Match Week is an incredible time for fourth-year medical students: logging on to NRMP to see that you have matched; telling family and friends the good news; opening that envelope on Friday to see where you will be starting the next chapter of your life. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone. Some students end up not matching and not achieving their dream just yet. This letter is for you.
Dear Unmatched Residency Applicant,
I am sorry. I am sorry that you had to wait so long just for bad news. I am sorry that you had to read the words no medical student wants to read. Words that I know you do not deserve, and words that I know do not define you.
I can only imagine all the emotions you must be experiencing. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Embarrassment. Confusion. First and foremost, I want you to know that it is okay. Whatever you are feeling is a normal and understandable reaction. You must let yourself feel that. The sooner you do, the sooner you can move past it. Because these emotions do not define you either. You are a medical student. That is special; that means something. You are intelligent and hardworking. You have put so much into your craft. Hours of studying. Long board exams. You sacrificed sleep, gatherings with family and friends, and even, sometimes, your own well-being. All because you love medicine. Whether you believe it or not right now, you sacrifices are already paying off. You have helped save lives. You have seen things and done things most people will never see or do in their entire lives. You have had the opportunity to do what you are truly passionate about and you overcame every obstacle that was in your way to get here. Every obstacle.
Take some time to think about that. Think about every time things got hard. Think about all the little things that went wrong. Think about the long and stressful days, when you rolled out of bed exhausted and frustrated because you did not know if this was all going to work out. But you got through all of that, and you are a stronger, better person because of it.
For whatever reason, the universe has decided to give you one last challenge. So do what you have always done. Think it through, work the problem, and come up with a game plan. Talk to advisors, family, friends, and anyone else who can help you decide what the next step is for you. You have overcome every ounce of adversity that has been thrown your way, so why should this be any different? And every time things get hard or look doubtful again, remember your path. Remember all the successes you have had, and all the struggles you overcame to chase your passion. Then: keep running.
You got this.
I cannot wait to see you in the hospital soon, doctor.
Masood Ryard Mohammed
Masood Mohammed is a fourth-year medical student at Nova Southeastern University Kiran Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz