I started writing this post on Match Day as I anxiously waited to open my envelope:
Today is Match Day. I have spent the last few weeks in full-blown panic mode, peppered by occasional minor panic attacks. I found out that I matched on Monday, which helped somewhat, but I never realized how much I hated the idea of not being in control of my future until recently.
As many others have said, the Match is a binding contract for the first year, and, despite feeling reasonably secure up until rank lists were submitted near the end of February, that knowledge has affected my stress levels far more than I would have guessed. After all, I understand how the algorithm works (and could probably code a reasonable facsimile of it myself) and I’m going into family medicine, which I love but is not one of the traditionally more competitive specialties.
But nevertheless, here we were. I did not sleep well last night. My alarm went off this morning, turning on the radio, which was just beginning its news report. The top story was that a local Michigan boy had his heart transplant last night after a perfect match was found. The boy had been in normal health in early January but has since developed congestive heart failure and he got his new heart last night.
So, suddenly Match Day doesn’t seem as important. Perspective is something, isn’t it? Helping people lead better and healthier lives is why I want to be a doctor in the first place. No matter where I go, that part will not change.
My family at Match Day – Mom, Grandma, me, brother Jeff, and Dad
It is now a few days after Match Day. I am very happy to be sleeping better, to feel less panicked, and to report that I will be doing my family medicine residency at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City! I am very excited about this new opportunity and what the future has in store.
After my early morning dose of reality on Match Day, I was much calmer as the zero hour approached. My stomach was absolutely tied in knots as I waited in line to receive my envelope, walk back to my family, and open it with baited breath. It is bittersweet to realize that soon I will be leaving Ann Arbor, the city where I was born and have spent more than half my life, and the routines I have developed here. But I will go to Utah, with several of my current classmates, and develop new routines and continue to grow into the doctor I strive to become.
It is now several weeks after Match Day. My family and I are creating lists upon lists to ensure that all logistics are in place for my move to Utah. I have been a Michigan lifer up until now; moving for college/med school was definitely low-stakes – my hometown is 20 minutes away from Ann Arbor. Salt Lake City, however, requires over 20 hours of driving. (I am happy for the invention of airplanes). But I am very excited for my next adventure and am already plotting how to watch Michigan football games with my co-interns.
The Alumni Association’s motto is “For those who leave Michigan, but for whom Michigan never leaves.” And this will absolutely be true for me as well. I am forever changed by my experiences here at UMMS – particularly every time I hear the word “tragedy” 😉 – and they will guide me as I embark on my new journey.
I have enjoyed sharing my perspectives with you over these past five years; thank you for reading! As past UM president Mary Sue Coleman would say, “For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. And forever, GO BLUE!”
Don’t miss the next Dose of Reality.
Sara is a fourth-year medical student at UMMS. When not in the hospital, she can usually be found on the golf course or at a Michigan sporting event cheering on the Wolverines.