Monday, March 23, 2015

Match Day

After the excitement of this weekend, I'm happy to announce that I matched at my #1 choice for residency, California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) for internal medicine in San Francisco! 

Friday was a wonderful blur of nerves, excitement, and a veritable roller coaster of emotions as my classmates and I found out where we matched for our residencies all over the country. 

The first day of spring started off auspiciously as a last minute snowstorm threatened to derail Match Day entirely. Even though the envelopes didn't start going out until noon, the morning of Match started off bright and early as I had to get ready and finish moving the last of my stuff (our lease ends at the end of the month) before the ceremony. My family arrived amidst the snow and sleet, we hauled the mattress to their car, and then spent the last few minutes getting ready before we walked over to the Hippodrome theater just in time.  
A snowy and cold first day of spring
 We made it!
 Nervous classmates before the ceremony in the Hippodrome

Dad was my personal paparazzo
All 160 members of our class

The whole concept of Match Day is a tried and true (some would say antiquated) tradition in the medical field. The grand finale of a year's worth of applications, interviewing, and forming a "rank list" all culminates in finding out where you matched at noon on March 20, 2015 -- Match Day for all fourth year med students across the country. 

Our school's Match Day is unique. Instead of everyone opening their envelopes at once at noon, we have somewhat of a show. At noon, a random envelope gets picked from a box and your Match day song is played as you make your way to the stage. The process has been compared to everything from the Reaping to the Sorting Hat. Then, you shake hands with all the Deans of the school and decide whether to open your envelope on stage! You can imagine how nerve wracking it is to reveal your future to an audience of 1000 friends and family members, but I'd say about 90% of our class did it and read their results on stage. Then the whole process repeats until all 160 members of our class are called. We all drop $5 into a Maryland piggy bank on stage, and the last person who is called gets to take the money from the piggy bank (since they had to wait so long) to cover our bar tab that night. 

Around 1 pm, after half of my classmates had already been called and I witnessed their joy and for some, disappoint, my name was called. Everything instantly became a blur.  Apparently everyone laughed and cheered when my song (I chose "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" for the line "Don't leave me hangin' on like a yo-yo") played, but it didn't even register. 

I hugged our medical school dean and took my envelope from her.
As I stood at the mic, I looked out into the lights at the the audience and my family. My heart was palpitating and my hands were trembling as I opened the letter...and I GOT IT!! My #1 choice!
 Ecstatic! Apparently I said the name so fast people were like, What? Where is that?
 Right after the ceremony. The Jiang sisters are moving to SF!

Warning: a boatload of post-ceremony pics ahead as I wanted to get a pic with all of my classmates and my dad played the happy photog.
West coast bound (SF and Denver)!
 We matched at our #1's!

We're all moving to SF! 

Celebratory dinner at Bottega, where we've been waiting to get reservations for a year! 
Duck pappardelle

 Future San Franciscans--we're doing this all the time next year, right?
 Beef cheeks with hominy and and grainy mustard
The real star of the show -- chocolate caramel pie and raspberry goat cheese cheesecake
 The chalk board menu
 Late night (in this case 9 pm) celebration with the whole class
 Maryland, Duke, CPMC, Cooper
 CPMC, Northwestern, Maryland, O'Connor, Colorado, Maryland
 Cali girls
 EVMS, UCSF, CPMC, Tennessee 

I couldn't have asked for a better Match Day (minus the snow) and better friends and family to celebrate with. This day will definitely go down in the books.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Match Week and Early Birthday Celebrations

It's Match Week!

Atomic bomb (ice cream) cake at Marrakech DC

Sorry for the long absence here on the blog. I was on my most stressful and intense rotation in med school in February in the Medical ICU. I had been meaning to blog about my experiences, but my draft post ended up being too long and rambly for non-medical folks. This month though, I've had no excuse. I've been on an easy outpatient Medical Oncology elective where I basically shadow docs in the clinics and I'm loving it so far. I'm really drawn to oncology (a three year fellowship after internal mediine residency) so maybe this is the start of my future career as an oncologist! When I say easy, I mean really easy and I basically just shadow for half the day in clinic. A perfect schedule for a second semester senior who just found out she matched today!

