Thursday, April 10, 2014

Match Day

So how does getting into a residency program work? For U.S. medical students, graduating from medical school is the first step. Residency program is where we complete our training, where we're no longer babied, and we have to work through sweat, tears, and blood, all that grueling stuff that shape us into doctors who can finally be sent out into the public to practice alone, safely and responsibly.

For most fourth year medical students, the big day is Match Day. It's the culmination of all your years of work and the past few months of applications, waiting for interview invitations, deciding which interviews to accept and which pre-interview social you'd attend, traveling for the actual interviews, hospital tours, meals with the residents, and struggling to come up with as many responses to "Do you have any questions for us?"

After all the interviews, we struggle to form our rank list in the order of which hospital program you'd like to work for more and the programs formulate their own rank list of all the candidates they've interviewed. A giant computer at NRMP takes in our rank lists, does its magic, and we all wait for Match Day, the day when we find out which residency program you're going to spend your lives at for the next x number of years.

So Match Day this year was officially March 21st. Some students applying for more competitive fields like dermatology care more about March 17th though, the Monday of that week when everyone gets a generic email informing them whether or not they matched. My classmate - a derm applicant - specifically took Monday off from our rotation while I covered for her because she didn't want to be working if she found out she didn't match (she did! Matched back to our home school program!). And you find out through the grapevine which of your classmates who sadly did not match.

Since I'm going into pediatrics, a less competitive field, Monday was not a super huge concern for me. I still had butterflies just in case I'm actually an extremely unlikable person and all my programs hated me on sight, but fortunately, all went well. On Monday at noon, I checked my email from NRMP with that suspenseful subject title "Did I Match?" And it was a very brief email with the most important words Congratulations!  You have matched! bolded. So YAY!

And then we had to wait another four days for Match Day on Friday to find out where we're matched to. Except for this dumb NRMP computer glitch this year that actually allowed some resourceful candidates to be able to check their match results earlier - a seriously dumb glitch involving a simple right click, view source code - but since I didn't find out about the glitch until NRMP fixed it and it was too late to check, this is all moot point to me.

But I have to say, not finding out earlier and being able to have anticipation build til Friday ... it was worth it in the end for me. Because there's nothing quite like that atmosphere of being in an auditorium with all your classmates and friends, that heady rush of excitement and nerves as you get up to collect your own sealed envelope, the countdown to noon when everyone, all at once, cracks open their letter and finds out where they're heading off to.

I, myself, took a few seconds to really absorb the words. My name ... my medical school name ... Congratulations, you have matched! ...

And then I saw the name of my first choice listed.

I think I must have let out some incomprehensible sound, like a whuh, covered my mouth and turned to my friend. She was shaking her head and just thrust her paper out to me. I shoved mine at her. We both got into our first choices.

There's a breath of silence and then screams of joy overfill the auditorium. Everyone gets out of their seats and starts running around, finding their friends, and grabbing each other in tight hugs. Some are crying, some are laughing, others are in shocked silence. Cameras flash and a school photographer follows people around, picking out the happy faces. A lot of people are bouncing around, especially my fellow pediatrics applicants - we're naturally bubbly people?

There is nothing quite like that roller coaster of emotions.

And then, of course, everything turns a bit anti-climatic in the aftermath. Your program emails you a welcome email and then starts cracking down with multiple HR forms, NPI request, resident work hour attestation, sleep deprivation attestation, etc. ("We own you now. Please sign your life over ASAP.") But yay, I don't care, I'm still living in my fourth year medical student bubble! I'm still excited over signing all your scary forms! Real job confirmed!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bleeding Love Dance

Been busy and totally neglected this blog again. Was on the interview trail and am finishing up some fourth year required electives. So this is a post to declare I'm still alive! Also, those of you still plagiarizing my stories - c'mon, do we really have to do this again? Also, since some readers have informed me fictionpress finally got off its butt and disabled the whole copy+paste function ... how? Why? It takes pathetic to a whole new insanity level if a plagiarist is resorting to figuring out how to get past the c+p thing in order to copy a story to put up on another site.

I love songs, dances, musicals, things that are able to effectively tell a story so if it's accomplished in a visually captivating way, thumbs up! I like this:

Monday, November 11, 2013


Thanks for the support and response to my prior post, everyone! The plagiarist has been removed from Amazon and hopefully, this won't happen again. I'm revising False Facades so maybe, you'll be able to see the new version up on Amazon soon. Stay tuned, please.

