Last Friday was “Match Day.” It’s the day every year when all medical students find out where they will be going for residency. Kind of a big deal. And it’s a very complicated process that no matter how many times I explain it to people, they don’t really understand. So I’m about to break it down for you.
There are technically three “matches” that an Osteopathic medical student can enter. The first match takes place in December and is only for military students. The second, and most common, is the DO match, which is specific for Osteopathic students. The third is the Allopathic match, which is open to all students – Allopathic, Osteopathic, and International/Foreign graduates. DO students can choose the DO Match, the Allopathic Match, or both.
In fall of the fourth year of medical school, students apply to residencies, start going to interviews, and do audition rotations with programs they are interested in. Then they submit a Rank list of their top programs. Residency programs submit their own rank lists of applicants who interviewed and it all goes into a computer system. The system is designed to rank as many students into their top choice programs as possible. Then when Match Day comes around, everyone finds out where they are headed for the next 3-5 years of their life – whether they like it or not.
It’s very nerve-wracking as a student because you could technically match to any program on your rank list, or to go “unmatched.” Going unmatched is a medical student’s worst nightmare. If you don’t match into any program on your rank list you enter into the “scramble,” which is exactly what it sounds like. You scramble trying to find any program that has an open spot and that will accept you. Not ideal.
In my case I chose to enter the Allopathic Match based on my top choice programs here in Phoenix who are in that Match. I applied to 24 programs for Categorical Internal Medicine. I got 14 interviews and went to 8 of them. I ranked 8 schools. I matched at my #2 choice which is Maricopa Medical Center here in Phoenix, Arizona. And I am very pleased with how things turned out.
It is such a relief to be on the other side of the Match. I know most of my friends and I were nervous for months and months about getting interviews and going to interviews and submitting our rank lists and finding out where we would be going. It’s not an easy process by any means. But I’m so proud of all of my friends and classmates. We had a huge success in the Match this year, and I’ve enjoyed seeing where everyone is ending up.
It’s so crazy to think that we are all actually going to be doctors. I still remember day one of medical school and how we would try to predict what people would go into. Certain personalities fit with certain specialties, and now that everyone has decided it makes so much sense. Hopefully Internal Medicine makes sense for me. I still think it does.
So what happens now? Well – basically, I’m a doctor. I sign my contract and I start on June 23! Crazy. But exciting. Since we get to stay in Phoenix, my husband can continue working as a flight instructor as he continues to build up his flight hours to apply to an airline. He is in the process of trying to figure out which airline he wants to fly with. Even though we are staying in the same city, we are planning to move to a bigger house. The bigger Anika gets the smaller our current apartment feels! And now I can relax and finish my last two rotations of medical school before I graduate!
It’s scary to think that in a few months that I’ll be an Intern seeing patients. But last week I saw a record 16 patients on my Neuro ICU rotation, and as my attending says, I’m going to have no problem keeping up during intern year. Hopefully he’s right. Either way, I’m ready!