Unforgettable Match Day Stories and Residency Advice

Ryan Syrek, MA


March 13, 2019

Advice for Those With Match Days in the Next Few Years

Aaron B. Holley, MD: The road to becoming a physician is long. It is beset by defined obstacles that threaten to derail years of study. As they're being negotiated, these obstacles consume our lives because we attach enormous weight to them. Match Day is the gateway to the future. It feels as though residency location will determine everything, from your future salary to your marital prospects to your value to society and purpose for living! This is an illusion.

The road doesn't start or end with Match Day. Events like these are part of the process. After Match Day, there'll be plenty more obstacles. Each will seem like the sole arbiter of your value to the profession, but none will be. No matter the specifics, Match Day is always the first day of the rest of your life. The road will extend, and you'll train at a hospital that cares for patients. You'll care for those patients and impact countless lives. The profession only gets better, and your role will only get bigger. You will provide significant value, whether you do your residency at your preferred location or not. The good thing about facing lots of career obstacles is that you're continually provided the opportunity to prove yourself. With time, memories of Match Day will fade and become footnotes to an amazing career.

Russell Steele, MD: Residency matches are primarily determined by Step 2 scores, your CV, your personal statement, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Find faculty members who will write very positive letters for you, including personal information.

  2. Put everything positive in your CV that you possibly can.

  3. Make your personal statement unique, emphasizing personal qualities and experiences to get the reader's attention.

  4. At your interviews, give the message that this is the place you want to be: This is your dream. Look your interviewers in the eyes and get this point across. Repeat it at your next interview.

  5. Determine your top three to five programs and ask your faculty advisor to email the residency directors to emphasize your interest in their programs. All programs want to feel loved.

Johnson: In my 42 years in medicine, I have seen a lot of Match Days. Clearly, this is a historic day of discovery for medical students and trainees. Expectations, excitement, anxiety, and hope all set the stage for the Match release verdict. Not all Match wishes are granted by the process, however; some get their first choice, whereas others settle for something less preferred. Candidates who feel that they might be in jeopardy should have an action plan in place just in case it's needed. This would include a rapid search for openings in nonfilled programs as well as mentors who can help make calls of support.

Azzam: Be true to and gentle with yourself. Of course this is a very intense and memorable day in your life. But with the wisdom of hindsight and the grace of years after that date, it will be merely one day of many in a life hopefully well lived. I wish for every reader the capacity to experience the intensity of Match Day with all of the intellectual insight of your brain and the compassion of your human heart.

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