For those who don’t know, the SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) is a program designed to help applicants who didn’t match find a spot at programs who had unfilled spots. Unfilled categorical general surgery spots are very rare and there were almost none this year. On the other hand, there are usually hundreds of unfilled preliminary surgery spots every year because lots of programs don’t try to fill them through the match. These are temporary one-year spots that could be filled by people who haven’t matched or people who are doing other specialties that require a preliminary year (radiology, anesthesiology, urology, etc). With that, I thought that SOAPing into a preliminary surgery spot wouldn’t be difficult because there are so many. Again, I was wrong.
You get 45 “tokens” to apply to any of the unfilled spots through ERAS. I used mine to apply to the leftover categorical surgery spots and then a bunch of preliminary spots. You apply and then you wait for programs to call you, which could be at any hour of the day. Then the interviewing session closes and there’s an offer period. If you get an offer, you can either accept it or deny it and continue the cycle over and over again until Thursday when the SOAP ends.
I had a handful of interviews for prelim spots, all but one of them at places where I had interviewed for a categorical spot. Most of the interviewers wanted to know how I was holding up considering the circumstances and told me they were surprised I didn’t match. I appreciated their concern and it made me feel better knowing that they cared enough to ask how I was feeling about the whole ordeal and didn’t think I was a complete failure who stood no chance of matching in the first place. I knew I had to be strong and optimistic that this was happening to me for a reason and at this point was only concerned about getting a prelim spot.
The first offer round came and I was so excited that I had gotten an offer and gladly accepted it. I feel extremely fortunate and I am thankful to have a spot for the next year. Although I will need to reapply, I at least have a job in the meantime and it will be doing surgery.