As a cardiologist, a mom of three school-aged kids, a physician’s wife, and associate dean of student affairs, I am acutely aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our communities. In this time of constant change and concern, it is important to find joy in whatever we can. This week is Match Week. Instead of our senior medical students celebrating their accomplishments together, they are social distancing and foregoing some of the most time-honored traditions, such as the Match. This letter to our soon-to-be-matched students is intended to bring some levity and joy to our current situation, but by no means is it intended to minimize what our world is going through. Sending kindness, compassion, and love always.
Here is my message to medical students in the Match:
Match Day completely altered due to a pandemic? I’m sure this was totally on your radar. However, if it wasn’t, here are some ideas to help celebrate the “alternative” Match Day, which will still go on despite social distancing.
1. Take a page from baby gender reveal parties. Designate a person you trust to look at your results. (Don’t share your password; you all know that’s grounds for security and IT infraction!). Have them print out your results and put them in an envelope so you can get the full experience of opening it up.
2. Make it special. If you decide to go with option 1, celebrate the occasion by ordering a fancy envelope and paper on Amazon or some other delivery service (don’t go to a store; remember social distance). Better yet, decorate an envelope with your box of craft supplies – you have one, right? Bedazzle it, add stickers, make it your own.
3. Family time or family time. So maybe your family was going to be there on Match Day, but you were really looking forward to celebrating with your close friends later. Chalk this one up as a win for family time and spend it with your immediate family. Consider other ways to share the occasion with friends – invite everyone to a Zoom meeting or a group Facetime and open your results together! Another option, plan for a celebration with your family/friends later when social distancing is not the happening thing. Pick a spot that’s meaningful to all of you.
4. Print a map. Honoring a UT Southwestern tradition, print a map that includes all the areas where you interviewed and ranked. When you find out where you matched, place a pin on the map and take a picture of your soon-to-be home! An additional suggestion, but please use caution, ask whomever you are sharing this event with to guess where you will match and use different colored pins for different people. This could get competitive, so be aware strong feelings may come to the surface (i.e., a parent who really wanted you to stay closer to home).
5. If your options of cities are limited. Consider getting something indicative of each city you interviewed in/ranked and have these items available on Match Day (again, take precautions and order these items or use what you already have). Take pics with all the different symbols for each city before Match (have fun with these selfie poses!). But when match time comes, declare the winning city and take a celebratory pic with that item.
6. Videos. Do you or anyone close to you have video skills? Create a video capturing your thoughts and what you anticipate for Match beforehand. Have someone video you opening your email or envelope. Edit this for a memory you can save forever, as well as share it with those you can’t be with on this day.
7. Mentors and sponsors. Consider making a list of people who have had the greatest impact on your life (ex. high school teacher that believed in you?). Reach out to them before Match Day and ask if they could be available in the hour(s) after finding out where you’ve matched. Mark this momentous day by calling them and sharing your happy news, and simultaneously thanking them for the impact they’ve had on your life.
Whatever you do, remember that you have accomplished so much. Remember that first day of human structure anatomy lab? Remember your first patient on the wards? Think of how far you’ve come from the first day of medical school, from the first day of college, even from the first day of grade school. This is a time to celebrate all your hard work and effort. There is little doubt that many people around you are proud of your accomplishments. So proud, in fact, that no pandemic or social distancing could suppress their pride. You, too, should be proud of yourself and all you have done.
Congratulations! Welcome to the next stage of medicine.
Melanie Sulistio is a cardiologist.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com