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Match Day: When Expectations Meet Reality

2012 Match Day - Student pins map of U.S.

It’s been four months since I moved into the office of student affairs as assistant dean, and not a day goes by when I’m not reminded of my days as an Einstein med student.

Sure, the campus looks a little different now. But the fundamentals of Einstein, much like its cafeteria cookies, haven’t changed. As I move further away from med school, the memories of anatomy and Skit Night become more pixelated, but for some reason, Match Day is burned in my brain in all its high-def glory.

As an internal medicine applicant, I knew that short of a major computer glitch, I was going to match somewhere. But the question was where? I had a bicoastal rank list, and my top choices ran the gamut from California to New York and Boston. I grew up in the Northeast and spent my undergraduate years in upstate New York. I felt ready for a big change, and after a particularly brutal winter on the East Coast, I felt this was the right time to move out west.

As I walked from Low Housing to the Lubin Dining Hall on that balmy March 2004 Match Day, I was no longer so sure. I had no doubt I’d be thrilled with my first choice, but I had been given no indication by the program director that I had a shot. In fact, I believed that a computer malfunction was the only reason I even got the interview. I was confident I would get my second choice. Yet as I made the fateful walk that day, surrounded by my Einstein family, I felt completely alone. I think we all did as we entered the great unknown.

What felt like eons later, I ripped opened that envelope and a scream of joy escaped my lips. By some miracle, I matched at my first choice, and I was again confident in my resolve to move across the country. I felt relieved, thrilled and excited.

I wish I could say that all of my classmates got into their first-choice programs, but they didn’t. But nine years later, I can honestly say that we each ended up at the program that was right for us. Those classmates I have kept in touch with, both in person and via Facebook, are all incredibly successful and seem happy in their careers—some in private practice, some in academia, some working internationally, some working part time.

Although the journey may have been different from the one we initially envisioned, the destination is exactly where we want to be.

We celebrated on the evening of Match Day, and we celebrated for the next three months. But as the festivities wound down, and we moved out of the Bronx, the reality of the situation hit us acutely—it was time to stop playing doctor and actually be doctors.

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Allison B. Ludwig, M.D.

Allison B. Ludwig, M.D.

Allison B. Ludwig, M.D. is assistant dean for Student Affairs and assistant professor, Department of Medicine (General Internal Medicine) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

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  • Hersh March 14, 2013, 11:58 PM

    I wish I match at my first choice too!! Although I have absolutely no expectation of matching there!