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Friday, January 22, 2021

The Match: It will all work out

 It's been a while. Hope you are all staying safe and sane and welcoming a new year with a sense of optimism. I know it's tough, but all we can do is hope, right?

I found this blog over 10 years ago. I was newly married, pregnant, furiously google searching "mom in medicine" and "can you be a mom and a doctor." Luckily, I stumbled upon this blog, read archives and old posts, and mustered up the confidence and gumption to take on medical school with a newborn. It was not easy. I recently celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary, and, as someone who got married right out of college, my husband and I realized that for the entirety of our dating life and marriage, I have either been studying for the MCAT, applying to medical school, in medical school, in residency, and now in a fellowship. The third wheel of responsibility and demands on my mind, emotions, sleep, and time, was not anything like we could have imagined bringing in to our relationship. But as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm amazed at how far we have come. 

Thinking back to January 4 years ago, I remember the fear with which I submitted my match list. I knew the programs near my hometown were notoriously competitive, especially in my chosen field. Being 8 months pregnant with my 2nd during Step 1 did me no favors and I had an unlikely chance to match at my medical school's program or the other local programs. So we looked around America. We kept an open mind. And I submitted a list that was part hopeful, part practical, and part prayer. 

I didn't invite my parents or anyone aside from my husband to match day. I was dreading it, honestly. I didn't want to move away, I didn't know how I could possible do residency without that supportive backbone my parents gave me throughout medical school. I knew that I would most likely end up on the other side of the country, near my husband's 1 relative, and without the support of my family and parents and friends and everything I knew. 

When I matched at a smaller program 3000 miles away from home, at first I cried. It was confusing. I loved the program and knew in my heart it was the best fit for me. It was family friendly, supportive, great staff, respectful of the lives and time of its residents, and an unbelievably rigorous place to train. But in the beginning, those feelings were hard to reconcile. I hated the match process, doubted medicine, and questioned what the purpose of the whole thing was. It was hard. But now, looking back, I am so so glad I did it. 

My mentors in medical school and various blogs tell residents to "trust the process." Trust that "the match works itself out." For some, it doesn't. But for me, those words rang true. We created a community in our new city, explored a different climate and culture, and really had a wonderful adventure. I am now doing fellowship in the midwest, slowly inching closer back to my home in the West Coast. But I am fortified in my relationship, as a parent, and have learned to lean on community and friends, not just family. My kids are resilient and adaptable. The feeling of "us" in a little bubble- amplified by the pandemic- has only made my relationship with my husband stronger. Had I quit or compromised my goals during match, I don't think I would be as fulfilled, happy, and motivated as I am now. 

Good luck to all the applicants submitting their rank lists. Stay open minded. I'm sending good vibes that it works out. 

3 comments:

  1. Amen to that. I don't think we talk enough about the implications of the match - that a lot of us matched and were devastated. In my case, it was where I wanted - a great choice for my partner's job - but it was far from friends, family, a different part of the country, and I had to look my godson in his eyes when I opened the envelope that said I was moving a bajillion miles away. I sobbed.

    But now, 7 years later, it was the best thing for us, and I couldn't be happier.

    Thinking of you all submitting!

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  2. You have come so far! Really happy to hear how everything has worked out and that it's been 10 years! It does all work out - although sometimes we can't see that until several years out. I try to tell my students this as we meet over rank lists - and the perspective that comes many years later.

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  3. I do hate the emphasis we put on Match Day. I remember sitting around the table with my friends opening our envelopes and one immediately standing up and leaving because they had gotten one of the lower preferences on their list. So many conflicting emotions for so many of us.

    I'm so impressed with you and your adventures cross-country while rocking it mom-style - hope fellowship is treating you well!

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