Preparing for Residency

M4s: Make the most of your post-Match time in medical school

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

Making the Rounds

Meet Your Match | Your post-Match Day checklist with John Andrews, MD

Mar 20, 2023

For many medical students, Match Day heralds the end of a rigorous academic journey before another begins. Often, medical school graduation and some much-needed downtime are in the near future.

While some medical students have already completed their coursework by Match Day, many others have a month or more remaining in medical school.

Formerly an associate program director, Holly Caretta-Weyer, MD, is director of assessment and interim associate dean for admissions at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  She cautioned against falling into senioritis after you match.

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“A lot of times people match, and they completely check out,” she said. “Getting some perspective and respecting the transition is really important. It’s a huge change, and you may not realize that until you are actually in it.”

How can you gain that perspective and prepare for that transition? Dr. Caretta-Weyer offered these tips.

Many medical schools are offering transition-to-residency programs and boot camps.

If your medical school does offer a boot camp or specialty-specific preparation courses, Dr. Caretta-Weyer recommended students take advantage of those opportunities. In addition to that, she said students need to think about the things they will be expected to do without supervision early on in residency and hone those skills.

What medical students transitioning to residency should “be thinking about is how to recognize sick patients and do basic life-support tasks,” she said. “What I often will tell students is if you haven’t done any sort of training in scenarios where there are more potentially unstable patients, you should. Whether that’s in a clinical or simulation setting, it will prepare you for the things you are going to do in residency.”

To get an accurate assessment of your skills, Dr. Caretta-Weyer recommended an outside perspective, ideally from a faculty member with whom you have worked closely.

“If you have someone who advised you through the undergraduate medical education process or if you have someone in your specialty who knows your ability and is willing to give you an honest picture of your performance, take advantage of that,” said Dr. Caretta-Weyer.

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“The key questions in getting feedback are: Can you give me an honest 30,000-foot view of my performance? And would you be willing to meet regularly to talk about this? Any reasonable faculty who is interested in the development of students would be really into that.” 

One beneficial area to brush up on, Dr. Caretta-Weyer said, is your teaching skills; residents add the task of teaching medical students to their new responsibilities. That could mean working as a teaching assistant or even taking an elective on teaching.

“A lot of people are interested in other things, education, administration, quality improvement, social medicine,” Dr. Caretta-Weyer said. “There are so many things out there that students don’t have time to explore, so take some of that idle time to expand some of your skill set.”

Anyone entering residency needs to make sure to come in with a fresh body and mind.

“I tell all of our incoming residents to take a vacation and spend time with their family and friends,” Dr. Caretta-Weyer said. “Medical school is hard. Residency is harder. We like it when residents come in rested. As an intern, you are spending a lot of time off service and doing things outside of your specialty you don’t chose. So that recharge is important.”