Match Day. It’s quite arguably the most important and life-defining day of a medical student’s career. Yes, it’s perhaps even more exciting than Graduation Day for many students. After four years of studying, examinations, OSCE’s, clinical rotations, shelf exams, residency interviews, and everything in between -- all of our efforts during medical school reaches a pinnacle during Match Day.
What is Match Day and why is it important?
For those who are not familiar with the process, Match day occurs every year (always on a Friday, usually during the 3rd week of March) during which senior medical students find out where they will be training for residency. It is actually a week-long process and starts on the Monday prior to Match Day. During Monday of Match Week, students find out whether or not they matched into a residency program, but the details of the residency program are not disclosed until that upcoming Friday. Once Friday (Match Day) arrives, the results of the match are released at the exact same time nationwide. Each medical school varies in regards to their Match Day festivities. Some students may learn their results at a large reveal celebration, while others may receive their results from an email or letter.
Match Day Advice
There are so many emotions we experience during the days leading up to The Match: excitement, nervousness, uncertainty, and maybe even fear. It’s pretty common to experience all of these emotions at one time and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, it is also important to remember that this is going to be one of the most exhilarating days of your life. Embrace every moment of this unfamiliar adventure. Below are some tips that I’ve gathered to help you make the most out of this exciting yet nerve-wracking time.
1. RELAX. You WILL get through this week. Sometimes it may feel difficult to accept the fact that your future will be determined by a computer algorithm (aka the matching algorithm), but just know that you’ve done everything you can to get to this point. Try to engage in a hobby or pastime that you enjoy to help yourself loosen up. Remember that whatever happens, you have what it takes to be successful. Everything will work out.
2. Gather friends and family for moral support. This one’s pretty important. Having the support from people you love during this time does wonders for the psyche. Surround yourself with people who can provide you with encouragement during times of doubt or anxiety. During the days leading up to The Match, my medical school friends and I would hang out, grab lunch, and talk about non-medical related topics. It was a great way to unwind and destress.
3. Have someone capture the moment you find out your Match. Trust me on this one, you guys. You’ll want to have that moment captured. Even if the result wasn’t what you were hoping for, you can easily hit the delete button. But having your facial expression captured for a positive outcome is absolutely priceless. (See my expression in the picture attached!)
4. Celebrate. Regardless of the outcome, go out and celebrate. You made it THIS FAR in medical school. You survived the matching process. You deserve to enjoy yourself!
So you’ve MATCHED! Now what? Here are the biggest tips I have for moving forward between now and residency:
- Research your new residency program. You should already know a few things about it from the interview day, but this is the time to fully learn about the schedule, requirements, salary, etc. of the residency program that you will be starting at.
- Explore housing options. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to reach out to your new residency program and ask for a list of recommended housing options. Many programs will have a list of apartments, rental properties, or even houses that are available for new residents to consider. Try to make a trip to your new location within the next couple of months so that you have an idea of where you will be living.
- Take an extended vacation. To me, this one’s highly recommended. You’ve undergone four years of rigorous studying and have had very little time to take a real vacation. In a few months, you’re about to embark on a new residency journey that comes with its own new set of challenges. Take some time between now and residency to relax and recharge. You absolutely deserve it.
- Cherish moments with your medical school friends. Depending on where all your friends match, it may be very difficult for everyone to get together once residency starts. My biggest recommendation is to make every effort to bond and make memories with friends before residency begins. It will be well worth it.
The above tips and advice will certainly depend on your unique situation, but I hope that you found some helpful and reassuring information for Match Week. Sending my best wishes and positive vibes to all the senior medical students participating in The Match this year!
About the author:
Audrey Sue Cruz, MD is a third year internal medicine resident in Southern California who attended medical school at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Prior to medical school, she studied and received her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. However she found that her passion for medicine and her love of math and science lead her to become a doctor, her true calling. This summer, she will be completing her internal medicine residency and will be starting her new position as an Attending Hospitalist as well as an Instructor for a medical school in Southern California. Outside of work, Audrey Sue enjoys traveling and seeking new adventures.