VUSM Alumni Share Match Day Memories and Advice
This will sound incredibly trite, but I cannot believe that Match Day was already one year ago. So much time, money, travel, and angst goes into preparing for this day, but, once the day finally arrives, it feels like such an accelerated blur.
I was matching into ophthalmology, so my “big” match day actually happened in January. I don’t think I slept much at all the night before match or, if I did, I was fitfully dreaming up different scenarios of what matching at each program on my rank list would look like. Finally, at about 5 a.m., I heard a ping from my phone with an email that was titled, “Generic Match Results.” It generically told me that I had matched, but I wouldn’t find out where until later (why? that’s so mean!).
Apparently, programs could contact us as early as 8 a.m. EST. So, naturally, I sat in my living room staring dutifully at my phone at exactly 7 o’clock on the dot our time. It must have either been my laser eyes, or the universe sensing my intense desperation, but I only had to wait ~20 minutes before my phone began to ring. The only part of that conversation that I remember is: “Cherie, this is [PD] from Wills Eye…” I responded with incessant tears and blubbering words of immense gratitude. I’m fairly certain that I showed up for my dermatology rotation too excited to answer any questions or to be of any use that day. They sent me home early.
The earlier match for ophthalmology made traditional Match Day a less stressful experience. I still had to find out where I was doing my intern year, but my family and I decided to enjoy the day as much as possible and soak it in for all its worth. This meant poking a little fun (at my expense). Who do you think was most excited that I was finally gainfully employed?
Biggest advice for 4th years heading into residency
- ENJOY this time! You have worked so hard to get to this moment. Soak in the time being free of intense clinical responsibilities (you’ll get enough of that your intern year). Take time to reflect on all that you did to get to where you are today. The gratitude and reflection pays dividends.
- In that same regard, write down your feelings/reflections as you prepare to leave medical school. I enjoy being able to read what my hopes and biggest fears were for intern year. Definitely helps me see my growth as well.
- Vanderbilt is such a special place — cherish your time with your classmates, teachers, and patients. And, of course, Nashville is unparalleled 🙂
Cherie Fathy, M.D., M.P.H.
VUSM Class of 2017
I remember being very excited for Match Day and eagerly anticipating it. I remember exactly what I wore and where I parked that morning, on the roof of Central Garage. I had a good feeling that I would be staying at Vanderbilt for residency as I hoped, but there was still of course the possibility that it would not turn out as planned.
It was exciting to sit with my classmates and see our futures unfold together.
We had shared a lot of experiences in Light Hall — it was the location in which we had started medical school four years prior, and it seemed appropriate that our Match Day was there, as well. I chose the song “At Last” as my theme song to be played while I walked down to open my letter. It really did seem like I was going to be THE last…but I was actually just 4th to last…still it felt like a long wait! It was a thrill to open my letter and confirm that I would be staying at Vanderbilt, exactly where I wanted to be. It was a great day, and one that I will always remember!
Rachel Apple, M.D.
VUSM Class of 2012
Match Day has an incredible combination of nervousness and excitement; and getting up in front of your peers and faculty to learn your fate takes a lot of nerve. Opening your envelope is like publicly revealing a lottery ticket; and when you get one of your top choice programs it’s like getting the winning numbers in front of hundreds of people. The Match Day ceremony at Vanderbilt is special in both tradition and experience, not just for each student but for their family and the whole school, as everyone is participating in this nervous-excitement. I don’t know of any other ritual like opening that match letter, which determines three to seven years of your young adult life — there’s really nothing like it.
Brian C. Drolet, M.D.
VUSM Class of 2009
What was it like during the interview process?
I enjoyed visiting all the different programs and had some really crazy situations which I still tell stories about today. Believe it or not, it was either the first or the second year of the ERAS application process. I had never had an email prior to applying; which seems almost bizarre. I would have to log in to the computers in Light Hall to see if I had received an interview request. In 1996, I felt like I was on the cutting edge, now that I am writing this in 2018, I feel like a dinosaur.
What was it like opening your match letter?
The University of Washington Obstetrics and Gynecology residency was my first choice so I was thrilled. It was a fantastic residency. Twenty years later, I am still here at UW, but I moved up the totem pole to Professor of Ob/Gyn and chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. I have residents with me almost every day in clinic and in the OR. I always love the first day the brand new intern shows up to work with me: always super green but really enthusiastic and earnest.
What do you remember about Match Day? Were you nervous/excited?
I had spent two weeks on the Farm in Summertown working with Ina May Gaskin and the Farm midwives prior to Match Day. I realized the day of the scramble that I had no way to know if I did not match (these were the days prior to everyone having a cell phone). I realized that I must have matched when I returned back to Nashville and didn’t have an email or message telling me to come into the Dean’s office. That feeling was pure relief. Mostly I was really tired of living in uncertainty and not knowing where I would be in a few months. I was really looking forward to moving on to the next chapter.
To this day, I feel that the two years of my life that I learned the most were my internship year and my first year after residency. I felt so incompetent and exhausted for much of my intern year and had to eat humble pie on a daily basis. However, when the new interns showed up a year later and I could truly compare their knowledge base to what I then knew, I was amazed. The whole year, without even realizing it, I was just vacuuming up knowledge and skill. That year with my co-interns was at times terrifying, depressing, frustrating, humbling, exciting, fascinating, and encouraging, but mostly, it was a tremendous year of growth.
My advice to fourth years: be kind to everyone in the hospital, be curious, and be honest about your limitations. Most importantly, always make sure your senior residents and your attendings know exactly what you are up to. Rogue interns are scary.
Anne-Marie E. Amies Oelschlager, M.D.
VUSM Class of 1997