For those confused about what “matching” means: During the last year of medical school – all students choose a specialty (running the gamut of family medicine to surgery) to receive further training, in a period called “residency.” This residency can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years depending on the specialty. The match is important because the student has to apply to multiple residency programs in hopes to receive further training. They interview and rank programs, and the programs rank the applicants. This all goes into a computer that spits out a perfect “match.” The contract is binding. However, in the event in which you do not match (more applicants than spots available) you cannot practice as a physician. You must “scramble” into a program that had open spots, change specialties, or try re-applying the next cycle.
After residency, the doctor can choose to further specialize and receive even more training by pursuing a “fellowship.” (Such as an internist specializing in cardiology.) This can also range anywhere from 1-3 years. During these years, the resident and fellow will receive a base trainee salary, usually in the low to high 50k range.
First and foremost – THANK YOU all for your love and support and encouragement and messages and “likes” and calls, I couldn’t have done any of this on my own. The biggest of all gratitude, of course, goes to God who continues to make these things possible! Here is the low down. :)
The where: I’ll be doing my ophthalmology training at the Georgia Regent’s University (previously known as Georgia Health Sciences University, and prior to that Medical College of Georgia.) It is located in Augusta, Georgia, 2 hours away from family! It’ll be a welcome change.
The when: This is where things get confusing. I start in July 2015 (until 2017.) The first year of training, or “intern year” (aka this year) is done separately. I will be matching for intern year in March, aiming to stay Pennsylvania for one more year. Let’s make it count with as many memories as we can get ok? Ahhh, I’m definitely going to miss it here…
The what: The biggest confusion arises between ophthalmology and optometry. While there is some cross-over, the average patient often doesn’t know the difference. Ophthalmologists go through 4 years of residency training in addition to 4 years of medical school whereas optometrists go through 4 years of optometry school. Thus, ophthalmologists tend to handle the medical and surgical management of various ocular diseases, while optometrists work more with refractions and visual acuity.
The why: because it’s the best field of medicine, duh! All kidding aside, ophthalmology was a field that just sorta “fit.” It fit my goals in what I was looking for: it’s the perfect combination of medicine and surgery, is outpatient, maintains a great physician-patient relationship, has a good lifestyle, and has awesome “toys” (aka lasers and lenses) to play with. Plus we get to deal with the eyeball! Fun stuff. :)
So, thank ya’ll again for accompanying me on this start of the journey of becoming an ophthalmologist!! Next step – graduation. :)
For your amusement, how I handled the 24 hours before finding out my early match results is included below. (Hint: Not well, haha.)
24 hrs before (7 am): Begin the distractions with a transitional year program interview.
19 hours before (12 pm): Poor life decisions begin. Approaching danger zone by choosing to eat a seemingly innocent caramel topped double chocolate chip cookie for dessert after lunch.
17 hrs before (2 pm): Stress eating ensues. And quickly snowballs. Tour of hospital ends with a stop at a chocolate cafe. Tempting. No quickly turns into yes. Proceed to order the “Ridiculousness,” a chocolate cake topped with chocolate mousse and peanut butter whip cream. Demolish it. Decide to be helpful for fellow applicants. Finish their “Death by Chocolate” dessert, a chocolate mousse/pot de creme covered in ganache. Thirsty. Top it off with an “Italian” hot chocolate, consisting of pure nutella. Damage done? 2-3(?)000+ calories.
15 hours before (4pm): Realize that previous 3 day juice fast post holiday break does not bode well for a stomach overloaded with chocolate. Spend next thirty minutes shuttling back and forth to bathroom. Seeing/smelling/thinking of chocolate brings sensations of wanting to hurl. Attempt to throw away all remaining chocolates in house, but instead, hide it for future. Death by chocolate indeed.
13 hours before (6 pm): Stress levels mount. Attempt to elicit sympathy from friends with varying levels of success. Decide its best to sweat it out at the gym. 6.5 miles, 50 push ups, 30 inverted sit-ups, 20 chin lifts/dips, and 2 hours later, feel somewhat relieved. (Briefly consider getting stressed more often for better workouts.)
8 hours before (11 pm): Finish homework, always best when saved for last. Prayers. Time for bed…let’s see what tomorrow brings!!!
1 to 6 hours before (1 am – 6am): Is it 7 yet?? Darn it. Sleepless in Philadelphia, and drag self out of bed.
TIME (7 am): Parents call me whilst I am *in* the bathroom asking for news. I am so tired I lost track of time! Refresh my email and there it is from SF Match. Heartrate mounting, I click… and… matched. Exhilaration!!!! Forget sleep. THIS GIRL IS GONNA BE AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST!!!!!!!!!!!
7:01 – 11 am: WAIT WHERE AM I GONNA GO? Spend next few hours obsessing/ trying to dissect/remember my rank list.