If there is one thing I learned from going through the Canadian Resident Matching Service, or as we all know it as CaRMS, is that it will all inevitably work out in the end. It may not feel like it before, during or right after the match, but it will all work out.
From seeing friends match to their first choice to the unexpected. Witnessing friends match to the specialty of their choice but a less desirable location or friends matching to an unexpected specialty as well as a location far away from their partner, family and friends. To the most painful – watching my best friend go unmatched. It may be exactly what you pictured, or it may not. But whatever the result, you will get through it.
I can’t speak for others but in reflecting on my own journey, I had thought that once upon a time one specific specialty and location was precisely what I had wanted and what was best for me. But on match day, I opened up the CaRMS website and was stunned to see that I ended up in a program and location I didn’t expect. I felt disappointed – not because it wasn’t a great choice but simply because it wasn’t the choice. In hindsight, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes we do not have the wisdom to make the best decision for ourselves and should we be open to it, CaRMS can open up a space for personal and professional growth in ways that spans beyond the scope of our limited knowledge.
As medical students, we tend to be planners, optimizers, goal-oriented. This is helpful in enabling us to enter medical school and reach where we are, but where it falls short is adapting to unpredictable outcomes and flexibility. What we don’t talk enough about in medicine, is more common than not, in CaRMS we do not end up with our first choice or sometimes a choice at all.
As a result, on match day it is common to feel a range of emotions. Long conversations with friends who had the courage to share their experiences with vulnerability have taught me that mixed emotions is the norm. The complexity and nuance of the day cannot be captured in 140 characters or a single photo from the match party. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk about it with those you trust when you are ready, it has helped me connect and become closer to classmates from medical school after the match. Going through CaRMS is an awkward, intense, and unique experience. You and roughly 2900 others are going through the same thing. You are not alone.
Lastly, I want to say the match – the specialty of practice, where you end up, whether you get your first or last choice, whether you go unmatched – does not define who you are. You are not the words that appear on the CaRMS website on March 3, 2020. Medicine is a profession whereby it demands sacrifice, delayed gratification and after spending too many hours to count studying for the MCAT, reading Doing Right, prepping for OSCEs, memorizing all the cranial nerves, it can certainly start to feel like this is your identity.
But in fact, you are a friend, daughter, son, brother, sister, partner, parent (to a human, pet or plant). Whatever happens on match day, it’s an event that has happened to you; it’s a result of things in your control and many things not in your control, but it is not a reflection of you.
No matter what, you are valued and should be very proud of yourself. Good luck and congratulations for getting here. We are right there with you on the other side.