blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: On Matching

March 14, 2016

On Matching


Today is the day that all of the fourth years find out if they matched or not - on Friday, "Match Day," they'll find out where they actually end up for residency. This day last year for me felt like a dream - if any of you were following me back then know the end result - I didn't match.

Our situation was crazy unique, so it's not as relatable for everyone, but I still share it for any of you who may find yourself in this situation now (and it just makes for a good story/life lesson for everyone else lol)! N was applying in ophthalmology, which is an early match, meaning he submitted his rank list before I even started interviewing for my dermatology programs! It was terrifying! At the end of the day we jointly had to decide on his rank list with my input about what I knew about dermatology programs, and we both decided that he would rank Bascom Palmer (the #1 eye program in the world for the last decade) at the top of his list - we both thought it would be amazing to live down in Miami for training and we'd both be able to see diverse patients and pathology (something incredibly important to us).

Thankfully he matched there, and my interview there for dermatology went along fantastically, but maybe they didn't believe me when I told them with a straight face that I wouldn't be ranking any other program other than theirs. I think programs find it a little hard to believe when you say you're not ranking your home program (especially when your home program is Harvard). But I truly wasn't, and even though I love Harvard Derm and have fantastic mentors there, they all knew our situation and that I refused to split up my family. I think three years being apart is technically doable if it's just you and your significant other, although I have co-residents doing it and they all recommend against it. But bring a child (or two) into the mix and there was no way I was splitting up my family. Most people our age couldn't totally understand that, as it truly meant that regardless of how competitive of an applicant I was, I would only be ranking one program for dermatology, and there was a very real chance I wouldn't match.

And come this time last year I got the news that I didn't. The email said we're sorry, you didn't match. And I immediately got a phone call from my society master to come to his office, as we'd have to quickly "scramble." You see, I also screwed up my prelim year list and only had it tied to my advanced position, so I didn't have a program for intern year either. Thankfully all of the hard work I had done to that point meant that some of the highest up people at all of the biggest Harvard hospitals were immediately making phone calls on my behalf and I at least secured a spot for intern year at my 2nd choice hospital. The chair of dermatology here as well as all of my mentors made phone calls and emails to Miami as well, none of them could believe that I hadn't matched. I'll admit that it all still felt like a dream, so surreal to be sitting there with all of the chaos going on, my friends texting me to hear the good news and not believing me when I told them what I was dealing with. I also felt so humbled to have so many people sticking out there necks for me. But it was done. I didn't match in dermatology.

I later had conversations with the people at Miami who sounded genuinely regretful that I didn't match, and they were kind enough to offer me a research position for the year after intern year once we moved down, and I'd reapply and it would all work out then. All of match was ruined for me - I still showed up to match day events and we still partied and I just put on my big girl pants and smiled for pictures. I knew that this didn't reflect me, I knew this was just a crazy situational thing, but at the end of the day you still question your worth, and you still worry that others see you as inferior. Being the girl who didn't match is no fun.

I continued communication with Miami, set up backup business plans in Miami as well to have other options, and continued hustling on, taking intern year by the horns and working my butt off so I'd get good letters for reapplying (and to just learn as much medicine I could). And crazy enough one day while working in the ICU I get a phone call from the chair at Miami, asking about my plans for this summer. I still didn't have anything "officially" set  up, but I was looking into research positions, I told him. And then he asked if I was still free to start as a resident in their program. For this summer. My heart literally dropped, I'm pretty sure it stopped beating for a couple of seconds and I was thankful I was in the ICU and the nurses could respond if I actually passed out. I didn't ask too many questions because I honestly didn't care. Maybe somebody dropped out. Maybe they somehow found funding to open up another spot. Doesn't matter to me. I was offered a spot to start in the class that I would have if it had all worked out the way we initially wanted to. And I still didn't share it, as I still wanted to wait for today. The day it all became official. I've already filled out all my paperwork to start this July, but part of me still feared that there would be some computer glitch and it wouldn't actually happen. But this morning I got the email I didn't get last year. This morning I can finally breathe.

I share all this (again super personal) to hopefully help some of you. To let you know that having your priorities straight and not compromising on your values is always the right thing to do, even if it initially doesn't work out. I refused to split up my family. I just couldn't. And even though initially it felt like I was being punished for that decision, I still stood by it. And somehow it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Your hard work will always be rewarded, even if the reward isn't immediate. Stand by your decisions and continue working hard, things will work out the way they're supposed to. Good luck to all of you matching this year! I really hope none of you are in this situation after getting the email today, but if you are, know that it's not the end. Keep celebrating and keep working hard.

14 comments:

  1. So happy for you Laura! I remember how stressful match day was, I actually became a hypochondriac and developed so many somatic symptoms that I was convinced I was dying of some unknown disease... And all that went away after Match Day! Kudos to you for getting through all that uncertainty and getting to where you wanted to at the end of it. It's so great for Liv and Ellie how you prioritize keeping the family together.

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  2. So happy to see this post and so happy that everything worked out for you! I'm a pre-med student currently in Miami, it would be awesome if I could meet you!

    Best wishes,
    Melissa

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  3. So tough!! I'm really glad it has worked out in the long run. My husband and I had a similar situation with clerk ships after law school. It all ended up working out but there was a point I thought I'd be following up my federal clerkship with working at Starbucks for the few years of his clerkship!

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  4. congratulations! You inspire me and God bless ❤️

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  5. Wonderful! Putting family first paid off! Congrats

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  6. Thank you for this insightful post and congratulations on your big match!
    My fiancé is a PGY4 in General Surgery and we are patiently waiting for his plastics fellowship match results (May). I am currently an MS4, applying to the 2017 match. I have been very torn recently between only applying to programs in the city where he matches and applying all over the country. It is a scary thought to know that from the get-go you are greatly reducing your chances at a successful match. Your story has brought a glimpse of hope into my decision making process, thank you for that!

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  7. Thank god , you deserve it girl . Very happy for you <3 <3<3

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  8. !!!! I absolutely love this! As a 1st year medical student, stories like these really uplift my day. Thank you for being so honest with us readers!

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  9. Holy geez that's exciting!! Congratulations on matching!! :D
    My husband and I have a similar situation (he's military so they also matched early and I had to only rank programs near him). Luckily he got a position in a large city with several pathology programs & thankfully pathology isn't terribly competitive and I'm a strong path candidate. I found out I *did* match today, though like you I knew there was a very real posibility of not matching simply because I ranked so few programs (I was able to rank 4 in the end which is good).
    I'm so happy that this position worked out for you especially in such a competitive field! Congrats!

    -Laura (lifealamed.tumblr.com)

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  10. YASSSSS. Thank you for sharing the whole behind the scenes story, and being so honest about the process. I am so happy that it all worked out for you. I remember asking you last year, and then seeing your instagram in the middle of the year about good news, so I'm SO HAPPY it worked out for you. Now being 52 weeks away from this whole process myself, I'm already a nervous wreck about the whole thing. We luckily have the option of at least trying to couples match, and while we don't have children, I just refuse to be split up. Fingers crossed it all works out the way it did, just like it did for you. Congrats again Laura, you guys deserve this!

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  11. congratulations!

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  12. Thanks for sharing this Laura! It's so encouraging!!

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  13. Congratulations! I found out that my friends and I all matched today and I was just as happy for them as I was for myself.

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  14. Congratulations Laura!!! I remember when I first found your blog when I was in a post-bac program, it provided so much inspiration, I'm now in my 2nd year of medical school....yay! Keep up the wonderful work and always keep that inner joy alive <3 <3 <3

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