CARMS Match Day: What our students are experiencing, and how to help them get through it

For medical students in Canada, there are three days in the course of their career that stand out above all others: the day they receive their letter of acceptance to medical school; convocation (when they officially become graduate physicians); and Match Day.  The most emotionally charged by far, is Match Day.  For those of you not familiar, Match Day is when all fourth year students learn which postgraduate program they will be entering.  The match is the final step in a long process of contemplation, exploration and application.  The match and the day itself are full of drama, with all results being released simultaneously at noon.  By approximately 12:00:05 all students will know their fate.  As you can imagine, there will be much anxiety leading up to the release.  For most (hopefully all), the day will be one of relief and celebration.  For a very few (and hopefully none), there may be disappointment and confusion.  Many schools release their fourth year clinical clerks from clinical duties on Match Day.  At Queen’s we have taken the position that our students take on professional obligations during their training and their personal celebrations should not supervene those obligations.  Having said that, I’d like to remind any faculty supervising our fourth year students on March 5th of the following:

  1. Anticipate that your student will be distracted that morning
  2. Please ensure your student is able to review their results at noon.
  3. Check on your student.  If he or she is disappointed, please be advised that the student counselors and myself are standing by that day to help any student deal with their situation and develop a plan.
  4. Be advised that the students will almost certainly be holding some type of celebratory event that evening.  Although your students are not excused for personal purposes, I would ask that you give them every reasonable consideration.

Fortunately, we have an excellent Student Affairs team, headed by Renee Fitzpatrick, who are available and very willing to answer any questions you may have and respond to concerns regarding our students.  They can be accessed through Erin Meyer at, or directly at the following:

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 4.11.03 PMPeter O’Neill
Careers Counselor

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 9.30.45 AMKelly Howse
Careers Counselor




Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 3.55.07 PMJennifer Carpenter
Student Counselor and Wellness Advisor

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 9.34.46 AMJohn Smythe
Student Counselor and Wellness Advisor





Thanks for your consideration, and please feel free to get in touch with myself or any of the Student Affairs Team if you have any questions or concerns about Match Day or beyond.

Anthony J. Sanfilippo, MD, FRCP(C)
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical  Education

2 Responses to CARMS Match Day: What our students are experiencing, and how to help them get through it

  1. Chris Smith says:

    Tony – I’m very familiar with the match day anxiety (Program directors get it too). You are right that the students are totally distracted that day – both before & after match. I actually think it would be better to give the students the day off after the match – the fact that Queens keeps them at work & on-call only makes them resentful. Is a day of celebration for most and would give those that don’t match time to re-think & strategize for 2nd iteration (they always miss work anyway).

    • Thanks Chris,

      This has been a longstanding debate. The issue basically is whether the special and rather unique personal significance of Match Day provides justification to temporarily set aside the professional responsibility we wish to emphasize for our students. You’re quite right that their clinical duties tend to be suspended, but it’s through the unforced good will of faculty who see the students as junior colleagues. Must say, I can see both sides of this argument but have tended to favour the professional role. Be happy to hear from other Program Directors or faculty on this issue.

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