March Madness Is Here Again

Opinion.jpgCan you believe it is March already? Yeah it is that time of the year again when all time stops and amateur basketball is the most important thing in one’s life.

Unfortunately, for those people in their fourth year of medical school, not only does the NCAA tournament occur in March, but so does match day! This March also marks the one year anniversary of my writing for Brain Blogger. I wanted to say that writing for this blog has been rewarding for myself personally as it has given me time to flesh out my own thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. On occasion I will go back and read some of my posts and inevitably think to myself — “Did I really write that?!?”

So for all of you readers that enjoy my posts, thank you for your comments and attention.

Now back to March Madness. March is match money and it is a time of stress, anxiety, and mixed emotions for 4th year medical students. On Monday of match week, they learn if they have “matched” into their residency of choice. On Thursday, they typically go through a “match ceremony” where they learn and reveal their residency plans to their classmates, family, and friends. It is indeed an exciting time in the life of a young physician in training.

Unfortunately, the drill is filled with more tradition that actual utility or sense. Every year there are those who do not match and must “scramble” into a vacant position. Perhaps it is in their field of choice but at a less desirable location. Perhaps they cannot get a spot into their field of choice and must settle for another specialty of medicine or surgery. Either way, when you mess with the minds of such a motivated and driven bunch of high-achievers, you undoubtedly cause of emotional trauma.

I’ve been trying for years to come up with an analogous ritual in any profession other than medicine. Lawyers get their jobs through summer internships. MBAs get their through the same or recruitment visits. Scientists apply for jobs and grants for their work. Nearly every profession has an application process for promotion or entry into the next level. But none are set up so that you work your butt off for 4 years and then suddenly on one day find out if you got your spot. Unfortunately, medicine is not like other fields. If you don’t get your spot, it means you are out, or into another specialty. It’s not like you can go interview at another firm or something. There is only one firm, and that firm is the matching system.

Someone please help me come up with a better system than the match!


Dr. JC is a medical doctor who has a passion for health promotion and education.
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