Congratulations—You matched into residency! After many months of tension and anticipation, you can take a huge sigh of relief. There’s a good chance you’ve had tunnel vision leading up to Match Day, but now, you have a different goal in sight. It’s time to prepare for your first year of residency.
Below we’ll outline all of the steps you should take after learning about your residency match. This includes what to do in the moments after The Match is announced, how to celebrate, who to reach out to, and what to do in the weeks and months leading up to your residency placement.
1 | Take a Moment to Celebrate
You just matched into residency. Let that sink in. You did it. All of that hard work, all of the sacrifices, and it was all worth it. You deserve a moment to take it in.
Now, even if you matched into a program that wasn’t your ideal choice, you matched. You succeeded where thousands of fellow applicants did not. The Program Director and faculty believe you have what it takes. They think you will succeed in their program. They want you to take care of their patients.
Pop the champagne. Order a pizza. Go out for a steak the size of your head! Have a dance party. Ask that special person out on a date. Zoom with your family. Or take a big long nap without any interruptions.
Celebrate in whatever way feels right to you. This is a momentous event in your life. Enjoy it.
2 | When the Celebration Ends, Take a Breath
When the excitement settles, take a moment to yourself to be mindful and reflect on all you have accomplished in order to reach this point in your career. The rush of Match Week and then celebrating with your friends, family, and peers doesn’t leave you many opportunities for meaningful reflection, but it’s important to take this time to check in with yourself.
While there’s plenty to do, don’t jump straight into the next thing. How are you feeling physically and mentally? Getting accepted to residency is a lot to process, so do something that promotes mindfulness, whether that’s meditation, yoga, journaling, walking, or whatever helps you sort your thoughts and find peace of mind.
After the rush of the past eight or so years, you’re probably not used to taking a break. It’s okay, and recommended, to take some time for yourself. This is a rare opportunity to catch up on the things that matter most to you, whether that’s spending time with family, travel, exercise, or another hobby. Entering your residency years refreshed, healthy, and ready to take on the next grueling three or more years is more important than gaining a little more clinical experience.
3 | Reach Out to Those Who Helped You
While this is a monumental accomplishment for you, you didn’t do it alone. Reach out to your letter writers, mentors, academic advisors, tutors, faculty members, the people who helped you refine your personal statement, or anyone who supported you during this overwhelming and stressful time. Let them know that your combined efforts were successful and how much you appreciate the role they played.
Oh, and don’t forget to thank your friends, family, or significant other. Very likely, their patience and understanding carried you through, even if you didn’t notice right away. For better or worse, you would not be here celebrating your successful match without them. Acknowledge the role they played and let them know you appreciate them.
4 | Contact Your Program
Reach out to your new program to let them know you appreciate their confidence in you and the opportunity they’re giving you. Depending on the program and your relationship with them, you may choose to call or email. You can reach out to the Program Director, Program Coordinator, any faculty you interviewed with, or any residents who helped you through the application process.
This is a nice gesture that can start your multi-year relationship off right. Express enthusiasm at the thought of training with the program and appreciation for the chance to become the doctor you’ve always known you could be.
This step applies whether or not you received a match at your ideal placement. At the very least, you will be spending your intern year with this program, and you want to kick it off with genuine positivity, gratefulness, and enthusiasm.
5 | Begin the Onboarding Process
Once you’ve celebrated and let everyone who helped you know of your success and how much you appreciate them, it’s time to begin the onboarding process. Expect plenty of paperwork.
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to:
- Sign and return a letter of acceptance.
- Sign and return your appointment contract.
- Complete an application for a license (the type of which will be determined by programs and state medical boards).
- Address any ongoing visa requirements. If you’re on a J-1 visa, check OASIS with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) regularly.
- Complete any pre-training activities. (For example, drug screens and background checks.)
Note that, under the terms of the Match Participation Agreement, programs are required to disclose eligibility and onboarding requirements to applicants prior to the Rank Order List Certification Deadline. If your matched program did not provide this information, contact NRMP at [email protected].
Many of these requirements are extremely time-sensitive, and not fulfilling them by their respective deadlines could mean you won’t be able to start residency. Respond to any emails you receive from the program as soon as possible. Check your spam folders and make sure to include the program’s contact information in your email address book.
6 | Plan Your Move
You’re about to move to a city where you’ll spend three to seven years of your life—the sooner you begin planning your move, the better. There is so much to think about and consider, and this list grows the further away you are relocating.
Where are you going to live? How much do you need for rent each month? Is purchasing a home in your residency city a financial option for you? What’s transportation like? What are the moving costs? How will you get to your destination, and how will you get to and from the hospital? Will you need a car? Can you drive there for the move, or will you need to book a flight?
Planning your move includes budgeting finances for cost of living, moving expenses, public transportation or your own vehicle, and much more; plus, you won’t see your first paycheck for a while. How much money can you save before your big move?
Beyond the big picture items, consider all of the smaller details. Will your apartment be much smaller than the space you’re currently living in? How many of your things can you realistically bring with you? Should you ship your furniture, or does it make more sense to find a furnished apartment? Do you need to visit the city in advance to get set up? If required, when can you book flights, and how much will they cost? As you already learned from medical school and residency interviews, last minute flights will cost you.
Don’t leave these logistics until the last minute. Reach out to the program or its current residents for guidance on how to get set up in your new city. Do they know of any affordable housing nearby? Do they have transportation advice? Take advantage of their experience and knowledge so that you can start life in your new city on the right foot.
7 | Prioritize Your Health and Mindset
Continue being intentional about how you spend your time, and that includes blocking off time to spend with friends and family and prioritizing your own physical and mental health. You won’t get much free time in residency, so make the most of it.
You’re about to head into some of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of your medical education. Make a plan early on of all you need and hope to accomplish before entering your intern year.
Some mentors may encourage you to take on another rotation before entering intern year to better prepare yourself. While this may be of interest to you, your top priority should be getting into the best possible mindset and optimizing your physical and mental health before residency begins.
At Med School Insiders, we advise new residents to use their time before residency to focus on themselves. What hobbies have you neglected? Are there family members or friends you haven’t been able to spend time with? Are there any places you’ve always wanted to travel to but haven’t had a chance yet since you began your premed?
What activities and habits will set you on the best path for your first year? Trust us—you’ll be working plenty hard once residency begins. Intern year is tough on residents, so set yourself up for success by going into it rested, focused, and ready to take on the world.
Continuing the Doctor Journey
Once again, congratulations! You’re well on your way to becoming the doctor you’ve always wanted to be.
At Med School Insiders, we’re committed to helping you excel no matter where you are in your doctor journey. Our blog is filled with resources designed to help medical students and medical professionals optimize their health, wellness, and future careers.
If you’re concerned about what happens next or have questions about how to make this monumental transition, please reach out to our team any time. We’re here to answer all of your questions and help you choose the path that best aligns with your interests and desired outcomes. It’s our goal to help you create a future that aligns with your vision.
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