Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Match maker, match maker, make me a match

This is the week that fourth year medical students across the country have been waiting anxiously for. This week is THE MATCH!

For those unfamiliar with the process The Match is like speed dating for doctors and residency programs. In their fourth year, med students take a look at their options for residency programs, consider what specialty interests them and where they'd be willing to go. They submit their applications to programs and wait for an invitation to interview. During the fall interview season, students jet across the country to schmooze and check out the programs they were invited to interview with. There' s lots of hand shaking, questions, and food. Oh the free food! That truly was the best part of interview season. Months later after meeting everyone, asking all the questions, the med students make a rank list of programs in order of which they liked best.

Meanwhile the residency programs are doing the same thing. They've met with tons of students and as a group, the residents and faculty get together and rank who they liked best. Then the registry super computers crunch the numbers through various algorithms and match up the students and programs. For example, if Joe Schmoe Med Student ranked Residency Program A as his number 1 choice, and Residency Program A ranked Joe Schmoe as one of their top X (depending on the number of spots they have to fill) choices, Joe Schmoe and Residency Program A are matched together and sent off for 3-4 years of residency bliss.

{you like me, you really like me}

Now if Residency Program A had not ranked Joe Schmoe, the computer would look at his second choice, Residency Program B and see where they ranked him to see if there is a match. And so on and so forth until Joe Schmoe is matched up with a program. The process can get quite complicated but it is intended to try to find the best possible fit between students and programs. After all if you're committing to someone for 3-4 years it behooves both parties to make sure it's a good fit.

If the student does not match with any of their ranked programs, OR if a program does not fill all of their spots, they go to the SCRAMBLE, which isn't nearly as delicious as it sounds.

It would be more appropriate to call it PANIC TIME, but that could scare people off. Basically they go back to the pool of remaining programs / students and try to find someone, anyone, to take them in. It is the desperate equivalent to 3am last call at the bar where you're just hoping you don't end up alone (Or so I imagine. I don't actually have first hand experience of last call).

This time last year Dr. Love and I were sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out if and where he had matched. I feel so very blessed that he ended up matching at his number 1 choice. I'm still so proud of him for that.

It still feels so strange to be on the other side of the table in the match process. Not long ago we were waiting to find out where we were going, now we're waiting to find out who is coming. Luckily our program filled all of their 9 spots and didn't have to go to the scramble. I will admit there is at least one, maybe two people that I'm hoping we'll get as I really liked the wife.

When I originally imagined what it would be like to be a wife of a resident, I had dreams that I would be hanging out with other residents' wives. I imagined we'd keep each other company while our husbands were away on call, we'd have book clubs, we'd dish about the trials of residency over lunch, or go out for pedicures. I thought I'd have a new group of girlfriends that understand what this is like and we could support each other. Like most things, it hasn't quite turned out the way I'd imagined.

In Dr. Love's intern class we are the only married couple; a few of the other interns have girlfriends but they're either out of state or not interested in hanging out. Within all of the residents, Dr. Love is one of four that is L.D.S., thus as a result we don't do the same recreational activities that the other residents do (i.e. drinking and going to clubs). Out of all the married couples there is only one other couple that does not have kids and that's predominantly because they're newlyweds and she's finishing up med school in another state.

So while I LOVE his intern class, and I LOVE his senior residents, and I LOVE the program, I feel like I don't quite fit in. The spousal support isn't quite there and I feel kind of alone; hopefully some fresh blood will help that.

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