curve ball! The Day I Didn't Pass | Medical school insiders (2023)

Sometimes life throws you an invisible curveball that hits you in the head and throws you onto a red anthill while a buffalo rushes in and stomps you into a crippled shell of the excited person you were moments ago. That's how I felt on game dayI didn't fit, which as you can imagine was a big surprise and disappointment.

Here's how I handled the news and what happened next.

Game day or end of the world?

TheNationales Residency-Match-Programm(NRMP or The Match) is a program used by medical students to gain entry into residency at the end of their 4-year medical education. Students apply to 40-80 programs and hope to get around 15 interviews.

At the end ofCourse of the job interview in the dorm, students do aRanking their top choice programdown to their program of the last election. If you would rather not match than participate in a program, you cannot put that program on your list. Each program also compiles a ranking of the students surveyed. Programs are said to place an emphasis on regionally close applicants as students are more likely to stay local, but this process is largely hidden.

When you enter The Match, you are contractually obligated to participate in the residency program that you will be assigned to. An algorithm that favors student choices then takes the two lists and attempts to fill each program.

(Video) What Happens if You DON’T Match? | NRMP Match Day Explained

Then, on a Monday in mid-March (Match Week), emails are sent out by the NRMP saying either "Congratulations, you've matched!" or "We're sorry, you haven't agreed to any position."

The latter was the email I received on March 16, 2020 that sent me into a meltdown.

Life after non-matching: SOAP

Ironically, you don't actually have time to "melt down". Within 3 hours of that email I had to drive an hour to school and attend the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) while still stuck in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from.

This involved retrieving a list of all unfilled OB/GYN programs (2), available temporary OB/GYN positions (6), and available temporary general surgery positions (tons). My school required that everyone who did "SOAP" had to apply for the maximum number of programs, 40.

I have applied to both available categorical OB/GYN programs, all 6 interim OB/GYN programs and 32 interim General Surgery positions across the country. Once you have applied, you may not approach any program personally or you may be banned from The Match in the future.

As I hit send, I looked around at the space around me. Each student was 3 computers away from the nearest, adhering to social distancing rules in place at the time. Many downcast eyes were red and swollen, just like mine. Others were better at hiding their pain. After four (eight if you count undergraduate) years of hard work and dedication, not fitting into her dream subject was now her reality - and mine!

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On the drive home I opened Instagram which was a big mistake. All my friends have posted screenshots of their "Congratulations, you matched!" emails. Of course I was so proud and excited for my friends, but the pain was too fresh to feel happiness at that moment.I had to focus on the next steps. I can't tell you what I did the rest of the day but at 9pm I got a call.

Cold calling begins

The person on the line gave her name and asked how my day was going. I believed they were my GP, so I let out an exasperated sigh and said, "Oh, I've had MUCH better days," expecting that he had no idea what I was talking about, which I didn't have to my doctor in months.

Instead he laughed and said that was very understandable. I realized this was probably not my doctor as he said he is the program director for a local general surgery office and would like to speak to me about his program. I apologized profusely for my unfiltered greeting and told it it had the same name as my PCP. His appreciation for my authentic answer immediately put my mind at ease.

That call was the first of seven calls that came in over the next day and a half from various general surgery program directors. I tried playing board games and watching my favorite movies, but my anxiety never really went away.

There was still the possibility of becoming an OB/GYN next year if I got the right call, but I never got that call. Each of the directors of the surgical program who called me during this process opened the conversation by expressing their confusion that I was a mismatch, which was becoming more and more frustrating.

I still haven't gotten a clear answer as to how this happened. According to my counselor, I had one of the strongest OB/OB applications that year. My board scores were well above the national average. I had a lot of experience as a volunteer and a lot of research.

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I did everything I was told, but it didn't work and no one could tell me why. I think this is still the hardest part to deal with.

acceptance of an offer

The first offers for SOAP were sent out on Wednesday at 11 am. I logged in and was relieved to see two local offerings. I accepted one quickly after deciding which program I would prefer if offered in advance.

You have two hours to decide. Only then was I finally able to relax a little, knowing at least what the next year of my life was going to be like. Match Day took place digitally the following Friday, with the rest of my friends opening their emails at noon to see where they would be training in their various fields for the next 3-5 years.

This was another day of feeling both extreme happiness and jealousy as I looked through my Facebook page. Proud family members and partners bragged about their hardworking loved ones. I couldn't help but imagine what I should have posted back then, and imagined how much better life would be if I had just matched my number one, two, or three program.

Unfortunately I didn't fit together and I had to accept that fact. Adjusting my view of my future has definitely been a challenge, and I couldn't have done it without my partner, friends, and family.

My partner drove me to school that day and entered new schools into ERAS for me as I rewrote my personal statement to target general surgery. They assured me that no matter what, we would get through it.

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My friends were always there to give me encouragement when I was feeling hopeless. I'm so lucky to have so many friends in my life who support each other in good times and bad.

At the time, I didn't want to start conversations about not matching, but I appreciated it when my friends sent messages of encouragement, reminding me of my great qualities. I would recommend this to anyone hearing a friend disagree. A few words can go a long way during this extremely stressful time.

For those of you who disagree, please try to keep hope. I know it's easy to feel like a failure, but just because you're a mismatch doesn't mean you can't have a successful and rewarding career in medicine. You just won't go down the path you originally planned.

Read our guide:What to do if you don't fit in the residence (after SOAP).

Go forward

I will still be a OB/GYN; It will only take me a year to improve my surgical skills! To say this week was the worst week of my life would be an understatement (I also hit a rabbit with my car).

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I've had time to think, and I know that statement means I haven't faced any worse difficulties or much adversity at all. I am grateful for that. I don't know what the future holds for me but I will try to enjoy every day while learning as much as possible.

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