In the days and weeks leading up to Match day, fourth-year medical students—whether they are participating in the DO or National Resident Matching Program (NMRP) Match—can expect to experience the full range of human emotions as they wait for the life-changing announcement coming their way.
“It’s a very stressful time for many medical students,” says Stephen M. Scheinthal, DO, the president of the American College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists. “This is the beginning of their career.”
The DO talked with Dr. Scheinthal and three young DOs to gather lessons learned for maintaining one’s composure just before Match day.
Don’t overthink it
In 2013, Rodney M. Fullmer, DO, matched into his first-choice residency, an emergency medicine position in Chicago.
While waiting for the match, the fear of the unknown really got to him, he says.
“You have moments of panic,” says Dr. Fullmer, who serves on the AOA’s Bureau of Emerging Leaders. “You have moments of worrying if you will match anywhere.”
The best thing to do, he suggests, is to remember that after you submit your rank list, the decision is essentially beyond your control.
“It’s out of your hands now,” he says. “Have faith that you’ve done well on your interviews and you have ranked your list the way you wanted to.”
Focus on the bigger picture
Recognize that wherever you match, you’ll be taking the next step toward realizing your dream of becoming a practicing physician, suggests Sonbol Shahid-Salles, DO, MPH, a member of the AOA’s Bureau of Emerging Leaders.
“Focus on the bigger picture of having the opportunity to do what you love and are passionate about,” she says. “You don’t know where you’re necessarily going to land, but wherever you do, you’ll be getting closer to your goal.”
Indulge in stress relief
“Try to find something that will relieve your stress,” says Dr. Fullmer. “I’m a big runner. I did a lot more running as we got closer to the Match, just for stress relief.”
Katie Eggerman Blount, DO, who matched in pediatrics in Columbia, Missouri, last year, received the news that she matched on a Monday, but didn’t learn the location of her residency until the following Friday.
“By the end of that week, the only thing that made me feel a little bit better was reciting the serenity prayer to myself,” she says. “It helped me focus on understanding and accepting the things that aren’t in my control.”
Talk it out
Dr. Blount says she also took comfort in talking to people who had been there.
“The residents I was spending the night shift with on my clinical rotation at the time were really great,” she says. “It was helpful to talk to people who had recently gone through it.”
If you’re feeling particularly anxious or scared, consider seeing a professional, Dr. Scheinthal says.
“Students might want to talk to a counselor or a psychiatrist because it is stressful, and family members aren’t necessarily the best people to turn to in this circumstance,” he says.