Match Day celebrates the joys and the sorrows of medical school.
I watched my first Match Day with shaky hands as I held up my phone to record the event on Facebook Live. There was a sheer, pulsing energy to the room. I could almost taste the jittery excitement of the fourth-year medical students as they lined up to receive the red envelopes that held their futures: where and how they would spend their residency years.
As I focused my phone on their faces, I couldn’t help but share their fear, their anxiety, their slivers of hope. For me, a first-year undergraduate, Match Day was eight years in the distance. But in that moment, I felt like we were all living the same experience.
I had the privilege of attending Match Day for three years as an editorial intern for Medicine@Brown. As a PLME student who will start medical school this fall, every year I couldn’t help but imagine my own future celebration. (This year Brown, like most medical schools, canceled the annual party due to COVID-19.)
But with each year I also came to realize that, while Match Day celebrates a major milestone in each medical student’s education, it also represents the culmination of a long and difficult path. Few of us think to celebrate our gritty 2 a.m. SciLi study sessions, or the success of getting out of bed at an ungodly time to complete another rotation, or the time we called home to cry our eyes out during finals. But it’s that day-to-day grind through those moments when everything feels impossible that makes Match Day so much sweeter.
These yearly celebrations are a reminder to me to slow down and appreciate the beauty in the long journey to that moment. My path to Brown, and The Warren Alpert Medical School, started with a passion for medicine that developed early in high school. Even as a freshman in AP Biology, I knew I wanted to have an impact on people. As recent events have shown us, physicians are in the incredible position of being able to ease suffering and be able to help someone at their most vulnerable time.
College has brought me some of my most cherished memories along with the struggles. Learning to acknowledge and accept the long path ahead has been one of my most important lessons so far, one that I hope will help me both academically and emotionally. Already I’ve learned that the road to becoming a physician can feel like a slog. But recognizing that each step gets me closer to a goal I’ve held for so long, and to instead embrace the difficulties, has made me more mindful of where I am in the process.
It’s hard to articulate just how life-changing Brown has been for me. Four years ago, when I opened my browser and read the word “Congratulations,” the moment felt like a dream I didn’t dare to have. When I see the joy and shock on the medical students’ faces as they read the Match Day letters that reveal their fates, I’m reminded of that moment staring at my computer when I was accepted to Brown—so deeply unexpected after the grueling college application process. Even with all the challenges, these past four years have been a privilege. And I want to hold onto that gratitude as I tackle the next four.
One day, if I’m lucky, it will be me with that red envelope. One day the clock will strike 12 and I’ll suddenly know where I’m spending the next several years of my life. I hope the day is beautiful and festive, that I’ll be surrounded by joy and the love of my friends and family. But until that day, I hope that when I’m knee deep in my PowerPoints and endless to-do lists and studying, I take time then to celebrate too.