So Why Does a Physician, Who is Already Board Certified in Both Plastics and General Surgery, Care About Medical Students Who Have Not Matched Into a Residency Program??


Because In My 4th Year of Medical School, I Was In the Same Predicament As So Many of You Are, Right At This Very Moment….


No Residency Position.


….And Reeling From the Fact that After All of This Work, Time, Absence From Life, Missing Family Events, Losing Friends, Moving To Another State………………And Now Nothing to Show For It.



It Is My Hope That This Short Module Will Help Someone Else Avoid This Predicament.


And Just So You Know, I Could Not Have Asked For A Better Life Than What I Have Right At This Moment.


With All of The ‘Ups and Downs’, ‘Failures’, ‘Do-Overs’, ‘Winding Roads’ and ‘Lessons Learned’, I Would Not Change A Solitary Thing.


I Am A Success……And You Will Be Too.
Let’s Get To Work.




So Why Didn’t You Match??




There are a multitude of reasons, but it usually boils down to these critical factors:


1. You restricted the number/region of programs in your application pool, and thereby limited your catch basin. Ex. 1. I only want to live on the West Coast. 2. I Will Only Interview in Chicago or Miami.


2. You applied to an extremely competitive program (Ex. Dermatology.. Ortho….ENT) and did not apply to a back-up Specialty.


****Every Year Extremely Competitive Applicants Go Unmatched Because They Did Not Apply To A Secondary Specialty******

****AOA and 99th Percentile on Exams Are Good Predictors of Matching…..But They Do Not Guarantee A Position******


3. Marginal Board/Clinical Exam Scores and Did Not Apply to Enough Programs and/or Back Up Specialty

‘Don’t Go Into The Woods Without Water and Don’t Apply To Residency Programs Without A Back-Up Plan.’


Approximately 5% of American Medical Graduates Will Not Match!!



Protect Yourself…..Be Prepared.
So What Do We Suggest ??



1. The Pre-emptive Strike.

If you know you are at risk of not matching (Marginal Board Scores, Have Failed An Exam or Are Applying to An Extremely Competitive Specialty), Make Sure You Apply To A Back-Up Specialty or Transitional Year.

A. Apply to Residency Positions in a Variety of Regions.

***And Strongly Consider Applying to Both Competitive ‘Well Known’ Programs, As Well As ‘Community-Based’ or ‘Rural’ Programs.  The Training At The Smaller Programs Is Usually Just As Exceptional, and Often Offers a More Diverse and Intense Experience; Because There Are Usually No Fellows To Compete With For Clinical and/or Surgical Experience.***

B. Ask Your Program Director and Dean of Academic Affairs ‘How Many’ Programs You Should Apply to for Your Specialty of Interest (SOI)

C. You May Also Want to Apply To An ‘Externship’ at Your Institution or One That Has Your Desired SOI.

D. Consider a Masters In Public Health (MPH) ……If You Are Interested in Academics….Health Policy/Reform…..Grant Proposals

Consider a Masters in Health Administration (MHA) …..If You Are Interested in Academics…..Administrative Hospital Position…..Employment by Health Corporation

Consider a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) ….If You Are Interested in Administrative/Executive Position in a Hospital or Health Corporation…..Establishing a Private Health Corporation of Any Size

E. Inquire About Bench and/or Clinical Research at Your Home Institution (In Your Specialty of Interest, If Possible) During Your Clinical Rotations or During the First Two Years of Medical School, If You Already Know Your Area of Interest.



2. No Matter Your Academic Standing……


Always Consult With An Advisor, preferably the Chair or Program Director of Your Specialty of Interest, at Your Institution.


Ask If You Are A Competitive Candidate….


Ask If You Are a Competitive Candidate for Your Home Institution. If Not, Ask What You Can Do To Make Yourself More Competitive.


Find Out the Match Statistics of Your Specialty…..Average Board Scores…..Research Requirements……American Vs. Foreign Medical Graduate Acceptance Rate…..Acceptance After First Round of Match Vs. Subsequent Rounds of Match


What Are The Non-Academic Factors That Can Make You More Competitive?

Volunteer….Prior Work/Life Experience…..



3. If You Do Not Match Into Your Specialty of Choice…..



Go Through the SOAP Process….


It is Much Better to Obtain ‘Any’ Position, Rather Than Not Match At All.



A. You Are Still Working Toward Finishing A Specialty.
B. You Are Gaining Clinical Skills.
C. There Is A Good Chance That Your ‘Specialty of Interest’ (SOI) Will Have A Program At Your Current Institution. This is Another Opportunity to Make Connections, Attend ‘Their’ Conferences and Make A Great Impression.


****I have personally seen many Residents in Other Specialties, or Preliminaries, Obtain Recently Vacated Positions At My Institutions, Simply Because They Displayed Interest, Worked Hard and Were Already Known to the Department…..Happens Every Year, Throughout the Country and Across Specialties****
If Possible…..

