Match Day: Financial Considerations for the Biggest Transition of Your Career

Ned Palmer, MD, MPH


March 31, 2022

Every year in March, tens of thousands of graduating medical students participate in the National Residency Match. This year, Match Day was on March 18 and just under 37,000 positions were filled, setting a record for total number of positions filled.

Now that the day is behind us, the celebrations are finished, and hopefully the medical students are shaking off their collective hangover, it's important to examine: What now?

Preparing for the transition to residency is a great way to use the lame-duck season of your medical school.

When Do I Start?

This seems like an easy answer: July 1! However, programs can vary in their start dates to include orientations, human resources new employee onboarding, skills boot camps, or team-building exercises. Get a date for when you are actually supposed to report and work backward to plan out your schedule. The good news is that most programs will pay you for orientation time so you will get your first paycheck even earlier.

Where Am I Headed?

Where did you match? Have you matched in town? At your medical school? Across the country? In a different country? As you can imagine, the answer to that question is going to make the difference in potentially thousands of dollars of moving expenses. If you're going to be moving, it's important to start planning that now! There are myriad helpful sites online that will help you budget time and money associated with the move.

Many attendings ultimately end up practicing in the same state they trained in, so it's incumbent upon you to ask: Are you moving for training, or are you moving for life? This may change your priorities for housing, whether you utilize a storage unit, or whether look for somewhere to invest in.

How Much Am I Earning?

Your salary was probably a part of the discussion on your interview days; however, that money is real now! It's yours in just a few short months.

If your salary wasn't discussed, you can check with your hospital's human resources department or your residency coordinator, or check out Zippia's intern salary report for more general information. If you're like most students, whose lives were so filled with lab time, prosections, studying, research, and rotations that you didn't work during medical school, now is a good opportunity to establish some healthy personal finance habits.

Budgeting can be hugely helpful, especially if you're planning around rent or mortgage payments after you move. Budgeting isn't just helpful in terms of helping you control spending; it also lets you know what, exactly, you'll have available. Need to plan for a vacation? A friend's wedding? Budgeting is the key to making sure you're ready for whatever is thrown at you.

One great way to start is by making a reserve budget. Look at the prior 3 months of expenses and place them into buckets: food, cost of living, entertainment, utilities. That sets a baseline spending amount for you to adjust from. It's much easier to make changes based on recent behaviors than guessing at home much you'll be spending in a new city.

Bottom Line

Match Day is a monumental day for graduating medical students everywhere. Enjoy the celebrations, the comradery, and the excitement of planning the next stage in your journey through medicine.

As you do, take some time to invest in planning your next steps. Doing so will reduce the stress associated with moving, help establish healthy personal financial habits, and ave have you prepared to hit the ground running when you get to your first day of residency.

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About Dr Ned Palmer
Ned Palmer, MD, MPH, is the COO and co-founder of Panacea Financial, the national digital bank for doctors. He is also a practicing pediatric hospitalist at Boston Children's Hospital and is on faculty at Harvard Medical School. He has been published on Medscape and in Academic Medicine on the topics of physician debt, and has lectured nationally on student debt and financial literacy for doctors and doctors-in-training.

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