It was Thursday Jan 12th, 2017. I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm, my mind immediately flooded with the thought, “Today is match day!” I knew there was no point in trying to sleep any longer.
The days leading up to match day were filled with more anticipation than the days leading up to Christmas as a child. In order to distract ourselves from the agonizing wait, Mrs. DA and I tried to fill our evenings with movie dates, get-togethers with friends, and ice cream runs. I was rotating through radiology (or some might call it a radi-holiday), and while sitting there watching radiologists read CT scans all I could think was “Match day is 3 days away…. match day is 2 days away… match day is 1 day away…”. On Match-Day-Eve I went on an extra long run in the hopes of exhausting myself and ensuring a good night’s sleep.
Then suddenly the wait was over. I found myself sitting at our kitchen table at 6:58 am, staring expectantly at my phone, a bowl of cereal untouched in front of me. At 7:00 am eastern time the sfmatch program emails all applicants to inform them whether or not they matched. Not where they had matched, but simply whether or not they were paired with a program. 6:59 am. Thoughts raced through my head so fast they blurred together. Would I match? What would I do if I didn’t match? What if the email didn’t come at all? Mrs DA was upstairs getting ready, and I knew she was watching her phone as well (we shared the email account I used to apply). 7:00 am. I held my breath. 10 seconds passed. Suddenly Mrs. DA’s phone chirped upstairs, and simultaneously an email appeared on my phone:
“YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!” I pounded up the stairs and hugged Mrs. DA as we jumped up and down like giddy school girls. WE DID IT!! I was going to be an ophthalmologist!!! The stress of studying, preparing, taking boards, applying, traveling, and interviewing instantly melted away. An hour later I was in the radiology reading room, but this time all I could think was , “I matched! I matched! I matched!”
The ophthalmology match is different than other matches, in that it occurs earlier in the year, you receive the initial email in the morning that states whether or not you matched, and then throughout the day the individual programs are at liberty to call their new resident class to inform them where they matched. If the program doesn’t call in the morning, then you can contact your dean’s office to find out where you matched. I spent the morning in the radiology room in the basement of the hospital where my phone doesn’t have good service, and the whole time I was nervous that I might have missed the call from my new program. Finally around 11 am the suspense was killing me, so I walked over to my dean’s office. The secretary didn’t have the information yet, so I paced around the medical school for an hour, my mind racing over my rank list and my confidence level vacillating like a yo-yo. Would I match at one of my dream programs? Would I scrape the bottom of my rank list? Somewhere in the middle? All options seemed feasible.
Not able to wait any longer, I walked back to the secretary’s office. “Come on in!” she said. I sat down and she asked “Do you want to know?!?!?!” I responded in the affirmative, and she replied, “How does UCLA sound?!”. My. Jaw. Dropped. THE JULES STEIN EYE INSTITUTE!! I couldn’t believe it. I walked out of her office stunned. The dream had come true. Not only had I matched in Ophthalmology, but I had matched at my dream program!! When I finally found my voice I called Mrs. DA, who immediately burst into tears (happy tears, thank goodness!). The rest of the day was filled with celebration and happy calls to family and friends. 5 days later and I am still euphoric.
While the match process worked out better than I could have hoped, I understand that match day is not always a happy experience for everyone. On the same day that dreams are realized, other’s dreams are delayed or shattered. I want to congratulate everyone who matched, while simultaneously mourning with those who did not. If your match day was a disappointment, I hope that it all works out for you in the end. There are many amazing applicants who match the second time they apply. There are also many amazing applicants who find a new dream. I am filled with respect for every applicant I met on the interview trail, and I wish you all the best!