In 2012, a total of 38,377 aspiring physicians worldwide applied for 26,772 U.S. residency positions. These applicants included allopathic and osteopathic medical school seniors, previous medical school graduates, U.S. citizens who underwent medical training abroad, and non-U.S. citizens.

With medical school enrollment rising and the number of open residency training spots remaining stagnant, an increasing number of medical school graduates are going unmatched. If you did not match but still have your heart set on a career in medicine, this is your opportunity to strengthen your application for the next round.

Step 1: Self-Evaluation

Before making any decisions, ask yourself why you didn’t match. Was there a disconnect between your academic performance and chosen specialty and programs? Was your rank order list long enough? Were you too picky with your programs and geographic locations? Meet with a medical school advisor to assess your qualifications and application strategy. You can also contact the program directors of the places you applied to and ask for some constructive feedback and application advice. After an honest self-evaluation, you might end up choosing a different residency program or specialty altogether.

Step 2: Improve Your Application

If you are planning to reapply for residencies the following year, now is not the time to relax. Take this chance to do something that will strengthen your resume. This could mean finding work in a relevant clinical research lab or shadowing at hospitals that you are interested in applying to. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to nurture relationships with the people who will be writing your recommendation letters in the near future.

Not matching the first time around can happen to anyone. Taking a critical look at why you didn’t match and being proactive about improving your resume and application will help your chances in the next round.

Helpful Links:

Ask the Advisor: The reasons students don’t match (AAMC, 2011)

It’s not the end of the world

Medical residency interview advice from the pros

Topics #didn't match #don't match #no residency match #nrmp match #residency match #unmatched