Match Day was as billed; full of anticipation, anxiety, exhilaration, elation, disappointment, and of course plenty of tears of both varieties. Personally I was very anxious on the inside, but tried to maintain a calm demeanor on the outside. As each name was called we enjoyed cheering for that classmate even though we did not yet know their result. Regardless of where each individual matched our cheers sent the message that we were excited for them.
When my name was called I experienced that sudden lack of coordination that occasionally descends when one is about to undergo a transformational experience. Merely walking down steps became my sole purpose in life. I picked up my envelope, returned to my seat and opened the contents. I was elated to discover that I matched to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, my top choice. After a few embraces with friends and my fiancée my head swirled with the implications.
Many of my friends matched to their top picks and some matched to programs lower down on their lists. Each of us spent the next few hours notifying people out of town about our results. I also received news of where friends from other med schools had matched. A few of my closest friends and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and celebrated the day playing bocce in Clark Park, a few blocks west of the School of Medicine and where many of us lived during our time here at Penn. I felt a genuine sense of community, observing the families and kids playing in the park – the community that I will have the opportunity to continue to serve. As the day wore on, we returned to a neighborhood bar where we used to bond and debrief our experiences as medical students, and we allowed the prospect of our futures to sink in.
As I reflected back on the drama of the day, I couldn’t help but admire the unbridled passion of our profession. It is difficult for me to think of many other job placements that draw such intense emotions. I think it really speaks to the dedication and commitment doctors have to their work. In fact, this was not a job placement at all; it was a match to our lives as physicians, with all the intellectual and emotional investment that entails.