Around this time four years ago, I was a fourth-year medical student in the charter class of a brand new medical school, anxiously awaiting my Match Day result. As Match Week approached, my medical school sent a survey to my class asking for permission to share individual Match Day results after each student was notified. Despite interviewing at 16 anesthesiology residency programs, my confidence in where I would fall in my rank list was inconsistent. There were days where I had a good feeling about matching at my top choice and I would look through potential apartments in that city. Other days, I would perseverate on the nightmares of matching at my last choice program and wondering if I could ever be happy at that program. So when my medical school casually posed the question of whether my match result could be shared immediately after I found out, I hesitated. Eventually, I decided against publicizing my match result.
On the Monday of Match Week, I was in the operating room (OR) with an anesthesiology resident. As 11 a.m. approached, I had my email application open on my phone and nervously refreshed the page every minute. The email was delayed a bit, but eventually the title, “Did I Match?” landed in my inbox. I stepped out of the OR and held my breath as the email loaded. I remember sighing out loud that I had a future residency program. I went back into the OR and excitedly shared the news with the resident I was working with.
As the week dragged on, I would casually daydream about matching at one of my top-ranked programs. I felt immense joy at the thought of progressing on to the next step. But my fear of matching toward the bottom half of my list seemed to build as the Friday of Match Week approached.
On the Thursday afternoon before Match Day, I received an email from my dean asking me to call her. I noted that the time of the email corresponded with when the list of matches was released to medical schools and started to wonder. What happened? It couldn’t have been a coincidence. When I had a moment, I called her. After a few moments of small talk, she asked, “Why don’t you want your match result made public?” At this point, I had forgotten about the survey asking about announcing match results. I paused for a moment, then explained my fears of matching into programs that I had started to regret ranking. I didn’t want to feel publicly humiliated. She validated my fears and wished me luck for the next day.
For the next 24 hours, I couldn’t stop thinking about what her call meant. I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment, but I wondered if her call meant that I had matched at my top choice. Our matches were important to the institution because we were the charter class. Sending a medical student to a top-ranked residency program would be good publicity for the school.
It felt like ages had passed before I made it to the hotel room where we would open our envelopes. I was nervous, excited, and scared. Surrounded by my loved ones, when it was time, I ripped open my envelope to find that I matched at my first choice transitional year and anesthesiology residency programs. After I hugged my parents, my Dean walked over, smiled and congratulated me. She then admitted that she had to exercise all of her willpower not to tell me the news on the phone, and asked, “Can we share your match result?” I nodded.
Good luck to those of you participating in Match 2019!
Amanda Xi, MD, MSE is currently a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, MA and upon graduation will be continuing at MGH as a critical care fellow. She is an active blogger at her self-titled website and also active on Twitter (@amandasxi), Facebook, Instagram (@amandaeleven), LinkedIn, and Doximity. She is also a 2018–2019 Doximity Author.