By Donna Baver Rovito
Match Day is approaching. MATCH DAY. The words can conjure joy or terror – or both! It’s an experience all medical families share and in most cases, it’s a day physicians and their families will remember always.
Our personal Match Day story has an interesting….twist. Peter and I were engaged during medical school, living about two hours apart, with our wedding scheduled for a week after graduation. We’d talked about his residency a lot and he’d ranked five general surgery programs, all in Pennsylvania. His first choice was a central Pennsylvania hospital not far from his home town of Shamokin, PA.
He’d liked another program better, but we wanted to be close to his widowed and not very healthy father who lived about 20 minutes from that hospital, so he ranked his favorite program, in Allentown, PA, second, purely for family reasons.
In anticipation of getting his first choice (and wasn’t that naïve?), several months earlier I’d taken a new job selling advertising at a radio station about 25 minutes from that hospital. I loved the job and the people I worked with and was looking forward to spending the next five years in beautiful central PA working for WHLM in Bloomsburg, a charming college town.
We’d talked the night before and expressed our hopes for his first choice. I also spoke with his younger sister, who told me that her mother had always told her that if you really, REALLY want something to happen, you should say seven Hail Mary’s before noon and make a wish. I thought it was charming, but had no real intention of doing it.
Now keep in mind that back when my soon-to-be husband matched, MS4’s didn’t get an email because email (for the public, anyway) hadn’t been invented yet. They all got together at the medical school around lunchtime to get their letters. He’d promised to find a phone and call me (no cell phones yet, either!) as soon as he opened his letter, so I intended to make sure I was at the radio station to get his call.
I’d made a few sales calls and was downtown heading toward the radio station around 11 AM, to make sure I was there in plenty of time for a noon phone call. While I was sitting at a red light, I remembered what Peter’s sister had said the night before, and thought “What the heck, I’ll give it a try.” So I said seven Hail Mary’s and wished for Peter to get his first choice, the hospital in central PA.
At that moment, on my car radio which was always tuned to the radio station I worked for, Billy Joel’s then-popular song “Allentown” started to play! I raced back to the station, parked quickly, and ran to the control room. The moment the “On Air” light went off I stuck my head in the control room and asked the DJ, “Bobby, why did you just play Billy Joel’s ‘Allentown?’” He laughed and said he’d just gotten an “urge” to play it.
I went to my desk, telling several co-workers who knew I was waiting to hear about Peter’s residency (they knew if he didn’t get his first choice I’d have to move) what had just happened. I spent the rest of the hour leading up to noon with a growing certainty that our carefully laid plans weren’t going to work out as we’d planned (not an UNCOMMON occurrence for physician families in training).
A few minutes past noon, the call came and I grabbed the phone. Peter said, “Well, the Match is in….” and I blurted out: “We’re going to Allentown, aren’t we?” He said yes and asked how I knew; I told him that either Billy Joel or the Virgin Mary, I wasn’t sure who, had told me an hour earlier.
Whatever it was that gave the DJ an “urge” to play “Allentown” at the exact moment I’d wished for Peter’s first choice, things worked out for the best for us. Sadly, we lost Peter’s dad only three months into residency. Peter really had preferred the program in Allentown, but we’d been willing to compromise just in case his dad happened to need us. So, for us, the Match sent us to the best place, and we liked the Lehigh Valley so much we’re still here 37 years later.
I was just lucky enough to get some inside information from SOMEONE a little while before it became public. I still chuckle about it when I hear Billy Joel sing his not-very-accurate song about Allentown, PA. (Note to Billy – they couldn’t have “taken all the coal from the ground” because there was never any coal here.)
Thousands of MS4’s and their families have either gotten or will be getting the news about their Match soon, and will embark on the next leg of their medical journey beginning this summer. It’s a time of immense excitement, change, growth – not to mention sheer terror!
It’s also a time when young physicians and their families need guidance and information as they prepare to pack up their homes, find a new place to live, make new friends, deal with financial opportunities and challenges, cope with an entirely different set of stresses and more.
Since its inception, Physician Family Media, both the magazine and blog, have featured numerous articles with valuable information for residents and fellows. In fact, we created a whole issue of Physician Family Magazine devoted to the training years of residency and fellowship:
Fall 2016 Physician Family Magazine
Journey of Medicine: Residency & Fellowship
This issue features nearly a dozen articles of interest to those entering or currently into the training years of residency and fellowship. Read the whole thing – you’ll be glad you did! The digital edition is a FREE GIFT from the AMA Alliance!
Other articles about surviving residency and fellowship appear regularly in issues of Physician Family Magazine. Here are some of the pieces about the training years which have appeared since our first issue in Summer 2014:
Top Five Financial Goals for Residents and Fellows By Kerri Zelenik Burton
A Top Ten List for Surviving Residency By Tiffany Sweeney
A Significant Other’s Guide to Surviving Residency – An excerpt from: Memoirs of a Surgeon’s Wife: I’m Throwing Your Damn Pager into the Ocean By Megan Sharma
Balancing Life, Medical School, Residency and a Relationship By Kevin Dwyer
Building Resilience During Medical Training By Justine Duppong
Help Your Physician Avoid Burnout During the Training Years By Justine Duppong
Addressing Your Own Wellness During Training By Nisha Mehta, MD
Should We Buy or Rent During Medical Training By Mikki Ramey
Marriage During the Training Years By Julia Sotile Orlando, Rebecca Sotile Fallon, Mary O. Sotile and Wayne M. Sotile
Talking Through the Training Rollercoaster By Sara Pralle Peterson
10 Financial Steps You Should Take During Residency By Theresa Vu
Additional resources appear in the Physician Family Blog – scroll through to find more informative pieces about the training years.
Additionally, the American Medical Association Alliance, a nationwide network of medical families and publisher of Physician Family Magazine, offers networking opportunities for new residents and their families. Membership for residents, fellows and their family members is only $15 per year (http://www.amaalliance.org/site/join/) and now includes mailed hard copies of Physician Family Magazine as a member benefit. Additional resources for medical families at all stages of life in medicine are posted on the AMA Alliance Facebook page.
Donna Baver Rovito is the editor of Physician Family Magazine and has been married to her surgeon husband Peter for 37 years. They have two sons, Peter and Tony, and live in Allentown, PA – where they’re not really “tearing all the factories down,” despite what Billy Joel’s song says.