The DO match seemed so long ago. But it wasn’t that long ago. It was on February 7th. We waited for good news and got none so Stephen scrambled/called around and was offered a few Family Medicine positions which we didn’t accept. Ultimately, he thought his chances of getting into an anesthesia program would be better if he waited for the MD match in March. So we dropped our worries for the present time and waited.
The MD match was March 17th. You either match or you don’t. We knew Stephen wouldn’t match since he didn’t apply or rank any of the programs, but he wanted to participate in the post-match scramble aka SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) to get a position. Not exactly an easy process since everything is done through an application process and NO phone calls are allowed to any of the programs. It’s just a week of waiting and desperation.
Match status’ are posted at 11am CST. If you don’t match, at 12pm, you get to apply for 35 positions which are currently open (a list is provided). Between then and the first offer period on Wednesday, you are sitting at the edge of your seat hoping and praying that a program is interested in you and calls you to interview you. Nothing. We read threads on other students in the same position and you can read the disappointment, anger and desperation in everyone’s words. The first offers come on Wednesday at 11am. Nothing. At 1:30pm, the list of open positions is updated and applicants are able to apply to 10 additional programs. The second round of offers come 2pm. Nothing. The sinking feeling that he may not get something sets in, but of course, there is also clinging hope that great things might happen the last day of the SOAP. Three rounds of offers happy Thursday: at 8am, 11am, and 2pm. NOTHING, NOTHING, and NOTHING. as soon as we know at 2 that no offers were extended, Stephen makes a list of programs that he wants to contact. We are not allowed to make any calls until the SOAP process is over at 4pm. I finish my work shift at 3:30pm and prepare to help Stephen make phone calls.
Once the phone calls begin, many programs are only allowing messages. I got through to one program in Florida and Stephen was able to do a phone interview. That was the first and only contact we had all week. Imagine us getting excited. EXCITED – about one phone interview and I can’t stop talking about Ken – who I passed the phone to Stephen to talk to for this interview. Friday morning, Stephen wakes up and continues to make unsuccessful phone calls and hopes that Ken will call. Match results are posted and Stephen gets to read about what most of his classmates have matched to. Meanwhile, we’re still hoping that a program out there is interested in him and that he’ll hear good news instead of “We’re sorry, all our positions are filled.” On Friday evening, Stephen gets an offer from Bluefield, West Virginia. At first, we are super excited. Then we map the program. It’s in the middle of nowhere and not close to any big cities. I look at homes on Zillow and there is nothing. I cry. I open birthday gifts from Stephen and the boys…and I cry. Stephen cries.
Then the weekend is here. I’ve turned 31 on this exhausting day and I don’t feel like celebrating. All I wanted for my birthday is for Stephen to find a program.
It is clear to us that anesthesia will have to be placed on hold until the following year. All plans we had made up to this point are being re-thought. I’ll keep working. We need the financial stability in case we’ll have to move again the next year. At this point, the only open positions were for Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, or Traditional Rotating Internships (this is the only route to take if he still wants to do anesthesia). The offer from Bluefield, West Virginia is extended through Monday. So we enter a new week hoping something better. We are still hoping for Ken to call us but it doesn’t seem the call will come. More disappointing news that the positions are filling up quick. Stephen has looked at many different sites saying positions are open which are not and somehow came across a site which wasn’t on a list at all. So he calls this place in Chillicothe, Ohio and gets a phone interview right away. He submits his application and while waiting, he gets another interview from a place on Long Island, New York – which is no place to raise a family. But as of that moment – it was better than Bluefield, West Virginia. He gets off that call only to find that he’s missed a call from the program in Chillicothe. He steps out of my office to call the program director back while I try to keep Liam distracted. Liam had been following Stephen from room to room all morning cackling and making as much noise as possible. So when Stephen returns, ALAS – GOOD NEWS! A position was offered and accepted! We’re moving to Chillicothe, Ohio! I jumped up, hugged him, held on, and I cried tears of joy. The torture finally ended and we are relieved beyond measure. We can start planning for the future. Though it’s not entrance into a 4 year program, this is the best thing we could hope for through this process. He’ll try again next year for entrance into an advanced anesthesia program as a 2nd year to complete 4 years without delay. We’re hoping that we won’t have to endure this process again next year…as we know now what a horrible experience it is.
We found out from another student that going into the MD match, only 10% of DO students will match into an MD program. Stephen had little to no chance of getting an offer. But there was no advice from his school, no support, no warning of what this process would be like. That’s education in America I guess – you suck the students’ pockets dry and let them figure stuff out for themselves. No thanks to them, we’re looking forward to moving on into the next chapter of our lives. I’m so grateful this process is over…for now.
Today, I found out that my job has laid off some pharmacists. So the next obstacle is going to be me finding out if relocation is a possibility. The plans we make keep getting modified with each day.
In 3 month’s time, we have to get our house ready to put on the market, Noah needs to finish 1st grade, Stephen graduates, we have to move and find a new place to live. I’m counting my blessings in the mist of all the trials we’ve had and will continue to have to endure. I’m grateful to have my family – my husband and 3 little boys who brighten my every day and give me hope for a better future. For now, I have a map of the Columbus, Ohio area permanently open on my computer and wonder where we’ll end up in the upcoming months.