So with a lot of finagling and back-bending and base-covering, I managed to get off work today to be with my girlfriend for the Match.
The Match is kind of an arcane process by which senior medical students get paired up with the programs that they like and that like them. Here's how it works: med students apply to residencies. If the residencies like them, then the med student gets an interview. The med student goes to the interview and evaluates the residency, just as the residency evaluates the med student. After everyone's done with their interviews, all the med students make their rank lists, whereby they list out all the programs they'd consider going to in the order of their preference. And likewise with the residencies - they rank the med students they'd like to have as residents. Everyone sends in their rank lists to the NRMP, who plugs everything into some computer program that figures out how to match everything, so that the students get their highest ranked choice possible and the residencies get their highest ranked students possible.
This all gets done sometime in February. The NRMP then waits about a month before they tell the medical school deans where their students matched. Then the next day, the residencies get informed. And the day after that is Match Day.
The NRMP writes a letter for each student, saying simply whether they've matched, and if so, where they've matched. All of these letters get sent to the medical schools. On Match Day, all the students participating in the match gather in one big room, do some retrospective stuff, have a toast, and listen to a short speech or two - but really everyone is waiting for their letter. So at 1145 this morning, they started passing out letters, one by one. Everyone was two steps from freaking out the entire time - this is the next few years of your life and maybe your entire career that you're about to see for the first time! - and at 1200, everyone tears open their letters all at the same time.
I had the advantage of being one of the few third years in the room and the scene lived up to every expectation. There was this sound of the mass tearing of envelopes, then whoops, and yells, and everyone was talking at once. Some people started crying, some were jumping up and down, some were just quietly pleased, or dumbfounded... it was incredible.
My girlfriend - she was really nervous - slowly edged open her envelope, eased the letter out, and then leaped out her chair with this yelp of joy: she'd gotten her number one choice! We're gonna be going to North Carolina!