Reel Doctor Talk

The weirdest way to get a job

by Smitha R. Chadaga MD

At the United States of Women Summit, Shonda Rhimes (@shondarhimes) spoke about the fourth graduating class of women physicians who became surgeons inspired by Grey’s Anatomy (@GreysABC).  It is powerful when entertainment shows us what we can be.  Grey's Anatomy all started when Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo, @EllenPompero) and her intern class started their surgical residency at Seattle Grace Hospital.  Just how did they end up there?  They all went through the Match.


It goes without saying, to become a surgeon, students have to complete college and medical school. But finishing medical school is not enough to practice on your own as a doctor.  Each medical student must graduate from a residency program (that can last three to five years) to do this.  In the last year of medical school students go through the Match to get into residency. The Match is the weirdest way to get a job.


The Match is a standardized process by which medical students apply for open residency spots.  All students complete the same paper work thru a computer exchange called ERAS.  Residency programs review the paper work and grant interviews. After interviews are complete, students submit a rank list of the residencies they wish to attend.  Once the list is submitted there's no going back. It is a legally binding process.  Each student's fate lies in the hands of a computer program that “matches” them to residency spots. All medical students find out where they match on the same day in March. Then, for most, the mad dash to move your life and get ready for a new job begins.


I have vivid memories of my match day.  Among the tears of joy (and some sadness) from my classmates, I opened my envelope and found out I was moving thousands of miles away, to a city where I didn't know a soul, to do a job I had never done.  And I haven't looked back since.