Friday, March 16, 2012

Match Day Disappointment

This is such a cruel irony. I am so incredibly humiliated and disappointed right now I have no words for it. I know I need to count my blessings, and I think tomorrow I'll be able to do that, but right now I just can't. I just feel defeated.

Let me break it down for you. I've worked incredibly hard in medical school. In December I was awarded a scholarship for being #1 in my class. Not #2. Not #3. Number 1. The UofA doesn't even officially release their rankings, but the top three students won this award--so they know who they are. It was an incredible honor. During my first two years of medical school I published three papers--one first author paper--in peer reviewed, highly regarded medical journals for my research that I finished at Mass General in Boston during my internship after first year of med school. I scored A's on every test. EVERY ONE. And when I took the medical boards--steps 1 and 2--I blew them out of the water. Scores that people going into plastic surgery would kill for. Scores like that. I volunteered at our school's refugee clinic and loved every minute. I was awarded AOA--the medical school honor society--as a junior, and Gold Humanism Honor Society as a senior, which looks more at how you interact with patients instead of just academic achievement. I honored every clerkship during 3rd year. Even psychiatry. And surgery. I really cared about the patients I was asked to see and take care of, and I would come in early and leave late. I scrubbed into hours-long surgeries pregnant and had things thrown at me during psych, but you know what? It was worth it. Because I learned things I wouldn't have been able to learn any other way.

So when I walked up to the stage this morning, Edie in tow, to read my residency placement, I was really excited. I just knew I would match into one of my top two choices in Seattle. Everyone said so. Everyone. Even the programs themselves. I doubted myself so many times during the process. Worried and fretted that for some reason my top programs wouldn't like me. But friends, family, and every doctor I talked to at the medical school said I was a shoe-in for my #1 choice. Why wouldn't I be? It is well known that family medicine is one of the least competitive specialties in medicine. And I was one of the most competitive applicants.

So when I opened that envelope in front of hundreds of people and I matched at my #4 choice in Renton, WA--Valley Family Medicine--I was crestfallen. Not because Valley is a poor program, on the contrary. It's a great program. Flexible with talented attendings, happy residents, and a beautiful hospital. Its adult medicine, pediatrics, and OB services are all run by family medicine, and it's only 30 minutes outside of Seattle. I'm sure I'll be reminded of all these things when I start there. But I was humiliated. I have never been more embarrassed. It is practically unheard of for someone going into Family Medicine to have to go down more than three ranks to match. I was pretty conceited going into the whole process that I would get my first choice. I never dreamed it would be different. And if I started to waver in my pride, someone was always there reminding me that I couldn't possibly need more than 3 ranks.

I'm not sure why it ended up this way. I hope there's a reason behind it that I discover when I'm there and think, "that's why we're in Renton." School has never let me down before, and I think it was time to be humbled. I have a great marriage, a beautiful daughter, and I am privileged to become a doctor in a country with exceptional medical training.

But for today, I'm just disappointed.