Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Match Game: Medical School edition

I never got a chance to blog about our match day, but better late than never, I guess.

So, every year, on the third Thursday in March, medical students all over the country await their fate in the residency selection process. Match Day. Dare I say, it was probably the most important day in my life thus far which I guess isn't saying much. I digress, it is the highly anticipated end of a strenuous, trying interview season, which for some lasts from October to February. Not only that, but it is also the culmination of all the man hours, hard work, mental/emotional anguish, and straight up self-doubt and questioning that comes with being a medical student. If you weren't messed up already, don't worry, med school will fuck you up. Just ask this guy.

Match day is the unofficial end of the twisted and winding road (complete with the roadblocks and potholes of Pediatrics and OB/GYN rotations slowing you down) to becoming a doctor. At the same time, it signifies a beginning of the rest of our lives. Poetic, I know.

And it is so effing satisfying when it arrives because then you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Technically, a medical student finds out if they matched on Black Monday, three days before match day. That way, if they do not match, they can participate in the "Scramble" which allows them to apply for any unfilled positions.

In the weeks leading to match, I had a semi-nervous breakdown. Every night, I prayed that I would get into my first choice and I was constantly nauseated and was plagued with abdominal pain. I didn't want to go anywhere else. I was obsessed, every other sentence out of my mouth was "Do you think I'll get in there?" and "What if I don't get in?" and "If I don't get in, I'll ____ myself." I'm pretty sure my friends were contemplating taking me out back, Old Yeller style. Luckily for me, when I ripped open that envelope at 11AM CST, I saw my first choice, my home program.

Then I wept like the girl I am.

The thing is, I was trying to get into Otolaryngology residency, which according to the National Board of Medical Examiners was the fourth most difficult specialty to get into this year (integrated plastics, dermatology, orthopaedics). There were like 370 applicants for 250 spots or something. There are people who are absolutely perfect on paper who do not get into ENT. I am not perfect, on paper or in person, but somehow I made the cut.

It's a very gratifying feeling to know that someone out there wants you when they could have their pick of any other amazing candidate. I imagine this is how it would feel to win the Bachelor or Rock of Love or some other equally demoralizing reality dating show. Demoralizing because on the interview trail, you have the sell the shit out of yourself; you do things that you may not be proud of, and you try to focus on making yourself not look apeshit insane while trying to be memorable. As we've learned from those dating shows, sometimes this is not possible.

Interview season highlights include getting inebriated at my home program; singing 'Livin on a Prayer' during an interview; running through Chicago O'Hare, narrowly missing not one but two flights; visiting Charleston, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, where I'd never been before; and lastly, meeting a lot of cool people although the uncool people are the ones I remember most.

On match day, needless to say, there was a lot of celebrating. A lot. Of. Celebrating. When you start drinking at 1 PM, you tend to burn out real quickly (especially if you lack the aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme as I do), so we didn't even make it past midnight. Another sign that we're growing up or at least growing old. But it was fun, and it was memorable, and it was everything one of the last gathering of our class should be. I'm not gonna get all emo about this stuff, because that might confuse people into thinking that I actually have feelings, but I'll kind of miss medical school when it's all over. I've known these people for 6 years, and it's been interesting to say the least.

We made with rain, with actual shredded money. We are filthy. And I love it.

No comments:

Post a Comment