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  • March 18, 2010
  • Shared Experience

  • On the morning of Match Day, med student Joe Picoraro looks forward to the last shared rite of passage as his class learns where they will take the next steps of their journey in the medical profession.

Today is Match Day.  I heard of this bizarre tradition before I even applied to medical school and have been fascinated ever since.  Back then I envisioned a simple job assignment: here’s your slip, report in three months. But it goes a lot deeper.  In the process of completing my rank order list I realized that my name would also be placed on the rank order lists of residency programs.  It is difficult to escape the feeling that my ranking is somehow connected to my projected capability as a physician.  Even though I understand that my success as a doctor involves much more than where I match, I believe that any sense of rejection will be difficult to overcome.

The beauty of the Match is that I will be placed in a program that has, in fact, chosen me. I found out Monday that I did match somewhere (some applicants do not match on their first pass and must ‘scramble’ to find open slots). I anticipate feeling a sense of affirmation by the program’s investment in me; at some level they believe in my future as a physician. I look forward to finding out which program will be the one to train me.

I am also very excited to learn the fate of my friends. I anticipate feeling anxious for each of my peers as their names are called to obtain those fate-filled envelopes.  We medical students develop a deep sense of camaraderie in struggling and growing through the process of becoming doctors. This matching process will be the last significant rite of passage we share as medical students. Our next journeys will lead us down separate paths whose trailheads we discover today.


Joe Picoraro

This report was written by Joseph Picoraro, a Penn medical student, during the week of Match Day 2010. During medical school Joe co-founded Health Education through Adolescent Leadership. For this work building a broad network of health education and youth development programs for at-risk youth at Covenant House Philadelphia and Sayre High School, he received the Public Allies Changemaker Award. Joe returned to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp during the summer after his first year to serve as the behavioral coordinator, strengthening his understanding of the holistic care of seriously ill children. He rounded out these service activities by completing clinical rotations at Sayre, Covenant House and Hole in the Wall, gaining valuable perspective on the comprehensive care delivered in each setting. He is currently researching the traumatic stress of families caused by pediatric disease. He is matching in Pediatrics.


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