Ready, set…rank!

Allison Hunter, MS4


It is hard to believe that after almost two months of grueling interviews, four years of medical education (and not coincidentally more debt than I care to think about), countless cups of coffee, and relationships that have changed me forever, we (by that I mean the Class of 2015) are less than a week away from submitting the infamous “Rank List.” This individual list subjectively numbers programs from top (most desirable) to bottom (least desirable) of where to pursue residency. I feel like I should know my list by now—I spent essentially the last four years in preparation for this decision, right?

As an applicant for orthopaedic surgery, I was never one of those who “always knew” THAT’S what I wanted to do with my life. I always envied those types—the kind who saw it, knew it, and pursued it. Instead, my relationship with this chosen specialty was more like an interwoven story line. I was exposed to orthopaedics early, as a college student. No sports injury to report, just a plain ‘ole shadowing experience. I LOVED it. I felt like I was on E.R. (throwback show from the early 2000s) with my first “fight or flight” response during a multi-injury Trauma case, while I also felt the ballet-like controlled pulse with attention to detail during my first Hand case. The alternating tempo, the vibrant personalities, and the fundamental principle of helping others by restoring mobility, strength, and function really drew me in. In any event, since college and back-and-forth through medical school, one thing remained: orthopaedics was my Holy Grail. It became the one specialty that I used for comparison against all the others, and ultimately the one field I kept coming back to, despite earnest exploration of most other aspects of medicine.

Fast forward and here I sit a fourth year medical student, sorting through the list of all the potential programs where I will pursue residency training. It is no small decision…just the next five years of my life (the better part of my 20s) and my future career—uuuh, no pressure? Weirdly, even knowing the weight of this choice, I am not that nervous. I am happy, thankful, grateful, and excited to be in a position to even make this decision! Knowing that, it is important to understand that a lot does go into the decision-making process…quality of the program, location, camaraderie among the residents, operative experience, mentorship, research opportunities, and I could go on and on. I pour over the decision with color-coded spreadsheets, pros and cons lists, and a “favorites” call list of family and friends that have helped to guide me through the process. But, at the end of the day, I think my mom said it best when she offered this piece of advice: “Go with your gut feeling. ‘Gotta trust it: personally and professionally!”

So, Mother Dear, that is exactly what I am doing. I am going with my gut! My rank list is in. Certified on NRMP and out of my hands. I may not get my number 1, and truthfully I know I could be happy anywhere so long as orthopaedics is in my future. But, I can say with certainty that I ranked what felt right. Now all there is to do is wait! March 20, 2015 can’t come soon enough!

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