Wednesday, March 17, 2004

match day

So tomorrow is the Match. In brief, it's the day that fourth year med students around the country find out which residency program they "matched" into. It's kind of a big deal. I can't believe it was only a year ago. A really long year ago.

Match Day is this very exciting day where, at least at my school, a million envelopes are piled neatly on a table in the faculty club in this special room off the main dining hall. There is someone whose job it is to lay out all these envelopes very precisely in alphabetical order by name. You can't go into the room until a certain time, preordained by, I don't know, God or someone. And when the gun is fired, everyone rushes into the room trampling everyone and everything in sight to get the envelope with their match results. Outta my way, grandma, I gotta see where I'll be working ridiculously long hours for slave wages! And I must know NOW! Or, if you're too cool for school, you saunter in in a very blase way after the crowd clears. (I was only moderately cool for school, moving in with the tail end of the hoard. And I strove for blase, though really, I probably just looked hung over.)

There are two schools of thought for finding out your match results. Most people open their envelopes right there, so they can start celebrating, hugging their friends, getting drunk on the free booze provided at the event. And others take the envelope and abscond, revealing their match results in a secret little hidey-hole because the pressure is too much and if they're disappointed with their match, they don't have to put on some big brave face in front of the entire class. I say whatever for the stress (though I acknowledge that most matches are more suspenseful than that for Peds), but I think this mass envelope run is vastly better than the Match Day tradition in the days of yore, where they would call people up to a podium, one by one, where they would open their envelopes and read it out the the assembled auditorium of their classmates. Or, they could chose not to read it out, but then you would be conspicuous. Or, if they didn't call your name at all, people would know that you didn't match at all. Ooh, burn! And another reason that the faculty club way is bettter because they provide food for the event. It's a buffet, but they cost-control by only putting out really tiny plates. Saucers, really.

You can see how this would be a big deal for fourth year med students. But apparently, it's a big deal for the programs too. Most days of the week, we have a didactic "noon conference," but on the schedule for tomorrow's noon conference is "Match Day." I don't know what exactly we'll be doing at this conference other than going over the list of who matched at our program--largely meaningless, since I don't know who the hell those people are (yet)--but maybe there will be cake. Maybe it's kind of a celebration. The year is almost over! The new interns are coming! Your relief crew is here!

I was really excited on Match Day last year. I was totally psyched to have matched to such a great program, and thrilled at the idea of being a doctor, working at the hospital, doing all the things that (I thought) I had gone to med school to do. Now I have something of a different attitude. Not cynical, so much, just less fuzzy-pink-cloud. I look at the fourth year med students, all nervous an excited for Match Day tomorrow, probably well on their way to getting totally obliterated with cheap booze tonight at the Supernight celebration, and think, just wait until you see what you're really getting into.

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