Monday, March 24, 2014

Two childhood dreams come true

It's not everyday that I get to fulfill two childhood dreams. But March 21, 2014 was that day. I got my first choice program! My Match letter is on my refrigerator door. It's Sunday now and I still can't stop smiling when I think about it or open my refrigerator door.

I'm going to be a doctor and I'm going to be a New Yorker.

I have wanted to live in New York ever since I was a child. First it was because I loved the touristy places that I saw when I was little. But I got older I loved New York because of the diversity of people and experiences there. I have no illusions about my upcoming life in New York. I'm not going to be living in a nice apartment and probably not even in Manhattan. But I'm going to live and work in New York.

I have wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a child. Everyone who applied to medical school wrote that (and that they "want to help people"). But that doesn't make it less true for me. My grandfather was an ENT specialist and my grandmother was a Chinese medicine doctor. When I was about five or six years old I remember their former patients came to their apartment in China to thank them, or visit with them, or something. I don't really remember the details but I do remember that the patient were very grateful. I also remember accompanying them to the hospitals where they worked before retiring. We'd run into younger doctors who told me that my grandparents had trained them. My grandparents modeled for me the compassionate physician and educator that I want to be. They are always on my mind throughout medical school and particularly now as I am about to be a doctor. I know that they would be very proud of me and the path I have chosen.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Everest Base Camp: End of one trek and the start of another

I've started a travel blog called "Farthest Away from Home" about my upcoming trip to Nepal, including a trek to Everest Base Camp at 18,000 feet. This piece is x-posted there but I thought it relevant for medical school here on the eve of Match Day. I will be updating my travel blog now before I leave and along the way. 

The most important reason that I am going on this Everest Base Camp trek is because I believe I can do it. Finishing medical school has given me a kind of confidence in myself that I've never had before because I know that I have made it through a very challenging four years.

What have the past four years been like? Medical school was without a doubt the most demanding thing I have ever done. Maybe other people have been through more trying situations but relative to my experiences, medical school has the most challenging thing I have ever done. I had to learn more information that I ever had to before. I had to give up things that were important to me. I had much less free time to explore my hobbies and interest and to relax than I really wanted to. Many times I was really jealous of my peers who had money AND free time.

What have I learned now at the end of four years? I feel empowered. I feel like I can endure hardships for a greater reward because that's what I did every evening I spent in a basement study carrel. The trek to EBC will be physically demanding, I'm sure. But I know I can get to 18,000 feet because I feel like medical school was a mental challenge at least equivalent to that height.

I am less than 12 hours away from finding out the results of my residency match, where I will training for the next three years. It feels like the end of a long trek. As this trek finishes, it has prepared me to begin another.

Next time I will share with you some of the physical preparation for the trek...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday of Match Week

This is Match Week, which culminates on Friday, when I find out which residency program I will be in for the next three years.

Today at noon EST I found out that I matched into a residency program!

Last night I woke up three or four times because I was worried about the match. I didn't think it was likely that I didn't match. Rather I had some vague anxiety about if there was some computer glitch and my rank list got lost. Luckily that didn't happen!

But the Match system doesn't reveal which residency program I have match into.

That will happen on Friday at noon EST.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The end of the trail

I'm done with residency interviews and second looks! I finished last Friday.

Here's a summary of my travels:
44 days on the road from the end of October until mid January in
10 states for
14 interviews and
2 second looks

My first interview was New York City in the fall. 
My last interview was San Francisco, beautiful, sunny, and 70 degrees.
In between, I was in a grey Portland...

...and a frigid Chicago
... rainy New England

13,430 miles flown, including my first time traveling on Alaska Airlines, though not to Alaska (Unfortunately they were not all on the same airline so I haven't accumulated any free flights.)
633 miles by train (1 train cancelled due to snowstorm.)
511 miles by car and bus (1 megabus cancelled due to snowstorm.)

1 celebrity hand shake (Mayor Rahm Emanuel)
1 Broadway play seen starring
Sirs Ian and Patrick in "No Man's Land"
2 knights (Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart)
10 day vacation between interviews to Turkey!

Cappadocia, Turkey
Hagia Sophia at sunset

The best part:
Many, many nights with my wonderful friends and couchsurfing hosts.

I am so grateful for my friends who hosted me while I was traveling. Not only did they give me a place to stay but they showed me around their town. This goes for long-time friends and the couchsurfing hosts I had never met in person before. Their hospitality and openness makes me hopeful that wherever I end up for residency, I will have a network of friends to support me. Thank you all so much.

It's the end of the interview trail but only the beginning of residency decision time!