Didn’t Match: What Should I Do Now?
Not Matching into a medical residency program is a difficult experience for any residency candidate. However, after you’ve had time to reflect on your past season, it’s essential to move forward and start thinking about what to do between now and when the next application season opens.
But, it can be hard to know what are the next steps to take.
The first step you can take is to sign up for any off-cycle vacancy services. Make sure you have your application materials available to send at a moment’s notice.
The second step is to prepare to strengthen your application in any way possible. The more you think about and achieve now, the easier time you will have putting together the best residency application when the time comes.
A few ways to strengthen your application are:
- US Clinical Experience (USCE)– The number one way to improve your application is by securing USCE. This can take the form of an Externship, Clerkship, or sub-Internship. Sadly, this option may be difficult to do as USCE opportunities can be limited and often expensive. If you cannot get direct USCE, try to complete an Observership (shadowing), Volunteering, or Research.
- Build Connections With Programs – A secret way of getting interviews and Matching into a program is having connections or history with a program. Though, creating connections with a program can be difficult. Fortunately, Match A Resident member, Otabek, has a solution. If possible, contact your local programs for permission to attend their grand rounds. Don’t get discouraged if you get a no or two. Eventually, once you get a yes, be sure to study up on the lecturer. Watch videos of old lectures so you can be prepared to ask good questions and provide answers if need be. With time and patience, you can develop relationships with doctors who could potentially provide Letters of Recommendation or even vouch for you with a program.
- Strong Supporting Documents– You want to obtain Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) that are recent (within a year of residency applications), from USCE and specialty specific. Be sure to indicate to your Letter Writers what specialty you want them to write for to ensure the letters are specialty specific. Since LoRs can take a long time to produce, consider finding and talking to your Letter Writers now. (More about LoRs is at: http://blog.matcharesident.com/how-to-approach-letters-of-recommendation/). You will also want a well written, specialty specific Personal Statement for EACH specialty you plan to apply. Finally, when the time comes, make sure your MyERAS Common Application is filled out carefully with complete and error-free information. Learn more about MyERAS Application Editing and Optimization with Residency Experts.
- Picking the Right Specialty – Make sure your specialty choice aligns with your personal interest, but is also reasonable. For example, if you are an IMG, you will want the specialty to be IMG friendly, or if your USMLE scores are low, you will need flexible specialties that are forgiving of less-than-average scores. Having documents for a backup specialty is also a good way for increasing your chances by giving you more opportunities to apply to programs.
- Picking/Applying to Enough Programs – It is utterly vital that you pick residency programs with requirements you qualify for. For example, do they accept IMGs? What are the minimum USMLE scores? Do they have a Time Since Graduation cutoff? etc. Program research can be the key to a successful Match season if you start early (around June to August) and thoroughly. You also need to apply to enough programs. We suggest 100 programs per specialty, which means you should budget accordingly. Applying to 100 programs is a little over $2,000 and you do not want to be limited by finances.
- Find an Application Mentor – Connecting with a knowledgeable party will help guide you through the upcoming Match Season in the best way possible. Match A Resident has been providing unrivaled coaching and consultation at no cost to residency applicants for over 12 years. If you have any questions about the application process, feel free to call 858-221-8510, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The key to a successful Match is preparation and planning, and the sooner you can start, the better!