Showing posts with label Match Day topic day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Match Day topic day. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Match Madness

Hello, everybody.

Long time no see.

I have been immersed in the turmoil that is the fourth year of medical school. I don't happen to go to one of those medical schools I keep hearing about where the fourth year is easy and awesome. We only get one month of vacation, which includes time spent traveling for interviews. So, with interviews, elective and non-elective rotations, my clinical skills board exam, and being a single mom, I haven't even been opening my laptop most days.

My match rank list is certified, and now I am sitting on my hands and freaking out quietly...well, mostly quietly. For the uninitiated out there, the match is a hellish roulette wheel in which about 37,000 applicants vie for about 25,000 residency positions. This year, I am one of those 37,000 applicants.

I wrote a little bit about my various pressures regarding applying for residency programs here, and that post also has a link to the Match Day topic week here at MiM.

I ended up trying to stay as close to home as possible. I would be happy at any of the programs that ended up on my rank list. I would have liked to have interviewed at more programs. I was limited by my custody agreement, and I further limited myself by only applying to programs in cities where I knew somebody.

I am terrified that I am going to have to scramble. Obstetrics and gynecology has been a really competitive match recently. The National Resident Match Program is nice enough to crunch the data from recent matches, so I have a boatload of tables and graphs to stare at as I freak out. 77.1% of ob/gyn applicants matched last year. 99.6% of program positions filled, which means only 2 positions were left for the more than 200 or so ob/gyn applicants that didn't match. I am guessing most of those applicants didn't have a custody agreement that had pretty strict boundaries.

So, if anyone has any suggestions of how I can distract myself until March 12th, the day I learn if I match, and then March 16th, the day I learn where I match, please let me know.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My personal statement

I just filled out my residency application. Ugh. Here is my personal statement:

At the last postpartum appointment following the birth of my second child, I wasn't worried for his future. I was worried for my own. I had just gotten my MCAT score and started the medical school application process when I became pregnant. I couldn’t decide if I was more elated or upset. I desperately wanted a second child, but my body and circumstances conspired against that desire for years. My seemingly perfect plan of having two children during premed, then entering medical school with them potty trained and ready for elementary school turned into a dream of having an only child and going to medical school.

Now I was holding a new baby, and my medical school application hung in the balance. Although I was happy my family was now complete, I came to medicine as a second career, and I was already an older applicant. I couldn’t imagine putting off school and residency any longer, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to face the demands of rotations and residency with a toddler at home.

When I told the midwife of my fears, she said, “Why don’t you come to the midwifery school here?” I laughed and immediately refused. I had no interest in obstetrics. I wanted to be an endocrinologist. I thought it would fit my interest in having long term relationships with patients, with lots of opportunities for education during clinical visits.

But, over the next few months, her invitation kept resonating with me. I had loved my prenatal appointments. I read voraciously during my pregnancies, and found the material very interesting. I started the midwifery school when my son was three months old. Two years later, I thought it was the best and worst decision I had ever made.

I found out that I loved everything about medical care of women, especially during pregnancy and birth. I had the continuity and clinic experience I craved. I loved it even when I had been up for a day and a half. I loved it even when there were fluids and meconium and discharge. Yes, I even loved it when the women were screaming. Yet, I was unsatisfied.

The midwives knew it. I would discuss research and evidence. I would read about pregnancy complications that were outside the scope of a midwife’s practice. Although I loved the training, especially the extensive hands on clinical experience, I felt that I meant to be a doctor, not a midwife. I was the first to volunteer to go whenever there was a transfer to a cesarean section. I wanted to be able to do surgeries and advanced procedures. I finally had what I refer to as my “midwife crisis” and left the program to apply to medical school.

Despite being an older student, a working mother, and former midwife student, I was happy to learn I fit in and even excelled at medical school, preclinically and clinically. I was president of the obstetrics and gynecology interest group, and went to every ACOG Annual Clinical Meeting. I had dedication, a work ethic and time management skills earned from my diverse life. I won a research fellowship with a full tuition scholarship, and studied labor and delivery interventions for a year. The fellowship allowed me to work with CDC funded researchers, practitioners around the globe, maternal health care stakeholders, and academics. I also reviewed and contributed to the anniversary edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and various medical websites such as KevinMD and Mothers in Medicine, along with getting published in peer-reviewed journals. My hundreds of hours of clinical experience during midwifery training put me way ahead when I started rotations.

