMP Voice Response System (with NRMP code and PIN numbers). If you are unmatched, contact the OSA immediately. We will be attempting to contact you as well so please make sure your contact information on MedScope is current! If you think you are at risk for not matching, try your hardest to be in Baltimore the week of the scramble. We have certainly helped students that were on away rotations or even out of the country, but it is much more challenging.
The Office of Student Affairs is here to help guide you through this stressful time. We can assist in sorting out why you did not match, estimate your chances of scrambling into a spot in that residency, or assist you in making alternative plans. What follows is a rough roadmap of the process. We will be with you to help, and wish you all of the best.
Monday at Noon
- Review your MSPE-you may be able to add in new evaluations.
- Update your application - If you are considering applying to a different specialty, you may want to write a new personal statement, you also might want to assign new letters of recommendation.
- Research - Research programs you are considering applying to.
- Discuss - OSA will want to meet with you this afternoon.
- You should have a main strategy (which could be attempting to apply into your initial specialty) and a back-up strategy (which may be a preliminary year, a different specialty, or a year off to do research, etc). You may bring your significant other, or anyone else that could offer advice or support. Bring your laptop computer and chargers.
- The programs with unfilled spots will be available at noon. OSA will Xerox this list and provide each student with a copy. The list shows what programs in each residency are unfilled and how many spots they have available.
Monday at 1 pm
- You must submit your applications through ERAS. You can apply to 30 programs. Mac users, the “MyERAS” site does not support Safari so use Firefox. Also, if you have tried to log on before noon you cannot simply refresh the page – you have to log off and log back in.
- Each program you apply to will be different: some will only review your application via ERAS, while other program directors will actually get on the phone and conduct a “mini-interview”. Programs have until Wednesday at 11:55am to finalize their preference lists, so please make yourself available to be contacted by phone or email on Monday afternoon all of Tuesday and Wednesday until noon.
- Programs may also ask you to come in for an interview so please be prepared and dressed appropriately. Local programs may ask you to come in for an interview. Also, you may be asked to complete an interview via SKYPE. We will have a SKYPE interview room for you to utilize. Your goal should be to enter your 30 applications by the end of today.
- No offers will be made over the phone or in person. Official offers will ONLY go through ERAS.
Wednesday of Match Week
- The first offers will be sent to applicants at noon. You may receive more than one offer. Feel free to contact the OSA Deans and discuss your offer or offers.
- Offers expire at 2pm, so you have until then to accept or reject the offer through ERAS. Once you accept an offer through ERAS you enter into a binding agreement with the program. If you reject an offer you will not receive another offer from that program. You will receive an email from the NRMP regarding your offer acceptance. Please keep a copy of the email for your records.
- If you have not been offered a position at noon, you can add new applications (up to 10 in this second round) if you would like, but we strongly suggest that you wait until the updated, unfilled program list comes out.
Thursday of Match Week
- Third, fourth and fifth offer rounds occur. Offers will be sent every 3 hours starting at 9am. This is when you will be able to send 5 more applications.
If You Have Accepted a Position
- Let Dawn Roberts know the specialty of the program you matched to, as well as the institution name, city and state and whether it is PGY1 or PGY2.
- Let her know if you plan to attend Match Day and if an envelope should be created for you.
*This entire process is confidential - your classmates need not know that you did not initially match unless you choose to tell them.*