What Med Students Should Do Post-Match
- Apr 20, 2022
Dr. Mike Ren contributed to this post.
Congratulations to you for matching! It’s a big deal. Celebrate well and then consider completing the following to make your transition into residency that much easier.
1. Give thanks
As you celebrate with your friends and family, don’t forget to thank your mentors. There were various parties who helped you match, from the faculty who talked you up in your letters of recommendation to your deans who reviewed your application. A simple thank you email or card goes a long way and keep in mind that you may continue to benefit from their future support. Here’s a sample thank you message: “Thank you for all of the support. You have made a difference you’ve made in my career for the better and I could not have matched without you. I look forward to the next chapter and will keep in touch!”
2. Talk to current and incoming residents
Get in touch with your program’s current residents. Discover the spots to eat, play, and study and learn about intern life. Find out what rotations are demanding, vacation time, and electives to prioritize so that you’re comfortable in your first year. Socialize online or in person with the incoming residents as well. Get to know them as you’ll be working alongside them for the next few years.
3. Pay it forward
Remember when you were a bright-eyed, bushy tailed student with questions about the field you’re going into now? Help out the future of your speciality. Give a lecture, talk at a panel, or provide some general advice at your school’s specialty interest group for the students who were in your shoes. At this point, you not only know your speciality and its application process, you literally are a walking success story. Let underclassmen learn from your journey.
4. Communicate with the program director and/or coordinator
Reach out and introduce yourself, show your excitement to join your program. A simple message to let the program know that you are glad to have matched there and look forward to learning from them goes a long way.
5. Compete credentialing paperwork
Credentialing at some hospitals, especially county and government institutions take longer than expected. Read and sign the paperwork that comes to your inbox promptly. You do not want to be the intern who starts day one of their rotation without a badge or EMR access.
Car (lease/mortgage, fuel, insurance, tolls, maintenance)
Food and drinks
Utilities (don’t forget internet/cable, cell phone bill)
Miscellaneous (nights out, gifts for birthdays/holidays, haircuts/coloring, etc.)
Children or pet expenses
Try a yoga class or learn to meditate to develop stress-reducing techniques.
Start watching your diet to make sure that you’re not eating more ice cream than you are fruits and vegetables. Try to limit your sweets and get in at least four servings of vegetables daily.
Does that one glass of wine per night keep turning into three or four? Start cutting back now.
Sign up for some exercise classes or start hitting the gym on a regular basis to improve your overall health and mood. Remember the wise words of future lawyer Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” Point being, exercise can help to keep you happy during residency! Even squeezing in a 15-30-minute run every day can make a big difference.
Reach out to some of the current residents and ask them questions about the next few years. What part of town do residents live in? Are certain areas safer to live in than others? What should you expect from the different rotations during intern year? If your residency allows you to choose your schedule for intern year, how would the resident recommend doing it? How does vacation work? Asking a resident all of these program-specific questions will allow you to better plan for next year.
9. Look Forward to Graduation
You will finally get to call yourself a doctor in just a few short months! Start considering who you would like to invite to graduation. Does your grandma need to fly across the country to attend? She’ll prefer to buy an airline ticket a few months in advance, when prices are cheaper. Schools will typically limit the number of tickets per student, so carefully consider the length of your invite list so that you won’t have to rescind any invitations. You should also start planning for the day of graduation. If you have a party of 10 hoping to have dinner at 7pm, make reservations several weeks in advance before the restaurants start filling up (many other students may be hoping to do the same with their guests).
10. Try a New Hobby
Have you always wished you knew how to cook a perfect steak? Sign up for a cooking class or dust off those cookbooks and start using them a few nights per week. Have you dreamed of learning how to ballroom dance? Take a dance class. Do you love to help others? Find a local community service organization (or even your medical school’s) and sign up for some events. Have you been dying to read the series of A Song of Ice and Fire (the book that Game of Thrones is based on) the past four years, but haven’t found the time? Cozy up with those books and dive into their story. Make sure that you find hobbies to keep yourself engaged, especially if you have a lot of time off towards the end of fourth year!
11. Develop Healthy Habits
Let’s face it: residency can be a stressful time. You are making real-time decisions regarding your patients’ health and you have a lot more responsibility than you had as a medical student. On top of this, you’ll have a lot less free time and a lot more call. Now is the time to develop those stress-coping strategies and a healthy lifestyle.
12. Plan a Vacation
For most specialties, taking USMLE step 3 earlier is more sensible as you tend to lose general medicine knowledge as you delve deeper into your field. For others such as primary care, you can afford to put it off. Either way, you will need a passing Step 3 score to apply for your boards, so getting it out of the way early means you have one less worry during busy residency rotations.