I am sure my clinical skills, intellectual capacity and endurance are up to the challenge and that I would be an asset to any obstetrics and gynecology program. I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to shine. My last baby is now almost seven. My dream did come true - my kids are independent, proud of their mom, and can’t wait for me to be a doctor.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome to Match Day on Mothers in Medicine

Welcome to our 5th (!) Topic Day at Mothers in Medicine: Match Day. Today, we'll be featuring posts about our experiences with the big day.

As promised, we are also giving away 10 (!) copies of the book "Match Day" by Brian Eule. (See reviews by myself and Fizzy earlier this week). To enter, leave a comment to this post with your email address and we'll select 10 random readers to receive a free copy sent to them! You have until midnight tonight to leave a comment, so spread the word, tell your friends, score a copy!

And, good luck to those going through the actual match who will be finding out tomorrow at noon EST!

Posts will be publishing regularly throughout the day. Scroll down to see the posts....

Match Day: Part 1 and 2

My match day was March 17, 2005.

Our match day was done in a "let all hell break loose" kind of fashion. The envelopes were at different tables organized alphabetically, and we basically trampled each other in an attempt to get our envelopes.

Inside the envelopes, was a tiny strip of paper. That 1 cm high strip of paper had our whole future on it.

I matched at my first choice on my rank list, at a primary care program close to where my husband would be working. I was so thrilled that I cried (well, a few tears) and hugged my friends. Ironic, considering I wanted to drop out of that program within two days of starting. It took me six months to get up the nerve to tell my program director that I wasn't coming back next year. No way, no way, no way.

Match #2 for me took place a year later. I didn't do it through ERAS because I was already a resident. I was on evening cross cover and as I sat in my scrubs on the couch in the empty resident lounge, waiting for the other residents to sign out to me, I got a call on my cell phone. It was the program director at the PM&R program where I had interviewed a few weeks earlier.

"We've decided to offer you a spot for next year," she told me.

No fanfare, no trampling, no hugs, no tears, no green Hawaiian leis. But there it was: a spot for me in my dream program.

Now I'm nearly three months away from graduating from this program. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to train in a field that I love. And I don't throw around words like "blessed" very often.

Pediatric Match Day

“Should I stay or should I go now?”
The Clash

I don’t think Mick Jones or Joe Strummer knew anything about the NRMP or National Resident Match Program – but their words echo in my head as I think about my journey from medical student to pediatric resident in the early 1990’s. The decisions I made that late winter were many but they boiled down to remaining in my medium sized southeastern hometown, or venturing to a bigger pond. St. Christopher’s in Philadelphia, Emory in Atlanta, Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC were three of the several pediatric programs that I interviewed and interviewed me. The big city had an allure for me, and each successive site convinced me that I could swim in a bigger location.

But I had my doubts. Could I learn to draw all the labs on my admissions? Would that be educational or just scut? Would I be safe as I headed to my car after 30 hours (these were the pre-mandatory work hours days) in the hospital? Would the traffic overwhelm me? Could I afford to live on a resident’s salary? How would I find a roommate if I needed one? Did all the “perks” of a program really matter? Would I have chemistry with this program or that one? Maybe that seems like an odd question, but I was about to spend the majority or my life inside the walls of a hospital. I needed a sense of connection to this team I was about to join. For the next three years, I would be guided by physicians who could determine some part of my professional future with their advice and evaluations. In return, I would be expected to be a team-player with my fellow residents in the care of patients. Could all of this come down to a gut decision? For the one time in my life – footloose, unbeholden and young, my decisions affected only me.

