The Anxiety of Match. It’s Real.

It’s exactly 364 days till I match and I’m already petrified. Where will I match? How high on my rank list will it be? Which program? Which state? Will I be near my family or in the middle of nowhere practice medicine on a buffalo? Once the ball starts rolling your brain doesn’t stop. It’s relentless. It’s a wheel constantly turning in the back of your head that only gets worse and faster by the day. Recently my mind has taken a far darker turn. What if I don’t match? It’s a horrible place mentally to be. But there’s an upside: everyone at my school matches. We’ve proudly been able to match 100% of our students every year and I couldn’t be more thankful.

On days like today I have to sit back and think about that. I WILL MATCH. Before I get too hippity-hoppity I do have to be realistic and truly understand what a 100% match rate is exactly. It’s not saying that if all 200 of us applied for neurosurgery we would all get it. Of god no. It’s saying that we will get something. To keep things simple I’ll breakdown matching from an outsiders perspective since the majority of my research into the match/application/interviews/auditioning is still to come for myself. I’m purely focused on rotations and our next proficiency exam (Step 2) for the time being. In its most basic form “The Match” works something like this:

Students create a ranked list of programs they like while the programs themselves make their own list of the students they want to fill their slots. Both parties provide their preferences to a supercomputer which gives the programs the best candidate for that position. At the end not all program positions will be filled for various reasons (not enough applications ranked that site and/or all the desired students went to other sites). So something called “The Scramble” occurs where students who didn’t match can physically phone sites and plead their case as to why they should be selected to fill the available position.

So at the end of the day I’ll match somewhere. I will graduate school with my degree, have a 1 month vacation before starting anew as a resident. I will be somewhere hard at work finally making (some) $$ and most importantly continuing to do what I always dreamed of: learn medicine in order to help people. As for the next 364 days I can only do my best in the hope of impressing that one special person who might just have a say in my future for the better. As the great Dom Mazetti once said, “You’re faced with challenges, you can’t see what’s coming and there’s no going backwards. So your only choice is to keep moving forward. You can’t just say “I’m done, I don’t want to do this anymore”. You gotta weather the storm and trust you’ll make it out the other side… where hopefully there will be beer.”

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