My Experience with the Match: Tips and Takeaways
March 15, 2017
This time two years ago, I was a fourth-year medical student preparing for Match Week. I had applied broadly to anesthesia residency programs and traveled from coast to coast for a total of 16 interviews.
My match list included all 16 programs, and the next four years of my life would be dictated by an NRMP algorithm. I trusted the system, but also realized that I could end up almost anywhere in the country.
For current and future fourth-year medical students, here are some of my thoughts from going through the match process:
Turn your anticipation into excitement
If you’re one of those students that was calm about applying to medical school, taking the USMLEs or starting on new rotations, then this advice is not for you. For the rest of us mortals, recognize that this is a big milestone on your medical journey and it is completely natural to feel a little anxious.
It often feels like time slows down as you’re anticipating Match Week, but it helps to stay as busy as possible—see your friends and work on extracurricular commitments. Before you know it, you will find out where the next adventure in your medical training will take you.
Determine how to best receive the news
My medical school reserved a room in a hotel and distributed envelopes that we opened as we pleased. Since we were allowed to open our envelopes prior to the time the NRMP releases the results via email, we were incentivized to attend the ceremony. We were also offered the option to keep our match private [we were given a list of which program our classmates matched at after opening our envelopes].
While most of my classmates stayed in the main room to open their match result, some wanted privacy and went outside or to another room to open their envelope. Because this event is an intensely emotional one, I think it’s important to consider the most appropriate venue for you to discover where you matched. If that means staying home and waiting for the official email to arrive, then do that.
For some IMGs or repeat applicants, there may not be a ceremony to participate in. Either way, you will receive your email at the indicated time. I received my “Did I Match?” [that was literally the subject line] email at 11:55AM EST on the Monday of Match Week and my “Where Did I Match?” email at 12:55PM on the Friday of Match Week. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection and are in a comfortable environment to find out the news.
Celebrate whatever results you receive
Although the process of applying to and matching into a residency can be daunting, realize that most medical students will have something to celebrate.
According to the results of the 2016 NRMP Main Residency Match, 98.3% of U.S. seniors matched and 79.2% matched into their top 3 choices and over 50% matched into their 1st choice! For IMGs, the match rate is slightly over 50% and actually increased by 1% compared to 2015.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t match into one of your top choices, consider how lucky you are to have the opportunity to become a physician and impact the lives of your patients. Never forget that what you do matters.
Have questions about residency after the Match? Kaplan’s got you covered.