Despite some early interests in triple board programs (Pediatrics/Psychiatry/Child & Adolescent Psychiatry), I interviewed in and ranked only categorical Pediatric programs. Writing that rank list was one of the hardest career moves I’ve had to make. (Taking my first job in the rural Southeast over the chief residency was a close second) All indications were that my home program at a children’s hospital would welcome me into their fold.( Reassuring smiles & nods from attending physicians) No guarantees, though. That would be against the rules of the match. The alternative was to take a risk and rank St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia number one – a program where I’d had a second interview and hopefully made an impression. Again. No guarantees. No assurances. Pick my home program and have familiarity and the acquaintance of at least two thirds of the residents. Or, pick the unfamiliar, riskier choice that could potentially jettison me into a fellowship or academic medicine.

My own Match Day was anti-climatic after I submitted my list. Most applicants for Pediatric residency positions get their first choice. I was no exception. Yet I was still jittery on that Wednesday. My class had spawned five couples who were trying to match as couples. My nerves felt their anxiety and my own. What if some computer glitch matched me in Philadelphia or Washington, DC? Was the decision really about location or was it more about envisioning the future of my career? Was it about having a high-powered pediatric career or a more balanced life that included pediatrics? Guess what? I’m still working on that balance, and some days I have thoughts about the fellowships I could have applied for, but I wouldn’t have written that rank list any differently.

(match day) - which day was that?

Not sure why but I can hardly separate out in my mind my own match day (in the 1990's) and my husband's a few years later. Earlier today I asked him to remind me about the circumstances surrounding our opening those fateful envelopes. I don't think it's post-traumatic stress-induced amnesia, since we both were happy with each of our matches, despite the hurdles coordinating the geography and job prospects without a true couples match. Perhaps my MIM status has resulted in a loss for specific details; I now more holistically just remember that it ultimately all worked out for the best. Then again, my coffee cup is usually half full.

What's coming back to me now is how silly I felt mentioning "my boyfriend" during interviews leading up to match day, since we'd actually been (living) together for many many years prior to actually getting married. Sometimes I mixed it up by saying "significant other." We did become domestic partners so we could co-habitate in the med school dorms, us and a few thousand gay New Yorkers. In any case, most of the hard part was us figuring it out beforehand, crafting the list, and then once we met our match we planned accordingly. After all, the culture in medicine is to train for 3-4 years, and then make a decision to move or stay. Then you train for several more years and then make a decision to move or stay. And so on. Fortunately for us, the "move or stay" has always involved staying in love.

Now, it's just another day

I debated with myself for a long while about whether I wanted to post my recollections of matching. I've realized while looking back my memories of this time have become far hazier than I would have ever imagined possible. I'm sure that circumstances at the time might have had something to do with it - I was recently engaged (the prior November) with a wedding planned for early summer (when I conveniently had a few weeks off following graduation). In the midst of dress fittings and cake tastings, I waited to hear what would occur. I recall vividly who I interviewed with, and still recall the vaguely funky smell in an outer office as I waited to meet with one of the administrator/physicians who would potentially determine my fate. As it turned out, when it was time to decide, I limited my choices of where I wanted to train due to my upcoming marriage; when faced with what seemed to be starting a career versus starting a life, I chose the latter.

Now, many (many, many!) years later, I have had few (if any) regrets. OK, I wish I would have traveled more and if I knew then what I know now, would probably have structured some of my early experiences differently. But I received a very good education in my little community-based program and have never felt limited in what I could strive for.

So dear students, although today emotions run high and nerves are shot, in the long run this day will become just one of several pinnacles you'll scale. Looking back, memories of my wedding, the birth of my sons, and numerous career highlights are crowding out any recollection of the anxiety I'm sure I felt when Match Day rolled around for me. And I think that's as it should be.


Match Day Purgatory

The months that led up to Match Day were pretty stressful for me. I was in that med school relationship purgatory where my boyfriend (it makes me feel 11 to say that word) and I were in a serious relationship but we were not engaged. If we were engaged, I had imagined wistfully, submitting my rank list would have been so much easier. I would rank the program at my medical school #1 without a doubt since he would still be there, finishing up an MD-PhD. Even though I REALLY liked a couple of other programs that were in other cities. One city on the other side of the country.

