UNMATCHED: Dr. Waul’s Story

I had two match day experiences. For anyone who knows what the Match is, you know that’s not a good thing. My first experience, I was at home waiting to log in to see my fate. I logged on to see: “We are sorry, you did not match to any position.” That sentence hit me like a brick. I literally could not move! I sat in my room for at least an hour wondering what happened. I thought the interviews went great. I began to question: Did I just waste half of my life and money with this whole medicine thing? Maybe it was not for me. Why did God allow this to happen? While all this was going on in my head my medical school friends and colleagues were calling and I couldn’t answer. It was too embarrassing to have to utter the words: “I did not match.”

My aunt, who was home with me, came in to see what was taking me so long to figure out this match thing. We talked and I cried. I got a good pep talk about what the next step would be, about actually taking that next step, and about the fact that this one line did not define my worth. Nothing anyone else said on that day made me feel any better.

So the next step was to enter the SOAP to try and get one of the unfilled positions. If you know anything about the SOAP the odds are 1:4 at best, and even worse for IMGs (International Medical Graduates). I applied and didn’t hear anything from programs that first round. Then during the second round I got a phone interview – this made me feel a bit better but I ultimately still failed to match. Which meant that I was staring down the barrel of the shotgun of uncertainty. 

I eventually applied to be a clinical teacher at my medical school and spent the year traveling all over the Caribbean. God knew I needed the break. I can literally say I spent the year on the beach for a much needed beach therapy. I can’t remember when I fully got out of my funk but looking back, that year off was one of the best years of my life.

The following year I applied again to the Match and this time around, I applied to every program you can think of, I was not partial at all to where I was going live for the next 3 years of my life. I remembered getting an interview in North Dakota (a place I did not apply to my first year) and on the return flight begging God, saying: “I do want to match but please make it not be here. But if it’s Your will then I will painfully accept.” Match Day came around and this time I was in my apartment in Dominica waiting for the one liner. I logged in to see: “Congratulations, you have matched!” I was so elated. It was literally one of the happiest moments of my life; my dream had finally come through! All the hard work had paid off. This time around I was the one picking up the phone to call around and celebrate. 

That 5 day waiting period between finding out that I matched to finding out where I was actually headed was nerve wracking. I was still praying about that ND program. The happiness was still there because ND or not, the fact that I matched meant that I would be a resident in a few months. I would have a permanent home for myself for 3 years and no longer living the nomadic life, moving every couple of months. 
Thankfully I placed to a Family Medicine program in Youngstown, OH. The program faculty actually called to welcome me to the program. The doubt, the questioning and the tears of the previous year had given way to a better, more exciting chapter of my life.