Friday, October 15, 2010

A Match Made In Heaven...

Or possibly hell.

Medical school works like this: the first two years you sit in a classroom and cram every piece of medical knowledge you'll never possibly remember into your brain and pray it sticks. Then you take the Test-that-must-not-be-named and pray you pass. And then you stick around town for two more years and hang out in different parts of the hospital and learn the actual medicine from real doctors who ask you random questions about biochemistry and then point and laugh when you can't remember all the steps of the Krebs cycle. And then you pray they give you a diploma and you get to pretend to be a real doctor.

This isn't quite how it works at my school because the town where my school is located is so small it doesn't even have a Target. However, it does somehow manage to have about 200 hundred churches. And a man in a motorized wheelchair that drives down the middle of the street clutching his beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. And a movie theater that only takes cash. And about 15 thousand blinking stop lights. It's too small to be a country, but too big to be an insane asylum. That's my favorite Civil War quote (yes, I have a favorite Civil War quote, I am such a nerd). Some congressman said that about South Carolina when it seceded from the Union and it totally applies to this town. This place kind of reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls, except there's more rednecks and less Kirk, which makes it infinitely less charming.

Anyway, because my town is small, the hospital is small, and cannot support 300+ medical students at a time. So hospitals all over the country have agreements with our school to take us for the last two years and teach us some medicine.

Thank goodness, because I will do just about anything to get out of this place. Suffice it to say that getting out of here means not having to deal with surprise dress codes, and not having to see the majority of the people in my class every day, and not having to stop at 15 stop lights in the mile from my house to the school.
Man, I just read that over again, and I sound like Scrooge and the Grinch all rolled into one, but I think that's mostly because I left school last night at 1 am and returned at 6 am this morning, which means that I never actually saw the sun yesterday. And then I checked my inbox to find an email from the Dean that encouraged me to enjoy the nice day outside and to remember it when I'm stuck in the hospital on night call and will never see the sun again. Way to rub salt in my wounds.

Somehow this post started out about the match and mutated into 10 Things I Hate About You, not unlike cancer cells. This post is metastasizing.

The Match is officially on Monday. I get to pick 6 places that I'm interested in them and I rank them 1 to 6 (imagine that). We can write a letter to our number one choice telling them how awesome we are and how much they should want to choose us. The medical term for this is Kissing Ass. The hospitals have the ability to choose up to half of their spots before the match based on these letters. If you're chosen based on your letter, you're taken out of the match. The match is then calculated by some fancy computer program that randomly assigns everybody else to the highest rankings it can.

I think the hospitals have already made their choices based on the letters, which means that I could already be placed and I don't even know. The suspense is killing me. I think this process is giving me even more gray hair than medical school in general is doing.

Here's the kicker of all this. I'm either going to get my first choice or I'm going to go unmatched. Which would be very very bad. Because then the only options would be Arizona (where I will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West) or a little town in the boot-heel of Missouri that is rumored to still have white-only restaurants. I cannot spend the next two years in a town that is responsible for Missouri beings a Slave State (Jeeze, another Civil War reference. Sorry, I need to put my major to use somehow). I need a Target. Or at the very least a speed limit above 30 mph.

Suffice it to say that this process cannot end soon enough and I really need to get my first choice. The odds are fairly good that I'll get it, but I've learned that there are no guarantees in medicine education. At least at this school. And there's no crying in baseball, but there is crying in medical school. Especially if I'm unmatched.

At least I'll know by Tuesday, whatever happens. I promise to tell you where I'm going. If I'm still alive on Tuesday.

I forgot to mention the craziest part about all of this! After the match, there's a trading season where students can switch spots with someone. And people will pay to get the spot the want. Like $7,000 kind of paying. If I didn't get my top spot and someone wanted my spot, I would totally switch for that kind of money. I could use all that extra cash to pay for the Tests-that-must-not-be-named because they are expensive. I am paying good money to be tortured. Lovely.

You know, the "Mad" in Diary of a Mad Med Student originally meant angry, but I'm pretty sure it's more of the Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatter version of the word now.

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