Oh, Match Day. You incredible bastard, whose undue stress leads to months of cramped stomachs, cold sweats, unspoken feelings, rapid heartbeats, fake smiles, and often unnecessary arguments. As an applicant, Match Day is stressful enough—either you match or you scramble. Did you say the right things? Is your CV strong enough? Did you really like the program, or was it just the location that appealed to you? Most importantly, how will your partner (and kids) react to the new move? It’s taken you guys four years to adjust to your medical school locale, and now you’re about to uproot yourselves again for the sake of your career. Was this the right choice? Maybe mom was right. Maybe you should have been a lawyer instead.
And what about the significant other? You feel obligated to fully support your aspiring doctor’s dreams and goals, but deep inside, you have feelings and goals of your own too. Maybe you have put your own career on hold to accommodate his medical schooling, finances, or family planning. After finally adjusting to medical school, disgustingly vivid dinner conversations with his classmates, living in near poverty and still finding happiness—now it’s all about to change. Again. Some of his potential Match locations seemed amazing and exciting, but what if you don’t match there? What if you match at his last choice? Oh my God…What if he doesn’t match at all? What if we have to scramble? We could end up anywhere. The programs have emailed back positively, but that could mean anything, right? What if we don’t end up where he thinks we will end up? He’ll be devastated. And who needs to be the strong one here? The one who has the least control in the situation—the spouse.
Diary of Doctor’s Wife – #315
Surviving Match Day
- I would tell you that Rule #5 is to stop worrying about Match Day, because you can’t control it anyway, but that’s complete bullshit. If a tornado is approaching your house, I can’t tell you to just laugh it off. It’s impossible. So here’s Rule #5: allow yourself to stress and consider all of the possibilities. That’s right. You are not alone. I guarantee that every spouse out there is having the same thoughts, feeling the same stress, and are having similar internal monologues as you are. Embrace this and be honest with yourself. The more you deny your feelings and concerns, the worse you will feel, and the more MD will eat you alive. Accept it.
- Now that you have accepted the inevitable, it’s time to plan. If you’re a micromanager like I am, you feel the need to plan for all possibilities, regardless of the positive or negative emails your spouse has received from programs. Use the weeks leading up to Match to research things about each and every location that he interviewed with. Look up areas to live in, look up outdoor recreation options, the arts available in the area, and most importantly: the food scene. Think about what excites you about the area that you live in now. Maybe you didn’t like it in the beginning, but I’m betting that by year 4 you have grown accustomed to the place—you may even really like it. What do you enjoy doing there and what makes you happy? Seek that out in all of the locations that he has interviewed at. If it’s not a metropolitan area, you may have to search a bit harder. Check out Groupon offers in the city, Yelp recommendations, and FaceBook pages. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
- Call your mom/dad/sister/brother/best friend. Call the person, or persons, that are your rocks. Preface the conversation that this will be a severe venting session, because if you don’t share the crazy whirlwind spinning in your head, you will literally detonate. And neither you, nor they, can afford bond money right now. All of the qualms, concerns, fears, excitement, sadness, and anger that you have been feeling leading up to Match—unleash it. All of those silent arguments that you have exchanged with your spouse in your head, act them out over the phone (or in person for a better laugh). Got tears? Let them flow. Got nervous laughter, release your inner hyena. This person won’t judge your crazy, and though they may not fully understand where you’re coming from—they’ll still listen, and right now that’s the best distraction you can ask for. When you hang up, treat yourself to wine and chocolate. Because that combo cures everything.
- Take your doctor out to dinner. He is just as stressed as you are. I don’t dare to say *more stressed out than you are, because everyone’s pain is relative, but he’s probably worried sick and playing calm—just like you. So treat each other to a date—whatever time of day works for your schedules, and make sure that you get out of the house. Do something fun, find opportunities to laugh, and make an agreement to NOT talk about Match for the entire date. It’ll come up. It will STRIVE to enter your conversations—but you both owe it to each other to not discuss the cursed day. Enjoy each other. Remember why you love and support each other. Remember what it is to genuinely laugh. Hold hands. Kiss. Skip. Share a gelato. Take silly selfies. Be young and carefree again.
- Just breathe. Match Day is coming whether you want it to or not. And even if you don’t get your number one choice, just know that you and your spouse will end up right where you need to be. This may not make sense right now…but once your doctor gets into his program, starts collaborating with colleagues, and you have an opportunity to explore your new surroundings and connect with other SigOs, you’ll feel at home. Everything will fall into place, and you *may even find yourself saying that Match was the best thing to have happened to you guys. I know, right? Give it some time, and just trust me on this.
Congratulations, and welcome to the final stage of your medical school initiation as a spouse. We have all been there, and have survived. You will too. You’re ready, and you’re going to make this Match Day look GOOD!