support after match

Supporting A Loved One After Match Week

MATCH week: The moment your loved one has been waiting for. All the learning, studying, researching, interviewing, and waiting comes to an anxious end the Friday of MATCH week. Now you may be wondering how you can support your loved one after MATCH week. You also may have a ton of questions about what’s next. Where is your loved one headed? Did your loved one match? What happens if your loved one didn’t match? What can you expect from your loved one now? How can you support your loved one after Match?

If you’re the spouse of a med student (or even a med student yourself!) share this article with your loved ones so they can learn how to better navigate these next few months.

It’s A Match!

Congratulations! This is an exciting time! Whether your loved one matched to one of their top choices or went through the S.O.A.P. process, there’s no doubt you’re both feeling a big sigh of relief.

Even with all the excitement, you may spot a hint of disappointment from your loved one if they didn’t match into one of their top choices of specialty, program, or location. It could be that they even matched at the bottom of those choices. Instead of trying to talk your loved one into changing their feelings of disappointment, sit back and listen to them vent. 

A lot of work has been put into this process and it’s ok for them to feel all the feelings. Be sure to stay encouraging, but also understanding. We’ve heard plenty of stories where medical students didn’t match to a top choice and they end up happier than they’d ever thought they’d be!

It may seem like things will slow down for your loved one now, but this is still a busy time. With a little less than two months left of medical school, your loved one will be wrapping up rotations and getting ready for graduation. (Have you thought about throwing your loved one a party or sending a gift?) Your loved one will also begin to receive their onboarding paperwork for residency, which will need to be completed prior to their start date (late June/July 1st).

If your loved one is relocating for residency, your loved one is hustling to coordinate living & moving arrangements. They will be doing the heavy lifting for their move by mid-June. The housing market is tough right now, so your loved one may have some trouble finding a place to live. Ask your loved one if you can help by looking into housing, researching moving companies/pricing, and even packing. If you can, plan to help your loved one with the actual move. If you can’t physically help, send your loved one a Door Dash gift card and let them know the pizza on moving day is on you! 

Now is also the time to encourage your loved one to think about doing some traveling or relaxing before residency starts. Visit friends/family, go hiking, rest on the beach. It’s important for them to take the time to celebrate the completion of medical school and a successful match! 

Lending a hand with even the small tasks will help you support your loved one by helping them get things off their plate so they have the ability to take a mental break before the learning starts up again. 

Good To Know: After graduation, your loved one’s schedule will follow what is called the “medical year”. This is similar to an ”academic year” when school begins in August/Sept and ends in May/June. The medical ‘new year’ generally begins on July 1st and runs through the following June 30th. 

Depending on how many years are required of your loved one’s specialty, training will be now labeled as PGY1, PGY2, PGY3, and so on. “PGY” stands for ‘post-graduate year’ and the 1, 2, 4, etc, means the year your loved one is in their post-graduate training. 

This summer, your loved one will be a PGY1. Next summer, with the medical new year beginning July 1st again, your loved one will be a PGY2. If you’re not sure how many years your loved one will be training, here’s a good reference, depending on specialty. 

An Unsuccessful Match

Each year, there will be some medical students who will go through the match process and end up without a successful match. How is your loved one feeling without a successful match? Devastated and embarrassed. The trajectory of your loved one’s life has taken a sudden and unexpected turn.

Even though you may feel stressed for your loved one, this is not the time to project your feelings upon them. This is most likely a bend in the road (instead of a fork), so right now, your loved one needs all the support and encouragement you have the ability to give. Optimism is key. There are plenty of stories of successful matches after a first unsuccessful match. Just Google “unmatched success stories”.

Support your loved one after MATCH week by giving them some space. They will be busy coming to terms with their new reality and scrambling to find out why they didn’t match, what their options are, and how they’re going to pay off medical school loans. 

This next year will be crucial to your loved one’s eventual success. Much time will be spent talking to their academic advisor, finding out what research opportunities are available, and making a solid plan to approach the upcoming interview season. They may even decide to change their specialty of interest in the coming months. Keep your lines of communication open with your loved one and be there when they need to talk.

Even though an unsuccessful match is disappointing, here’s something to look forward to- your loved one will graduate medical school in May! This is your chance to help celebrate their successes, have some fun, and enjoy the moment. 

So match or no match, how are you going to celebrate?

  • Elizabeth is a Physician family advocate, Certified Life Coach for Physician Wives, EM wife of 20+ years, mother, and founder of The MedCommons – a marriage between her tech/business dev background and passion for helping physician families.

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