6 Ways to Distract Yourself When Waiting to Match

Abigail Schirmer


March 10, 2022

Fellow fourth-year medical students, we are almost there! Our clinical rotations are finishing or complete, our rank lists are certified and locked in. Match Day 2022 seems to be slowly approaching — the day we have all been anticipating since we started medical school. There is a lot of uncertainty associated with the waiting: Will I match? Where will I match? Will I be moving states away or just up the road?

Traveling during a time of COVID with rising gas/airline prices is not an option for everyone who wants to get away from the wait of Match. However, I have found a handful of tips that offer an escape from the stress, doubt, and uncertainty associated with The Match.

Many of my suggestions are activities that may already be a part of your routine, but I think we can all agree that until this fourth year of medical school, we haven't had the luxury of free time to enjoy all of these diversions. If turned into habit, these pursuits could significantly impact our wellness moving forward into residency. In fact, a preceptor's parting advice to me was to establish healthy habits now to help step into residency on the right foot.

1. Exercise

You may already have some method of exercise built into your routine. Maybe it's riding your Peloton once a day, heading to the gym, or playing pick-up basketball with your classmates. For me, going for a run or long bike ride is a great way to escape.

Exercise is a wonderful option to destress and step away from the unknowns of Match. If you don't tend to enjoy physical activity, a 10-minute walk outside, free yoga classes on YouTube, or stretching may be something new to try as a transition to moving your body.

2. Reading (For Fun!)

Throughout the past 3 years, unread books seemed to have created a stack on my bookshelf. I used to greatly enjoy leisure reading and fiction novels, but during medical school my brain's bandwidth maxed out reading articles and UWorld questions, so I rarely opened a book for fun.

Now I have ample time to read a book or two. In fact, I've read three novels in the past week! (This has become a source of distraction.) If you have unread books lying around or a library card, put your feet up and enjoy getting lost in a fictional universe during these next few weeks!

3. Cleaning

Now, I know at first glance this doesn't sound like much fun, but it could be quite productive and helpful for the months to follow Match Day. Deep-clean out your desk and apartment from 4 years of accumulated papers, borrowed hospital scrubs, and other odds and ends that you won't need in residency.

Find a local thrift store that donates to a great cause where you can bring unwanted or unused items. If you need some motivation, check out "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" on Netflix.

4. Cooking and Baking

I personally find cooking and baking enjoyable and have used it to destress throughout medical school. However, even if you rarely cook/bake, it could be something you work at between now and graduation. Your wallet, and your future co-residents, will appreciate you for it, I'm sure.

5. Spending Time Outdoors

The fact of life and our chosen career path is that we will be spending the next 3-7 years in a fluorescent-lit, heavily sanitized building away from sunlight and fresh air. So let's take advantage of it while we can! As the spring brings warmer weather, try to absorb some vitamin D and immerse yourself in nature to distract yourself from Match.

We've all spent the past 5-6 months attached to our phones for interview invitations and now we can finally step away from our phones and disconnect to enjoy the great outdoors. Just be sure to wear sunscreen!

6. Spending Time With Family/Friends

With the abundance of free time we are granted, now is a great time to spend time with family or reconnect with old friends. Medical school is demanding, and no doubt residency will be even more taxing, so this period of time is as great as any to spend time with those we love and haven't had the opportunity to see much during the heavier years of our education.

Try some of these activities to help build healthy habits between now and July 1.

The views expressed by the author are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of any company or entity.

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About Abigail Schirmer
Abigail is a fourth-year medical student at Florida State University College of Medicine. She is interested in general surgery, patient safety research, medical education, and providing compassionate care to patients. Outside of medicine she enjoys running, CrossFit, swimming, general aviation, playing piano, and baking.


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