Mar 14, 2011

The Match, Part I

The Match. Not the match. It gets it's own capital letter, like God. It's that important.

I've been keeping busy all, farmer's market, baking cookies, a ten mile hike, trying not to mentally count down the seconds until finding out at 9 am Monday morning. I haven't pooped for five days. This last week has been like a sucktastic Advent season for residency, with excitement for Christmas replaced by anxious anticipation for the Match.

Today, I woke up with a surgery to do before the Match results posted. I was in the operating room at 7 am, doing a c-section with a kind preceptor who knew Match anxiety well, who told me at 9:01 just to leave and go find out the results, that he would finish the suturing and paperwork. I stopped in the operating room hallway, mask still on, feet stuffed into surgical booties, and opened my email on my phone.

From: NRMP (National Ranking Match Program)
Subject: Did I Match?
Message: "Congratulations! You have Matched."

And that was it. A short email that left me elated and tired. I didn't know how worried I was about not Matching until I actually Matched. I expected to Match, but this is the kind of thing you can't be sure about, and the intense physical letdown I felt let me know how much I had worried unconsciously about today. I didn't expect to feel exhausted or achy. It felt as if my body started to relax, as if months of tension were evaporating out of my muscles.

Today, I only found out whether or not I Matched. I don't find out which program I'm going to until this Thursday (Match Part II). This lapse in information gives time for those who have not Matched to enter the "Scramble." The Scramble is the only thing besides God and the Match to command it's own capital letter. This is where an unmatched student applies for an open residency position, a spot that went unfilled in the first draft. You scramble for 72 hours to find an available spot, and find out where you are going on Thursday along with everyone else. Trouble is, it might not be in the location or the specialty that you wanted. I wouldn't wish the Scramble on anybody. Truth is, this is all quite complex and you don't totally understand it until you have gone through it. And since you only go through it once, the information you learn is really of no use to anyone at the point that you have acquired it.

I still have a lot of anticipatory anxiety over where I'll be going, but knowing that I'm going somewhere, that some program out there liked me enough to want me to be their resident physician, makes me feel safer than I did this morning. Somewhere, very soon, I'll be a doctor. And this thought gives me a sense of quiet relief, enough to feel sleepy and relaxed.

56 hours and 41 min left...3401 minutes...204,060 seconds...204,059...58...57....56...zzzzzzz .

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