Does Match Day Add to Doctor Burnout?

Match Day occurs on the third Friday of March for each of the 155 medical schools in the United States. This is a system whereby the medical students and the residency programs enter their choices for residency and residents in ranking order. It implies a contractual agreement between both parties.

It’s kind of like a lottery that we all must play, whether we believe in gambling or not.

I can remember our Match Day in 1987. As we all gathered in the library, a hush fell over the crowd.

Do you know what happened next?

Spouses, friends, family members gathered around as we all opened our envelopes at the designated time in unison.

Shouts of:

“I got it!”

“I’m in!”


rang out across the room.

In some quiet corners of the room, tears sprang from some students’ eyes, as they saw they got their least preferred choice. Or as they saw they were not going to be in the same location as their best friend or their partner.

Hugs were given all around.

— Hugs of congratulations

— Hugs of consolation

— Hugs of understanding

For all of you who went through Match Day this past Friday, and those who just remember what it was like, I have a message for you from Rumi:

“Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor.”

If you got your first choice, and you are on top of the world, relish in it. Bask in it. Bathe in it. There will be times when you won’t get your top choice. And it will still be okay.

For those of you who feel like you got the short straw: breathe in, my friends.

You may not know it now, but whatever card you were dealt on Match Day, it was meant to be.

You may discover that you like the midwest way better than the northeast, after all.

You may discover you enjoy the small town atmosphere of your new residency program way more than you thought you would.

You may find the best mentor ever, your spouse-to-be, or your true purpose at your third choice on your Match preference list.

Everything. Everything. Everything. Is rigged in your favor.

And it’s going to be okay.

We can all look back and remember all the epiphanies we had during our medical school training.

We can all look back and think of the words of wisdom that we would say right now to our younger selves.

But mostly, what we want to send you right now, new doctors, is this:

Big hugs.

From all of us who remember when. And from all of our international doctors, who can relate.

And welcome to the adventure of a lifetime.




CATEGORIES: Blog on March 24, 2015 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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