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Friday Mar 16, 2018

Congratulations on Your Match! Here's What to Do Next

I arrived at school at 11 a.m. for the ceremony. Tables were set up with our envelopes organized in alphabetical order. My envelope was right there!

[Alexa Mieses, M.D. with match letter]

I matched to my first choice in the 2016 Match.

It was my last year of medical school, and Match Day had finally arrived.

My friends and I ecstatically greeted one another but we couldn't really concentrate on a particular conversation. We were just counting down the minutes. Finally, the time arrived. Our dean gave us permission to retrieve our envelopes. I had barely lifted mine off the table before I opened it.

I looked down and read this:

2016 Match Result
Congratulations, you have matched!
Duke University Medical Center
Family Medicine

I matched to my first choice! I felt myself fill with energy and I began to cry -- that ugly, red-faced, silent cry -- as more than 10 years of blood, sweat and tears (and lots of studying and sacrifices) raced through my brain at once. I was elated! I was living the moment for which I had waited my entire life.

Match Day caught me off guard because I didn't know it would be so momentous, even more so than graduation. Medical school graduation is the celebration that's all about the pomp and circumstance, but Match Day represents a culmination of a lifetime of hard work. Both days are to be celebrated. So, no matter where you Match, take a moment to celebrate your achievement. Congratulations!

But don't celebrate too long -- you still have a lot to do to be ready for residency (if it's possible to actually be totally ready for something like residency). Here are my tips for making the most out of your time between Match Day and residency orientation.

Focus on finishing your graduation requirements. This may include filling out time-consuming paperwork, completing your last required rotation or finishing up that research paper you're writing. Make sure all your medical licensing exams are finished. You cannot graduate without them, and you don't want any administrative oversight to stand between you and graduation. You may also want to apply for your training license in the state in which you matched. (Nearly all residency programs require this.) It can be time-consuming, so start early. Don't leave anything in limbo before you go on to the next phase of your training.

There also are many personal issues that may need to be handled before July 1. For example, now that you know where you will complete your training, you can look for a place to live. Whether you decide to rent or buy, start looking at the market in your area now. Consider saving money, if you haven't already, for rental deposits or closing costs. Make decisions about how you'll manage your student loans and the rest of your personal finances during residency. The AAFP has a new webcast with great advice from a family medicine residency program director and a student loan specialist from the Association of American Medical Colleges; it's titled Money Management for Graduating Medical Students. Watch it, and give your finances some dedicated attention now -- while you have the chance to do it.

And make sure to spend time with friends and loved ones during this turning point in your life. Not only will you and your classmates be widely dispersed for the next three to five years, you will be significantly busier throughout residency. Use these last moments of medical school to acknowledge all that you have accomplished and savor this moment!

But first, go celebrate!

Alexa Mieses, M.D., M.P.H., is the resident member of the AAFP Board of Directors.

Posted at 10:12AM Mar 16, 2018 by Alexa Mieses, M.D., M.P.H.

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