Match Day has arrived. You are likely feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement as you prepare to learn where you will spend the next few years, but when you open the envelope, you are disappointed.
This isn’t unusual, and you are definitely not alone. Some of your peers are likely experiencing similar disappointment whether from not matching into their first choice program or not getting their ideal specialty—and some may have not matched at all.
Many Match participants don’t match into their first choice program, and some don’t match into their first choice specialty. The NRMP 2022 Main Residency Match Results and Data details how common different matching scenarios are:
Not your first choice program. In 2022, only 48.5% of MD seniors and 47.7% of DO seniors matched to their first choice program.
Not the right specialty. 4,924 MD seniors and 2,644 DO seniors didn’t match into their first (or only) choice specialty. Out of the 39,205 positions that were filled, almost 20% were filled by applicants who did not rank the specialty first.
Didn’t match in the main Match. 6.7% of MD seniors and 8.2% of DO seniors were unmatched in 2022. If you find yourself unmatched on the first day of Match Week, it’s time to SOAP.
Didn’t match in SOAP. If at the end of SOAP and Match Week you are still unmatched, this can feel like a setback, but there are many ways this can help you serve patients better in the future. We share tips for the year ahead here.
For those who matched somewhere other than their first choice program or specialty, we know, especially in the early moments of learning this, you are likely incredibly disappointed. But we want to provide some encouragement and tips for overcoming what may seem like a setback.
Let yourself be disappointed. Since interviewing and ranking, you’ve likely been dreaming of your first-choice program and first-choice specialty. Finding out that dream won’t be a reality in the way you thought is a tough pill to swallow, so it’s okay to be sad!
Take time to process your feelings. If you feel comfortable, we encourage you to share how you’re feeling with your close friends and family. They will listen to your frustrations and disappointment and help encourage you in what is next. Let yourself grieve a little, then prepare for the great things that are ahead.
You’re not alone. As stated before, over half of all applicants didn’t match into their first choice program and almost 20% of matched applicants didn’t match into their first choice specialty, so you aren’t alone. Many of your classmates and peers are experiencing the same unexpected disappointment.
It is GOOD that you matched! If you matched into your backup specialty, it is important to remember that you have a job and will be entering training to become a practicing physician. In 2022, 6.7% of MD seniors were unmatched and 8.2% were left unmatched. We encourage you to balance your disappointment with excitement that you are able to continue your training.
Identify the good. Whether in a program or specialty you didn’t plan for, there is good in the situation. What opportunities or experiences will this program give to you that another might not have? If you are moving to a new city, what are you excited to explore there? If in your backup specialty, how will you be able to serve patients in ways you didn’t expect?
Have an open mind. No matter where you ended up, we encourage you to go into the program with an open mind. No one is guaranteed to love their residency program, regardless of where they placed it on their Rank Order List. After time in the program, you may find yourself loving the program or specialty.
Resist finality. Match Day feels final, but trust us, it’s not. If you discover that you truly don’t like the program or specialty, you may be able to switch. This decision may come with challenges or extend your training, but it is important to know that you do have options if needed. Before making the decision to switch, you should know there can be caveats for this situation in your employment contracts, so be sure to read it carefully.
Match Day and residency is just the next step in your career. Though not matching as expected can be difficult, we know there are great things ahead for you!
These tips can help you navigate the road ahead. For more Match Day and residency resources, visit our Match Day page or check out one of the following:
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