Reminiscing about Match Day

By  |  March 23, 2015 | 

Friday March 20th was the 2015 Match Day. A big moment for every doctor that in many ways determines not only our specialty and where we will practice, but in some ways sets our destiny with who we will marry and who our lifelong friends will be.

I still remember my Match Day 42 years ago in 1973. There were some unique aspects to my 1973 match. First, I was president of the senior class at Temple Medical School and by tradition I worked with the dean to develop a plan to help my classmates who went unmatched to get internships. In this role I actually got a look at the match results a day ahead of the public announcements.

In my class we had six or seven people who did not match. Two people because they only listed one hospital (What were they thinking?!) and another because he listed 12 hospitals, but happened to list 12 difference specialties and only at the most prestigious programs (e.g. UCSF for internal medicine, Mayo for surgery, Duke for anesthesia, etc.). Big surprise he didn’t match.

But of even more personal consequence to me was that I found out that I was going to California. In 1973 having spent my entire life within an hour’s drive of Philadelphia, my home, this was like matching on another continent or on the moon. We took that trip to California because my wife had a cousin in Northern California and one of my med school friend’s parents had moved to Orange County. It was free room and board and a reason to visit California in our 20’s.

Even though I had cast a wide net during the interview process, I fully expected to be in the Northeast or, at the farthest from home, in North Carolina. I later found out that I was listed #1 by University of California at Irvine because the program director was a Temple alum and he too had been senior class president and saw himself in me. What a crap shoot this all turned out to be.

But personally what was of greater importance was that my wife of less than a year, Sharon, was on day 45 of her hospitalization and her tumultuous post-op course after a bowel resection. I still remember going directly from the Dean’s Office the night before the match results were announced to let my 85-pound wife with the NG tube and IVs know the exciting news that we were “going to California!”

Tears of joy? Tears of fear? Holy crap! What had just happened to us? We were concerned not that my wife could make the 3,000 mile trip across the country with all of our possessions (okay, they could fit in a small U-Haul trailer in 1973), but we were concerned if she would ever make it the three miles home to our med school apartment.

As they say, the rest is history. Generally young people with benign disease eventually leave the hospital as my wife did. We packed all the stuff of the three classmates who matched in IM at UCI in one U-Haul truck and drove out West (listening to the Watergate Congressional hearings on the radio throughout the trip). Sharon and I had planned to go West for just three years and then “come back” to the East Coast, but as you may know we are still looking at the Pacific Ocean on a daily basis (although in an ironic convergence I have been CEO of the Society of Hospital Medicine, which is based in Philadelphia, for- the last 15 years – a homecoming of sorts).

So let’s hear it – share your Match Day story with us in the comments.

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