You might say that being matched for a residency in March was twice as significant for Austin Poth and Laura Yeater, a pair of fourth-year College of Medicine students who married on New Year’s Eve 2019 – smack dab in the middle of their interview season for residencies.
The Match, as it’s called by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), refers to the national process by which fourth-year medicine students are placed in residencies (or fellowships). The organization takes its process seriously; research on the algorithm for making these matches – which are announced around the country at noon EST the third Friday of March each year – won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, according to its website.
Of course, math is the last thing on the minds of the students as they find out the results. Poth and Yeater were elated to learn during a virtual celebration organized by NEOMED that they both matched at the University of Utah — he in internal medicine, she in family medicine.
The process leading up to The Match takes students many hours of researching hospitals and health care institutions to identify places they’d like to work – and many more hours of traveling and interviewing to those institutions. Poth and Yeater wrote recently about what the year was like for them.
One couple’s story
Poth begins, “We were married on New Year’s Eve 2019 in Akron. The wedding fell in the middle of our interview season for residency, which only added to our stress throughout our semester. In fact, we had to leave the day after our wedding to go to Chicago for another interview. While it was a busy time, it was also a very exciting time for us because we were always wondering which program we would end up at. From Portland, Maine all the way to Salt Lake City, Utah, we made each interview into a mini vacation to see how much we would like the city, which helped break up the monotony of interviewing.
“The process of the couples match is actually fairly simple and bears the same principles as the main match for other people. The one main difference is you are able to leverage an interview you obtained in order to get one for your significant other. For example, if I [Austin] obtained an interview in Columbus that Laura did not get, all it took was an email to the hospital asking if she could also have one. This did not work every time, but it is a low risk/high reward situation and allows each of you to get into programs you might not have necessarily been given an interview at. For the actual couples matching process, you make combinations of every program you want to be at and would be fine commuting to, even if they aren’t in the same city.
“The rest of the match works nearly the same as the main match, except to be accepted into a program means both you and your significant other were ranked by the program. For us, this happened to be at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, a mere 1,700 miles from Rootstown. Initially it was shocking that we were moving so far away, but it quickly wore off and we became so excited to go to a residency that we fell in love with during our interviews!”
Yeater added, “Since we started medical school in August 2016 our lives have been go-go-go. We would work hard all day in school and then study late into the evenings. We would take a day or half day a week off from studying in our preclinical years to get our life things done (laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, church, seeing our family, hanging out with friends). Everything was always so busy. Even as third-year students on rotations when we had a bit more free time we kept a pretty rigid schedule because we felt like we wanted to make the most of our time, so it was rare to find us lounging around with nothing scheduled to do.
“Fourth year of medical school is typically the most relaxed year and most students would say that they’ve had plenty of time to rest and recuperate, but since we were couples matching and therefore doing more interviews and were planning a December wedding it stayed busy, maybe even busier than third year was.”
Slowing down for COVID-19
For this couple, as for the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed everything down, said Yeater.
“We were both supposed to be on elective rotations this month. I was going to be doing outpatient dermatology in Akron and Austin was going to be doing radiology at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Currently our rotations are just on a one week delay (basically they are still set to begin next Monday March 30 and run for four weeks), but I anticipate that they will be cancelled and switched to some sort of a virtual model soon. We were in capstone when our classes went to an all-virtual medium last week. Basically, between the virtual learning and social distancing, we would wake up and participate in a Zoom meeting/class from 8 a.m. – noon each day and then go on walks and hang out in our house. We played a lot of board games, watched movies, and worked on perfecting our vegetable soup recipe. Now that we’ve found out that we’ve matched in Salt Lake City, Utah, we’ve been using this time to parse down our belongings and take loads to charity before the big move. Oh, and we’ve been doing a lot of virtual apartment and house hunting!
“This is the first time that I remember since the summer before medical school having a string of days with no plans. I always wanted to travel or see family and friends when we got breaks from medical school. In some ways it feels like we’ve been given a rare break as medical students to slow down and enjoy the little things. I know that we’re trying to appreciate the slow pace before we go into a busy residency and make a move across the country!”