Take a Deep Breath, Relax and Trust the Magic of the Match
If there is a day that defines the rest of your life, one that will shape who you are and what you will become, that day is not Match Day.
It might be the day you started to steal all the Christmas presents in Whoville, but when you heard the Whos singing, you stopped and your heart grew three sizes. Or maybe it was the day you bonded with an alien symbiote and turn into Venom.
| Thousands of fourth-year medical students will find out where they are headed next when results of the National Resident Matching Program are released on March 17.
Barring miraculous holiday harmonies or supervillain spaceship crashes, no single day has that much power, my friends. Who you are and what you will become are purely functions of your decisions.
This is the most important thing to know about Match Day: You have the inestimable responsibility of self-determination both before and after March 17. Where you match won't change that.
Second, there is magic in the Match. Things just seem to work out, largely because the people who want to go into family medicine are wonderful, and the people who teach family medicine are wonderful. Wherever you end up, you will learn to be an excellent doctor. This is the truth of family medicine residencies.
Third, after the Match and before you start your residency, take as much time off as possible. It is unlikely that you will have more than two weeks off at a time for the next several years, so make the most of it. See something you've never seen before.
Finally, if you do not end up where you wanted, it feels terrible. Your reaction is valid. It is OK to be sad.
If you are feeling an emotion, allow yourself to feel it. Allow yourself to talk about it, to be honest about it. If you are distraught, find someone who loves you and isn't afraid to tell you why. This, by the way, is important for every day, not just Match Day, and every emotion, not just disappointment.
You're going to be a great doctor. You're already a great person, and that's arguably more important. Do not forget it, no matter what happens. Just remember to do the compassionate, thoughtful, generous things that make you you -- wherever you are. It's the family doctor way.
Stewart Decker, M.D., is the resident member of the AAFP Board of Directors.
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