Sunday, March 23, 2014

Matching? What does that mean?

We know that Hans matched...but where? 11:58AM: waiting to open the envelope...
Yeah Jacksonville!
We were elated yesterday at noon EST to learn that Hans had matched with the EM department at Jacksonville. We hugged, we kissed, we took pictures, we sent texts. A couple hours later we posted those pictures and the news of the match on Facebook. Most people knew what we were talking about. Or they at least knew that we found out we'll be moving to Jacksonville. But what exactly does "matching" mean? And why is it such a big deal?

To explain, I'll back up a bit and share Hans's path to becoming a MD.

Back in 2008 we were blissfully sailing through the Caribbean, enjoying sunsets, unparalleled freedom, nature, and a relaxed lifestyle. But at the same time, believe it or not, we were getting bored with our pre-retirement lifestyle. We knew we had bigger fish to fry, we just weren't exactly sure if they would be tuna or mahi mahi. We needed a new plan, our next plan.

Different options were tossed around from staying in the Caribbean, to moving to Sweden, to moving back to the States. The economy had just tanked so, on a sail from Barbuda to St. Barth's, we decided to go back to school: law school for me, medical school for Hans. After a few months working at a law firm in Philly and witnessing new attorneys working for free or for less than I was making as an admin assistant, I decided against law school. I'm still glad I made that decision.

Approaching Ile Fourche, just north of St. Barth's at the end of the infamous sail
when we talked and talked and decided our future.

Medical school has been a long road for Hans. As an older student with a non-scientific background (he has degrees in economics and history), he is the definition of a "non-traditional student." How do you become a doctor when you're not fresh out of a pre-med program?

  1. Post-baccalaureate program (they vary in length, Hans enrolled at Temple which was 1 year and guaranteed admission to their medical school with a certain GPA and MCAT score).
  2. Medical school. Four years. 
    1. The first two years are mainly lecture-based with a few patient simulations and mock patients. Hans spent a lot of time in the library. Think 12 hours  a day.
    2. The second two years are out in the field. 3rd and 4th year med students rotate through different specialties like pediatrics, OB/GYN, surgery, neurology, etc. They vary in length and intensity. Some rotations required 60+ hour work weeks, including overnights; others were more like 30.
    3. In the early fall of the 4th year of med school it's time to apply for residency, a/k/a the Match. All 4th year students have to choose a specialty and then apply to a lot of programs. Hans applied to 29 (I think..). Then you wait and wait for the interview requests to come in. Then you decide where to interview. Then you go interview. In February, all 4th years submit their rank list--they rank the programs they interviewed at and hope for their top choice. At the same time the programs submit their list of candidates in a similar fashion. A computer (or is it a person pulling numbers out of a hat?) spits out the "matches". On the same day, across the country, at noon, every 4th year medical student opens an envelope telling them where they matched. Phew.
  3. Residency. The length depends on the speciality. Hans matched into Emergency Medicine so he'll work as a resident for three, grueling, years.
One year of post-bacc., 4 years of medical school, 3 years of residency = one medical doctor.

Not only was it extremely important that Hans matched into a program (which means he got a job...), but it was important to us where we move to. We want to move south--to the beach and to warmer weather. We want to move somewhere we think we could stay for longer than 3 years. We spent a month in the Jacksonville area this summer and we really like it there. So, who knows what the future brings, but we're excited for the next three years!
Hans matched! Jacksonville, Florida ... here we come!


  1. Congrats! At least you've got the summer coming so you'll really get to enjoy the weather. You'll get plenty of nippy temps in the winter, but probably nowhere near the snow dump you experienced over the past 4 years. Good luck with the move.

  2. I am so happy for you and Hans and Freja and Matilda. We will miss you terribly but happy to know that all your wants are coming true! :-D

  3. Thank you! Leaving Philly is definitely bittersweet, but I won't be complaining in December!