But Christmas and Valentine's Day and other perfectly fine occasions for him to pop the question and appear on bended knee came and went and I was feeling a little - how shall I say - frustrated. To put it nicely. In actuality, I was going a little insane. I remember initiating serious conversations about this: where are we going? We need to do some planning. You know, all of those conversation starters that cause men to start sweating and looking for the nearest exit. But I needed to know: is this the real thing? Do I put this relationship before my real program preferences? I thought other programs might be a better fit for me and what I wanted to eventually do.

In the end, I ended up ranking the program at my school first. I also had a lot of positive feedback from the program, leading me to believe it would be pretty much of a sure thing. Yet, still, I was nervous on Match Day. What if there was a computer glitch? What if they were just telling me I was a shoo-in? What if I ended up somewhere far away?

He was with me as we gathered with all of my classmates in the big hall. I had picked up my sealed envelope from a faculty carrying the envelopes for students with my last name letter. We stood around in informal clumps, around friends and some family for the magic words at 12 noon, informing us that we could open our envelopes and find our fate.

It was time. I opened the envelope and pulled out a surprisingly small slip of paper with only the name of the program I had matched into: My school's.

It was not a surprise or an elation but a relief. A huge relief.

Some classmates were more vocal. There were shouts of joy, a buzz of "Congratulations", there were hugs and hugs all around. It was a very emotional, joyful moment. In the beginning.

But when the dust settled a bit, and the flurry of happiness fluttered down, I started to notice that not everyone was happy. Some of my classmates were quiet, bummed. Some look like they were spun, confused, trying to be positive. And some were in tears. A good friend of mine, in fact, was in tears. It wasn't all happy.

But like that, all of us were going somewhere. Some to places they dreamed about. Some to places they wished they had never ranked. And I, was staying.

In the week to follow, my boyfriend and I took our planned student-budget trip to San Francisco, touring Napa Valley, taking mud baths in Calistoga, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and stopping occasionally for impromptu picnics.

He proposed.

It's A Match

Match Day. It was a day that I viewed with trepidation (Will I go where I want to go?), anticipation (Where will the next chapter of my life begin?), and exhilaration (I would finally be done with medical school!) Match Day was a day that, before you entered medical school, you had no idea even existed. I hate to borrow the comparison to sororities once again, but Match Day does work almost exactly like sorority rush. Your senior year of medical school, you interview at many different programs, searching for (what you think is) your ideal fit for a training program. You have to make decisions about community programs vs. university based programs. Small programs vs. larger programs. City or rural? Academics focused or procedure focused? I'm oversimplifying for the sake of keeping the post a reasonable length, but you get the picture. Then, at the end of the interview season, you sit down and rank, first to last the programs in which you would like to train. The residency programs do the same, ranking applicants from most wanted to least wanted, and yes, they do have meetings where they put your picture up and talk about your pros and cons...just like rush. Then, all of the information from both the students and programs is plugged into some kind of nebulous computer database matrix-type-thing, where the magical "match" actually happens...each student to each program, according to mutual rankings. Thankfully, you are somewhat unaware of the gory details of the process when you are interviewing. All you know is that the decisions that you make when writing your match list will profoundly affect the rest of your professional life. No pressure.

For me, I was fortunate in the fact that I didn't have to worry about a couple's match (trying to match to the same place as your spouse or significant other). Mr. Whoo was delightfully mobile with respect to his professional life, so we didn't have the constraints of specific places that we just *had* to be. We picked a general area of the country in which we knew we would be happy, and concentrated on applying to the programs in that general area. I was also fortunate that I wasn't trying to match into a super competitive residency like dermatology or radiology (or, the "lifestyle specialties," as they are called), and I really had no interest in the rigorous academic programs. I was more concerned with learning how to be a general community Ob/Gyn, could not care less about research or academic prestige. For me, I primarily searched for community based, procedure heavy programs in a large region of the country. I looked at how the attendings and the residents interacted with one another, and I was really interested in finding a program where the residents actually seemed to *like* one another. As far as match criteria are concerned, mine were quite modest. I ranked 8 programs, 2 of which I loved enough to place them interchangeably in rank order.

