Congratulations! You Matched to Residency – Now What?!
After years of medical school, months of interviews, and countless nights of worrying about your Rank Order List for residency matching. You open your NRMP results envelope on Match Day and a wave of emotion washes over you. You matched to residency!
Matching to residency was the goal that always felt so far away until you opened your letter on Match Day. It’s all you focused on. Now what are you supposed to do?
Feel All the Feelings
The first thing to do after matching for a residency is to feel all the feelings. Match Day is fraught with anticipation and heightened emotions even under the best of circumstances. Whether you matched at your top choice or your last choice, you need to take some time to process all the feelings associated with this momentous occasion.
For those who matched at or near the top of your list, I’m sure you will feel excited about matching for residency and the next steps of the adventure ahead of you. Take some time to celebrate your match with friends and family. You may be surprised when there are still mixed emotions after matching at your first choice of residency. Many students say that this is still bittersweet. It marks the end of a big part of your life, and there may have been other programs on your list that you would have been happy with. No matter what, Match is a day of missed opportunities. It is okay to feel sad about all the programs you did not match at.
For those who matched at a program they weren’t expecting or aren’t excited about – that is okay. When this happens, it’s just as important to give yourself space to process. Some students feel anger, confusion, and sadness. Feel all these things if you need. Also, know that you matched and will be a successful doctor no matter where you train. Many faculty have told stories of how their match didn’t go how they hoped and looking back they are so glad that it did. It will take time, but you will be successful wherever you go because that is who you are.
Residency Matching Paperwork, Paperwork, and More Paperwork!
The next thing that happens if you will get an email from your program with approximately 1000 forms that you need to fill out. Okay, it’s way fewer than that but it feels like 1000. You will need to apply for a license, which will involve your medical school certifying that you have met all your requirements. You will also provide all your training details and academic accomplishments, and sign your contract. Your program will likely require a background check and drug testing as well. This process can be overwhelming. It happens quickly after the Match – a time you probably planned to relax and maybe even travel during. Make sure to stay on top of this as delays can have severe consequences.
Meet Your Co-Residents!
Some intrepid member of your future residency class (maybe you?!) will likely start a group chat or email chain. This is a great opportunity to get to know your classmates, share information, and support each other as you go through the credentialing process and the paperwork above. Additionally, it can be helpful to find information about housing near your residency, life in your new town or city, and even find a roommate!
Get Your Life Ready After Matching for a Residency!
Many of you will be moving to new areas for the next step of your training. You’ll have a lot of work to do to get yourself ready for the move. You’ll obviously have to find a place to live in your new city. This can be difficult without knowing the town. Be sure to reach out to current residents to get the low down on where residents like to live and what the commute to the hospital is like!
In addition to housing, use the time before residency starts to set up the other aspects of your life. The goal is to minimize the distracting things that will come up during residency. It can be helpful to find a new dentist and primary care physician, so you are ready if you ever get sick or need attention. If you have any pets, investigate pet care options such as dog walkers or daycares to take care of your pet while you are at the hospital.
Tie Up Loose Ends
Most medical students are chronic over-committers. I’m willing to bet that you have between two and four projects that aren’t finished. It’s time to think about how you can wrap these up. If you’re near the finish line, it may be worth it to sit down and hammer it out – especially if there is a presentation or publication at the end. However, be realistic with your time and recognize that there is likely a serious case of senioritis headed your way. It may be time to think about transitioning these projects to younger students. This will also give you an opportunity to learn how to mentor a younger student. Either way, by Spring of your M4 year, you’ll want to have all of these projects off of your plate. True story – I know an M4 who didn’t think about how to get rid of his projects and ended up in the library writing a research manuscript the weekend after graduation!
The last – and arguably most important – thing you need to do is relax. The time between graduating from medical school and starting your intern year is one of the last few structured breaks in your training. Take advantage of it by traveling, seeing loved ones, reading a few non-medical books, and having a great summer. You’re going to be a great resident, so no need to start worrying about this too early.