Congratulations, the past four years of hard work have paid off and you’ve landed your first job as a doctor!
I remember that day quite clearly. It was perfectly imperfect. My car engine — not just the battery — died the morning as I was leaving for the reception from my parent’s house. Thankfully, I was able to borrow my mom’s car and make it just in time. It was my school’s first official Match Day party and some kinks had to be worked out, so we ended up receiving our envelopes behind schedule. The reception was limited to just students so I surrounded myself with my closest friends and had my parents and fiancé on speed dial. It turns out I was much more nervous than I thought I would be and those last few minutes felt like an eternity.
When the time finally came to open the envelope I looked for the bolded font and starting crying tears of joy: my top choice! After several minutes of hugs and “Where are you going?!” everyone went off to make their phone calls and start the celebrations.
While there was certainly a lot to celebrate, I also quickly realized in the following days that there was a lot I had left to do. Some things were obvious, but others were not, and ended up requiring a good amount of thought and planning.
First, enjoy the celebration! Really enjoy it. My classmates and I spent the night celebrating with each other and reliving all the glorious and not-so-pretty moments of medical school. Be sure to take time to be with the people who have helped you get to where you are today. Go to dinner and pop champagne bottles with your parents, significant other, best friend, med school crew — anyone who deserves a toast.
I realized I needed to say thank you. There were attendings who wrote letters of recommendation, friends who listened to me stress about my rank list, and parents who gave me a week’s worth of dinner after every holiday, and they all deserved a huge thank you before I left for residency (and needed their support all over again).
Find a calendar. Shortly after match day, I received an e-mail from my program asking for every single holiday and special event request for the next year. In a slight panic, I started filling out a calendar with all the upcoming events I could think of — including my wedding! This was one of the best things I could have done, but it took me several days to reach out to friends and family and confirm plans. Be ready to do the same. As a result, I was able to attend several weddings and even a family weekend getaway in July. The more you can prepare for the year ahead, the more likely you can keep up with your social calendar.
Now, after more than 1.5 years of residency, I’ve recognized there is one thing that I inadvertently did as an intern that I have started recommending to all incoming residents: find a non-medical passion. Residency got crazy, but I when I focused on something outside of the hospital, it kept my eye on the big picture that life still happened while I was working. As an intern, my non-medical passion became planning my wedding. As a second year, it turned to focusing on my blog and spending time regularly with family. These things gave me the mental break I wanted and creative energy I needed to bring a positive attitude to work every day. I strongly suggest that shortly after Match Day you start thinking about something that motivates you and strategize on how you can make it happen during residency. It could be something simple like keeping up with a gym routine, or more time-consuming like travelling to see your family once a month. It’s never too early to prepare and it will help energize you for the inevitably tougher days ahead.
Finally, as a last piece of post-Match Day advice, start the countdown to graduation!
Dr. Theresa Scott is a second year pediatric resident in New York with plans on specializing in neonatology. When not in the hospital, she can be found on the golf course or on an outdoor adventure. Theresa’s blog encourages medical professionals to pursue passions outside of their day to day career. She can be found on Medium here.