For fourth year medical students, this week is the culmination of four years of hard work, of endless lectures, labs, small groups in the first two basic science years where we delve into the pathophysiology of disease and then two years of on the job training/clinical experience in the hospital. The past year, I've applied to away rotations in hopes of strengthening my application, gone on my away rotation in LA, applied to over thirty training programs all over the country, gone on 15 interviews all of the country, and submitted a rank list of where I would like to do. Not to mention take two US medical licensing exams that qualify me to pass medical school.  It is in the past two years that we practice what it is to be a doctor. However, in a few short months, we will stop practicing and actually become doctors (interns, but still). We'll be the ones making decisions (M.D. = make decisions) about patient care and we'll be the ones responsible for their wellbeing. Where we do our residency will set the stage for the rest of our careers, not to mention be the location where we spend the next 3 -7 years of our lives. And this week, we find out if and where we matched.

Today, almost all of my friends and I received and email at noon notifying us if we have successfully matched. It's especially a big deal for people who have applied for competitive specialties like dermatology or orthopedic surgery as they have a high rate of not matching (up to 40% of Derm applicants don't match), however it's virtually unheard of for internal medicine folks to not match, so I wasn't worried. On Friday, March 20, 2015, we find out where in a grand ceremony where all of our friends and family are invited, we have speeches/performances, and then they call us down to the stage one by one to receive the envelope that contains where we matched. For some of my classmates, their top few choices are spread out all over the country, so they do not know if they will end up in Boston or San Diego, and can't begin to plan the next stage of their lives until then! I feel the same--it is as if my life were paused in still motion until I find out if I match at my first choice program in San Francisco! I can't look for an apartment, book flights, arrange for my car to be shipped, until Friday, which is when my life will start up again!

In addition to this already exciting week, I also celebrated my birthday early this past weekend since I'll be in Asia for my actual birthday on March 31. Friends new and old joined me for an all-out birthday bash in DC. It's a shame it only took us 4 years and the end of med school to make it down to DC together. 

We started out the night at Marrekech DC, a Morrocan restaurant in Dupont. A man dressed in an armored costume escorts you inside, which made me feel like I was walking into a tourist trap, but you are transported to another world once you walk inside. I had no idea such a restaurant existed in DC! A small bar and front room gives way to a huge banquet hall in the back adorned in Morroccan tiles with plenty of couches and pillows around the room to lay, I mean dine, on. Add in the candlelight and incense and I felt like I could have easily been dining in Morocco or the Middle East. 

My one requirement for my birthday dinner was that it be different than anything I've had before, and Marrakech definitely delivered. We had course after course of tasty Morrocan food including bread with olive oil tapenade (the highlight of the meal for some), veggie lentil soup, cold salad trio with carrots, eggplant, and spinach, chicken almond pastry, and then chicken and lamb cous cous. We finished with a surprise ice cream cake and champagne and sparklers! 

 Med school girls in DC 
STUFFED after 8 courses

After dinner, we made out way to Chinatown where we attempted to do shots and ended up just playing Pac-Man and Skee Ball at Iron Horse. Oh how far we've come from college and first year when every post-exam ended at 2 am stumbling home (or was that just me?)! 
Blazers 4lyfe @ Iron Horse

The next morning, after my friends graciously booked a suite for us at the Park Hyatt, we made our way down to Blue Duck Tavern located in the hotel. The whole hotel is decorated in serene, zen-like Japanese decor and the restaurant blended in perfectly with falling water and simple wood and chrome finishes. The brunch at Blue Duck Tavern was one of the best brunch experiences (if not THE best) I've ever had because of the ambience and the impeccable service. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to that luxury life when I'm rolling in my attending salary, in oh about six years or so. 
 Clockwise from top: Omelette, thick-cut fries, biscuit and short rib hash, open-faced breakfast sandwich, pumpkin pancakes, Muesli, brussell sprouts

Baltimore besties!
 Banging brunch

Even though the day was cloudy and raining, we took advantage of the near springtime temps to frolic in DC at some of the monuments for some friends' photoshoot. I visited the Library of Congress for the first time and then we explored Eastern Market and Capitol Hill Books. Coincidentally, we ended up getting pupusas and Salvodorean food at the same cafe (Tortilla Cafe) I went to in college! Looks like my tastes don't change much. 

For the final event, the always reliable J made me a Matcha cake! Vanilla cake with matcha frosting. It could have been an Asian wedding cake, it tasted to light and delicate. I'd say he could safely have a job as an all star chef and baker if he wasn't already a CPA. Since none of us were quite ready for dinner yet, we started off with cake ("it's a different stomach") and then walked to a local pizza place (Rustik Tavern) for a quiet dinner with some of my closest friends. 

Even though my birthday's not for a few more weeks, I'm so thankful my local friends could get together and celebrate with me--not only my birthday, but the end of med school and the end of an era in Baltimore.

I'm looking forward to many more celebrations ahead--my real birthday in Asia and MATCH DAY in 4 days!