What To Consider After Matching into Orthopaedics

Andrew Jensen, MD, MBE | Elizabeth Dennis, MD | Cory Smith, MD

April 30, 2020

*Please consider and apply the following advice in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Certain activities, such as course work and traveling, may be affected.  Follow CDC.gov guidelines and visit the AAOS COVID-19 Member Resource Center for more information

If you successfully matched into an orthopaedic surgery residency – congratulations!  We know how much of a bummer it must have been to not be able to celebrate in person with your loved ones, classmates, and potentially even future faculty if you matched at your home program. Unfortunately this pandemic is unpredictable, scary, and is creating a lot of uncertainty. What it has also done, however, is created a call to action for as physicians. It has made us remember what it is like to be in your shoes – at the start of our careers, excited, about to become freshly minted MDs, years of hard work behind you and years of hard training ahead of you

Please remember that matching is a tremendous accomplishment and you have much to be proud about.  Whether you opened your envelope in person with loved ones or connected with them virtually, , there are a number of things to take into consideration before residency begins.

1Finish Medical School Strong

Though you are more focused on orthopaedics than ever, do not forget about the remainder of your medical school curriculum.  This will be your last formal education in any of the other countless fields of medicine.  Soak up what you can and complete your remaining required course work.

Additionally, try to finish up your research projects before leaving medical school.  These projects should be at the submission stage, if not already accepted, by the time you graduate.  It’s best to start residency with a clean research slate so that you can focus on learning orthopaedics at your new institution!  It’s often challenging to complete any remaining projects once you start residency.

2Housing and Other Logistics

Whether you matched at your home institution or across the country, there are many logistics that you’ll need to work out.  First and foremost, you need to find a place to live.  Housing variables such as cost, commute time, the decision to rent or to buy, and school systems may all influence your search.  Your new residency’s current interns are an excellent source of information for this search, as they went through the same process less than a year ago!

One task that you should not avoid is getting your finances in order.  Now is the time to decide on your budget, your retirement savings strategy, and your loan repayment plan.  There are many valuable internet resources on financial planning for doctors as well as financial advisors who can help you through this process, often free of charge while you are still in training.

3Unwind and Self-Reflect

Medical school is a rewarding but challenging and sometimes draining endeavor.  As you’ll soon see, residency can be no different.  Fortunately, you will have some time between medical school graduation and the start of residency to take a break and relax.  Some people use this time to unwind by traveling or spending time with loved ones.  Do whatever brings you joy! 

Also, set aside some time to self-reflect.  What do you hope to achieve in residency?  Where do you want to end up afterward?  What are your life goals (professional and otherwise)?  Writing out answers to these questions gives yourself a framework to guide your short, mid, and long-term goals.

4Prepare for Intern Year

Once you have devoted sufficient time and energy to the previous three topics, you’ll be able to spend some time preparing for intern year.  You will not be able to learn all of orthopaedics but, if you devote a fixed amount of time per day to learning, you can hit the ground running when residency starts.

As anatomy is the foundation for all that we do, studying musculoskeletal anatomy is an excellent use of your time prior to starting residency.  Try reviewing the anatomy of a certain body part and supplementing that reading with a relevant article or two from JAAOS!

Congratulations, an exciting chapter of your professional career is about to begin. You are about to embark on a journey that will change your life, for the better..

When all the dust settles with this pandemic, you will start your training in the best profession in the world (in our humble opinion). We will all be ready to pick up were things left off and go back to being orthopedic surgeons and most importantly we’ll be ready to teach you. We will all be better for this, and we are excited for you to join us.  Follow the advice above to make sure you plan appropriately, rest up and recharge, and adequately prepare for the start of intern year!

DISCLOSURES: Dr. Jensen AAOS: Board or committee member. Dr. Dennis This individual reported nothing to disclose. Dr. Smith This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2020 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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