1. Reach Out To The Programs Where You Interviewed…And Ask….

A. Were You A Strong Candidate?

B. Is There Anything You Could Have Done To Make Yourself More Competitive?

C. Are You The Type of Candidate They Are Looking for?

D. Are There Research Opportunities, Clinical or Bench, Available At Their Institution?

E. Are There Preliminary Positions Still Available?

F. Are There Externship Positions Available?
For The Next Round…..


Occupy Yourself During the Next Twelve Months, Doing Something That Will Strengthen Your Application…..




2.  PUBLICATIONS, Any and All Are a Plus. Throw Away Journals, Internet-Based and/or Peer-Reviewed Journals. JUST GET PUBLISHED. Let Your Prospective Programs Know That You Have Been Working Hard At Strengthening Your Application.

****FIRST AUTHOR is Preferred****


3.  PRESENTATIONS, Regional and National. Even if the Project is in Evolution, Present Your Data and Your Findings Thus Far. Also, Grand Rounds, Didactic Sessions and Local Medical Society Meetings. DON’T LET THEM FORGET ABOUT YOU and Make Them Take Notice.


4.  Consider an MPH, MBA or MPH. The Knowledge You Gain in These Programs Will Enhance Your Career, No Matter What Path You Eventually Take.


5.  STAY IN TOUCH With Your Dean of Academic Affairs, As Well As the Program Director in Your Field of Interest At Your Home Institution. Just a Quick Email, Once A Month, to Let Them Know Your Progress and Your Continued Interest To Match Into Your Desired Field.

Many Times, When a Dean or Program Director Become Aware of An Opening, They Reach Out To Those Who Have Been Determined, Hard Working, PERSONABLE and Available.


6.  Try and Find a MENTOR IN YOUR FIELD OF INTEREST, Outside of the Academic Process. Someone to Just Discuss Ideas, Dreams and Goals.

Mentors Have Often Been Where You Are and Can Offer Insight, Without the Pressure to Avoid Saying Anything That Might Be Politically Incorrect or That Could Be Misconstrued As ‘Leading You On’ in Regards To A Residency Spot.


7.  Register With ‘ClearingHouses’ in Your SOI. Residency Positions Become Available ALL YEAR LONG. Sign Up and Check the Site Weekly For Updates and New Listings.

There is a Long List of ‘Resources’ at the End of This Module.


8.  Mock Interviews With Your Advisors/Mentors.

Some People Have Excellent Applications, However, They Do Not ‘Interview Well’.

Ask Your Peers, Advisors and Mentors to Interview You.  It May Be That Your Weakness is Being Too Reserved, Too Talkative or That Your Personality Does Not Translate Well During Interviews.


9.  For Some, This Experience Is The First Time You Have Ever Experienced Any Type of Failure.  If You Are Having Difficulty Dealing With Any of This, And Need To Speak With Someone, Please Reach Out To Your Dean of Student Affairs or Your Own Physician for Help.

This Is A Lot To Handle and There Are Resources If You Are Depressed or Feeling Anxious.
****And a Quick Sidebar From Someone Who Has Been Interviewing Candidates For Residency, For Many Years, and Served As An Advisor For Many Medical Students, Across a Variety of Specialties…..


1. Always, Always, Always Be Polite, Kind and Respectful To Everyone Throughout This Process. That Includes the Secretarial Staff, Nurses, All Hospital Employees…..Pretty Much Everyone You Interact With During Your Journey.

Many Applicants Do Not Even Get the Opportunity to Have Their Applications Reviewed Because They Were Rude/Unkind/Condescending/Unprofessional With The Administrative Staff.
Most of All,

Remember That You Are Still the Exceptional, Intelligent and Determined Individual That Has Made It Thus Far.

This is Simply Another Hurdle.

You Will Graduate and Get Your Degree……Those Two Things Alone Are Such Accomplishments……Don’t Forget That.




I Hope This Information Helps.


If There Are Other Things To Consider or Add, Please Feel Free To Leave a Comment or Reach Out To Me To Dialogue Further.
As Always,


Take Care. Be Well. Be Safe.


Lisa Whitty Bradley, M.D., FACS
CEO & Founder
Chicks With MDs, LLC

Follow us @ChicksWithMDs on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn



Check Out These RESOURCES Below For More Info On the Match Process and Vacancies:
1. Residency Swap

2. Association of Program Directors in Surgery

This is a listing of available residents. You, as an applicant submit your availability and credentials.

3. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology

4. The American Psychiatric Association

5. Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

6. Reviewing the SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) Process

7. US News and World Report Article on Options for Those Who Remain ‘Unmatched”

8. AMA Article on Those Who Are ‘UnMatched’ and Recommendations for Success

9. The Match Algorithm

10. Help With Depression and Anxiety



11. Facebook….Physicians Only….Physician and Resident Job Postings