Match day downer
March 15, 2013 10:43 AM   Subscribe

My wife didn't match - now what?

My wife had to go through the secondary match process (SOAP) this week. She had interviews with 7 programs yesterday but didn't end up matching with any of them. If it matters, she originally applied to Ob/gyn programs but in the secondary match also applied to family medicine, internal medicine and peds.

She's set up an appointment to meet with the people at her school on Monday, but I am kind of freaking out a bit right now. Is there realistically anything that they can do to help? Will we just have to go through this horrible process again next year?
posted by nolnacs to Work & Money (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This whole matching thing is horrible. I've been watching my baby sister go through it the past few months.

From what she tells me, people who didn't match today will start to hear from hospitals that didn't fill their needs because they selected people who had them ranked too low. She claimed that pretty much everyone has a position by the week after match day.

Good luck.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:57 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

There will be open positions. I don't have firsthand experience but like sparkle motion said, don't give up, keep scrambling.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:38 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

She should keep looking for open positions, but she should also start leveraging her connections to find a research position in the interim. She's going to need to show that she has been using is time to make herself into a stronger candidate the next time around.
posted by honeybee413 at 11:55 AM on March 15, 2013

Response by poster: I'm just really worried that research won't help. On the advice of her school, she took an extra year to research to make her a better candidate for ob/gyn since her test scores were only okay. That proved to be completely useless.
posted by nolnacs at 12:30 PM on March 15, 2013

The only person I know who did not match did in fact do research for a year, then matched at his second choice the next year. Not sure how the fact that your wife did that once already plays into it. Good luck - hopefully the school will have some advice.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:58 PM on March 15, 2013

The match is followed by the "scramble," as schools with leftover applicants and residency programs with unfilled spots scramble to connect outside the match. The success of this process has a great degree of dependence on her particular school's administrators, their experience and their connections. A considerable fraction (the majority in my experience) of unmatched applicants DO find positions, and in some cases, I've seen subpar applicants even land positions they really couldn't have been said to deserve. Another factor in this depends on flexibility, both in terms of the specialty and geography. If she can't scramble her way into a position somewhere, her only other option would be to correct the weaknesses in her application (or perhaps her overly-limited rank list, which could also be a problem) and reapply next year, while maintaining communication with a number of residency programs in the hopes that a spot opens up due to unforeseen circumstances.
posted by drpynchon at 3:45 PM on March 15, 2013

Hopefully she's heard from other programs and has found a position.

That said, it probably doesn't help, but often additional research experience does help a candidate, so the school wasn't nutty for suggesting it. It's just not clear what else might be going on with her application, or the places she applied or the candidate pool this year might be super strong.

So if she doesn't find something, she might want to also talk to her administration/advisor about how she is presenting in her interview.

7 interviews suggests that her application materials and scores, etc., are strong, but that there might be something going on in her presentation of herself during her interivew. Sometimes when people are applying to more than one specialty, they unintentionally come across as 'not committed' in the interview. Or at least less committed to someone who is 'all peds, all the time'. They might not be ranked as highly, particularly if they shared that they were applying to multiple specialties/ and it seemed like family or peds or whatever was a second or third choice to not getting into competitive OBGyn.

If she can't find something, she will probably have to go through the match again. If she does, perhaps see if she can get some additional advice about how to present her application as a candidate that did not succeed in the match before (how she plans to talk about it, what she learned, etc.)

You'll note on this document that the first step for the unmatched student is 'grief counseling'. I can only imagine how stressful this is for her, and I hope it all works out for you both.
posted by anitanita at 4:58 PM on March 15, 2013

Nthing everyone above - deep breath! It's easy for people to assume this reflects on them as a person and not as an artifact of a bizarre system. I hear it was even more screwy back in the early days of the computer match. I see that she's gone through the scramble, and no luck thus far, but she should keep her school's office looking around for any remaining unmatched positions. Schools want their students to match - it reflects on them as schools more than it does the person! - so they should be motivated to help her. Some people in my class didn't go through the match process at all, to save money - they simply aimed to scramble.

Otherwise, I agree, find something like research or volunteering or a job to fill the time until next match. It will reflect well upon her ability to handle unexpected setbacks and changes, which is the hardest part of the job.

Hang in there, and try to view this as something to power through, not that she's a failure as a doctor (which every hardworking medical student fears!)
posted by vetala at 6:06 PM on March 15, 2013

This year was a very tough year. I have had multiple friends find out they are in the same position with no luck in the SOAP. The reality is that OBGYN is becoming increasingly tough to get into. My advice would be to do research, volunteer and continue to show interest in the field so that she can differentiate herself from the MS4s that are applying next year. As ntoed above, the fact that she had more than a few interviews shows that she is definately qualified, and so a review of interview skills would not be unwarranted. Best of Luck!
posted by Heliochrome85 at 8:31 PM on March 15, 2013

Technically speaking, there may be a few more positions opening up post-SOAP for institutions that didn't put their unfilled spots into the SOAP process. But as you probably already know, there were VERY few unfilled categorical positions to start with this year, even in traditionally "less competitive" fields like Family Medicine and Psychiatry. Additionally, many people had no interviews at all with SOAP, so the fact that she got 7 suggests she might have been right on the cusp, but that's cold comfort I'm sure. I followed The SOAP 2013 Thread closely on the Student Doctor Network Forums and found it very depressing. If she hasn't read it, she may want to as there were many people in her same position and they have had some ideas of what they are going to do next.

If she is not a total wreck this weekend, she may want to make sure she has an updated CV for the meeting on Monday. Presumably this is a meeting with her Dean, if not she should try to get in to see them asap as well. But having an updated CV on nice paper shows persistence and that she is still fighting, which is a HUGE part of getting other people to go to bat for you. Maybe you can help her edit it and go to Kinkos to get a copy or two printed on nice paper for her to take to the meeting. Also, I would highly recommend professional dress for this meeting because it is basically an interview with the Dean and shows commitment to doing what it takes.

I'm sorry you are both going through this.
posted by artdesk at 9:40 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the supportive comments everyone. I'm a bit calmer now. Hopefully the dean will prove to be helpful on Monday.
posted by nolnacs at 4:52 AM on March 16, 2013

Response by poster: Update: she met with the dean today and it was not a fruitful meeting. She basically was told to hope for someone not to show up (or not get a visa) in July or August. The only assistance that the dean offered was letting her know if any vacancies open up at the university programs or at the hospitals that they are affiliated with. I'm pretty disappointed in the situation as I expected the school to be a lot more active at trying to find something for her.

At this point, it seems likely that we will be going through the match process again next year.
posted by nolnacs at 3:11 PM on March 18, 2013

I'm sorry that the meeting wasn't productive. If she is considering switching fields (like family medicine), is there a way to get in a rotation before she graduates so that she can show commitment and maybe get a letter? The match is painful, hopefully next time will be a better experience.
posted by artdesk at 4:49 PM on March 19, 2013

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