Two women are standing on a sidewalk.

By Dr. Ebad Khan

It’s that time of year again! Match Day is just around the corner, and it’s completely understandable to feel the pressure of matching. 

Match Day is stressful for medical students because it’s unpredictable. You’ve worked hard all year long, and now it’s time to find out where you’ll spend the next four years. It’s not just about getting into a good program — it’s also about getting into a program that’s a good fit for you. I’ve been in your shoes and I totally understand the pressure, but there are some ways you can make the most of 2023 Match Day to ensure that you are matched, and met, with the right next step in your medical career.

What is Match Day in Medical School?

For those who don’t know, Match Day is when medical students find out where they will spend their residency training. This is a huge decision that will majorly impact their future careers, so it’s no wonder Match Day is such a big deal. 

How Can I Make the Most of Match Day? 

Yes, it’s true that Match Day is a big deal but there’s no reason to stress. Here are some of my tried-and-true pieces of advice on making the most of Match Day.

1. Get a good night’s sleep

This may seem obvious, but getting a good night’s sleep before the big day is very important.

2. Keep a healthy perspective

First and foremost, relax. It is a big day, but it’s also just another day in what will be a long, successful medical career. No matter what happens, you will end up somewhere you are meant to be. Gather your friends and family for moral support.

3. Don’t overthink it

The place where you are matched is an important step, but at the end of the day, you’ll be able to expand your skills as a doctor wherever you go. Try not to stress too much about it.

4. Be prepared for the unexpected

Anything can happen on Match Day, from last-minute changes to your rank list to receiving an unexpected match result. It’s important to stay flexible and be ready to adjust your plans accordingly.

5. Stay positive

Remember that you’ve worked hard to get to this point and deserve to be where you are. No matter what the outcome, stay positive and know that you’ve done your best.

6. Enjoy the ride

The Match process is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so make sure you live in the present! Meet new people, explore new places, and make memories that will last a lifetime. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you end up where you’re meant to be. 

7. Savor the moment

This is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself. Please take a moment to soak it all in and savor the feeling. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and deserve to enjoy this moment.

8. Take lots of pictures

You’ll want to remember this day for the rest of your life. Be sure to take lots of pictures to reflect on this special day.

9. Enjoy your Match Day experience

This is a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Be sure to enjoy every minute of it. Congratulate your friends, meet new people, and soak up the atmosphere.

10. Celebrate with your loved ones

Finally, celebrate! This is a big accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself. This is a day to celebrate your hard work and dedication. Cheers to the next chapter!

Have You Matched? Now what? 

Once you know where you’ll be heading for your residency, the planning begins. Here are some “next steps” that follow matching.

Research new residency programs

There are a few things to keep in mind when you are doing your research.

  • Know about the training requirements of the programs you are considering. Make sure the program will offer you the training you need to succeed in your career.
  • What is the location of the programs you are considering? You need to make sure you can find a job in the area after completing your residency.
  • What are the salary and benefits offered by the programs you are considering? You want to make sure that you can support yourself and your family after completing your residency.
  • One thing you should look at is the program’s reputation. You want to make sure that you will be able to get a job after you complete your residency.
  • Finally, it would help if you talked to people who have already completed their residencies. They can give you first-hand information about the programs you are considering.

Enjoy your free time

You’ll like this one a lot. After four years of intensive study, you haven’t had much time for relaxation. In a few months, you’re preparing to start a new residency program, which will provide its own unique set of problems. Spend the time between now and starting residency working on yourself. You have earned some time to rejuvenate before the next step.

What If You Do Not Match With Your Top Choice?

It’s possible that you won’t get matched with any of your preferred schools, but that could be for the best. You should be open to all prospective matches and explore each match’s hidden possibilities and pearls. 

If you find yourself in the position of not matching your top choice, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Take a deep breath and remember that you are not alone. In 2018, nearly 5% of U.S. seniors did not match to a residency program.
  • There are many excellent programs outside of the top tier.
  • You can transfer to a higher-ranked program after completing one year at a lower-ranked program.
  • You can take a year off and apply again next year.
  • You should talk to your medical school’s career advisor to get more specific advice for your situation. 
  • Additionally, always remember if you don’t get matched, you might get offered a position through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance (SOAP) program.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on your dream of becoming a physician. If you put in the hard work, you will find a residency program that is a good fit for you.

Good luck to everyone participating in Match Day 2023! I’m cheering for you.

Dr. Khan

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