A female doctor smiling and standing with her arms crossed in New Orleans, LA

Fourth-year medical students are all waiting for that big milestone: Match Day. They apply for programs, participate in interviews, and rank their potential choices, all hoping to end up in a residency program. Unfortunately, some students don’t match with a program right away. Some may not match because they apply only for the most competitive residencies, and others put too few programs on their rank list. However, there are still steps unmatched students can take to continue on the path to becoming a doctor.

Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP)

The Monday of Match Week is when students find out whether they matched with a program. If not, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) gives unmatched students a chance to fill empty residency programs by the Friday of Match Week through a program called the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). According to the NRMP’s website, in 2017 there were 1,279 unmatched positions on Match Day, and 1,076 of those were filled through SOAP.

Transitional Slot or Research Fellowship

Students who are still unmatched after SOAP should contact their medical school. Many schools offer a transitional year, which is similar to repeating the fourth year. The school may also be able to help the student find a research fellowship. A fellowship can actually be beneficial in the long term, as it helps the student gain knowledge in a specialty. This may help the student match with a more competitive fellowship the following year.

Step 3 Exam

One way for a student to show that he or she is knowledgeable in medicine is to take Step 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). This is the final test in the licensing process, and it will show program directors that the student is capable of providing independent medical care to patients.


Using MedMatchPlus+ to create a supplemental profile can help a student’s application stand out from the crowd. MedMatchPlus+ allows medical students to add a video to their application, putting a face and a voice with their name. This can help create a stronger impression when the program director is sifting through piles of applications.

Browse our candidate resources for more information about how MedMatchPlus+ can help your application stand out.

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