The Match 2013

3/15/2013

Match Day is held in the spring of each year, and is the big day when fourth-year medical students “match” into their intern year and residency programs. For the Harry Potter fans, it’s like a gigantic Sorting Hat for all graduating medical students. On Monday of this week, students were told if they Matched, but would not find out until noon on Friday where they would be going. This is, understandably, a huge deal. Residency is usually a minimum of 3 years long, but for some specialties, such as some surgery residencies, can be as long as 7 years–and if they want to go on to complete a fellowship, tack on another 3 years or more.

Last year was the first year I ever got to actually be present during a Match Day celebration. It is quite the party! Family, friends, smiles and cheers… it’s a wonderful ceremony at this particular school.

This week has been a rough one for me. I knew quite a few medical students that would graduate this year, as I would have graduated this year if I would have been pulled off the waitlist the first year I applied. I feel so incredibly old. In some alternate dimension, maybe I am graduating and going into my intern year. (I don’t really think all that theoretical physics mumbo jumbo has any merit, but still.) Instead, I’m just now going to be starting on the long journey to (hopefully!) having a wonderfully joyous Match Day, only four years from now. I do feel a bit bitter and jaded over the whole thing–when your dream is so close you can taste it, and it doesn’t happen… and today having it thrown in your face (granted, it was my choice to attend)… didn’t have me thinking very good thoughts about myself, I confess.

Some of my future classmates already make me feel so old. One of them was talking about getting ‘crunk’ the other day (crazy + drunk). I thought that term went out of style in the early 2000’s. I mean, seriously? I forget how young some of these people are sometimes. Never held a real job, fresh out of undergrad. Oh my. I wonder if I’ll be able to fit in and make friends. Guess we’ll see.

Anyway, back to the Match Day celebrations. There were lots of BIG smiles, lots of family, tears of joy, students literally squealing, crying, and jumping for joy when they opened their letters and announced to everyone where they’d be spending several years of their lives. A girl that I went to college with–a tiny little no-name school–matched into Forensic Pathology at Yale. Pretty impressive! (Granted, I know nothing about the competitiveness of Forensic Pathology.) There were a ton of people who matched into pediatrics or combined pediatrics programs; I was pretty surprised there were so many! Overall, it was a really beautiful day. The energy in the room was palpable, and I couldn’t help being all smiles myself. It’s no secret that medical school is a long, hard four years that can put strain on the students and their family and friends; seeing the end result, and seeing everyone so incredibly happy over those results, really said a lot to me. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

One thing that encouraged me was seeing so many babies at Match Day; kids under two years old that belonged to the med students. I doubt that we’ll wait til I’m out of medical school to start our family, and I’ve been pretty nervous wondering when in the long four years would be a “good” time to start trying. Seeing so many little ones, some only a couple weeks old, is making me feel less anxious about that part of life during medical school.

It really was a truly good day, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be present for another Match Day, especially when I knew so many people who got good news. For now though, I’m closer to making my final decision about which school to attend, and making plans on when to see family in friends before the move, checking into everything I’ll need to do before then, like setting up a new bank account, letting our apartment management know that we’ll be moving. It’s getting closer to the beginning of my four years of this particular type of stress and strain, but I hope I get to keep this image in my mind when days are tough: a joyous Match Day.

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