The Match, one of the most memorable moments of medical school and training. A week filled with anticipation, agony and anxiety. Beginning this past summer, applications for residency were prepared and sent to various programs around the country. Interviews occurred from earliest in mid-October to the end of January. For me, I had a very extensive and arduous interview trail, spanning that entire season.
Oddly enough, applying for residency is like searching and interviewing for a first job, except for a few minor deviations when it comes to the complicated world of medicine.
- So you go on 10 – 15 interviews for whatever specialty you choose. You generate a rank list and so does every program. Yes, you rank your potential employers.
- A computer determines your fate. Yes, a computer takes nearly 30,000 lists by applicants plus lists by each program, multiplied by >30 specialties. Applicants are essentially “matched” to one program based on their respective lists. Prospective doctors are at the mercy of a technological beast, how mysterious right?
- There is no such thing as multiple job offers. You will never know what program liked (or hated) you. On February 26, the rank lists were finalized and sucked into a black hole. Pixie dust and magic occurs soon after for 2 weeks … until March 17.
Did I Match? … Monday was a big day, where I learned whether or not I matched to a program. At exactly 12:00PM (well, a little earlier than that on my phone), the big email came…
Phew! What a relief! The most optimistic four words I have ever been excited over! Not that I doubted I was going to match, but I can’t help being a neurotic medical student! Sunday night was the first night in nearly 25 years of my life I was an insomniac. The catecholamines and endorphins on fire throughout my body kept me up and awake until 3AM. Even unconsciously, I’ve been stressing about the Match. This past weekend with my friends on a mini-hiking trip, I was talking in my sleep, asking “Hey, are you nervous?” So my friend responds, “About what?” And I say, still asleep and with absolutely no recollection of this event, “About the Match of course!” Clearly, I’ve been experiencing some turbulence deep down in my unconscious.
Luckily, I do not have to go through this week’s infamously named the Scramble, which has since changed to the Post-Match Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). This is where applicants who did not match search, apply and hopefully accept an open, unfilled spot in available specialties. For those who do unfortunately, it’s highly stressful to try and nail a residency spot in 4 days time.
What is bound to happen when you have thousands of medical students anxiously and impatiently awaiting their fate that has already been determined as of Monday? Let’s see, we have brains and beauty, manual dexterity and technological sass … something is bound to happen. And it did.
On Monday night, someone on Student Doctor Net forum posted a trick to seeing where people matched. By going on the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) homepage, right clicking on the page and viewing the page source, there would have been fate, revealed. Many students got wind of this underhanded trick, courtesy of poor programming and glitch in the system. Maybe except Stony Brook, because our entire class is either taking a sub-internship or taking a course called Transition into Residency. I was busy studying for a midterm the following day! Well, I was distracted and perusing the SDN forum in Emergency Medicine to see what stupid drama was unfolding, which meant I was totally in the wrong forum!
I guess it was meant to be. I enjoy surprises. I look forward to the glorious moment I will be sharing with my friends, family and faculty come Friday. Even if I had that choice, I would not want such a precious moment destroyed by curiosity, impatience and technology. Match Day is a climactic time representing my hard work and accomplishments since kindergarten. I have come so far since coloring in the lines and raising (and killing) a baby caterpillar. Tomorrow will be an amazing day and I cannot wait to see where I will be for the next 3 or 4 years!