Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fragments of Medical School: Match Day


Tomorrow is match day.

It is not the day they hand out sticks of flammable wood out to potential doctors, giving them a chance to torch all the books and papers they have accumulated as a symbol of moving forward (though that would be entertaining, and perhaps more satifying).

Instead, it is the day where are medical students are “matched” to their residencies.

Tomorrow is the product of three and a half years of work, and while a piece of paper divulging your future place of work is good information, it is still another three months before the job begins, and it may or may not be the place you wanted to go in the first place.

So when did this all begin?

Four years ago each medical student interviewed at medical schools in hopes that one (or several) would accept him or her as a good candidate to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work into their program.

Three and a half years ago they all started classes. Oddly enough, they started at a fairly moderate pace, but picked up speed pretty quickly. The after class hours of studying were all consuming, sleep a luxury and relationships nearly impossible.

Two and a half years ago we got married.

Two years ago, before starting rotations in hospitals as medical students (where you are officially bottom of the food chain slaves) each student had to take the first of three board exams. Preparation for these exams included four to six weeks of studying from 7am-10pm (though Curtis liked to take breaks to run, and on occasion, eat dinner with me).

Last summer was the second of three board exams, which also included mountains of studying, though perhaps not as much as the first (due mostly to the schedule of hospital clinic hours that also had to be carried at this time).

That was followed in the autumn by a third board exam, which contrary to the first “book” tests, actually tests a future-doctor’s ability to interact with and diagnose a patient.

This winter found an abundance of free time (which felt odd) while students were given time to travel the country to interview at residency programs. Back in September all students applied to various residency programs, submitting essays and board scores and anything they could scratch up to make themselves look good.

Throughout the fall we heard back from programs asking for interviews, some of them offering to pay for travel expenses, most of them giving us a place to stay if we made the trek out.

And so now we find ourselves finally here…at the end of the line.

Tomorrow will reveal where we will live for the next three years, whether we will (re)establish roots or continue the relationships we have been investing in for the past eight years.

Tomorrow will be the start of many plans and much chaos, or a continuation of life as usual.

Tomorrow will tell it all.


  1. Why am I super excited and nervous for your match day?

    What are the options? Where might you be posting from in the future?

    My friend just matched for her optometry residency at her first choice; it was a nerve wracking experience and so calculated yet left to chance, it seems!

    To where do you want to be matched?

    I know, I know... so many questions!

  2. Good luck with your match and all that comes with it. We live in Memphis, which has a huge medical community. We could always tell when Match Day came because - almost overnight - for sales signs would pop up in half the yards in our neighborhood!