✉️ Dear Unmatched Residency Applicant

Medical Students

This article was originally published in Doximity Op-Med in 2019. It has been reformatted and updated for the website!

Match Week is an incredible time for fourth-year medical students. Logging on to NRMP to see that you have matched. Sharing the good news with family and friends. Opening that envelope on Friday to see where you will be starting the next chapter of your life. Unfortunately, this is not the path for everyone. Some medical students end up not matching and find that their dreams are delayed. This letter is for you.

I am sorry. I am sorry that you waited so long only to find yourself sitting with this news. I am sorry that you had to read the words no medical student wants to read. Words that I know you do not deserve, and words that I know do not define you.

I can only imagine all the emotions you must be experiencing. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Confusion. Before anything else, I want you to know it's okay to not be okay. Whatever you are feeling is what you need to feel. You owe it to yourself to process these complex emotions rather than avoiding them. The sooner you do, the sooner you can move forward. Because despite what you may be thinking right now, these emotions do not define you either.

You are a medical student. That's special; that means something. You are intelligent and hardworking. You have put so much into your craft. Hours of studying. Endless board exams. You sacrificed sleep, time with family and friends, and even sometimes your own well-being because you love medicine. Whether you believe it or not right now, it is already paying off. You connected with patients. You helped make decisions in their care. You have touched and saved lives. You have seen things and done things most people never will in their entire lives. You've had the opportunity to do what you are truly passionate about, and you overcame every obstacle that was in your way to get here.

Every obstacle.

Take time to think about that. Think about every time things got hard. Think about all the little things that went wrong. Think about the long and stressful days where you rolled into bed exhausted and frustrated because you did not know if this was all going to work out.

It has worked out. You found your way through all of those moments and you are a stronger, better person because of it. For whatever reason, the universe has decided to hand you one more challenge. So do what you have always done: Think it through, work the problem, and create your game plan. Talk to advisors, family, friends, and anyone else who can help you decide what the next best step is for you. You have overcome every ounce of adversity that has been thrown your way, so why should this be any different? And every time things get hard or look doubtful again, remember your path. Remember all the successes you have had and all the struggles you overcame to chase your passion. Then keep running.

You got this.

I cannot wait to see you in the hospital soon, doctor.


Masood Mohammed