Friday, March 18, 2011

deep. breaths.

Hi, and welcome to the first day of my yearlong panic attack.

Today, the class of 2011 found out where they would be spending the next 4 years continuing their medical education as residents. Here's how it works:

1. 4th year medical students go on interviews for residency at hospitals across the country.
2. After the interviews, they rank their top choices
3. Once the choices from every graduating medical student across the country are in, some fancy computer program matches the students' ranks to the feedback from the residency programs.
4. Students wait impatiently, hoping the system matched one of their top choices with a spot at a program.
5. Match Day is the third Thursday in March. On the Monday before Match Day, the students find out whether or not they matched. They don't, however, find out where. AS IF THE SUSPENSE WASN'T BAD ENOUGH.
6. If a student doesn't match, he has to "scramble" to find an open spot in any program across the country
7. On Match Day, all of the graduating fourth years, their families, and pretty much anyone who feels like watching, gathers to watch these poor souls find out in front of everyone where they matched.

8. Someone draws the name of a student from a hat. That person gets to stand up in front of everyone and open The Envelope.

9. And so on, and so forth. As each student's name is called, they drop five dollars in a jar. The $500 or so collected by the end goes to the last student whose name is called.

I'm already nervous about next year's match day, where Y will find out where he matched and where we'll be living for the next 3-4 years. Call me crazy, but there's something about not finding out a slightly important detail of your life until the very last minute... in front of everyone. Obviously it's stressful for everyone involved -- more for Y than myself, I'm sure -- but I think I'm struggling with the control issue. The issue being that I have none. It might make me feel a tad better if I could dress up as Y and do the interviews for him.

Or, uh, scratch that, because here's a story for you: Recently my boss and I visited a gastroenterologist's office. The doctor showed us a video from a PillCam (a pill with a camera, in case that wasn't clear) and I may or may not have said out loud, "It's just like the Magic School Bus!" (But seriously. It was.)

P.S. If you don't know a lot about the Match process and want to, Match Day by Brian Eule is helpful. Admittedly it's not exactly on my top 10... or top 100 books of all time, but it did kind of help decode the process.


  1. I definitely struggled with the lack of control surrounding Match. J was totally laid back and l was the nervous ball of energy that week. It was insane! I highly suggest reading Intern sometime before residency. It's pretty spot if you're interested in what the first year looks like. The author contributes to the NYTimes from time to time and he's a Dr. here on LI.

  2. That sounds like a crazy process - why do they make it so stressful?!?

  3. Oh how I'm dreading this exact week next year! A lot of our friends found out where they were matching this week and I'm terrified of it being us in their shoes next year.
    Russ put it well saying "it's like finding out if you were accepted into medical school x 100". Yup, pretty spot on I would say.
    I didn't know they did the whole "call up in front of a crowd thing" that with certain schools or programs (MD vs. DO)?

  4. I'll be joining you in this year-long panic attack.

    Dr. D and I were talking about match day yesterday, and decided that it is a pretty cruel ceremony. I mean really, what if you open the envelope and find out you got into your very last choice for residency? Shouldn't you be allowed to live out that disappointment in private? Sheesh.

  5. I've got 2 years until ours and i'm already a hott mess. At least you're in decent company, right?? (Sorry this wasn't the most helpful comment, was it?)

  6. V: excellent question. I guess it's fun when all's said and done, but I learned the other day that you can opt out of going up in front of everyone.

    C: I think each school does it a little differently, but opening the envelope in front of the crowd isn't part of the "official" process. I think steps 1-6 are consistent everywhere, and then at exactly 12 EST on match day, everyone either opens their envelopes or starts the ceremony. (Although the process is changing slightly for 2012)

    MDD: WORD. There was a girl here who we could see from our view on the second floor sobbing uncontrollably throughout the entire ceremony. Poor thing.

    K: For some reason, I went to the match day ceremony when Y was a first year and I've been a hot mess since that day -- I just feel like now I'm officially allowed to whine about it. Don't worry, I somehow made it this far...

  7. Luckily, my husband and I found out where he matched in the privacy and comfort of our own home. His school is a little different in that the students are dispersed in community health centers across the country, so they weren't able to get together and do the traditional match day ceremony. So we found out via email.

    Not to add to your stress, but think about how you will share the news with your family. I don't know if our decision was the best way, but we decided to keep radio silence until our "match day dinner" which we revealed it to everyone at the same time. Of course, they were hoping for us to stay home, so there was a lot of shock and awkwardness in the room!

    Everything will work out. That *tiny* little detail... it will all work out.