Residency Match

“getting a residency match is a dream of every medical student after passing Usmle Step-1 exams but, not all of them get a match”

Reasons for Failing a Residency Match

As it is already been mentioned in the previous articles that landing a residency match of your choice is very challenging and competitive path. Failing to land a match may be attributed to many of the reasons but some of the reasons are discussed in this article.

In the year 2016, there were only 30,750 positions, and the number of applicants exceeded to almost 60,000. You can imagine the competition from this fact. Only 29,572 positions were actually filled. Many of the applicants went unmatched.

There may be many reasons for going unmatched in the residency program. Some of those reasons are highlighted below:

  • Had Low Scores in USMLE: USMLE scores weigh a lot in counting for your residency match so having low scores mean more probability of going unmatched for a residency program.
  • Failed a USMLE: if you have failed any UMSLE step and passed it in multiple attempts then, some of the programs consider it as a negative mark in your application for residency program match.
  • Made Mistakes in filling your MYERAS Application: Even if you have passed your USMLE and are eligible for the residency match, doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. If you have left any part of your MyERAS application incomplete or incorrect will reflect you as a poor applicant for the residency match.
  • Personal Statement: Personal statement holds a power to make you stand out of the crowd and many of the residency programs consider this fact. Your personal statement could be your tool to get selected or rejected for the Match Program. If you make any mistakes in writing your Personal Statement then surely that will be counted as a negative mark for you. In your personal statement, you have to specify your specialty. If you are poor in grammar then do spend some time to improve your writing skills.
  • Low Clinical Experience or USCE: USCE is a gold standard to give your application a boost. It is the doorway to selection for the Residency for IMG’s and other candidates. It is often expensive and difficult to obtain. United States Clinical Experience (USCE) gives you an opportunity to experience the environment and be more specific about your specialty. Having enough USCE adds plus points to your eligibility for the program and creates more chances for you to get selected.  A lack of USCE gives; programs room to doubt your abilities, even if you’ve been practicing medicine for many years in your home country.

  • Not Having Enough LoRs (Letters of Recommendations): As it has been mentioned in previous articles that, LoRs are very important for your application. Having poor LoRs will make you go unmatched. If you produce more strong LoRs on the basis of your USCE then surely you can get selected.
  • Program Choices: If you are applying for a program that is not best fitting to your application and your academic career then there are many chances you won’t get a match. There are some programs which also demand specific and special letters of recommendations form the applicants; failing to produce those letters will also increase your chances to go unmatched. Before applying for any program, be more specific about your specialty, thoroughly research about choosing your specialty. As, if you want to choose a specialty in the surgery than you should have very high scores in your USMLE exams.
  • Poor Backup or Alternative Plan: As I have mentioned above, that if you are selecting an incompatible program for the residency then there are chances that you will not be selected. Once rejected you should have some strong alternative backup plan. If you are rejected in your primary choice for any program then so consider going for secondary and tertiary programs as per your priority.
  • Applying to Programs: You may apply to more than 100 programs in any specialty but if you fail to do so then there are chances you will be rejected. Apply to as many programs as you can in order to increase your chances to get selected. If you are not applying for more programs then surely you will be denying a chance to get selected by other programs.
  • Not Applying on the TIME: It is recommended for any applicant willing to apply to any residency program, to apply on the time when the residency applications open prior to the fall season. The best time chosen is, between the release date of MSPE and the fall season (before winters). Interviewing commences from September of each year so, keep in mind this thing as well. Applying late means you have already missed may interview opportunities.
  • Not Prepared for the Interview: You have followed up with every part as per requested by the authorities and eventually you were able to secure some interviews isn’t a guarantee that you will land a residency program easily. If you are not prepared for your interviews well enough and left behind a bad impression, programs will surely not rank you for the Match.
  • Didn’t Rank Enough Programs: Many of the students or graduates are mistaken by the praise of any director they are receiving after being interviewed and rank some programs very high then they should be. You will have to consider this part very seriously and you have to make a very positive decision regarding your ROL. Rank only those programs high in which you are compatible enough to get selected.
  • Less Competitive for your Priority Choice Program: If you have selected a program in which you are not competitive enough to be selected than the program directors will not consider your application compatible enough to be given any priority or chance for the interview call. Make sure that you are selecting a program that matches best to your USCE, academic career, and personality.


If you want to know more about the residency program than follow these links:






How To Get Residency Program Match

  • Not Followed Your Advisor: Not following the advice of your advisor sometimes, get you rejected. Your advisor has more knowledge about the residency program match so be sure to follow up with your advisor.
  • Didn’t Follow-up with Programs: Sometimes a program needs a reminder to make sure you do exist. So, it is highly recommended that if you are not hearing any word from the programs then do follow up with communication and send the requests to the programs of your priority choice. It’s better to leave no stone unturned than to leave it be.
  • Missing Application Parts: As already mentioned if you left any part of your application incomplete or incorrect than it will count you as an ineligible candidate for the residency match program.
  • Poor Interpersonal Skills: Having poor communication and interpersonal skills will leave you to go unmatched. If the program finds you poor regarding your communication skills then surely you are giving a bad impression of your personality.
  • Misunderstanding the Application: Before you fill up your application it is advised for you to get full knowledge of the filling process by talking to someone who has gone through these stages. Seek help from a mentor to avoid all the mistakes.


A word from Author:

Follow the below links to get a complete overview of all the USMLE Steps.

USMLE [A General Study Guide To All USMLE Steps]

USMLE Step-1 [A Comprehensive Guideline] 

USMLE STEP-2 CK [Study Guideline]



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