Don’t you dare lose hope!
Cry for a week but nothing more than that! This is a stressful time for you and you need solutions. Straight to the point here are a few options after the SOAP program fails.
1. Consider applying for limited license to practice with supervision as an assistant. Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas have passed laws to allow unmatched graduates to work in medically underserved areas without doing a residency. New York State has similar provisions, do your research. You would be practicing as an “assistant physician” that requires supervision and cannot make independent decisions about patient care. Technically a level below an intern. The one person I know who got a role like this primarily did H&P’s and discharge summaries for a physician after obtaining a limited license in the state of NY.
2. Consider research options. Look up research jobs at universities in your area. The NIH and other major healthcare institutions have positions open all year long.
3. This may be the perfect time to pursue an added degree if it aligns with your career path. An MBA or MPH would come in handy if you have a passion for health policy or medical economics. For leadership (though not always required), a Masters in Healthcare Administration can be useful. It is never beneficial to pursue a degree you’re not passionate about; it’ll just add your debt burden and increase your stress level.
4. Work with an insurance, tech or pharmaceutical company. Insurance companies prefer to have medical professionals audit cases due to the facilitation of understanding. You may also consider a paid internship with either one of these types of organizations.
5. Re-arrange your application packet. Try to fill in missing experiences that could have made more competitive such as US clinical experience for FMGs or research experience for applicants into competitive specialties. Unfortunately your board performance cannot be reversed but you can gain more clinical experience at institutions where you will like to match.
6. Take the USMLE step 3 exam. This will certainly provide you a more complete application for the following application cycle.
7. Work for a private practice as a physician assistant or office manager. If you have family in the medical field, ask them to seek out useful positions within their organization. If you’re lucky to have a spouse or family that owns a practice they can create a position for you. This will keep you motivated on your path and offer you non-clinical insight into the practice of medicine.
8. Consider coding/ documentation review at a hospital or healthcare company online. This will not only supplement income but help you in your future practice. It is also a great way to stay informed on tips on how to document as a diagnostician.
9. Necessity is the mother of invention so create something! Start an entrepreneurial endeavor, create an app, start a blog. Go back to your undergraduate background and use what you have. If you have a degree in psychology, find a job in that arena. Every part of your life before medicine mattered.
10. Teach review courses or tutor students preparing for step 1 or 2. All you will need is great communication skills, patience, a laptop and shameless promotion of your gig. You can schedule sessions online using programs like zoom, youtube or skype.
11. Spend time with proper mentorship to guide your re-application process. Shadow them, ask them about a personal research project that you can enroll into, offer to be their assistant on any major assignments.
12. Use your non-medical gift or talent. Hair braiding, esthetics, interior design etc. You can save money towards residency or pay down debt.
13. Travel if you can afford it. “Run away if you can” said a 4th-year medical student. Go on medical mission trips because every physician is a humanitarian by nature. These trips are a great way to learn tropical medicine if you go to a remote area, the spiritual benefits are uncountable and if nothing else it will also look good on your CV.
14. Become a lobbyist for the government, insurance payers and other foundation to create more residency spots. We all know the world needs more doctors, so tell them why.
15. Start a family. If you’re married or have desired having a child but you’ve just been so busy with school, this can be a signal to slow down. Hehe… you can take the year off to start a family. The offspring will be here before the next cycle.
What other ideas do you have? Tell me in the comments. This will help a sad reader somewhere.