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Match Day: The next leg of the journey

Match Day: The next leg of the journey

Today is Match Day, the culmination of months of interviews and for some, sleepless nights weighing match lists. Match Day is filled with anxiety for most students and also for your families, friends, and especially your teachers, all of whom want the best for you.

There are challenges with the Match process, but ultimately, the Match does one thing and it does it effectively and efficiently. The Match determines where, specifically the geographic location and institution, you will make one of the biggest transitions of your lives. The Match really can’t get this wrong, because no matter where you go, you will make the transition from medical student to physician.

Medical student reading her match letter

Apart from parenthood, the transition from medical student to physician has to be one of the most profound transitions in all of the human experience. Overnight, you will become responsible for the well-being of others. Their lives will be placed in your hands. Learning to carry the weight of that responsibility and developing your identity as a physician is what residency is all about. That is an important thing to remember today, whatever your match result. First choice, last choice, or a choice you may not have even considered until very recently, it does not matter. Wherever you go, you will make the transition.

You will not make the transition alone. You will make it surrounded by colleagues that you do not yet know, but who will become important in your lives. You will share big moments and small moments with them. Moments that remind you who you are.

I remember many of my own transitional moments. Some were terrifying and some seem almost humorous today. The most difficult, perhaps, was on my first day as an intern. I was working in the neonatal intensive care unit during the day. That was hard, but there were lots of others including more senior residents to help. Then, night came and I was on call. Most people went home and I got to stay. I was responsible for all of the babies who would be born that night. Most were healthy and required very little, but there was one newborn who I was spending a lot of time with. His nurse called me initially because he was breathing too fast, about 100 times a minute. I ordered some tests, a chest X-ray, and was coming around to check on him every 20 minutes or so. I felt OK, like maybe I might have this under control.

Then my pager went off. The nurse asked me to come back to the infant’s bedside STAT. When I arrived, he was breathing about 5 times per minute. He was exhausted and was in respiratory failure. The nurse asked me what I would like to do. I looked at this newborn, just a few hours old, and I knew that he was at risk of imminent death. I was more scared than I had ever been and I said words to the nurse that I will remember my entire life. I said, “For God’s sake, we need to call a doctor!”

God bless the nurse, who was experienced and who had met many an intern in July. She looked at me, hard and directly in the eyes and she said, “DOCTOR, I did!” I have never felt the weight of being a physician more than I did in that minute. Thankfully, in a hospital or clinic, you are surrounded by those who know more than you do and who care greatly. They will remind you what you know and what you can do. With the help of that nurse, my senior resident, and others, the infant recovered and I was able to watch him go home with his mother.

It was moments like these that helped me to transition. You will also have similar moments and you will also make the transition. Congratulations on your matches. You are ready to start the next leg of your journey towards becoming Aggie physicians.


*Artwork by Carolina Orsi, M1

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