In the meantime, I'm also in the midst of interview season for residency programs! Exciting and scary. I've finally decided to go into pediatrics after confirming my interest during my pediatrics sub-i. I got Step 2 CK done a while back, but I still have Step 2 CS to go in December. Smart me, planned it so that I would be cramming in between traveling around to programs. What was I thinking? Hopefully, everything continues to go smoothly into the new year.

So ... since I haven't posted in a while, I thought I should write up something about one of the experiences I had during clerkships. It's funny how things feel like it happened so long ago now when it's only been months, but at the same time, you look back at the year as a whole and feel like third year really went by in a blink. Everything was measured in blocks of time between shelf exams and you were constantly in motion, preparing for the next exam and the next. But sometimes, there are these moments that are especially memorable - whether it's in a good way or bad - that you continue to carry on as something you can look back on ... fondly?

The longest day I had during clerkship rotations was in surgery (of course) when I scrubbed in on a Whipple procedure immediately after rounds. During pre-op, the resident suggested, "Be sure to grab something to eat. This is going to take a while."

I had looked up Whipple procedure before so that I would be somewhat prepared to answer any pimping questions from the attending (you are never really prepared) and I had expected that it would be a long operation, likely lasting more than 6 hours. But to double check, I asked, "Around how long?"

The resident just gave me this faint noncommittal expression. "A while."

"Oh." I hesitated. "That's okay. I just had a cereal bar."

So much regret.

I started in the OR at 8am, watching the nurses and anesthesiologists prepare the patient. As the patient drifted away on propofol, I got the nod from the resident to go scrub and get gowned. By 9am, we were all gathered around the sterile field and the attending made the first incision.

Noon came along and drifted away. Still hadn't removed gallbladder yet.

2pm ... attending and resident still working. They didn't even need me to help suction and retract since the field was so small, I needed a stepstool to get a good peek. 3pm. Scrub nurse, pitying me, asked if I wanted to take a break. I glanced over at my resident and attending; they were so focused with laser intensity on the patient, I hadn't been acknowledged since pre-op. I wondered if they were even aware I was still there or was I just a blob at the periphery of their vision? But if attending and resident haven't taken a break yet, I wasn't going to so I shook my head, shifted my feet and continued to pretend I had thighs of steel, legs of titanium. Nurse crowed really loudly, "What a trooper! Gonna stick it out for the long haul, huh?" Attending's eyes barely flickered over to me.

Scrub nurses switched four times for breaks. Anesthesiologists changed shifts, one teasing me, "This is why anesthesiology is better than surgery." I continued to stand there, trying not to lean on patient's leg too much, hoping I get to do something, anything, or maybe the attending and resident can mention something educational to me or at the very least, mutter out loud exactly what they were probing at now. Even if it was to pimp me. Pimp me! Pimp me! Let me do something!

5:30pm. Attending and resident continued to go at it. Attending's surgical headlights set had long ran out of its charge, and had to be plugged in to an outlet. I jumped for any chance to irrigate, which essentially meant I squirted water wherever they wanted me to. New scrub nurse stared at me with more pity. My mask slipped down and I tried to shove it up with the back of my gowned arm and all the nurses jumped on me, "Oh, contamination! You should scrub out and ... maybe scrub back in later ... if you need to?" We all slipped the attending and resident inquiring looks. They didn't say anything.

Taking that to mean that I had to come back, I sidled to the door and hurried to the locker room where I crumpled into a chair and crammed another cereal bar down. Returned to the OR, scrubbed back in. Attending and resident barely glanced at me. Scrub nurse tapped my gloved hand and surreptitiously murmured, "You got food?"

I nodded, and she answered, "Good. Got to eat. Don't want you getting hypoglycemic."

By 7:30pm, the attending finally announced, "I need to pee."

Resident agreed, "Me, too."

While the attending went out to take his turn first, I asked resident, "Um, how long do you think until we close up? ... because someone is kinda going to pick me up ..."

"Oh, you could have gone home whenever you wanted," the resident answered.

I stared at him. Was this a trick question? Because I was ready to go hours ago. Why didn't you send me home then if I could have gone home at any time? Or is this reverse psychology? Do I need to continue to prove my dedication by clinging on til the very end? Tell me what to do.

The resident continued, "If your pick up is here already, you can go."

"Oh, he's coming," I said quickly. "He's here." He can be here. Right now. I will teleport myself into any moving vehicle heading home.

The nurse ripped off the ties to the back of my gown before anyone can say anything else and excused me quickly, "Go home then! Eat! Go! Sleep!"

"Oh ... okay ... thank you!" I announced to the general room with special gratitude to the nurses, gave a pathetic wave, and scurried out.

The next morning, I found out the case ended past midnight. Hardcore.