Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Match: Round Two

There's nothing like a little humility. Yesterday, I thought I'd struck upon a theme that most of my younger peers might have overlooked, i.e. connecting Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof with the residency Match. Thanks to an anonymous reader in New York, I've discovered at least one other blog writer who had the same idea, perhaps near or at the same time. The collective unconscious strikes again.

Anyhow, I can't help thinking, this morning, about students who didn't match. According to the statistics, about 85% of students get one of their three top choices, but 6-7%, for one reason or another, do not match at all in the first round. Today, these students will "scramble" to connect with a program that has unfilled positions. It is to the advantage of programs to accept such students because they have staffing requirements to meet. So, it's not as though you're out of luck if you didn't match on day one, but it's disappointing and stressful nonetheless.

It's easy to identify with someone in a situation like this because, for me, obtaining admission to medical school was anything but straightforward, as I've mentioned previously (see 7/23/09). While many of my classmates had the opportunity to pick and choose among several offers of admission, I didn't. I could have envied their good fortune, but I've chosen to admire them for it, instead. Envy, one of the seven deadly sins, does nothing but reinforce one's sense of deprivation. Admiration, on the other hand, helps us appreciate the quality of our company. Besides, I've gotten what I wanted, and the struggle has made me all that much more grateful for it.

I hope it works out similarly for the scramblers. They may not get their first choice of specialty and, as a result, have to spend some time in a related one and transfer later on. Or, they could opt out of the process altogether, do research or community service and try again next year. They might even find they love the choice they felt forced to make more than the one they'd dreamed of. You can never really tell how these things are going to work out. The discarded oyster contains the pearl of great price. Life has a way of holding off until we've been knocked down in the first round before helping us come back like Muhammed Ali in the second.

(Creative Commons image by Oldmaison via Flickr)

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