But after this feeling of relief comes a great deal of second guessing in terms of where one thinks one will match relative to where one’s preferences lie. They say the match favors the applicants, and we should rank programs solely on preference. But it is still a bit nerve-wracking, in part because, when one matches to a program, one is legally bound under contract law to go there—and what if it is choice number 5? The order matters, but one cannot know to what extent until Match Day.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 28 – No 03 – March 2009
It all comes down to Match Week, which this year is March 16-19. If an applicant has a successful match, he or she will get an e-mail on Monday of Match Week, saying the applicant has matched—but it does not say where. If unsuccessful, one will receive the dreaded call from the dean’s office. For those unlucky souls, Tuesday and Wednesday are scramble days, when applications are faxed, calls are made, and contracts are signed. Unfortunately, there are more unmatched applicants than available slots, so this is not a time to be picky, and it must be enormously stressful. All who matched find out where they are going for the next several years, en masse, on Thursday morning.
So, if you see applicants behaving oddly, your differential should include the following: matchitis, OCD, anxiety, and manic-like outbursts of energy. While you may be entertained and even empathetic, keep in mind that no psychological counseling, beta blockers, or anxiolytics will alleviate the symptoms. Like pre-eclampsia, the only definitive treatment is delivery—in this case of the envelope—as we enthusiastically await joining your ranks. n
Ms. Stankus is a medical student at the University of Washington and is a former medical malpractice defense attorney. She is an adjunct professor at Regis University and is a member of ACEP’s National Medical Legal Committee.