The day everyone finds out where they are finally going for residency and in what specialty. You can’t help but be excited for them then wonder how crazy it is for your friends that got the “Congratulations! You have matched!” email to wait four days to find out where they are going for the next several years and in what specialty they will be practicing medicine.
Believe it or not, some people may not find out if they are going to be a family doctor or pediatrician until Match Day. You are always encouraged to apply broadly and in different specialties to help increase your chances of matching. This part never really phases you until you hear some of your friends reveal their disappointment of not matching into the specialty of their choice. Obviously, they are excited to match, but you empathize with the shock of realizing things didn’t go as you had expected. It makes you realize how surreal it is to also have no control in what specialty you will practice.
Of course, after residency, you can always practice privately and make your practice whatever you would like (as long as you have the proper certifications). Do other professions have similar selection processes filled with uncertainty at every step? We are continually asked what specialty interests us throughout medical school. Ultimately it comes down to a Double-Blinded Process that only answers if you got a residency initially (not what specialty or where)? Should we be thankful for matching into any residency and not have expectations of practicing in the specialty you are genuinely passionate about because you know matching is a numbers game? Does the “burnout” begin here; practicing in a specialty that doesn’t excite you? All these thoughts, along with the disappointment within yourself start to make you question why you even picked medicine.
I don’t know if I am the only one but if you had asked me to describe how a medical student becomes a resident before going to medical school, I would not have described the match process. Why didn’t we know the prospect of a job was dependent on obtaining a residency position? Or more about the unusual matching process and the “capped” number of residency positions? Ultimately, leaving yourself asking why did you want to be a doctor? It couldn’t have been for job security, because that is after residency. It is definitely not for the money, because you never imagined having to borrow this much money from anyone. Let alone all the personal sacrifices you make through medical school. Was this the only career choice where you can help people? And is this why you didn’t match?
**FACT** – Did you know? In the 2016-2017 academic year 2,200 residents left their residency program prior to successful completion with the following statuses of either:
- Deceased (1.0%)
- Dismissed (9.6%)
- Transferred (49.8%)
- Unsuccessfully completed program (0.3%)
- Withdrawn (39.2%)