On Friday, March 20, tens of thousands of medical students will learn where they have been matched for their residencies. Once a small event, last year’s Match Day had a record setting 44,600 registered applicants and more than 35,000 positions offered. It’s an exciting – and sometimes nerve racking – time as many newly minted white coats await to hear where they will spend the next several years – or perhaps decades – of their lives.
Residency is a critical period for an aspiring physician’s professional development. It can also be one of the most grueling times as well. With insights from more than 86,000 physicians and residents, Doximity uncovered some interesting trends across programs by location and specialty. And, aside from what the data found, I have a few tips for newly matched residents as they start this new chapter of their lives.
The Most Coveted Locations
The data shows that medical students seem to set their sights on major coastal states. While there’s no way to know for sure if geography or climate has an effect on clinical training satisfaction, overall satisfaction from current residents and recent alumni varies considerably by state and specialty. The most satisfied states include Vermont, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Utah.
Finding Work-Life Balance
As a resident, it’s important to dedicate time to family, friends and fun to find a healthy balance between a personal life and career. One in three residents considers work-life balance the biggest challenge they face during their graduate medical education. It’s a huge issue with burnout on the rise and a major concern for those young residents who are getting ready to start a family. Here are the programs that offer the best work-life balance: Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Preventative medicine
Doximity also identified the specialties that often have the most intensive work loads and don’t offer the kind of flexibility and balance as those above. The specialties with the worst work life balance include: Medical Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Nuclear medicine, Surgery, Anesthesiology
Making it Work
Getting through medical school is grueling, and getting matched represents the culmination of years of hard work. So, once they open that envelope, it is essential for residents to take a moment to reflect on their accomplishments and congratulate themselves! No matter the specialty or location where a new resident is placed, there are a few things that they can do to make the transition easier and set themselves up for success.
Some students may be familiar with the city they are about to call home, but if not, it’s important for them to spend time researching neighborhoods and housing options, figuring out what the daily commute will look like and considering the essentials like where grocery stores and coffee shops are. The more research that is done advance, the smoother that move will be from the moment the moving van pulls up.
Building a network is key to success. Social media is a fantastic tool to track down other new residents and connect before meeting in person. When walking in the doors on that first day, it’s nice to see familiar faces. Beyond peers, residents should think about strategies for finding a mentor once they arrive and consider their goals for the program to ensure they develop connections from day one and create a support network for years to come.
Finally, residents should be sure to tie up any loose ends between now and the first day of residency, including making copies of important documents, including diplomas. They should also set up auto-forwarding between current student email and personal email accounts to make sure nothing is missed. During residency, there is not much free time in any given day, so it is important for residents to carve out time now to prepare, connect with friends and family and set themselves up for success!
Peter Alperin, MD, is vice president of product at Doximity.