Make the Most of Your Failed Match with this Back-Up Plan

Make the Most of Your Failed Match with this Back-Up Plan

Nov 14, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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Filing for medical residency in the United States is one of the most challenging feats to achieve, especially for FMGs and IMGs. As of March 2020, the registrants recorded the highest number registered at 44,959. Out of these numbers, 18,108 U.S medical students and graduates matched successfully to a PGY-1 position. For US IMGs, there also an increase of 3,154 matches for PGY-1 positions compared to last year. Non-U.S IMGs who participated in the Match also saw an increase of 2.5 percent (4,222 IMGs) to a first-year position.

Whether you’re receiving the good (or bad) end of the spectrum, it’s best to create a back-up plan in case things go south.

Gain experience and buff up your CV

MedResidency has been a long-standing medium for graduates and fellow residents looking for fellowship or residency programs. Un-matched medical students, foreign or local, may find a wealth of specialty opportunities in this site. You can take this setback as an opportunity to find alternative means to continue practicing your profession and gain the necessary clinical experience with top-tier residency programs.


Un-matched individuals are automatically re-routed to the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). This one-week period gives applicants a chance to look into unfilled positions. While this may not be your first choice, you must have also made other possible programs that you can see yourself grow in that career path. However, it’s not always a ‘win’ solution as some applicants may still fail to get a slot afterward.

Be visible and let your school know

Understandably, you may feel embarrassed by the outcome. You may naturally hide away from your peers and not tell anyone about your situation. However, to make the most of your time, you need to do the opposite.

Keep in touch with your medical school, deans, and mentors. Let them know about the situation. This way, you’re still being productive by tapping potential networks that can lead you to a residency program of your choice.

This is also a great time to seek research projects to immerse yourself in. Mentors from your medical school might be able to help you out with this. You can communicate your desire to volunteer for the project to keep your productivity going even in this period of waiting.

Look for clinical jobs

Consider jobs that hone your medical skills. You’re looking at a possible year of hiatus, so landing a job that allows you to use your clinical skills can be a plus in your next Matching program.

As a general rule, you can’t care for patients unless you’re a resident. However, you can work as a medical scribe or personal assistant to a physician. States like Missouri allows for unmatched applicants to work with physicians to provide care for the underserved. Though this kind of work doesn’t have any direct patient care, it does allow unmatched graduates to work on electronic health record trainers.

Off-match interviews

It’s always good to get one foot in the door. Credible third-party sources, like MedResidency, could come quite in handy for individuals who are looking to strike at any opportunity. In these sites, you will be able to get access to exclusive updates for vacant lots even before they hit public sites and forums.

Be on the lookout for last-minute spots. Some programs tend to open vacant slots for a variety of reasons. While it can be difficult to pinpoint these instances, establishing a good network of researchers and other physicians widens your chances of getting a position even before Match season.

Consider taking the UMSMLE Step 3 Exam

This exam covers a deeper and detailed understanding of clinical knowledge and decisions. Since it covers core principles, it’s best to take the exam as early as you can. Doing this allows you to take advantage of the time between residency and medical school while your memory of these topics is still fresh.

Most of the time, passing this exam will speak a lot about your grit and time management. It shows your competency and willingness to take responsibilities even if things don’t turn out good during the Match.

Give more thought on enhancing your CV, ERAS application, and Personal Statement

These are the documents that will help ‘make or break’ your success in a Match. Program directors are very particular with letters of recommendation, CVs, and your statements. Remember that there are myriads of applications coming in and program directors don’t have time to sift through each application. While waiting for a chance slot or next Match season, research and look into samples to improve your outputs so you can put your best foot forward when an opportunity arises.