Unforgettable Match Day Stories and Residency Advice

Ryan Syrek, MA


March 13, 2019

Advice for the First Days After the Match

Campbell: There is so much that I'd like to pass along to all of the upcoming interns and residents about to embark on that same journey. However, if I could only impart one piece of advice, it would be this: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. All those years ago, I think I did not fully believe this, but now I do with every cell in my body. I use mindfulness techniques with many of my current patients and also apply them to my daily life. In a mindfulness group that I run, I put this idea out to my patients just this past week: What if, at this very moment, you are perfect and you are everything that you need to be?

As humans, we are frequently focused on "the next thing." As medical students and physicians, I think this is even more true. We are frequently focused on the next exam, the next graduation, the next job, the next thing we need to be. I think that being so future-oriented causes us to miss all of the beauty, love, and perfection that is right in this very moment. So, my advice to all of you med students out there who are about to embark on the next leg of your journey is this: Enjoy this moment. Happiness is not about achieving the next step in your life; it's about loving and appreciating the perfection that you have right now.

Daniel Egan, MD: Match Day: One of the most exciting, yet stressful days for medical students. The next several years of your life are handed to you in an envelope. A bizarre tradition, yet one that seems to ultimately work out for the vast majority of students. The first thing to realize is that regardless of what the inside of the envelope says, the most important thing to focus on is that you've done it! You've successfully matched and you are going to make it! If you didn't get your first choice, although disappointing, I truly think things work out in the end. Something about that place wasn't a fit for you and the place where you are headed is one that has chosen you. This is a good thing!

David A. Johnson, MD: Match Day, overall, is a great time to celebrate accomplishments to date and plan the bridge to your next level of career training/fulfillment. You all should be proud about your accomplishments and embrace the new opportunities, rather than potentially reflect on what you might have ideally preferred if your first choices were not fulfilled. Continued success depends on your enthusiasm and energy directed toward the next pathway to your future. Congratulations to all. Our future depends on you!

Advice as You Transition to Residency

Pamela Wible, MD: I loved, loved, loved my residency! My advice for students after the Match, especially those who go unmatched: You must have a mentor who you trust to guide you along the journey. Avoid cynics and pessimists. You can live your dreams in medicine and be the doctor you always dreamed of. Hint: Get proactive, confidential mental health care throughout your career to maximize your happiness and maintain your sanity.

Egan: As a former program director, there are a number of things that come to mind as I think about advice I would give to starting residents. I used to do a session in intern orientation called "Rules of the Road," which in some ways felt like a speech of things not to do. But many of these things are important to the success of a resident, so I will share some of them now:

  1. You are not a student anymore. While it feels like residency is an extension of school, it is now a job. Like all jobs, this comes with certain rules and policies that are often nonnegotiable. Be sure to stay on top of the things you need to do in order to keep your job.

  2. Check your email. While texting has become the way of communication for many today, email is still the hospital currency.

  3. Take care of yourself. There is a lot of discussion about burnout and mental health problems during residency. These are very real and you will probably work harder than you've ever worked before. Make sure there is always at least one person in your life who knows where you are and what you're doing.

  4. Be prepared to work hard. I think the fourth year of medical school can sometimes be a disservice to new interns. You have gotten very used to a relatively free schedule, your own rules, and lots of downtime (often with great travel). It is an abrupt change to start residency when these things go away. Try to focus on entering residency knowing that it is going to be tough, with a lot of hours, and you will greatly benefit from that. This is the only time in your life when you will see a ton of patients, be exposed to so much pathology, and be surrounded by others who are there to teach you.

  5. Take control of your education. While each day may seem long, the years of residency will fly by. There will be a portion of this time with dedicated didactics, but much of the responsibility will fall on you to supplement your learning. Read about your patients and their diseases. This will help you to become a better doctor and form great habits for the rest of your life.

  6. Be kind. There is a very strange hidden curriculum in the culture of medicine that often breeds antagonistic relationships between people. Being a kind and professional person to others (nurses, techs, others) will bring huge benefits to you and not cause your reputation to spread in a negative way.

  7. Always tell the truth. If you didn't do something, admit that. If you don't know, say you don't know. Patients' lives depend on you in a way that they haven't previously, and it is important that those who work with you can trust you.

  8. Remember the patients. It is easy in the midst of a crazy schedule to focus on getting out of the hospital, trying to work less hours, and avoiding extra work. Remember why you are doing this and the trust that your patients have put in you. Find joy in your patients. You will be amazed at how much more happiness you will find in work if you do this.

  9. Ask for help. This is across the board in all aspects of your life. If you need help with a procedure, ask. If you don't know what dose to give, ask. If you are feeling depressed, find a mental health provider.

  10. Be proud of yourself. At the end of the day, remember that you have finally gotten to the stage you've worked so many years to achieve. It's happening and you should be very proud.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: