The Match

The process of the 'Match' is a Pandora's Box. In March of the last year of medical school, all medical students around the World that have applied to a Residency Program in the United States are holding their breath for "Match Day

What is ‘The Match?’ The Match is a process of matching physicians to Speciality Training Programs throughout the United States. Depending on the specialty, some programs require a 3-7 years commitment.


In mid-March of the last year of Medical School, all medical students around the World that have applied to a Residency Program in the United States are holding their breath for ‘Match Day.’

Monday: Before ‘Match Day’ medical students will learn if they matched into a program or not. At Noon, “The Scramble” begins.

Tuesday – Thursday: If your partner did not match they might apply to unfilled programs through ‘The Scramble.’ If your partner did match, take a deep breath and celebrate: all is going according to plan. 

Friday: Every medical school, will hold a “Match Day” ceremony where each medical student (who ‘matched’) is handed a white envelope with their name on it. The envelope contains the name of the hospital and specialty where they will spend the next several years of their life.

Spouse Tip: Not all Medical Schools hold the same ceremony. Some will only allow students and faculty members to attend. Other schools will distribute a limited number of tickets to family members and close friends to join in on the once in a lifetime ceremony. If you are attending, business casual (no jeans) is expected; this is a professional celebration.

Jake’s View: ‘The Match’ is like a Pandora’s Box; think of it as a lottery.  You may win the jackpot, which would be your number choice or a consolation prize. As if medical school wasn’t hard enough to get into, Residency Programs are a much tougher cookie to crack.

Nobody knows how it will end up; there are crazy strict rules against sharing how a rank-list will be made with severe consequences such as being banned from participating in the match if a violation occurs. A computer algorithm theoretically ‘matches’ medical students to Residency Programs based on a rank, which is an order preference of both the applicant and the interviewer.

Tip: In reality, everyone who goes through this process, has no idea how it works. One thing we can explain is the stresses of it, and that starts with uncertainty.

Uncertainty – You set your heart on a particular specialty, whether that is surgery, orthopedics, cardiovascular, etc. and it doesn’t materialize. You do everything that you possibly could, but everyone takes it as a personal failure.  This also leads to stress at home, because it becomes a hot-button topic to talk about both personally and professionally.

Tracey’s View: During this time, our relationship was relatively new, plus, it wasn’t defined as a committed relationship since we lived miles apart. We could not talk about our future because we could not guarantee where we would be that far into the future. Especially, if he matched further away, we both knew our relationship would no longer be.

Tip: This time is full of nervousness, whether it is about the number of interviews, not liking the program after interviewing, or simply waiting from November until March to know where you will end up for Residency. Every year, some of the smartest and brightest medical students don’t match.

From a partner’s view, the best advice we could give is to be supportive and accepting. Realize that your partner might not get into their top program, or you both might be looking at a long-distance relationship for a period of time. To put this into perspective, residency will last 3 to 7 years depending on the specialty they choose. If your relationship is not accommodating during this time, then your relationship may not succeed.


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Do you have any questions about ‘Match Day,” or need support during this time?

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