The gray of New England spring hung low as I traveled home from the airport. In short time, March would deliver the snow-rain I know the month for in the region where I grew up. I learned that the cold and gray, which can span 9 months out of the year here, was not for me when I left New England the first time. I stayed away for almost a decade until a desire deeper than my love of sun brought back to the state my parents chose for us so long ago, Vermont. I wanted to become a doctor. Medical school takes a forest of strong trees by your side – it takes a lot of willpower on your part coupled with family and friends to complete. Something made me pause when my medical school acceptances gave me the option to leave New England again. I didn’t leave then, choosing to stay close to my parents, my siblings, and my new Vermont friends. My compromise was a plan to move to southern New England, Connecticut, for the second half of medical school because my school had a clinical campus there and it suited me better than their Vermont campus.
I think the choice to stay close to family worked. As I write this, I’m waiting impatiently because in a few long days I learn where I’m headed for residency and, unless I’m gravely mistaken, I’ll leave New England once again. As a side adventure during the Doctorhood Quest, I scooped up a New England-grown husband. I often wonder if understanding the winters here is an important thing he and I have in common or if it’s just everything else that makes us a good match. I’ve also gotten to see my parents and sister more during medical school than in the almost decade leading up to it. I have good friends who saw me through the worst days as a medical student. I’ve come to call my Connecticut town home, even if the designation is fleeting.
This March’s late rain and snow squall isn’t unique to this region at this time of year – though it would seem other places where snow is unusual are getting slammed, weather patterns are becoming more and more confusing as climate change forges on. And while my roots are familiar with the snow and the cold, a few days ago I returned from 7 weeks in Puerto Rico so the coldness and gray is particularly unpleasant this week. It stands out to me how miserable March is here as I look out my window over my flowering orchids and assorted houseplants, many of which grow as weeds in Puerto Rico. It was at the ripe age of 18 that I learned how much I love the sun and living in sunny places even though I require sunblock, shade trees, hats, and other sun protection to enjoy the sun without turning into a lobster.
On Monday this week, I and many medical students across the country found out we matched into residency. And now, in a typical medical school approach of drawing things out longer than is reasonable and with no efficiency and minimal logic, we are all waiting until Friday until we learn the magic WHERE we matched. The day we learn where we will go for residency is called Match Day. Transitioning from medical school to residency is a boring process that makes little sense, so don’t ask about it. Just know that this week is moving at half the speed of any other week these past 4 years and that my excitement for Friday’s discovery is exploding. My excitement even makes the cold and gray outside acceptable though not welcome. Residency is the next and the last phase of the Doctorhood Quest before I am a doctor. I could, of course, continue onto fellowship after residency but that would be to further specialize. Residency will give me the skills needed to practice as an independent generalist in internal medicine (in my case, those pursuing other medical paths might finish residency as surgeons, psychiatrists, or neurologists to name a few areas of medicine that can start after residency).
I’m excited for what’s to come. I made a picture frame for taking pictures at my Match Day party with “Adventure Awaits!!!” written on it. Perhaps you get the Up reference. The picture frame is a party feature that’s a throwback to my Paraguay days. Paraguayans know how to throw a good party. At my Match Day party, there will be an ice cream cake, food, a banner, and streamers. And, of course, I’ll celebrate with my family. I’ve been working towards this day, the day I get into residency, for 10 years. It’s hard to believe I’m here, but it feels real. I can’t wait for it to be Friday, March 17 aka Match Day 2023.