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4 Things to Do If You Don't Match with a Residency Program

Posted by Amanda Dexter on January 23, 2020 at 9:12 AM
Amanda Dexter
Dr. Amanda K. Dexter received her optometric training at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, where she was Class of 2010 Valedictorian. She also completed a residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in San Diego, California. Dr. Dexter is the Manager and Program Coordinator for OptoPrep, the premiere online study resource for the NBEO Part I & II.

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Not everyone matches with an optometry residency program. If you do not end up matching with a site, please remember, this DOES NOT mean that you aren’t smart, that you aren’t good enough for a residency program, that your NBEO® scores or GPA weren’t high enough, or that you bombed your interviews.

There are PLENTY of excellent candidates who just don’t end up matching each year for a variety of reasons. With that being said, that are also MANY wonderful residency programs that don’t end up filling all of their openings either. Therefore, there is still a great opportunity to get set up with a fantastic residency for next year.

It does not end here!

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We’ve put together a few things you should do if you don’t happen to match through the ORMatch:

1. Take a deep breath and stay calm

At first, it can be very disappointing to find out that you did not match with a residency program. You spend countless hours researching programs, filling out applications, obtaining letters of recommendation, traveling to sites for interviews, and then ranking your top programs.

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It takes a lot of work, and with that comes a lot of stress, so know that your feelings are completely warranted. Sit down, take a few deep breaths, and stay calm. Remember that there are plenty (and by this, I mean about 100… yes, 100) residency programs that will also be unmatched with a resident. There are bound to be many great options still available for you to get in contact with. 

2. Check out the list of programs with available positions

When the results of the match are released, information regarding positions that remain available is provided to applicants who were not matched. Similarly, information regarding unmatched applicants is provided to programs with unfilled positions.

You can check out the list and see if any of the locations, specialties, or clinics spark your interest. Keep an open mind; you may have had your heart set on a contact lens residency, but this is the time to re-evaluate your options and consider exploring other possibilities.

3. Contact program directors

If there are any sites that you may be even slightly interested in, send an email to the program director. And I would highly recommend doing this as soon as you can. Keep in mind that the filling of available positions in the post-match process is not done by ORMatch.

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Unmatched applicants and programs with positions available are free to contact each other and to negotiate directly with each other, independently of the match, to fill the available positions. Send as much information in the email as possible, including your CV/resume, and any copies of NBEO® scores or transcripts that you may have available

4. Remain positive

There are many amazing residency programs that didn’t get matched with a resident that might be the perfect fit for you, so stay positive. One of my close friends ended up going through this process and matched with a great clinic and had a fantastic residency year.

Also know that it is OK if you decide that after all of this a residency is not the best option for you for the next year, and you don’t pursue a program outside of the match. Or, if it simply just doesn’t work out this year, that is OK too! You’ll still have plenty of time to figure out where you want to be and get a head start on looking for job openings post-graduation. 

Remember, everything happens for a reason! You just may not know what that reason is yet!

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Topics: ORMatch, Optometry Residency Match

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