aoa scramble

The AOA Scramble is Gone, the SOAP Remains: What you need to know about residency matching

The aoa scramble is a process that osteopathic medical students go through if they don’t match in the regular AOA Match. Ever since it’s been a single matching process, the “scramble” has become SOAP and applies to both DO and MD students. There are a lot of misconceptions about what this means for you, so we’ve put together a list of common questions from osteopathic medical students below!

Are there any AOA Residency Programs

There are not any special aoa residency programs. You will apply to all of the same places as MD students, and may be competing with them for a spot in your preferred program.

There used to be AOA programs, meaning these are specific to Osteopathic students and it helped them have a channel to become resident physicians.

This was dissolved in the 2020 match, and instead of having osteopathic specific residencies for only DO students, now both MD’s and DO’s go through the NRMP match and during their fourth year of med school they will find out where they are going for residency on match day.

aoa scramble

What is the American Osteopathic Association or AOA

The AOA is a national organization that works to support osteopathic medical students. There are a lot of different aoa programs available, including scholarships and invitations to aoa summer conferences where you can meet other osteopathic meds from around the country!

This is an association (group) which has a goal to provide opportunities for Osteopathic doctors in terms of training and research.

Ultimately the AOA is an organization that is strictly there to support Osteopathic medical students in many multiple different ways.

Is the AOA part of Graduate Medical Education

The AOA used to be part of a group called the AOA Match Consortium. This consortium was a fellowship match for osteopathic medical students, meaning that aoa residencies would only accept applicants who matched through this system.

This is no longer in existence and does not exist anymore due to a single match process which has dissolved everything together (the NRMP).

The American Osteopathic Association is a group which has a goal to provide opportunities for Osteopaths in terms of training and research.

In the past, AOA residencies were a match process that was separate from everything else but now it’s all merged together so you do not have osteopathic specific residencies anymore. It will be through NRMP.

aoa scramble

The aoa is not a part of the graduate medical education (GME). This used to be a consortium which was a different match process for osteopathic med students. The AOA has been dissolved into one single match that includes both MD and DO applicants. There are no special residencies anymore, only through NRMP.

So, in summary, no the AOA is not part of GME anymore, they now exist to support and help future DO’s get into a residency program.

What is the NRMP match, and how does the match process work

The NRMP match is a national residency matching program, a single match that both DO and MD students participate in.

This is a process where you do an application after your fourth year of medical school to find out what residencies are available for a certain specialty (including the sub-internship) during their internships.

The NRMP is a match that will help you figure out what residency programs are available for a certain specialty (including sub-internships) during their intern years to apply for after medical school.

The match process is a system where you apply to a certain residency program during your fourth year of medical school.

You apply to residency programs and home to match after submitting your rank order list, and you hope that programs rank you high as well.

Essentially you apply, interview, and then rank the programs and they rank you.

There is a day in March called Match day that will let students know where they are going for a residency.

What happens to unmatched Medical Students

So what is this all about? Basically, after a certain number of spots have been filled by graduates with US degrees (MD) or international equivalents (DO), a match process is done called the SOAP.

The SOAP is a process that occurs after the regular match.

It is a week long process that gives those unmatched students the opportunity to find and fill the residencies that have gone unfilled that year.

There will typically be some programs throughout the country that don’t get filled up completely with residents.

So, what happens to unmatched medical students? They go through the SOAP and try to find a program that has unfilled spots that will take them.

Is it harder to Match as a DO

This is a common question. No, matching as a DO is not harder than matching as a MD and there are several things that go into choosing a residency program such as testing well on USMLE exams, letters of recommendation from professionals who have seen you in action, and a strong interview performance.

Some students will find it easier to match because they have a strong performance on a standardized test, have a lot of connections in the medical field or they did really well during their interview.

It’s not hard to match if you do well on your USMLE Step exams and get good letters from professionals who know what you’re capable of doing.

So this is a common misconception that it might be a little bit harder to match, but it’s not.

So a DO student matching into a residency program is just as competitive as an MD student going through the same process. This misconception comes from a few different factors such as the idea that Osteopathic schools are less selective or have lower requirements for applicants than traditional medical programs.

Focus on getting high scores and doing well in your interviews.

What does Osteopathic Recognition Mean

Osteopathic recognition means a lot of different things. It means a program is a combined MD and DO residency, or that a particular specialty has an Osteopathic curriculum component to it (such as Family Medicine).

Osteopathic recognition will typically mean a few things.

Essentially it means that a residency will have an extra focus on OMM throughout the training there.


AOA scramble is no more. It used to offer unmatched medical students an opportunity to match, but now it has been combined into one program that MD’s can participate in as well known as the SOAP. What are your concerns about matching? 

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