PEER SUPPORT NETWORK
Post here any tips you have for your fellow students!
I definitely didn't broadcast the results early as I was ashamed and embarrassed, but reaching out and telling your close friends and family what's happening soon after you know can help avoid awkward conversations about results later. I knew i wasn't doing a second round attempt (no spots in my spec.), but if that is on the table I would agree to broadcast ASAP on your largest social media platform, because time may be of the essence in terms of re-editing personal statements and tweaking to a new specialty etc, so the more hands on deck you have the better.
What worked well for met was to take a few days to grieve for yourself, and request to get your references from CARMS ASAP (can take 1-2 months to come back). Then I agree being honest with yourself and reflecting deeply is the next step. You need to find out a few things before you decide to do a 5th year OR enter the second round:
Did you really try your best this time? If you did your best personal statement, your best interview prep, applied broadly and payed attention and tailored each app to each school - your chances of matching next year aren't much better. Being a 5th year applicant will ding you a bit, and unless the pool for your spec was ESPECIALLY tough this year and not TRENDING up, then maybe it was only external factors that could change.
You need to be okay with matching in your second specialty as well, this is the most likely outcome from applying again (worst case scenario), and if you apply again in 5th year at least you can apply to all locations (IE. FM in major urban centres) rather than "settle" for what locations still have spots in the second round.
You need to do some real soul searching - is your 1st choice specialty really THAT important in the large scale of things? You are giving up a year of income AND paying a year more in tuition (no 4th year reimbursements for travel etc. as a 5th year so its full tuition), you have no guarantee of matching into your 1st choice spec, and you have more time to get more existentially lost without the direction of residency/formal training. How much can you approximate the benefit of your specialty, by tailoring a FM practice to what you enjoy in the specialty? (ie. Women's health in FM vs OB/Gyn, +1 or rural Emerge for EM, Psychotherapy/MH focus for Psych).
There are some other BENEFITS of doing a 5th year depending on how your school structures it- You have more flexibility for electives (have a lot more time than 4th year, your requirements for breadth etc are already filled, you can have gaps of 2+ weeks between them), can have more time to build relationships and do research which you can build on throughout training and in practice, and you also have a lot more time in general than people will EVER have. Think about it - in Med school you get in, pack your summers with studying/research/electives so you get into residency, match and have 2-3 months to travel and write LMCC then start residency, then you're not done until 2-5 years. After that you're trying to find a job, setting up practice, and have bills to pay and money to worry about. A 5th year is honestly the best time to unwind, learn new skills/passions, and be a well rounded person before your career takes off. This is selfish and a bit naive to think about, but it is a real tangible benefit to taking the year, even if in the worst case scenario you still don't get your first choice specialty.
This all being said, for some of you on balance it will be worth it to try again. It is only one year compared to the decades in practice, and sometimes even the residency experience is important (ie. If you really don't want to do OB/Gyn again, some would rather reapply IM than do FM and do hospitalist work). These are all just things to consider and be realistic with yourself before idealistically pulling the trigger on another year. That being said only you know what's right for you, so make the call but just make sure you're making an informed decision.
More than happy to chat in DM's if there are any other things you'd like to know.