How to Prepare Your Application for SOAP
Take a deep breath. If you’ve found yourself here, then you are considering preparing for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, or SOAP and you probably already know what the SOAP is and what the SOAP process entails. In this post we will review how to prepare your application for SOAP! In case you don’t know, the SOAP is the process by which unmatched or partially matched medical students can apply for residency matching spots left unfilled following the NRMP match. If you have further questions about about the SOAP process, please see my other article titled, “Understanding the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).”
SOAPing is the dreaded outcome of the residency match. You don’t need to prepare your SOAP application in advance, but if you have less than 10 programs on your Rank Order List, it’s time to consider the possibility that you may not receive a Match through the Main Residency Match. If you truly believe you’re going to have to scramble, then being prepared will give you an edge during the SOAP process.
Preparing your application for the SOAP process is actually relatively straightforward. If you’re looking at this guide, then I assume you’re stressed, so I’ll keep things as simple as I can. Below is a brief step-by-step process to help you prepare for SOAP.
ERAS Applicant Checklist for SOAP
You can view the downloadable AAMC checklist in PDF form here.
1. Confirm Your Eligibility to SOAP Before Preparing Your Application
There’s no point in preparing for the SOAP if you are not eligible. In order to participate in the SOAP, you must be:
- Registered for the Main Residency Match
- Eligible to enter graduate medical education on July 1st, as verified by the applicant’s medical school or the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
- Unmatched or partially unmatched on Monday of Match Week.
- IMGs have to be ECFMG Certification Eligible by the week before Match Week.
There is no separate NRMP registration or fee for SOAP and applicants do not submit a rank order list. On the Friday before Match Week, you will receive an email from the NRMP if you are eligible to participate in SOAP.
Research past SOAPs and NRMP Main Residency Match Results and Data to determine which specialties typically have SOAP spots and which don’t.
2. Update Your Application Materials for SOAP
- Certify and submit your MyERAS application if you have not already done so during the regular application season.
- Keep Personal Information (e.g., NRMP ID) updated in MyERAS.
3. Prepare Your Letter Writers and Mentors
If you have a crystal ball and you know you are going to SOAP, then prepare your letter writers well in advance. It might be a good idea to reach out to them and explain your situation. You may also consider asking them to update your letters of recommendation for the SOAP and to update your letters for the specialty you’re trying to SOAP into. This is not necessary, but preparing your mentors and recommenders to advocate to programs on your behalf may be the difference that lands you a residency position. There’s no harm in having people in your corner should you fail to Match.
4. Draft a SOAP Paragraph for Your Personal Statement for Your Application
Full disclosure: You don’t need to update your personal statement for SOAP. In fact, not matching is a surprise for many students and most students who participate in SOAP submit the same application for both ERAS and SOAP.
That being said, preparing a short paragraph to tack on to the end of your personal statement is a good idea. This paragraph should explain why you are applying to the SOAP, why you believe you didn’t match, and why you are applying to this specialty. Students who successfully SOAP sometimes end up in residency programs that weren’t their first choice (e.g., SOAPing into family medicine after failing to match OB/Gyn), so a sentence explaining your reasons for applying to a different field is a good idea. Do not personalize your personal statements for each program you’re applying. The SOAP application is time-sensitive and personalizing each personal statement is not expected and a waste of your time.
5. Familiarize Yourself With the Post-Match SOAP Timeline
Understanding exactly how the SOAP process works is vital. The SOAP process is fast-paced and cutthroat and can be very stressful. Review the Post-Match SOAP Timeline with a clear head in advance of the Post-Match SOAP.
You can find the Post-Match SOAP Timeline here.
6. Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Lastly, take a deep breath. As I tell my anxious students… when you worry, you die twice. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about SOAP if you have to SOAP. Don’t spend your time worrying before Match Week; spend your time preparing. If you think you might SOAP, take the time to prepare your mind and prepare your support system for the Post-Match SOAP process. You’ll need all the support you can get!
From me and Elite Medical Prep, I sincerely hope you don’t find yourself unmatched/partially unmatched and SOAPing. But, if you do, EMP is here for you. If you are planning to apply for the SOAP, and need some extra help editing your CV and personal statements, navigating ERAS, getting ready for your SOAP interviews, etc. Elite Medical Prep is here to help! For more information about our residency advising program, please feel free to schedule a consultation call here.