Residency Match Day is when students find out where they will spend the next 3-7 years of their lives. It’s a high stakes day with a lot of pressure, the culmination of a year of preparing for and applying to residency, and by the time Match Week comes around, the results are out of the student’s hands.
Our Match Day guide covers what students can expect during Match Week, how to prepare, the schedule of events, and how SOAP works should you not initially match. We’ll also cover commonly asked questions about the match process, including what to do if you don’t match by the end of the week.
What Is Match Day for Medical Students?
Match Day is when hopeful medical students find out where they matched into residency. The Match is an incredibly nerve-racking time for students, as it determines where they will spend the next 3-7 years of their lives in residency.
On the Monday of Match Week, students find out if they matched but not where they matched. Match Day occurs at the end of the week. On Friday at 12 pm, students find out which residency program they matched with.
In 2023, When Is Residency Match Day?
Residency Match Day occurs at the end of Match Week on Friday. Match results are shared at 12 pm ET for all matched students, including those who found a match using SOAP, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (more on that below).
For 2023, Match Day is Friday, March 17th.
2023 Match Week Schedule
Match Week takes place the third week of March, from Monday 9 am ET – Friday 12 pm ET. For 2023, Match Week takes place Monday, March 13th – Friday, March 17th. Students find out Monday morning whether or not they matched; however, they don’t hear where they matched until Friday of the same week.
Here is the schedule to expect during Match Week.
Monday 9 am – Applicants find out whether or not they matched, but not where they matched.
Monday-Thursday – Matched applicants can relax. Unmatched applicants apply and interview for unfilled positions using SOAP.
Friday (Match Day) 12 pm – Match results are sent by email to all initial matches as well as applicants who found a position through SOAP.
How to Prepare for Match Day
The days and weeks leading up to Match Day are stressful, to say the least. And since so many of your peers are in the same boat, emotions are running high all around you.
Before Match Week, take some time to check in on your own mental health. What support do you need during Match Week and on Match Day? Some students benefit from the support of friends and family, and if you think that’s you, reach out to them so that they are available to celebrate with you on Match Day (or help you through a no-match outcome.)
Ensure your schedule is as clear as possible that week so that you can dedicate your time to the SOAP process if you don’t initially match.
Do all that you can to focus on your own journey, not the journey of the other students around you. Social media is not your friend during this time, as it’s tough to manage the emotions of all of your peers who are dealing with the same uncertainty. If you find out on Monday that you didn’t match, it is especially important that you don’t indulge in social media, as your contacts will be celebrating their own match at a time when you need to focus on SOAP.
What If You Don’t Match? Navigating SOAP, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program
For the students who match, the week is one of celebration and anticipation to find out which residency program they matched with. For those who didn’t match, it’s a scramble to apply to programs through SOAP, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program.
Personal Story: Curve Ball! The Day I Didn’t Match by Dr. Sarah Ottum.
SOAP gives unmatched students another opportunity to match with a residency program in a fast-paced week of new applications and interviews. The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP), a service of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), is how unmatched applicants in the Main Residency Match apply for and are offered the positions that weren’t filled during the initial match.
Read our SOAP Match Day Guide to learn more about SOAP, how to succeed if you don’t match, and what other options you have.
In 2023, SOAP will take place March 13-17, with four rounds.
2023 SOAP Schedule
Monday 9 am – Applicants find out whether or not they matched, but not where they matched.
Monday – Unmatched applicants who choose to participate in the SOAP program begin preparing SOAP applications.
Tuesday – Programs begin to review SOAP applications.
Wednesday – Programs begin to interview SOAP applicants.
Thursday – Programs begin to make offers to successful applicants.
Friday (Match Day) 12 pm – Match results are sent to both initial matches and SOAP matches.
Residency Match Day FAQs
What Happens If I Don’t Match After SOAP?
Not matching after SOAP can be devastating, but it’s important to learn from this setback and not let it bring you down. Stay in touch with your medical school. Ask the Dean and others for help. There are plenty of options available to you now that, initially, may not have been your first choice.
Look for a job in a clinical setting to ensure you maintain your clinical skills. The most important thing is to utilize your time wisely. Look for mentors at your school who are working in the field of medicine you’re interested in pursuing and volunteer. Consider getting involved in a research project. You could work for a doctor as a scribe or as an electronic health record trainer.
Another option is to focus your attention on the USMLE Step 3 exam, as passing this test will make you a much more competitive applicant. It’s also a good idea to take the exam when you’re still familiar with the core areas.
Will I Find Out Why I Didn’t Match?
Unfortunately, you will not be told why you didn’t match. Not matching means that residency programs found other applicants to be stronger and more desirable. Not matching may also be due to where you ranked certain programs yourself since The Match algorithm gives priority based on how students rank residency programs in your Rank Order List (ROL). (We explain how The Match algorithm works in more detail below.)
If you don’t match during SOAP, or if your match is only a PGY-1, it’s imperative that you deeply consider the strengths and weaknesses of your application. This is the only way you can hope to improve the next time around. Consider reaching out to a trusted mentor or hiring a one-on-one advisor to help you objectively analyze how you can improve your application and become a stronger residency choice.
How Does the Rank Algorithm Work?
The NRMP Match is designed to provide an even playing field to residency applicants. It’s based on a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm first described in the 1960s by Lloyd Shapley and Alvin Roth.
After a lengthy residency application process through ERAS, both residency programs and applicants submit their Rank Order List (ROL) in February. A rank list is an ordered list of the programs an applicant would like to attend in descending order. Rank Order Lists are also completed by residency programs based on the applicants the program would like to recruit. The algorithm prioritizes a student’s preference over a program’s preference, but overall, it aims to find the best possible match for both students and programs.
Watch our YouTube video for a visual example of how students are matched by NRMP.
What Should I Do After Match Day?
What you do after Match Day depends on whether or not you successfully matched.
If you don’t match, stop and take a breath. Now is not the time to panic, but you will need to make adjustments and come up with a new plan. Examine your application to pinpoint what went wrong. After taking a short break, begin making a new plan.
How will you improve your application for next year’s cycle? What will you do in the meantime to bolster your application, improve your resume, and maintain your medical skills? Taking advantage of your time while you reapply to residency is paramount to ensuring your success the next time around. Plus, you need to keep all of your medical school knowledge and skills sharp in the meantime so that you’re ready to succeed in residency the following year.
If you did match, congratulations! First and foremost, we recommend you take a breath and do something to celebrate the occasion. Treat yourself, spend a night with family or friends, or have a good, long sleep—whatever feels right for you. The next phase of your medical school journey will be long and arduous but also incredibly rewarding.
Now that you know where you will complete your residency, you can begin planning your potential move, where you will live, and how you will manage your finances during this time. Start researching and preparing these details as soon as possible. Work out a realistic plan for what you hope to accomplish during your final months of medical school, and stick to it.
Control Your Own Destiny
While you may not have much control during Match Week, you do have control in the years leading up to residency and as you complete your residency application. The goal of a successful match into a desirable residency program should be in the back of your mind throughout your time in medical school.
How will you show growth and maturity in your residency personal statement? Are you continuing to build strong relationships for letters of recommendation? Are you putting time and effort into valuable extracurriculars?
Med School Insiders can help you prepare a stand out residency application that will ensure a match at one of your top programs. We offer a number of Residency Admissions Consulting Services tailored to your needs, including personal statement editing, USMLE tutoring, interview prep and mock interviews, and overall application editing.
We’re here to answer all of your questions and help you choose the path that best aligns with your interests and desired outcomes. It’s our goal to help you create a future that aligns with your vision.