Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 3247: A Lesson in Mitigated Expectations

To elaborate more on this post, I wanted to talk about expectations.

As I mentioned here, 80% of US seniors match in their top 3. I have no problem admitting that I was in the minority of matching US seniors. I truly, sincerely am happy about heading to Baltimore. I really loved the program leadership and the city when I was out there for my interview. And it's so stinkin' close to all of my East Coast friends...what a blessing! And I get to live in a bigger city again! So. Many. Pluses.

However, the title of this post should hint at what I am about to say. Despite my best efforts, I still wasn't ready for the email telling me where I was going to be for the next four years. I was preparing myself for my top 3, but I, of course, wanted my #1 program. No matter how many times I told myself (and it was a lot), "the Match will place me where I am supposed to be," I really wanted to go where I wanted to go.

Everyone tells you that once you get an interview, you are set. At that point, it is about making sure you and the program "fit." How arbitrary. Fit. What does that even mean? Like a glove? As in religious beliefs? I mean, it's so subjective. And impossible to have occur. I, personally, fit best with one program, out of the fifteen I interviewed at. The rest of the programs, I felt, I would fit fine. I would probably find people I liked and they would probably be my friends for that point in my life. But there was only one program where I thought, Wow. I could actually be friends with these people. By choice and not by circumstance. Speaking to others, it sounds like most people were in the latter boat. They fit in fine enough and would be happy enough going to a number of programs.

And let me tell you something, "fit" is not the only component. They do care about board scores. And clinical grades. And letters of recommendation. It isn't enough for them to interview you and like you. They probably like most of the people they interview. So, how do they choose? Well, probably on all those other factors that I just mentioned.

I am not trying to dishearten anyone about the process. I think, for the most part, this was a competitive year to match. I know several people who did not get their top 3, which is always a shock. But, I want to impart the importance of mitigating your expectations. Because, for me, I will never understand how I ended up in the Baltimore. It took me the majority of last week to stop myself from second-guessing everything that happened on the trail -- from my clothes, to what I said for this interview question, and how I interacted with that resident, and so on and so forth -- and to stop comparing myself to my classmates who were fortunate enough to match at their top choice. And, you know what, it's okay that I will never understand. Because, the Match placed me where I am supposed to be. And even though I'm not sure what that reason is, just yet, I know the University of Maryland will train me to be the best internal medicine-pediatrics physician I can be.