Match Day itself was rather overwhelming. There was lots of pomp and circumstance, and even more nerves and jitters. There was a big ceremony outside, then we all went into the main lecture hall (where we spent the whole of our first two years as students, sort of poignant). It was there that we received the envelopes which held the direction for (did I mention?) our entire professional lives. To add extra fun, each of us was called individually up to the front of the entire room, filled with friends, students, and families to open our envelope in front of *everybody* to read aloud the program and specialty to which we had matched. The only prior knowledge that you had going up to this point was whether or not you *had* matched, so the reactions ranged from ecstatic, to barely concealed bitter disappointment. It was a little awful and a lot wonderful. On the whole, my class matched well, so many of us were rejoicing together. When it came my time to grab my envelope, I could barely squawk out the words on the paper, I was so overcome. I vaguely remember cheers and applause as I blindly made my way back to my seat. I had matched into my first path, once shrouded in mystery and doubt, was suddenly, sunnily clear.

After our class had opened the last envelope, there was a cake and punch reception (to which we brought flasks to generously spike the punch). We shared happy and sad tears, and there was a sense of relief that it was all *over,* when, in fact, it was just beginning. I found out that two other classmates had matched into residencies at the same place in which I did. This was kind of amazing, since we were coming from a big, academic med school in a location nearly a full day's drive from the smaller, community-ish program to which we all matched. It was comforting to know that there would be a couple of familiar faces in that new, unfamiliar territory. That night we all hit the town together as a class, and acted decidedly not like budding young medical professionals, but like the kids that we actually still were. For all the toil, sacrifice and tears that we had endured thus far, with even more looming on the horizon, all was right with the world on the day that we found our match.

Guest Post: A Perfect Match

I have been through this before. My husband graduated from medical school four years ago and, like everyone else, went through the match. It was one of the most terrifying and disturbing times of our lives. All the waiting for interviews and agonizing over rank lists; it was too much for me. Finally, Match Day showed up and we went to the ceremony. At his school, everyone got their envelopes with their information in it as they walked in the door. Then, exactly at noon, everyone ripped the envelopes open and exploded into some expansive emotion. Some cheered and ran around the room. Some burst into tears. Some tried to act calm but were clearly not.

It was one of the most intense experiences I have ever observed.

As we left, I clearly remember saying, “Thank God we’ll never have to do that again.” Ah, the irony.

My husband matched and we moved for his new job. I started medical school. Life hummed along nicely. Then he decided he wasn’t sure of the career he’d matched into, and needed some time to think about it. That was two years ago. And a wedding, a house, several dogs and cats, and a baby ago. We thought things were so complicated four years ago, what with the thinking and the ranking! Now, he’s moving into a different specialty and going through the match again. This time, he’s not in a class, so there is no fancy ceremony. Just an email around 1pm Thursday.

He has good options, was well received everywhere, and I think we will be happy wherever we end up. But that’s just it. Where will we end up? Will we stay here, where we have a house and friends and a babysitter and in-state tuition? Will we move closer to my family, where our son will grow up with his cousin and enjoy his extended family? Will we move to the great North, where we know almost no one, have no friends, but have a promising career path? And the worst of it, as you all are well aware, is that we don’t get to decide. Granted, the list that my husband submitted is of places that we would be able to live. But we don’t get to pick.

When, in all of this, do we actually grow up? Sometimes I feel very grown up. I am a mother, a wife, a homeowner, a very responsible person overall. But then, I’m also still a student, still have to request permission to use the restroom, still terrified of getting a real job. And, of course, still being told where to move and when to be there. Someday, maybe, we’ll get to decide our own fate and choose our own futures.

Of course, we still have my match to live through in a few years. And the match for fellowships, if we decide to do them. Maybe by the time I’m 40 I’ll be able to pick the city I live in. Until then, we’ll be sitting in front of the computer, chewing off our nails and clicking ‘refresh’ around 1pm Thursday.

Katie! Third year medical student, currently on maternity leave. In her free time: Mama, wife, dog-mom, sister, daughter, aunt, friend. She's probably supposed to be something else, but she's forgotten. She aspires to be a morning person, organized, and an OB/GYN. Cross-posted at You’ll Never Know Everything.