Explaining the matching process to family and friends over the past several months has been… challenging, to say the least. The conversations usually went something like this:
- Them: “Have you heard back from any of the places you interviewed at yet? Did you get accepted to any of the programs?”
- Me: “No, it doesn’t work like that. I find out where I go on March 17th.”
- Them: “So you don’t know which programs accepted you?”
- Me: “No, there are no acceptances and rejections. You submit your rank list, the hospitals submit theirs, and then there’s just a letter on Match Day that tells you where you’re going.”
- Them: “You mean you have no control over where I go?”
- Me: “Have you heard of the stable marriage problem?”
- Them: “No.”
- Me: “Okay, well basically there’s an algorithm that figures out the highest match between your list and the hospitals’ list.”
- Them: “So you just go where the computer tells you to go?”
- Me: “Yeah, pretty much.:
- Them: *long pause* “Wow.”
Wow is right. After years of work, weeks of flying about the country for interviews, and days spent double- and triple-checking my rank list, Match Week was finally here.
Around 8 AM Pacific time on March 13th, my classmates and I received an email from the NRMP titled “Did I Match?” (Side note: Dear NRMP, this is quite possibly the most anxiety-provoking title you could have chosen for a match email. In the future, perhaps consider the subject line, “Congratulations, you matched!” Just a thought!). I opened it to find out that yes, I would in fact have a job starting in June. Hurray!
After four more days of waiting (seriously, medicine wins the award for the career with the most delayed gratification), Match Day arrived. Here’s a timeline of the events of the day:
8:45 AM: Letters were handed out, and we made our way back to our seats to wait for the countdown to open them. To distract ourselves, my husband (who matched in internal medicine) and I spent time posing with our envelopes. When the picture above (top left) was taken, just a minute or two before the countdown, there was so much adrenaline in my body that I was mildly shaky.
9:01 AM: We matched (bottom right)!
9:02 AM-10:30 AM: For the next hour, most of us ran around the room, trying to figure out where everyone else matched and taking pictures with the Stanford Medicine backdrop. I lucked out with two fourth-years as my soon-to-be co-interns!
10:30 AM: Brunch! Though let’s be honest: Most of us were much too excited to eat.
11:30 AM – 5 PM: Downtime
5:30 PM: Time for more celebration! The Stanford Alumni Association threw us a super fancy party at the Alumni Center on campus, complete with balloons (bottom middle).
5:45 PM: And a photo booth (bottom left).
6:00 PM: And they even gifted us with brand new stethoscope name tags (left middle), not to mention gorgeous frames for our diplomas (not pictured). I think this is the first time I’ve seen “MD” after my name – eek!
8:30 PM: And finally, after speeches, a delicious dinner, and much more picture-taking, it was time to go home.
I’ll have a couple more blog entries before I leave Stanford for residency, but my time on Stanford Medicine Unplugged is almost up. I’m so excited to begin this new journey as a Boston Children’s pediatrics resident! Congratulations to everyone who matched!
Stanford Medicine Unplugged is a forum for students to chronicle their experiences in medical school. The student-penned entries appear on Scope once a week during the academic year; the entire blog series can be found in the Stanford Medicine Unplugged category.
Hamsika Chandrasekar is a fourth-year student at Stanford’s medical school. She has an interest in medical education and pediatrics.
Photos by Aanandh Chandrasekar and Paul Keitz