It’s match week in medical land. The dreaded yet most anticipated and exciting week for all 4th year medical students. A week of so many mixed emotions and a week where I probably lost 10 lbs from anxiety 2 years ago. Although that’s not entirely true I guess. I had nerves but we also had a great deal of confidence going into the match because of how his interviews had gone. But you can never ever be 100% confident and no matter how confident you think you are, nothing is for certain until you open that little white envelope which has been holding your fate for days.
Mr. Dr. was matching in Orthopedics. Not only is it one of the most competitive specialties to pursue, included in his top tier rank list were 3 of the top 10 programs in the country. There wasn’t enough vodka in NYC to sedate me that week. We were getting married in a month, had been engaged for a year and a half and couldn’t begin planning our future until we got past March 17th, 2011. Looking back on it nothing could have prepared me for the match. I didn’t realize how intense it really was until I experienced it. I had heard stories and talked to people but there is no good way to describe it unless you go through it for yourself. Because it is truly the most bizarre thing I have ever seen or felt. Every school does it a bit differently and has their own traditions. I have heard some are more formal and even make their students open one at a time. I would have literally passed out if that was our protocol.
For us, it looked like this: All of the students gathered with each other, and their families if they were lucky, and they stood in front of faculty members who were lined up at the front. Each one held a group of letters categorized alphabetically. There were balloons, there were cameras, there was school press – it’s only the biggest day of a medical school career. We walked up once the clock struck 11am and were handed an envelope. Like as if it was just another piece of mail that the mailman forgot to leave in your mailbox the day before. And then boom. Open, read and just like that, your life unfolds before your eyes. The paper barely had any writing on it. It had his name, his specialty and the program that selected him to be their resident for the next 5 years of his life. How great would it be if the match envelope came with a signing bonus and a stash of bills was sitting right behind the letter welcoming the candidate to the program? Ha yeah right.
Surrounding us were tears, hugs, cheers, screaming, excitement, disappointment – you name it we saw it being experienced by someone in that room. I feel so lucky that we were a couple experiencing happiness and hugs of joy. We were so fortunate that our fate was what we had hoped it would be for the next 5 years. Ironically it was also St. Patrick’s Day and a gorgeous sunny day. So we spent the afternoon enjoying many a cocktail with friends – some drinking away their sorrows, some that couldn’t wipe the happy smile off of their face. I am ashamed to say I have NO photos from match day. I can’t find a single one. Honestly, my emotions that day were on such a roller coaster that my hand probably wouldn’t have have been steady enough to hold a camera, and the other was busy holding a beer. We did keep his letter on the fridge for a few months before we moved that summer though.
Match day holds a special place in my heart because it was a milestone in our relationship, his career and our future. It is a day that Doctors and their significant others don’t forget. A day that wears on both throughout 4 years of med school because it’s inevitable and means so much. A day that changes lives in so many different ways. A day of more emotions than one can imagine. But most of all, a day of accomplishment no matter what that letter says.
Good luck to all who are going through the match this week. I know it’s tough but try to relax, grab a drink or 5, and try to enjoy this special moment with your loved ones no matter what the outcome.