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Re-Match: Tips on reapplying post an unsuccessful Match cycle

After passing the beast of exams i.e. the USMLEs, and investing a significant amount of time and effort on curating the application, the news of getting unmatched can be an unfortunate reality, leaving one wondering what to do next. Reapplication can be a difficult and uncertain process but keep at it!

We have curated a list of things you can do to make the most of this time and improve your chances for a match next year.

  1. Reassess your application and find other ways to improve it. You should start by reviewing and reworking components of your application, such as your personal statement, CV, references, MSPE, and so on. Did you accurately gauge your competitiveness? Was your personal statement crafted well to suit your specialty? Do you need to brush up on your interview skills? Did your letters of recommendations come from individuals who can speak well of your qualities and skills in relation to your chosen specialty? Now is the time to reflect on your previously submitted application, be honest with yourself, and identify and work on your weaknesses.

  2. Connect with trusted mentors or people who share experience in the same space. Talk to your mentor or medical school advisor for advice on what to do next. Also, consider connecting with people who share similar experiences, and who have experienced this side of the match process before you. They can offer useful resources for navigating life after not matching or can help connect you with opportunities to further improve your application.

  3. Try to talk to the program directors that interviewed you. Consider politely emailing the program directors that interviewed you and ask if they would be willing to share why you weren’t ranked higher, as well as what specific areas on your application you could work on. This can be a key approach to identifying shortcomings in your application to know how you can further strengthen it.

  4. Plan your year ahead. Take time to decide what you want to do with your year. You have temporarily hit a roadblock, but you do have options. Consider thinking broadly about what you want for yourself and how you want to make the most of the year.

  5. Look for paid or volunteer positions to enhance your experience. A few options you can consider are: finding a still unfilled preliminary or transitional position, a research fellowship, or taking up a clinical job in your chosen specialty. Try to reach out to Attendings you worked with or faculty members at your medical school to learn of available opportunities. If you are an IMG, consider shadowing or observership opportunities in the US in order to gain some valuable US clinical experiences. A quality clinical experience in the US can result in a good recommendation which will be a great addition to your application.

  6. Get an additional degree. You may as well consider pursuing an MPH or a similar degree to bolster your CV and build more connections.

  7. Be watchful of open PGY-1 positions. Openings after the match do occur regularly, and you don't want to miss them. Be on the lookout for them.

  8. Take the USMLE Step 3, if you haven't already. The USMLE Step 3 tests more in-depth clinical knowledge and decision-making. It is recommended that you take this exam while your knowledge of these core areas is still fresh. Also, passing it will make you a more competitive applicant the next time around. A stellar USMLE Step 3 score can help outweigh average Step 1 and 2 scores if you haven't been able to perform fairly on them.

  9. Participate in a conference. Attending a conference in your chosen specialty will not only help you stay on top of the most current news in your specialty but also build a network with specialists in your chosen field. This can further lead to observerships and shadowing opportunities, research projects, and even clinical work.

  10. Re-apply early. Stay on top of things. YOU GOT THIS!

Applications are accepted starting in early September. Crafting the perfect statement, CV, and MSPE and securing strong recommendations take time. Prepare all your components in advance and apply as soon as the application portal opens i.e. June.

While you are finding multiple ways to strengthen your application for the next cycle, it is also equally important to check in with your emotions and take care of your well-being. There can be a lot of different emotions around going unmatched. Take time to pause and feel everything. Lean on people you trust for support. Remember that failure is not final; but a temporary detour where great change and growth can occur.

Writer: Preeti Shakya

Editor: Snimarjot Kaur


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