It’s the night before Match Day and Nora Sadek is feeling humbled by the requisite patience of being a match participant.
“On Monday you know that you’ve matched but you still don’t know where until Friday. To be okay with that uncertainty is a really big deal,” she admits. “Up to now, there’s been a lot more control.”
Sadek understands that her residency match will greatly influence the type of physician she becomes. The training environment and community she serves will all have an impact on her work in some way. Luckily, she feels ready for whatever comes next.
“It’s kind of like walking on a path with a flashlight – you take a step forward and you can see a little bit – but you don’t really know what’s in front of you until you walk towards it,” she says.
Sadek has applied to 20 different residency programs including some in Minnesota and North Carolina. Her family in South Carolina is hoping she matches a bit closer to home and, to offer support, her father has made a surprise visit to spend Match Day with her.
A first-generation physician, Sadek is no stranger to trailblazing – she also claims the honor of being the first Muslim student to attend the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth. She wonders if her past experience being an “only” in many situations – the only woman, the only Muslim, the only Native American – makes the unknown any less worrisome to her than it is for others.
Match Day arrives on March 15, 2013. A light snow falls in the Twin Cities, creating slippery conditions that keep some rural students away from the ceremony. 222 of the Medical School’s 225 graduates have opted into the match and, surrounded by their families and friends, they bide time with brunch until the moment they learn where their thoughtful preparation has driven them.
“I’m nervous,” is overheard from one of the students. It’s a shared feeling.
Preceding the envelope ceremony, Ted Thompson, M.D., lead academic advisor and current faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics, is called to speak. He shows the crowd his Match Day letter from 1969 that placed him with the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic for pediatrics, a testament to the day’s significance.
At precisely 11 a.m. names are called from the podium at random by Amin Alishahi, a student co-organizer of Match Day 2013. They walk up to the stage and receive congratulations from mentors, directors, and deans before receiving an envelope containing their match. Each student then drops a dollar into a fishbowl on the stage, money that will go to the last person called – a reward for their patience.
The money is claimed by John “Charlie” Zeyer, who matches with Hennepin County Medical Center for his preliminary year and University of Chicago Medical Center for ophthalmology in year two. The ceremony is over and students begin to celebrate the next phase of their lives. Phone calls are made, texts are sent, and many photographs are taken to memorialize one of the last times they will all be together.
In 2013, 41.5% of our graduating medical students matched in Minnesota, but it seems Sadek is on her way to North Carolina. She has matched with Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital for internal medicine and joins the 46.7% of our graduates entering primary care this year.
Her father is very happy, he is smiling.