One of the most anticipated days of your optometric career happened this week… the release of the Optometry Residency Match results.
I vividly remember the day I got the news that the match results were in. I was at my last rotation of optometry school in Seattle and was nervous, anxious, and excited to see where the next year of my career would bring me.
I sat down, took a deep breath, and logged in to see my results. Yay! I was headed to sunny San Diego to spend a year at the VA hospital in La Jolla. I then started to get in contact with all of my classmates to see where they were headed; Salt Lake City, SCCO, Las Vegas… but then one of my close friends told me that she didn’t match?!
She was incredibly upset and disappointed with this news. What does she do next? Did this mean that she wouldn’t have a residency next year? But there has to be programs that also didn’t match with a resident, right?
I spent the next few hours helping her figure out the next steps. Here is what we did…
1. Take a deep breath and stay calm:
As with my friend, it can be very disappointing to find out that you did not match with a residency program. You spent countless hours researching programs, filling out applications, obtaining letters of recommendation, traveling to sites for interviews, and then trying to rank your top programs. It took a lot of work, and with that came a lot of stress, so know that your feelings are completely warranted. Sit down, take a few deep breaths, and stay calm. Know that there are plenty (and by this, I mean about 100… yes, 100) residency programs that are also unmatched with a resident. There are bound to be many great options still available for you to get in contact with.
2. Check out the list of programs with available positions:
When the results of the match are released, information regarding positions that remain available is provided to applicants who were not matched. Similarly, information regarding unmatched applicants is provided to programs with unfilled positions. Check out the list and see if any of the locations, specialties, clinics spark your interest. Keep an open mind; you may have had your heart set on a contact lens residency, but this is the time to re-evaluate your options and consider exploring other possibilities.
3. Contact program directors:
If there are any sites that you are even slightly interested in, send an email to the program director. And I would highly recommend doing this quickly. Keep in mind that the filling of available positions in the post-match process is not done by NMS. Unmatched applicants and programs with positions available are free to contact each other and to negotiate directly with each other, independently of the match, to fill the available positions. Send as much information in the email as possible, including your CV/resume, and any copies of board scores or transcripts that you may have available.
4. Remain positive:
There are many amazing residency programs that didn’t get matched with a resident that might be the perfect fit for you, so stay positive. My friend ended up matching with a great clinic and had a fantastic residency year. Also know that it is OK if you decide, that after all of this, a residency is not be the best option for you for the next year and you don’t pursue a program outside of the match. Or, if it simply just doesn’t work out this year, that is OK too! You still have plenty of time to figure out where you want to be and get a head start on looking for job opening post-graduation. Remember, everything happens for a reason! You just may not know what that reason is yet!
So, if you do not match with the residency program of your dreams, don’t fret! It may lead you to another open door that will leave you pleasantly surprised!