Match Day Madness

Category: By Christian
I know what you're thinking. You assume that just because I haven't blogged for a few days that I must have spent the past four days on my couch watching basketball, getting up only to eat. That would be what one might call an incorrect conclusions. As has been the case over the past few years, God has set up my schedule in such a way as to remind me that there are more important things in the world than the NCAA basketball tournament. For a couple of years I was on missions trips during this time, and thus unavailable to even fill out a bracket before the tourney started. Last year was the missions trip double play where I was on one as the tournament started, and then my wife was returning to one as the tournament ended. My missing my wife compelled me to turn down a free ticket and hotel room for the national championship game. That's love, baby.

So this year was a little-known event where people's dreams are shattered and realized in front of a live studio audience. Welcome to Match Day. The greatest reality show on earth, and what I was watching as the tournament tipped-off.

Match Day is a huge day in the medical school community. As a fourth year medical student, you have gotten your butt kicked ever since graduating college. You have worked harder than just about any other academic discipline and you are nearing graduation. Following graduation you will enter a residency lasting 3-7 years, depending on your specialty. You have MD after your name, but you need to go through the residency process so that you can have your own practice.

So you apply to different programs. If programs like you on paper, then you are invited to interview with them. Some people interview at 15-20 different programs. It's a courtship that is drawn out and ends with a quirky event that is half love, half arranged marriage.

Once you have gone through all of your interviews, you submit your "rank list" which is a list of the programs you wish to get into in the order which you like them. They programs then submit their own rank list of the people they interviewed in the order which they like them. All of the numbers then go into a computer and it spits out a list of which students are matched with which program. The crazy part is that this system is the only way to get a residency if you are an MD, and you are contractually obligated to honor your match.

By far the zaniest part of the match is how you find out. At 11am on a predetermined date in March each year, the matches are released. At many medical schools, Match Day ceremonies are held. These ceremonies consist of a big box with all of the student's names in it, a reader and a bunch of envelopes. An announcer draws names out of the box one at a time, and when a student's name is called they move toward the stage. The announcer hands them an envelope with their name on it, they open the envelope and read the contents of said envelope to all of their classmates and guests. This is how each student finds out where they are going for residency.

There is something trippy about watching some dude go to the stage, open his envelope and say "I will be attending Stanford in Neurosurgery". Dang, yo. A brain surgeon from Stanford.

For some this day is mondo stressful. Not so much for the Dashiell fam. Stacy was a competitive candidate in a specialty that isn't the most competitive (all relative to the fact that we're talking about doctors, here). She only applied to three programs, and we had a good idea what was going to be in the envelope. We were right.

Some were not right, however. Stacy has two classmates who are getting married the week before graduation. Their first two choices were a program in KC and a program in Chicago. The one in Chicago was a long shot, so they thought they were staying in KC. Chicago was in the envelope. They now are trying to figure out how to get married, graduate and move to Chicago all in the course of three weeks.

Match Day...It's Faaaaaaannnnntastic.

Oh, and don't cry for me, Argentina. Even though I missed most of the games on Thursday and Friday, I did see Duke go down. I also got to watch basketball all day on Saturday and smoke a mouth-watering pork shoulder. That's what I like to call "having a fantastic wife."

Fair Dinkum

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