Congratulations! You’ve made it through Match Day, and you’re on your way to residency. After a roller coaster of emotions, you deserve to take a breath, reset, and enjoy some much-needed downtime. It might feel strange to pause after the hectic pace of medical school, and you may wonder, “What should I do now?”
The months following Match Day are an excellent time to set yourself up for success in your new program. Although it’s been more than a few years since I matched with my OB-GYN residency, I currently work with thousands of residents around the country as they embark on this exciting journey. I want to help make it easier for you by sharing my experience and observations. By completing some simple tasks before your summer start date, you can save time and money and protect your peace of mind.
Your checklist for a smooth transition from Match Day to residency
- Finish the onboarding process. If you haven’t already, confirm with your matched program that you have completed all of the required steps for admittance. These steps may include returning your signed acceptance letter and contract, applying for a resident or trainee license, and completing a background check and drug screening. If you’re a visa applicant, check with OASIS to make sure you have everything covered.
- Relax and have fun. During these next few months before you dive into a demanding residency schedule, take advantage of this much-needed break. Book a trip, spend quality time with your loved ones, or simply rest—whatever self-care means to you. After I matched, I traveled to Prague with a good friend from college. Twenty years later those are some of my favorite memories. As you finalize graduation plans, take a moment to reflect on your impressive accomplishment.
- Make new connections. If you’re still working in a hospital or clinic, now is a great time to ask the residents and interns you admire for insight on how they succeeded during their own residencies. These mentors can be invaluable sources on everything from effective time management to how to triage patients. It’s also an excellent time to reach out to leadership and residents at your new program to start building the relationships that will sustain you during the next phase of your career journey. These mentors can give you an idea of what to expect on day one of your residency, which will help you feel more confident and prepared. Reach out to your future co-resident classmates to get to know each other before you start. Also consider joining online groups for residents and exploring national organizations in your field.
- Share your match expertise with fellow medical students. Now that you’ve successfully matched, you have a wealth of information that can assist the students coming up behind you. Pay it forward by being generous in sharing your expert knowledge of the match process with underclassmen.
- Plan your budget. Once you know your income, you can calculate how much you have coming in and going out for expenses like rent, utilities, transportation, and food. Assess your overall financial health and what your loan repayment will look like. You’ll want to set aside some of your paycheck for savings and emergencies. Many residents live with roommates to cut down on housing costs.
- Map out your move. Chances are you have a big move in your near future. Consider taking a trip to your new city to scope out apartments or houses, or do your research online. When choosing a place to live, factor in your commuting time from the hospital, because a convenient location can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Choose a living situation that will allow you to build healthy habits into your daily routine to combat stress and ward off illness.
- Buy a disability insurance policy. Right after you graduate medical school is the absolute best time to get a disability insurance policy. Why? Because you’re the youngest you’ll ever be, and your health is hopefully excellent as well. Insurance companies know this, so they offer deep discounts to In fact, disability insurance is actually more expensive for students still in medical school, because they have not yet chosen a career path. Between Match Day and residency is the sweet spot for purchasing disability insurance.
Note: There is one big exception to this rule for med students who want to get pregnant before match. They should get a policy in place during medical school, in case they experience a pregnancy complication.
Congratulations again on your monumental accomplishment! You should be proud to call yourself “Doctor.” Wishing you the best of luck in your residency program.