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March 17, 2011 (known to graduating medical students across the country this year as St. Patrick’s Day, yes, but mostly as…Match Day!)  has, somewhat unbelievably, come and gone.  I will not keep you in suspense too long, but I will set the stage a bit for the day…

In past years, medical students had been called up randomly to come on stage in front of an audience composed of the whole class, along with their friends and families, to open the envelope containing their fate for the next 3-7 years (depending on the length of their chosen residency) and share it with everyone present.  In the past couple years, the format has been changed slightly so that students receive their envelopes prior to coming on stage and then have the option to either open it on their own and then share the news in front of everyone, or to open it for the first time on stage.  My original plan had been to do the latter, but when one of my best friends, Andrea, opened her envelope and saw that she would be headed to her first choice (the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, or CHOP), I became so excited that my plan was foiled and I decided to open my envelope right then and there as well.  And it said…

…that I will be doing my residency at the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program!!  I could not have been more thrilled, as evidenced by the fact that I (apparently) began crying/jumping up and down (I was told by my classmates later on; the whole moment is a bit blurry at this point) and was just overcome with emotion at the realization that I had not only matched at my first choice, but would also be heading back to my hometown for the first time in almost a decade.  I will be rotating at four different hospitals during the next 5 years of my residency: Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Children’s Hospital of Boston.  Which means that I’d better start working on both my sense of direction as well as my knowledge of Boston sports, which has been substantially reduced from childhood.

I feel incredibly happy, blessed, thankful, and excited.  Getting to share this moment with my mother, my classmates, our deans and counselors, many of our favorite teachers and physicians from throughout the 4 years of medical school, and so many other people who have just made a huge difference in our lives here at Michigan (such as Robert Ruiz and Dr. Gay from the admissions office, who were responsible for us all being there in the first place!) was just so special.  It truly was one of the best days of my life, and I could not be more grateful to the University of Michigan Medical School for preparing me to end up at such a wonderful program.

After sharing my match results on stage and placing a pin on the map (see above; this, by the way, was quite a difficult feat due to the fact that my hands were so sweaty and shaky from excitement that I could barely manage to find the state of Massachusetts, let alone stick a pin through it), I got to sit back and listen to my classmates share their results as well.  In a class of 170, you get to know each other pretty well over the years, and as everyone went up on stage I was flooded with memories of being in histology lab with them as M1s, or on seemingly endless internal medicine rounds during 3rd year, or playing in late-night broomball games…and it was just such a wonderful day.  In the midst of all the celebrations after the ceremony, I received calls from my new chairman, as well as many of the current residents and my fellow incoming residents, welcoming me to the program and encouraging me to contact them with any questions.  And of course, as a sign of the times, all of us suddenly had a lot new Facebook friends as our respective program directors e-mailed us our new lists of colleagues.

As wonderful as it was to have so many of our classmates and loved ones with us, there was one individual who was notably absent.  We observed a moment of silence prior to reading our match results as we remembered our late classmate, Sujal.  He was also honored with a special award named for another former University of Michigan medical student who passed on too soon, the description of which fit Sujal’s spirit and work ethic to a tee.  Without so much as a single word being spoken, there was very much the sense that he was smiling down on all of us, his former classmates, as we celebrated this milestone marking the first day of the rest of our lives.  He was in all of our hearts that day, as he is every day.

Congratulations to the Class of 2011–it was such an honor to share this day with all of you!  And now, to get started on the giant package of paperwork that contains our contracts, medical licensing information, etc. that has just come our way…looks like the honeymoon period may be coming to an end!