The best introduction to our blog post about PathMatch22 can only be scripted by someone who has actually gone through Match themselves. Dr. Sanyk Mcculler, PGY-1 at Vanderbilt, has these words for this year’s Match class. “The most important thing is knowing that you worked hard and you are worthy! The Match process is definitely stressful but every step of the way you have endured and persevered. Going into Match Day, remember this. After Match Day, continue to remember that and know wherever you land you control your destiny to be the best pathologist you can be.”
Last year was our inaugural year to follow Match for pathology resident-hopefuls. We see these future pathology residents as leaders who will drive the future of pathology. Do you want to know where pathology will be in 10 years? Look to PathMatch. This is why PathMatch is so exciting to us and why we’ll continue to follow these pathology leaders from Match to Match to Match. Now, let us take you on an inside look at PathMatch22 as well as what new residents can expect.
One ticket for the rollercoaster, please One of the #1 questions we had for PathMatch22 as Match Week approached was, “How are you feeling?!” Sarah Lewis, OMS-IV at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), gave us the scoop. “Match22 was a rollercoaster of emotions for me! There was a wave of stress just waiting for emails from programs about going through my application. There were emotional highs from invites and lows from rejection emails. There was fatigue towards the end of the interview season. Zoom fatigue is real! There was a feeling of hope and accomplishment once I was done with interviewing, and again when I certified my ranking list.”
Andrew Biesemier, MS4 at University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), had a slightly calmer rollercoaster. He told us, “While there has been a little anxiety, I have mostly been excited internally and externally stoic. I have been confident that I will match somewhere that I will be happy with (which would be almost anywhere), which took a lot of the stress out of it and allowed me to enjoy the process. I had a great time interviewing and meeting other applicants. I am excited to see where everyone ends up as well as whom I will be training with.”
Pictured left to right: Dr. Sanyk Mcculler, Sarah Lewis OMS-IV, Dr. Keenen Smith, Andrew Biesemier MS4, Dr. Levi Endelman
You matched. You are graduating. Then, residency will begin. How will you spend your time between graduation and residency? Dr. Keenen Smith, PGY-1 at University of Pennsylvania, breaks down this conundrum. “If you’re debating doing rotations as 4th year ends to ‘help give you a head start in residency’ vs taking time off/vacation - definitely take time off. Residency is intensely busy and you may not have the opportunity to take 4-8 weeks off at a time for a very long time. Most pathology programs know our specialty isn’t represented well in medical school so you won’t be expected to come in functioning as a mid-level resident. Some of your co-residents may have only had 1 pathology rotation whereas others may have done post-sophomore fellowships, but at the end of the day, you will all be first year residents together with the same expectations. As long as you are interested in learning, you’ll be in good shape. It’s hard to start residency feeling so unprepared, but coming in with a fresh mind is key.”
Match Day your way
And as for Match Day itself, Dr. Levi Endelman, PGY-1 at University of Wisconsin, has some great advice. “It’s totally up to you whether you want to be with friends/family or not. Statistically the news will be good, but in the event that it isn't, be mindful of what sort of support you would want (or not want) at that time. I chose to spend the day with my wife because I knew that, either way, I would want her around for celebration or for support. The bottom line is that Match Day is your day and you need to advocate for your own needs that day no matter what, whether you desire closeness and celebration, or if you need space and time to process.”
Dr. Leon Metlay, pediatric and autopsy pathologist at University of Rochester, has a simple message. “The most important thing is to find your people. People are so much more important than facilities. Make connections with your peers; they're the ones who will have your back. Make connections with faculty, find a mentor or two. They're the ones who will inspire you and help you make connections for fellowships, jobs, and research enterprises.”
Dr. Smith tells us, “Residency can be very challenging but at the same time very fun and rewarding! You’re getting to practice in a field you’ve been working towards for many years and working with people who are as excited about pathology as you. New residents should be excited about the opportunities to connect with pathology colleagues and learn the specialty in depth. There is so much more to the field than we’re exposed to in medical school so try to be a sponge and learn as much as possible.” He told us about one challenge that he thought only he experienced. “Imposter syndrome is real so that was constantly on my mind when I started residency. All of my co-residents come from different backgrounds and experiences so I just assumed everyone was on a different level than me but you have to remember you’re there for a reason. You have to be confident about your knowledge and abilities. It turns out most of my co-residents also are dealing/dealt with imposter syndrome so it was refreshing to know I wasn’t alone. It made me realize I’ve put too much thought into telling myself I’m not good enough.”
“Residency has been a steep learning curve and is very different from medical school in terms of the learning structure and workload,” Dr. Mcculler told us. “However, I think the most exciting thing to look forward to is knowing every day you are making a difference! It does not always seem like it but the attendings rely on you, and so do the clinical teams, surgical teams and most importantly the patients. You are an essential part of the team!”
“If you didn’t match and didn’t get into a program during the SOAP process, don’t give up hope!” advises Dr. Donald Karcher, Professor and Immediate Past Chair of Pathology at George Washington University. “You can still get into a pathology residency program in the future, but it will take some extra effort. If you haven’t already done so, try to do some work, either clinical or research-related, in a pathology department. Show the pathologists in that department that you’re serious about becoming a pathologist and willing to work hard and they will almost certainly give you a strong letter of recommendation. Also, if possible try to publish an abstract and/or paper based on your work in that department. This will be a good sign to residency programs that you’re committed to pathology training and a productive worker.”
Advice for PathMatch23
We were blown away by the feedback we received on creating ranking lists and general advice on what PathMatch23 can begin working on now in preparation for next year’s Match. Stay tuned as we will soon publish a helpful guide on preparing for Match as early as possible.
Thank you to the soon-to-be physicians who gave us an inside look at Match, the budding physicians lending some encouraging and helpful words on what PathMatch22 can expect in residency, and to Dr. Metlay and Dr. Karcher for their sound advice on bouncing back from not matching and how to succeed in residency.
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