Category Archives: Match

SOAP- Guide for an IMG to ace the SOAP

How to make your personal statement

Some talented IMGs will find themselves facing the toughest time of their USMLE to residency journey next month. They will be up against thousands of unmatched American graduates desperately trying to get the last few available residency spots in a period of five days. Programs will be on the lookout for these high value candidates who remained unmatched because of reasons like not having a complete application during match or not ranking enough programs or not going to enough interviews.

Everything you have heard about SOAP is true. It is difficult and unfair for non citizen IMG. But we here at AlphaIMG believe in giving our best shot at everything we do. Even if the bets are against IMGs on this one, we strive to be the BOSS at what we do.

Keep reading because I am breaking down exactly the actions you need to take and information you need to be the high value applicant that unfilled programs are looking for if you have to face SOAP.


# What is SOAP?– It is post match SUPPLEMENTAL OFFER AND ACCEPTANCE PROGRAM. Unfilled programs have a chance to fill their spots with unmatched candidates.

# Am I allowed to participate in SOAP?– If you have participated in the match and if you remain unmatched you are eligible. You will get an email on Friday before match week to let you know if you may be eligible in the event that you go unmatched. It does not mean if you matched or not.

So you can apply to unfilled programs during SOAP if

1: You do not match or only match to either prelim or advanced position without matching for both
2. You are ECFMG certified
3. You have signed up with NRMP
4. Did or Did not have an iv during the interview season

# What are my chances if I SOAP– as an IMG, the chances are not so great. In 2015, 13657 people (AMG+IMG) were eligible for SOAP. More than 40% of these applicants were non citizen IMGs. 25% were US citizen IMGs. Rest were AMG. 123 US IMGs were offered a position during SOAP and only 86 non citizen IMGs were offered a position.

# Can I apply to any specialty– yes, but look at your application and see if it is appropriate for the specialty. If everything fits medicines, applying to surgery will not help. Do not waste your 45 applications

# How do I prepare for SOAP– You have already submitted your application for match. You can only change certain parts of it. Like your personal statement and LOR.

# What if I do not match after SOAP- after the SOAP ends, you will have a list of unfilled programs and an opportunity of contacting them

# How much does SOAP cost? SOAP if free for eligible applications. You can apply to only 45 programs

6 things you can do to Be The Boss at SOAP

  • SOAP can be stressful. Be mentally prepared.. You will be checking your email every few minutes and have your phone handy at all times.  With each new round of offers, you will have to go through the list of unfilled programs, find the ones that you have a shot at, apply to the said programs and wait for offers.


  • Have personal statements ready for  other fields (IM, FM etc). Yes, you have only 45 applications. But, based on last year’s data, there will not be many programs in each field with open position. Each program will have multiple unfilled spots. So you will most likely be applying to other fields.


  • If you have LORs in other fields that you have not submitted for match or have received it after match, keep them ready to submit as well. You will be applying to different fields, see above


  • If your entire application is focused towards medicine, don’t waste your application on surgical fields. Programs are looking for high value candidates, not desperate candidates just trying to get in.


  • If you see a program that you have applied to before or have interviewed at and they have an unfilled position, try other programs before you waste your application on them. They did not like you the first time, chances of them liking you now are much less


  • Programs will generally schedule a short phone or skype interview before extending offers. If you do get an phone call, you don’t want to miss the chance. Here is what you need to do to perform your best on this interview.

Smile when you pick up the phone, it projects a friendly voice to the person on the other side.  Imagine as if you are face to face with the person when you start talking.  Do not keep your computer or any other screen in front of you, it distracts you and makes you appear frazzled on the phone.   Have a copy of your personal statement and CV in front of you as the PD will ask you questions about your CV. Be prepared to answer odd questions (not common  but it is possible): Why did you not apply to our program during match?  why do you think you did not match?
If you do not get any interview or offers, do not worry my friend. There are things you can do for next year. Be proud of yourself, you gave it your best shot.


RANK ORDER LIST- How to get this last step right

The anxiety is killing now. Match day is March 14, 2016 (March 18th to know where you matched). It is just a few short weeks from now but the wait seems forever.

                                        How to write a personal statement img


You have arrived ladies and gentleman. You cleared your USMLE exams, hustled your way into some observerships, got your name on a few stellar publications and smiled your way through interviews in high heels and polished oxfords. Now you reap the benefits of your hard work. You submit the rank order list, sit back and enjoy a glass of fine (but not too expensive) wine.

Like every other step (no pun intended!) you have taken thus far to make your dream of practicing medicine in US come true, this last step of rank order list needs to be well thought out and planned. Look on the internet about how to make your rank order list and every site will say- list the programs you think you will be happy at and do not list other programs. That sounds great, but not for an IMG with limited number of interviews or not so glorious scores.

I get it.  I have been through this myself and I get asked from  students every year before ROL submission. You do not want to spend three years in a malignant program. You are not sure yet if you want to specialize or not . You don’t want to be in a small town in middle of nowhere for your residency. You are worried if you accept J1 visa now, the waiver job will be in Podunk city on highway to ‘who knows where’
I was torn apart when getting my rank order list ready. There are so many things to consider when ranking the programs. University or community, fellowships, locations, weather, visa, family closeness, job options for spouse, gut feeling after the interview, friends who did their residency in the program and so on.

After seeing so many students go through this tough time in their life, I have realized this:

For us IMGs, it boils down to two pivotal things: fellowship and visa

  • FELLOWSHIP- If you are serious or even thinking about doing a fellowship after residency in any branch, you should rank the university program with most number of fellowship spots internally as your number 1. If you did not get an interview from any big universities with in house fellowship, then rank the program affiliated to the nearby university with fellowships. Even if it means J1 visa. Next pick the community programs without in house fellowships. The community programs will advertise how many of their residents have gone on to become cardiologists, gastroenterologist, etc. Good for them but we don’t know if they are IMGs/AMGs, what scores and applications they had. Fellowships are very competitive these days and being in a university with fellowship spots will be your best bet.
  • VISA: If you are not thinking about fellowship and would rather be a hospitalist, primary care or an urgent care doc, then focus your attention on visa. You rank the programs who offer H1 before those that do not offer H1. Plain and simple!

A few other important things to keep in mind

  • Don’t think of if the program is going to rank you or not when compiling your rank order list. Match algorithm is designed to favor applicants. That means you put programs you want to be in first (based on number 1 and 2 above). Not based on how you think the program is going to rank you. If they rank you and their spots are not filled by applicants ranked before you, your chances to match at that program are 100%
  • Deadline for Rank order list submission is Feb 24, 2016 at 9 pm
  • Rank each and every program you interviewed at on the list. The pain of not matching anywhere is much greater than matching at a program you are not too interested in
  • In USMLE exams, you do not change your answers at the last minute. Same way in ROL do not change your list at the last minute. Think it through well in advance and don’t make any rash emotional decision at the end

There are many other factors like being close to family, weather, size of the program, friends/seniors in the program etc. And they are all important based on your situation. But if you are hard core success oriented person like me then you want to get your foot in the door now instead of waiting one more year and be a year older graduate next match. You should rank the programs based on how they will boost your chances of future success