Preparing for the 2024 Main Residency Match

For fourth-year medical students, the third Friday in March is the most consequential day of the entire year: Match Day.

Match Day 2024 is the big day when more than 40,000 medical students will find out what medical residency program they’ll be joining after graduation. It is also the culmination of Match Week and an extensive application and matching process.

The event even includes a pathway for applicants who don’t initially receive a match. Just prior to Match Week, all applicants will find out if they’re eligible for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) service. It’s a service operated by the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) to channel unmatched applicants into residency slots that don’t get filled during the initial match process.

Preparing for the 2024 Main Residency Match Week is already underway. Here’s what you need to know about the registration and application process that starts now and ends in this momentous event in March.

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How to Apply for Residencies and The Match

If you’re an aspiring physician, you’ll begin the residency application process long before Match Week arrives. In fact, it’s time to start now!

Apply to Medical Residency Programs

First up: applying to residency programs. The window for applying to residency programs already opened on September 6, 2023.

You can create an online account and begin applying to residency programs through the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®), which is the centralized online application service operated by the Association of American Medical College (AAMC) that will send your information to residency programs. Be prepared to complete sections that include experiences, your personal statement, letters of recommendation, a professional photo, and your transcripts.

Don’t wait to get started; the process can be very time-consuming. Also, residency programs will be able to start reviewing those applications on September 27. You can get a one-time-use token with an access code to register from the designated dean’s office at your medical school.

In the coming months, you can expect to undergo interviews as part of the residency application process. These interviews give both applicants and programs an opportunity to learn more about each other. The AAMC provides a number of residency interview tips to help you through this process.

Apply for The Match

Another task to tackle this fall: apply through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) for The Match, which it celebrating its 70th year or pairing up candidates with residency programs.

After the application and interview process, the NRMP provides the mechanism through the Registration, Ranking, and Results® (R3®) system for applicants and programs to enter rank order lists of their true preferences. NRMP uses a mathematical algorithm to match applicants and programs to their most preferred ranked choices to make the best possible match for all participants.

The Match is a separate application and process from the residency program application process. The window for registering for The Match opens on Sept. 15. The standard deadline for applying for The Match (and SOAP) is January 31, 2024. You may be able to still register through the end of February, but you will have to pay an additional fee.

You’ll be able to begin ranking the residency programs to which you applied on February 1, 2024. The deadline for rank order list certification is February 28.

After that, you cross your fingers and wait for Match Week.

Match Week 2024

Here’s how Match Week 2024 will unfold for fourth-year medical students who have applied to residency programs through the National Residency Matching Program.

March 11: Match status available.

This is the day when applicants find out if they matched with a program. You should receive a notice about your match status by email. You can also use your smartphone to log in and check your match status through the R3 system. If you learn that you matched, you can sit back and take a deep breath.

March 11: SOAP begins

If you learn that you did not initially match (or only partially matched) with a residency program, don’t give up hope. You do have another chance for matching. If you’re eligible for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP), you can review the list of unfilled residency programs in the R3 system. Then you can complete your application in the ERAS system. You can submit up to 45 applications through SOAP. You can apply to new programs or programs that you already applied to, as long as the program participates in SOAP and has open slots.

Note: Experts often advise clearing your schedule during Match Week so you can participate in this process if need be.

March 12: Residency programs begin reviewing SOAP applications

At this point, residency programs that didn’t fill all their slots can begin reviewing the SOAP applications. If you applied, you might hear from a residency program director about your application, and you might even get an interview.

March 14: SOAP matching process takes place

Similar to speed dating, the SOAP matching process can be described as a “whirlwind” and “hectic.” There are four rounds in which you might get an offer. At the end, a list of programs that still have unfilled spots will be posted, and applicants who still haven’t gotten an offer can start contacting them.

March 15: Match Day

The big day is here at last! You’ll get a notification by email and on the R3 system, but chances are, your medical school has a big celebration planned. This is the time to enjoy the end of the residency application process and start looking forward to your training as a newly minted physician.

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