Each year, Perelman School of Medicine students and medical students across the country count down to annual “Match Day,” which marks one of the most important days in a medical student's career. Friday, March 20, students will come together with their classmates and wait for the envelope that will tell them where they are headed for their residency training. This year for our annual Match Day blog series, medical student Anna Jesus will be sharing her thoughts leading up to and after this major stepping stone.
Anna earned her BA in Music and English in 2006 and her MA in English in 2007 from the University of Virginia. She then completed her premedical coursework in 2008 at Goucher College. In medical school, Anna incorporated her writing background into the blog Anna In Med School. With her husband, she enjoys CrossFit, play cafes, singing, and the trial and (so many) error(s) of parenting. She hopes to begin a residency in pediatrics in summer 2015.
By Anna Jesus
I left the country to avoid the anxiety-provoking waiting game that occurs between February 25 (Rank Day) and March 20 (Match Day). Family, French countryside, castles, and cuisine also beckoned us abroad, but the logic behind the timing of our adventures included the benefit of distraction.
Over the last year, I’ve struggled to describe the residency application endeavor and “the Match,” the process by which medical students are assigned a residency position. I’ve likened it to sorority rush, only spread across many months and costing thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars. For a quick breakdown of the process, I recommend this article. Now, nearly a year after I started my application, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I will know if and where I have a job in a matter of days.
For me, as I know is true for many for my colleagues, my life outside of my career considerably affected the residency application process. My husband is a physician and, like many professionals, he has learned that as we climb the ranks, jobs that align with our goals are not always easy to come by. Now factor the time crunch: if my residency position requires us to relocate, my husband has about two months to find a job. In order to maximize his employment options, I applied to only three geographic areas. Although part of me would have loved the to apply broadly and get a better sense of the medical cultures and communities in the far corners of the country, this limitation of choices was certainly easier on the pocketbook come interview season.
And then there are our daughters (currently ages 28 months and 10 months) to consider. Once we thought we were the couple that would never settle down, happily city (or country) hopping throughout our careers. But at some point we adopted many of the clichés of parenthood, craving to own our own home in a safe neighborhood and a good school district, preferably close to loved ones. We’d like the location of my residency to be somewhere we could make a home.
In the end, my husband and I searched for the trifecta of programs: good for me; good for him; good for our family. Thankfully there are enough programs and positions available in my chosen specialty of pediatrics that met those criteria that I am hopeful (all fingers and toes crossed) of my chances to match into one of them.
Still my neuroticism got the best of me. I spent hours of my recent vacation comparing the program numbers found on my rank list with those on my initial application, worried sick that I somehow ranked the incorrect programs and I would end up with no job come March 20, my career would be over before it began, and I would be saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans with no means of paying it off. I also found myself entering the National Resident Matching Program live chat at 8pm EST (middle of the night in France) on Rank Day to clarify such inane questions as, “So the program I list as “1”—that’s my first choice of residency placement, right?”
Now I grudgingly wait, hoping that the fates (and the algorithm) will truly make me the perfect match.