I Didn’t Match! Now What?

For those who matched, congratulations! Relax and wait for the details at the end of the week.

For those who did not match, SOAP is still an option. Check with NRMP.org for the details of the process.

If at the end of the week you are still not Matched, well, take a day or two to feel bad, but then it is time to get back into the game. You have to sit and do an honest assessment about why you did not match.

If you did not get many interviews, then people did not like your scores or your application. For the next time around:

  1. Spend serious time looking for program who might be accepting of your scores. This does not mean sending your next set of applications everywhere, but doing your homework to find out which programs will look positively on the scores you have.
  2. If your scores are good, then something about you application is putting people off. A good application is not really about checking the boxes (“I need to show I did research.”), but telling a coherent, appealing story abut who you are and what you bring.
    1. Revisit your personal statement and think about how you can improve it to grab program directors and be more appealing.
    2. What can you do in the coming year to get additional clinal experiences and be improved letters of recommendation?
    3. Do all the parts of your application fit together? Your personal statement, CV and your Letters of recommendation should present a coherent convergent picture. If the parts seem scattered, then you have made it hard for the program directors to get a clear sense of who you are.

If you did get a good number of interviews, then something happened during the interviews to move you down the rank order list.

  1. When in a calm place, think about how your interviews went. What would you do differently next time? Consider doing several sets of practice interviews so you can try out different responses and get more comfortable with the experience.
  2. Remember that it is always possible that a program director liked you, perhaps a lot, but the vagaries of the rank order process did not place you with them. Consider calling program directors you with whom you felt you had good rapport and asking for their advice as to what you might to differently the next time around.

If you decide that you are done with the process and want to move on to something else, well, that is always a choice that you have. But, consider giving it one more try before you drop out of the process. You have worked hard to get this far. You should give it your full best effort before moving away.  Your chance of Matching during a second try are actually pretty good. You know more about the process. You have more contacts. And, you likely have better instincts about how to present yourself and what program directors are looking for.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that the Match process is competitive and therefore can be difficult. I know its hard to think about success when you are faced with disappointment. But, what happens next is up to you. You are still in charge of your own fate and your own career. Decide what you really want, and just remember, you are not done yet!

Steven Daugherty, Ph.D.

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USMLE Faculty and Curriculum Director at Becker