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How to Prepare for Residency Match Day

An excited residency applicant learning that she matched for residency.


The day you have been waiting for has finally arrived! You have spent years training to become a doctor. And in just a few days or weeks, you will learn on Match Day where you will spend the next few years of your life as a practicing physician in residency. Congratulations!


The residency Match day will be one of the most exciting and likely chaotic days, regardless of the outcome. This blog post focuses on how to prepare for Match Day and what to expect!



1. In the days leading up to the Residency Match Day, find ways to keep busy


The fourth year of medical school is notoriously known for being one of the easier years of medical school. Schools generally plan for a lighter academic load to allow students to interview for residency. As a result, many students are not on clinical rotations leading up to match day and instead may be in class. While others may have no academic responsibilities at all! Given the temporary lull in academic work, it is very easy to think about The Match over and over again.


It is common for students to frequently look back at their rank list and wonder if they crafted the perfect list. Students may second-guess themselves and feel anxious as they compare their lists with others. Some students will think about what their life will look like if they match at their #1 ranked program, or their #3 ranked program, or their #7 ranked program, and so on. This thinking is natural. However, it is not very productive and can breed anxiety and nervousness. Try and find activities to keep yourself busy and keep your mind off of The Residency Match process and upcoming match day. Stay occupied by spending time with friends, engaging in hobbies, exercising, cooking, or any other activity that helps time fly!



2. In the event you do not match, prepare to enter the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP)


The Monday before Match Day, you will find out if you matched. If you did, congratulations – celebrations are due! If not, you will have to enter the SOAP. As a result, a productive activity you can partake in prior to Match Day is learning about the SOAP. In the days leading up to Match Day, you will receive many helpful emails from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) regarding this process. In the event you do not match, you want to be prepared for your next steps and avoid feeling panicked nor lost. Rather, we want you to find comfort in knowing that you are prepared for this situation and are aware of your immediate next steps. Even if you are extremely confident you will match, we recommend all students familiarize themselves with this process. We do not intend for this recommendation to be pessimistic, rather, we want you to be prepared for all possible outcomes!


Here are some helpful blogs about the SOAP:

Understanding the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP)

To SOAP or Not to SOAP? Is SOAPing Right for You?

How to Prepare Your Application for SOAP

SOAPing Into a Competitive Residency Program



3. When Residency Match Day arrives, recognize that any emotion you experience is normal


Match Day is a highly individualized occasion. Speaking with friends and colleagues, we have learned that everyone experiences it differently. Some students who matched into their top programs said they were extremely happy and over the moon. While others were somewhat apathetic or unenthusiastic. Other students who matched near the bottom of their list were in tears of joy. While some were extremely upset.


It is okay to be happy, it is okay to be sad, it is okay to be shocked, it is okay to feel nothing, and it is okay to feel something else. In the era of social media, many people only post photos or videos of joyous celebrations on Match Day. Realize that this is only one experience, and you should not be surprised if yours is different. Truthfully, you should expect it to be different! Regardless of where you match, it is important to remember that you matched. You have just secured a coveted residency spot and will now have the opportunity to serve as a healthcare provider to hundreds if not thousands of patients. This accomplishment and responsibility should be celebrated, irrespective of which institution you match at.



4. Take the time you need to process the outcome


After you receive the news on where you matched, do not feel pressured to do anything you do not feel comfortable doing. Many students immediately go off with their friends and family to celebrate. If you do not feel up for this, do not do it. While we devote our careers to the service of others, today is a day to focus on what is best for you. If you want to go for a walk by yourself, do it! If you want to celebrate with friends, do it! Do what feels right, not what is expected of you. Some people process the results of match day within seconds, others take a few days. Take your time and remember, you matched.


It is impossible to completely prepare for Match Day. However, we hope that these four tips will help you familiarize yourself with the match and realize that there is little you can do to prepare yourself for the day. What is most important is you recognize that no matter what you feel, it is normal. Match Day is about you! Celebrate your accomplishments, even if they did not turn out exactly how you planned. You are going to be a physician, and that is something that we should all celebrate.


If you are looking for help with residency applications, SOAP, board exams, etc. EMP is here to help! Schedule your complimentary consultation today to learn more about how we can help you succeed.

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About the Author

Dylan Eiger, MD/PhD Candidate

In 2016, Dylan Eiger graduated Cum Laude from Duke University with a BS in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry. Matriculated in the MD/PhD Duke…

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