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How To Survive Match Day (From a Spouse’s Perspective)

Looking back, it’s hard to believe two years have passed since the nerves of Match Day were settling in. After the build-up of four years of medical school, many difficult (and expensive) tests, and interviews across the nation, the anticipation for a small envelope containing our future was almost unbearable. And I’m just the wife!

As a spouse of a medical student, I stood by my husband’s side throughout his schooling and tried to provide support when possible without the insight to understand completely. Since I went through physician assistant school at the same time, I could somewhat relate to the rigorous schedule and long hours on rotations, but the process of securing a coveted residency spot took things to a whole new level. Match Day is the accumulation of years of dedication, but I have to admit I was just as nervous as my husband for the result.

Here are my tips to making sure you and your spouse both survive Match Day:

Enjoy the day. Many programs have a theme for Match Day to take the edge off and create a fun atmosphere for a stressful event. It’s a last hurrah for the current cohort before going their separate ways. My husband’s theme was “Favorite Character,” and he chose Batman, so naturally I was Robin. Even if you are the supportive wife or husband, participate with your spouse and their classmates. It’s more fun to feel involved and be silly for a day.

Bring your support system. Logistics may prevent you from having all of your loved ones at Match Day, but if you have people offering to be be present with their support, let them come! Whether friends, family, or mentors, don’t feel like you have to carry the stressful burden of this day on your own.

Prepare for tears. You might be the one crying, but even if you hold back your emotions, know there will be plenty of tears around you. Joyful ones and devastated ones. It’s okay to open your results in private by stepping outside if you are worried about the results or your response. Don’t feel pressure to instantly share your new assignment with everyone if you need time to process. Remember to bring some tissues, just in case.

Celebrate the result - good or bad. The unfortunate truth is not everyone will get their first choice of residency spots. Despite the outcome, make a decision to celebrate regardless. Go to dinner, have a party, do something! As someone who likes to have a plan, my first instinct after seeing my husband’s destination was to start researching houses we should buy. There will be a time for making a plan, but enjoy the moment before jumping to the next step.

Know that it will be okay. If you don’t get the result you expected, and you’re feeling more disappointment than excitement about your upcoming years, try to stay positive. After meeting many physicians, residents, and spouses, it seems most people end up happy with their location. A few years goes by quickly, so know it’s not forever.

I wish you all the best going into Match Day. I remember how nerve wracking it was to wait for my husband’s name to be called, and have to see where fate would have us, but it was an awesome experience. This step of the journey is about to end, so get excited for what the future holds for you.

About the author:

Savanna Perry PA-C is a practicing dermatology physician assistant living and working in Augusta, GA. In her free time, Savanna enjoys exploring her town and traveling with her husband, who is currently an internal medicine resident. She is also the founder of The PA Platform, a popular website for Pre-PA and current PA students.