Match Day! The day forth year medical students find out what they are going to be when they grow up! And where they are going to live for the next 2-5 years!
You’ve been sleeping poorly for the last couple of weeks, and TERRIBLY for the last couple of days. You are too excited! Are you going to match to your first spot? You don’t want to get your hopes up too much. But let’s be honest, you’re going to match to your top 5 (and you’re being generous here). You are 100% going to match to your first choice speciality. Well… 95%…. 90%… it’s been really really competitive the last few years. But you also love the other speciality you applied for, so even if it does happen that you fall in that 5-10% chance, you’re going to be happy. A little disappointed probably for the first week, but then happy. And the interview you had for your top “back up” program went amazing, so you’re for sure one of the top students they want.
Not matching… that’s so barely on your radar. It would never happen to you. Period. Unmatched students, those are the ones who aren’t… good. They had big red flags on their records, they weren’t nice to work with, they didn’t apply broadly, they didn’t work hard. They aren’t you.
I am so glad that I stayed home to check CaRMS on March 2. I was going to go over to a friends and the group of us were going to sit around with a bottle of champagne to open when our matches were released. But the night before I had second thoughts. One of my best friends was also applying to the same speciality as me and we both had the same top choice site. What if one of us matched to our first choice (site or program) and the other one didn’t? I didn’t know if I would feel comfortable sipping bubbly next to her if she was disappointed,and vice versa.
So from the comfort of my couch, I log on to CaRMS to find out my match results.
It must have loaded wrong. Maybe I signed in too early. I stare at the page, then hit refresh. I hit refresh again. And again.
Unmatched was not something that was supposed to happen. I had my back up programs. My interviews all went so well. I had done EVERYTHING I was supposed to.
My husband is at work. I am supposed to call him. Tell him where we were moving to. What our life was going to look like. Do I call him now?
I text him. Calling, speaking, that would make it real. It isn’t real. It’s a mistake. That happened before didn’t it? I heard about it. How for one program, everyone who got accepted were accidentally told they were unmatched. That’s what happened here. Log onto CaRMS again, refresh.
Now the texts are starting to come in. My medical school friends are all telling me what they are going to be, where they are moving: first choice, moving to Nova Scotia; third choice, moving to Kingston; first choice, moving to Edmonton; first choice, moving to Vancouver; ninth choice and really disappointed, moving to Calgary…
I’ve changed back into my pajamas and I’m curled up in bed. I don’t feel disappointed, I don’t feel anything. It’s not real. My husband comes home after getting my text and lies down behind me. That’s when it first becomes real. He wouldn’t have left work if it was a computer glitch. I’m unmatched.
Recently, I had someone ask me how I reacted to finding out that I didn’t match. Specifically they wanted to know if I was angry or sad. I answered shocked, then sad. I probably went through two boxes of Kleenex that first week. I haven’t been angry though. Anger gets in the way. Sadness I can work with: I can break down and cry for 10 minutes once a month and then get back to my life. But anger could leave me with resentment, of either the system or of myself. And how do you get past that?