Preparing for Residency

Match: Which specialties place most residents through SOAP

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

AMA News Wire

Match: Which specialties place most residents through SOAP

Feb 23, 2024

For eligible unmatched applicants to residency programs, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) can be a chance to land a residency position that went unfilled. 

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In 2024, SOAP will take place March 11–14, and as has been the case during the prior three residency application cycles there will be an added fourth round of SOAP this year.

SOAP is a service of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Data obtained from the NRMP offers insight on which specialties offered positions and which applicant types found success through the SOAP process during the 2023 Match cycle. 

It is worth noting that the number of positions filled through SOAP last year—2,431—was an increase over prior years. In 2022, 2,111 positions were filled through SOAP. The number of positions filled through the process—1,773 in 2021 and 1,687 in 2020—has been on a steady incline since the pandemic.

FREIDA™, the AMA Residency & Fellowship Database® (registration required), enables unmatched students to research residencies from more than 13,000 programs both during and following SOAP. Access is free, but extra benefits—such as such as a dashboard that helps users save, rank and keep notes on each program—are available to AMA members.   

Categorical positions—a full-length residency training position—made up roughly 60% of PGY-1 positions offered or filled through the SOAP process last year; the remainder of entry-level positions were PGY-1 only.  

The most common categorical specialties filled through SOAP were: 

  • Family medicine—521.
  • Emergency medicine—501.
  • Internal medicine—356. 
  • Pediatrics—71. 
  • Psychiatry—18. 

About 40% of filled SOAP positions were PGY-1 only—meaning that those applicants will have to match with an advanced postgraduate year 2 (PGY-2) position during SOAP or participate in the Match the following year for a PGY-2 position.  

Those residents will begin their training by spending a year in a more general discipline before entering their chosen specialty in year two of residency. The most common PGY-1 (only) positions were preliminary surgery and preliminary medicine. There are relatively few PGY-2 positions typically available in SOAP. 

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Most years, the applicant breakdown in SOAP leans heavily toward international medical graduates (IMGs), and 2021 was no different.  

The most common applicant participant by type included: 

  • Non-U.S. citizen IMGs—5,344. 
  • U.S. citizen IMGs—2,775. 
  • Senior students at U.S. allopathic medical schools—2,062. 
  • Previous graduate of U.S. allopathic medical schools—939. 
  • Senior students from U.S. osteopathic medical schools—855. 
  • Previous graduate of U.S. osteopathic medical schools—385. 

Of the 2,431 positions filled through soap last year, U.S. allopathic seniors accepted 931, more than any other applicant type. IMGs as a group accepted 28%—an increase of six percentage points over the prior year—and osteopathic medical school seniors accepted 22%.

At the end of SOAP in 2023, there were 227 out of 2,658 positions that remained unfilled. 

 The AMA Road to Residency series provides medical students, international medical graduates and others with guidance on preparing for residency application, acing your residency interview, putting together your rank-order list and more.  

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