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ACP Council of Student Members talk about Match Day

There are several milestones in a medical career, and for many, Match Day is one of most exciting. Exhilarating and nerve-wracking, it is the culmination of hard work and anticipation. Old traditions endure—Match Day looks very much the same at every medical school across the country. Students are still given an envelope, which they must wait to open until all of their classmates have theirs in hand. After a great collective tear, rooms erupt in shouts of excitement, laughter and tears, as another generation of physicians is inducted into residency. In this article, ACP Council of Student Members Jonathan Stegall and Ryan VanWoerkom talk about their experiences.

Ryan VanWoerkom
University of Utah

How did you do? Great! I matched with Oregon Health Sciences. It was in my top three. I’m very excited to do my residency there… it’s a perfect match for my lifestyle as well as my future academic interests.

How did you decide to become a physician? The way I explain it is that I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else. My mom was also an influence on me. She was a delivery nurse, and I used to go visit her when she was on call. I got to meet all of the physicians she worked with, and I grew to look up to them, as she did.

How did you decide on internal medicine? What appealed to me was the problem solving that is involved in internal medicine. I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed the challenge of a medical problem and thinking it through and trying to find the diagnosis. I also enjoyed having more time to sit down with the patient and to hear their story…I felt like I had more time to empathize with the patient. I didn’t get that sense in some of the other rotations that I did. Finally, I did outpatient work for three weeks with a cardiologist that was one of the most fun times of my life—I had such a blast. I really enjoyed his interactions with the patients.

How was the Match Day process for you? I did about ten interviews and it was very stressful…I’m not the best organizer so trying to organize my schedule for both economics and convenience was a challenge.

What did you do the night before? Well I was really worried about not being able to sleep the night before. I’m training for a triathlon right now, so to burn off some nervous energy, I went and swam a mile and played three hours of racquetball. So I was exhausted after that and I thought ‘This is great! There’s no way I’ll be able to wake up early now!’ but sure enough I was still so anxious that 6am rolled around and I was wide awake. We weren’t opening our envelopes until 10—I had wanted to sleep in until 9:30!

So you get your envelope…
I was sitting with my classmates and their families. We know each other very well so we opened our envelopes in front of each other. Some of my classmates were screaming and crying…but I’m sort of shy though, so I just smiled really big and told everyone how excited I was. I guess my reaction was not very exciting but I’m kind of reserved…I didn’t want to make a scene.

How did you celebrate? We had a celebration dinner for our school at this beautiful restaurant that looks out onto the Salt Lake Valley. It was a formal event and the alumni association had prepared this nice dinner for us. Everyone dressed their best and we all had dinner together and sort of talked about our hopes and aspirations for the future. Afterwards I went to a Vampire Weekend concert which was really good!

Where do you see yourself in ten years? On the one side, I love the southern Utah area, and I could see myself practicing in that somewhat rural setting. I would love to practice cardiology there and I could really see myself being there for an underserved population. On the other side, I’ve really gotten into cardiovascular research. I think I would really enjoy being on faculty at a large medical center, doing research as well as seeing patients. So that’s what I’m thinking…eventually I’ll figure out what’s the best fit for me.

Jonathan Stegall
Medical University of South Carolina

It's the day/night before Match Day, the day when you find out where you will be spending the next three years. What are you doing? How are you feeling?
I am eagerly anticipating tomorrow's Match Day ceremony. I went to see a movie with a friend of mine this afternoon. My parents traveled to be here for the event, and tonight I am spending time with them. We had a relaxing dinner, and discussed what a fun and exciting time this is. I am calm and confident about the outcome.

What made you decide to become a physician?
I desired a career in which I could profoundly impact the lives of others. I was a business major in college, and although I enjoyed the business world, I wanted a career where I could interact with others on a deeper level. Being a physician is the ultimate opportunity to do that. I have never regretted my decision.

Why did you choose internal medicine? What about it appeals to you?
Internal medicine provides an incredible opportunity to build meaningful therapeutic relationships with adult patients over time. I love the idea of having the clinical knowledge to treat almost every patient who walks in the door. In addition, being the primary caregiver for patients and getting to work with them throughout the course of adulthood is an incredible privilege.

It's the morning of Match Day. Are you nervous? Do you have friends or family coming?
My school organized a brunch at a local restaurant for the two hours prior to the Match Day ceremony. Friends and family will be present, and you can feel the anticipation in the air. I am looking forward to the brunch, but am ready for noon to arrive so we can get started! The gravity of today's importance on my life has definitely set in…

What is the ceremony itself like?
My school has a ceremony where each student is called to the stage individually to open his or her envelope and announce the result in front of everyone in attendance. There is a theme every year, and this year was a casino theme. Our deans were on stage dressed as casino dealers, and the cards were arranged on a table on stage. The dean of my school chose the first card, and that student walked to the stage as his pre-selected song was played and his photo was displayed on the screen. He announced his result, and drew a card for the next student to be called. Amazingly, I was the next-to-last student called! The waiting was admittedly difficult!

You matched! How are you feeling?
I feel great! I matched in internal medicine at Greenwich Hospital/Yale University School of Medicine. This was my top choice. I am thrilled to be a part of such an outstanding program! I know that I will be an extremely well-trained physician upon graduation.

How do you celebrate?
I went to a nice dinner with my family, and then joined my friends and classmates at a party.

What kind of physician do you aspire to be? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I plan to practice general internal medicine in the outpatient setting. In 10 years I see myself having a successful private practice. I want to be the kind of caring, compassionate physician that my patients wholeheartedly trust.

Imagine the Possibilities: Careers in Internal Medicine

This career-counseling brochure [PDF] contains information about careers in internal medicine and is designed for medical and pre-medical students.

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