Advice for Match Day and the 'After-Match': Transitioning to Residency

Roz on Residency

Rosalyn E. Plotzker, MD, MPH


February 20, 2019

Dear Roz,

Do you have advice on what to do to prepare for the Match and the transition from medical school to residency? - RS

Dear RS,

Congratulations on your near-graduation and the next step in your career!

Match Day is different for everyone, albeit usually experienced together as a class in an opening-envelopes ritual. The news you'll receive in that moment forecasts an important phase of your life. You could feel euphoric, while your neighboring classmate plummets back into her seat from disappointment. Or vice versa.

You're Heavily Invested

It makes sense that you may feel a heavy load of anticipation, considering what you've invested thus far. First, you've invested time: at least 3.5 years for medical school, not to mention the hours spent researching programs and curating your residency application.

What's more, the cost of applying to residency is high from a strictly monetary standpoint. According to data from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), in 2018, the average number of applications per applicant was 60 for US medical graduates and 134 for international medical graduates. In ERAS fees, this equates to $1279 and $3203, respectively (when including US Medical Licensing Examination [USMLE] payments). Depending on the location of programs and number of interviews, the expense of travel and accommodation can run several more thousand dollars.

Finally, let's not forget the less quantifiable emotional investment that happens during this process. In applying to residency programs, one is tasked with taking stock of what matters to them. RS, how did proximity to family factor into your rank list? Did the prestige of institution sway your decisions? Is a spouse involved? Did regional climate play a role (do you love snow but hate long winters)? Did you hope for a bucolic rural town or a bustling urban life? Creating a rank list demands one to ask oneself, "What future do I want, and how can I create it?"


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