SOAP Smartly: Research Your Programs


Here's the success story of an IMG with an average Step 1 score and no US clinical experience who applied late to the match.... but was able to research her programs and apply smartly in the SOAP!




Hi Dr Barone,


I would like to share my success story with you.


I'm an IMG, I graduated in 2015 and came to the States to study for my step exams. I should probably say that I had some red flags from the beginning. I had to retake a couple of my basic science classes and on top of that I was very nervous while taking Step 1. I felt that I didn't do that good and when I got back my grade it was a 228 (on the low side for an IMG). I thought my dreams were over.


I started studying for Step 2CK and got a 245! But I took it late September, so I didn't apply until the grade came in. This meant that I applied to the match very late... by the end of October, with no USCE and no US LORs! And I also made another fatal mistake, I restricted myself geographically so I only got 2 interviews.  Meanwhile I started a rotation and finally got my first US LOR!


Then came match day and... of course I didn't match.    So I participated in the SOAP.   Of all of the programs I applied to, one in particular caught my attention;  The program caught my attention due to several things, it seemed IMG friendly, when you're SOAPing you don't get that many applications, you have to make each and every one of them count, you have a very limited amount of time to research the programs that have positions unfilled, it also seemed to fit my future career goals and I was interested in a medium sized program and what I read about the working environment it seemed that everyone was like a family, you get to really know the other residents, the faculty, and the PD.


I was very surprised that an hour after applying I got a phone interview with them, followed by a couple more and an offer for IM residency on the first round of the SOAP.    During my interviews they did mention the improvement I had in my clinical years (I worked hard to make up for my earlier mistakes).  So that's my success story, I'm an IMG who did a lot of mistakes while applying and successfully got a spot in the SOAP.


G. Z. March 2017


Did you need a VISA?

I didn't need a visa, I am a Green Card holder, which I officially got a couple of weeks before the SOAP.


How many programs did you apply to originally?

Originally I applied to 30 IM and 10 FM programs.


How did you select the programs to apply to in the SOAP and how many did you list (did you stay with geography?)

I got a very valuable advise from a fellow I was rotating with, he told me to look at each programs list of residents and check if they had any IMGs, and to apply to those, that way I would maximize my chances for an IV. I applied to 27 IM and 18 FM programs as a backup in the SOAP, and this time I applied all over the country.


What was the Soap interview like and aside from you improvement was there anything else that you think might have made the difference? What would you have done differently if you had to do it over again?

I was very nervous during my first IV, at this point you really want to impress and get that position, everybody I spoke with was very nice, they just wanted to make sure they answered any questions I had, and since the first IV I was told that they were looking for a bilingual doctor, so I'm sure that also helped and I had a great LOR from a US physician. What would you have done differently if you had to do it over again? First of all try avoiding the SOAP, the whole process is very stressful, apply on time, be smart when you apply, research every program's list of current residents to assess their IMG friendliness and don't restrict yourself geographically.

Category: Success

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