Unforgettable Match Day Stories and Residency Advice

Ryan Syrek, MA


March 13, 2019

With this year's Match Day close at hand, we asked our users and some of our distinguished contributors to share their memories and advice for both the Match and the transition into residency.

In a poll, we asked our readers to tell us how happy they were with their Match Day experience. In news that should come as a great relief to those still on the road to residency, the vast majority (65%) were either satisfied or very satisfied, with only 6% expressing dissatisfaction. More than two thirds would choose the same specialty if they had to do it all over again, and more than 60% would recommend their specialty to others.

As encouraging as those numbers are, stories and advice from those who have been through the Match provide even more comfort. From heartfelt recollections to the kind of sincere guidance that can only be provided by those who have gone before, here's what they had to say. Please feel free to share your memories and advice with our readers in the comments section.

When Match Day Goes Wrong

Sarah Averill, MD: I was filled with anxiety and anticipation. Sleep evaded me for days. Peers and family filled the air with effusive reassurance that I would match at my first choice program, or certainly my second or third... But I was applying for a diagnostic radiology program. In my year, that was one of the more competitive positions. I had also limited my choices to smaller cities because my family was not interested in big cities. As it turned out, I ended up in Iowa City, home of the Writer's Workshop and a wonderful college town. But I didn't think it was so wonderful on Match Day!

When I opened the envelope and it said that was where I matched, I was crestfallen. I'd have to move my family across the country from upstate New York—a full 890 miles, but who's counting? My family had moved so that I could attend medical school at a relatively reasonable cost at one of the State University of New York medical schools. I didn't want to move them again. It was a tough move, but 8 years later, after a fellowship year and a year back in New York, and my daughter off to college, I returned to Iowa City—this time, quite happily!

Sarah Cohen, MD: At my med school, we had a ceremony in which the dean gave a speech that none of us were listening to because we were bouncing from foot to foot with eagerness to see where we would be spending the next 3+ years of our lives. After the speech (finally) ended, we gathered around tables corresponding to the first letter of our last names. We were handed envelopes, and inside each envelope was a half-inch-wide strip of paper that determined our fates. When I went up to retrieve my own envelope, there was a moment when they couldn't find it. I truly thought I might faint! Fortunately, they located the envelope, and I remained conscious. I matched at my first-choice program. I was so happy about it that I began to cry. Every time I told anyone about it for the rest of the day, I cried. Little did I know that it was not the program where I would end up spending my next 3 years...

Sean Tackett, MD: For me, Match Day was something to endure. I trusted that the National Resident Match Program (NRMP) algorithm would do its best for all of us. But it was hard to believe that almost 4 years of hard work plus essays, interviews, second looks, awkward post-interview correspondence, and tables of pros and cons for each program would come down to one moment. Our school had an event where each student was called to get an envelope with his or her Match results inside. Some read their results into the mic. I didn't have the courage. I took mine back to my seat so my fiancée would see the result at the same time as me. We had a nice lunch afterward with my family. The sense of certainty was a relief. And we had a big May coming up, where we would both get our doctorates and tie the knot.


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