Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Match

The original residency match post I had imagined writing was one of pure happiness, satisfaction and bragging. I was going to talk about how I had achieved my lifelong goal. That all my hard work, stress, interviews, networking, studying, etc lead me to exactly the position I wanted, in exactly the location I wanted. That I was done wondering what the future will hold. That I was absolutely and completely content. In fact, I had even begun to wonder what it was I WOULD be able to stress out about!? I have spent my entire life with some level of anxiety, first with swimming then med school, but with all that finished, I'd have to find something else. Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon maybe? Not.

Instead, I received an email that I will never forget: "We're sorry, you did not match to any position". This means, that I did not get into any of the OB/Gyn residencies that I ranked. Flabbergasted, I began, quite literally, scrambling to get my application materials back in order to send out the the 13 unfilled OB/Gyn positions left in the entire country. These spots got filled rather quickly. So I was forced on to Plan B...finding a spot in Kansas City. I found this spot in the wonderful Truman-Lakewood Family Medicine program which has ample opportunities in the field of Obstetrics. The people I talked to and met were great. The program is great. Everyone appeared content and motivated. I have nothing to complain about, and am thankful I found a spot. But I would be lying if I didn't say that I have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

This displaced anger and frustration of mine lies on The Match. This system which turns finding a residency spot into a game. No one can come out and say what they really think about a student or program, because it's a "violation". So we all meet. We all act perfect, and pretty and wonderful. We all make vague statements about how we really like each other. In fact, some of us go so far as to send an obviously extremely interested candidate a few letters stating, "You can be assured...we plan to rank you highly". But none of it is really true. What really happens is that candidates who look excellent on paper get ranked highest (unless they have some blindingly obvious personality problem) and the rest hope for the best, and for lady luck to fall on their side. The problem with this? It's not a game. This is my life. My future. My family's future.

Of course, I can not just blame The Match system. I could have studied harder. Took more tests. Done some research. Neglected my family. A lot of people (in fact, statistically, most people) will get their #1 or #2 choice. On paper, this system will continue to appear to be a fair, and proper way to deal with the mass amount of students graduating and residency spots opening. Unfortunately, this removes a bit of the human element. I complained of this system often in the last few months. A friend, who's husband went through the process a couple year's ago, put it well by saying, "I found it kind odd that as he advanced in his education, his direction in life became less predictable." Have I not earned to right to interview with someone, face to face, and be told honestly whether it works or not?

In real life, you interview. You get the job, great. You don't get the job, you move on. You continue this process until you find the right fit in the right career. You don't interview for a position as a swim coach, not get it, then say, oh, but I'll take the open basketball coaching spot.

Now that I am through venting, I want to say I am happy and will be happy. It is not in my nature to mope, regret, or dwell on the negatives of a paticular situation. I am so very thankful that I have a job next year, in medicine, in Kansas City. Near all of my more than incredible family and friends who made this match process, nay, the last 5 years possible. I will make the most of it. I will learn as much as I can, continue to grow, and lead, and become a fantastic physician. I will keep my mind open. Perhaps this is the path I was meant to take for a reason. Or perhaps, next year, an opportunity will show itself, and I will again be on the path towards becoming an OB/Gyn. Afterall, I am only 28 years old, what's a few more years of waiting?

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I agree 100%, Erin. Never in my life have I felt more anxiety than in the months leading up to the match, and I wasn't even the one in the midst of it! I can't believe that no one has come up with a better process.
I'm so glad you'll be in KC. I truly think the best way to get through residency (and I can only speak for the first year) is to have lots of supportive family and friends around. And it sounds like you have plenty of each! :)