So the match week has brought celebration for some and despair for others who are wondering why they did not match. The main reason why many applicants go unmatched is due to an overwhelming number of applications for a particular residency program. In 2016, about 60,000 candidates competed for just 30,750 vacant positions. So it's understandable that so many candidates went unmatched.
Aside from a large number of applicants, there may be other reasons why you did not match into your desired residency program. You may need to do some critical self-reflection with regards to your application and professional background.
Possible reasons why you didn't match:
Your Personal Statement is weak - your personal statement can go a long way to determine whether you will match or not. The central element that your personal statement should display is that you are unique. Common mistakes that applicant make in their personal statement include poor grammar, sounding too stiff, showing a lot of negativity in their statement and such.
Wrong Recommendation Letters - submitting the wrong letters of recommendation (LOR) could cost you your match. The best letters of recommendation are those from USCE. They must also be specialty specific.
Inadequate US Clinical Experience - lack of USCE is the downfall of all International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Getting it may be costly but USCE gives your application the boost it needs to earn you a match. With USCE, your program directors can feel more confident about your advancement and adaptation to the US medical environment. It also gets you strong letters of recommendation. However, without USCE, your abilities may be questioned, even though you are an excellent physician.
Your scores and attempts in USMLE exams: Your scores in your USMLE exams do matter as some residency programs require that you score very well in a few tries, which is of immense importance. Programs often have an initial requirement for minimum USMLE scores before they review other application materials.
Timely application - your application should be ready between the commencements of the application season to the time the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) is released. The first batch of interviews takes place sometime in September while the second batch takes place late in October. Due to a large number of applicants, residency slots fill up fast. It is therefore of utmost importance that you apply early to avoid missing out on some interview opportunities.
Following up with programs - If after applying you haven't heard back for quite a while, it wouldn't be out of place to send a follow-up message to your favorite programs. It is crucial not to leave any stone unturned.
Misunderstanding the application process - before applying to a residency program, gather all necessary information and training. Having a mentor always helps to oversee your application and always double-check to avoid making many mistakes.
By critically analyzing your past application attempts, you will be able to identify possible mistakes which will help improve your application in the future.