SOL #18: Match Day

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It was one year ago today. It was a day that held the most stressful few minutes. It was Match Day.

Every winter all of the students finishing medical school apply for Residency Programs across the country. They apply to many programs and get to interview at an average of 12 hospitals. Then they carefully rank their choices. At the same time, each hospital ranks all of the people they interviewed. First choice, second choice, twelfth choice… A computer algorithm then matches a future resident to a hospital based on mutual rankings.

It all comes down to the third Friday in March at 12:00 EST. That is when the future is decided. There is no decision to make. Whatever hospital is written inside the envelope is where your three-year residency will be. You don’t get to choose, you don’t get another option. The decision is final.

My husband is the doctor, I’m the teacher, but this news would have a huge impact on my life as well. March 20th arrived. I took a half-day so I could be with him when he got his envelope. It was exhilarating in a terrible way. At 12:00 I would know if I would be moving to a new city. At 12:00 I would be able to confirm that I would keep my job at a school I loved.

11:20 I got in my car. As I drove back to my apartment, I could not focus on the radio. My heart was leaping out of my chest. 40 minutes to go. It seemed like every red light was drawing out these last minutes.

11:53. I parked my car and my Uber arrived. The medical campus was downtown and there wouldn’t be parking.

11:54. I will not make it. Oh god.

11:56. My husband and I were texting each other back and forth. He said he could see all of the envelopes laid out neatly in rows but he just had to wait. He even said the faculty had a giant timer counting down the minutes.

11:59. Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! My heart beat faster and faster. I just stared at my phone screen. This is it. I said. It will be great no matter what- I hope. Breathe.

12:00 Time froze. My husband told me later everyone rushed the tables, snatched their envelopes. He said there were shouts of joy and a lot of tears.

12:01 My husband calls. I can tell he is short of breath.

“Maine Medical Center!” he shouts into the phone. “We’re moving to Maine!”

“Wooooo!” I respond. “I’m still in an Uber, I’ll be there in 2 minutes!”

Maine. I thought. Ok, this will be a great adventure! So… I guess I’m quitting my job. Ok…. Let’s do this!

I can’t believe that it has been one year since that day. It was filled with entirely unnecessary stress. I actually can’t believe they put new doctors through such an archaic ritual. My heart goes out to all of the new doctors and their families that are matching today. Your next adventure begins at 12:00 EST.





10 thoughts on “SOL #18: Match Day

  1. Wow! I had no idea that was how it all worked for doctors. It sounds very stressful. You did a great job building that sense of urgency for me the reader as well with your countdown of the time. My heart is just starting to beat again. 🙂 I’m glad to hear you like where you are and everything turned out well for you both.


  2. You captured the building tension so well in this timeline piece. I learned something new, too; is this how residency hospitals are announced in all medical schools?


  3. Hmm- learned something new today! I have never heard of this ritual. I am waiting on my own virtual envelope (waiting to hear if get into Teachers College Summer Institutes- not quite as life changing, but still something I really want- unfortunately there is no definite day I will know). Your writing built the tension well. I hope you are happy with how it turned out.


  4. Cindy, what a super slice. I had no idea that this ritual/process/torture even existed. You painted the scene so well. I can imagine you frantically trying to get there, hopeful and anxious. What an emotional time for both of you. Your final comment, “Let’s do this!”, is so you. On a selfish note, I’m so glad that Maine was your destination!


  5. Not only was the way you wrote this piece outstanding for building up the anticipation, but it brought back a lot of memories for me. I was in fifth grade when my dad (who chose medicine as his second career), “matched.” There was no texting then, but I remember so much the anxiety in the room as so many people who had grown close in medical school were handed their future in an envelope. Such an exciting and emotional time!


  6. Such a life altering event and you laid it out minute by minute pulling me to read faster and faster to learn the results. Breath held, then released as I got to the end. Powerful writing!


  7. I just may have been sweating with you. I have not walked this path myself by watched my sister-in-law (the doctor) and her husband do so. They walked through each move with ease. Enjoy the journey!


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