Life Before, During, and After Match Day
March 17, 2017
Happy Match Day, and congratulations on making it this far! No doubt, you’re likely feeling a wide range of emotions right now—from excitement to anticipation, and everything in between. You also probably have one school in mind that you’re hoping to see when you open that envelope.
The truth is, no matter where you match—if at all—your medical journey is far from over. Rather than seeing your results as a life sentence, see them as simply new information about the next chapter of your life. Here are things you can do before, on, and after Match Day to enhance this unique and exciting process:
Before Match Day: pulling out all the stops
You might be wondering why we’re discussing what to do before Match Day when the day has already arrived. We hope it will shed light on why you received the results you did, as well as give you ideas for future interviews. While the Match process is bound by strict ethical guidelines, there are various forms of post-interview etiquette, which can tip the scales in your favor.
In some cases, applicants and or residency programs will write the other a “love letter”—an email expressing high interest as a way of indicating they will be ranked highly to improve the chances of a match. In addition to emails, a candidate may also have someone connected to the program make a call on their behalf to check for mutual interest. So if you do not match with one of your top choices, just know that many more factors than your academic credentials are involved.
On Match Day: saving face before your peers
Each school has a different way of distributing Match Day results. Some of their students open their letters together, some announce their results from a podium, and others are more personal and private. Whatever your school’s method is, think about you prefer to receive the news. Perhaps, you want to rip the bandaid off and open it as soon as you get it. Or maybe you want to retreat to a private place to digest the results before telling others.
Take comfort in knowing all your peers are going through the exact same experience. According to the National Resident Matching Program statistics, “The total number of positions offered in the 2016 Match was 30,750, an all-time high and 538 more than in 2015.” Still, some students may get their fourth choice program or not even match at all. Thus, it’s important to be sensitive and encouraging to your peers throughout the process.
After Match Day: knowing what next steps to take
Though Match Day marks a big turning point in your medical career, your fourth year is not quite over yet. It’s important you finish up any pending research projects, coursework, etc to make sure you’re all set to graduate medical school. You should also take the opportunity to ask for letters of recommendation for fellowship, set up exit interviews with faculty, start preparing for the USMLE Step 2 CK and CS, and make relocation arrangements as necessary.
What if you didn’t match? You have many options available to you. Either prepare to re-enter the Match in the fall, apply for an internship in your desired specialty, or consider an alternative career choice—such as side-sell equity research or consulting. Remember, a good match works both ways. Not matching the first time around will only get you closer to a program you’ll thrive in.