More SOAP, less clarity
As for what comes next, the NRMP is preparing for a longer-than-normal Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) than in years past. SOAP usually offers three rounds of matches after the initial Match Day; Ms. Lamb said things are different this year.
“SOAP will be the same number of days, but we’ve added an additional round on Thursday afternoon,” she said. Will it be unnecessary or not enough? Nobody knows. “How big SOAP actually is going to be is one of the things that we really don’t have a sense of right now and probably aren’t going to have a sense of until the Match.”
Uncertainty is the name of the game. More than any other Match before, programs and applicants won’t know how results from this pandemic year stack up for a few months at the very least. “I really want to see what this looks like on the other side,” Dr. Smith said. “Are applicants happy with the way it looks when they come here? Do they feel like they matched with the right place?”
Whether this unprecedented year will be remembered more for positive changes moving forward, including more flexibility on remote interviews, or for less-informed decisions that result in dissatisfied participants is also unclear.
“I think after the Match is over, we’ll be talking to everyone to get more perspective on what people who are applying now would tell the next class, and how programs can adjust,” said Kathy Diemer, MD, assistant dean for career counseling at Washington University. At the very least, those who are involved in this year after year can start thinking about what the future should look like.
“We’re going to need to do some kind of debriefing after this is over, both program directors and our students as well, so we can determine how to move forward next year and beyond.”
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