Internet paranoia

When I first started out on the web as a teenager, I never really gave much thought to how much I was sharing about myself online. Even as college student and during my first few years of medical school, I continued to be relatively open about my offline identity– to the point that I once felt comfortable listing the names of my college and medical school on my “About Me” pages and include pictures of myself in my blog posts. In the last few years, though, and especially this year with residency applications hanging over my head, I’ve become increasingly paranoid that every word I write will somehow have an effect on my offline life and career. Not that I’ve ever posted anything that was particularly incriminating, but I can’t help having the lingering fear that someone will identify me, and that being identified will have… consequences.

What those consequences might be… I couldn’t really say. In actuality, the chances that I’ll lose my job or get written up or be reprimanded in any real way are probably minuscule. But I think I reveal parts of myself on the internet that I don’t in person (and vice versa), and that maybe I’m uncomfortable with the idea of having those parts of myself revealed to my IRL friends and colleagues (yes… apparently I’ve somehow become enough of an adult to have “colleagues”). I find myself wondering how my future residency program director or my future attending, or even a future patient might react to my medicine-related comics, and whether I need to try harder to remain as anonymous as possible. I find myself referring to my specialty as “a competitive subsurgical specialty,” or to my medical school as “a midwestern medical school.” Anyone else feel like this? How do you cope?

Match Day

Match Day ceremony

Apologies for my long absence– I’m sure most of you are used to them by now though. Last Friday was Match Day. For the uninitiated, the process of securing a residency training spot after medical school is a bit of a convoluted process. It all started last August, when I submitted about 60 some odd applications into the nether and anxiously waited for interview invitations. December and January were spent in a frenzy of flying all over the country, trotting around in a suit and heels, smiling until my cheeks hurt, and generally trying to woo and win favor. I had the misfortune of applying in a competitive surgical subspecialty, so all of this was more than a little stressful. At the end of the interview season, rather than getting acceptances or rejections, I simply had to construct a rank list of all of the programs that I had interviewed at. Meanwhile, the programs were doing the same with all the applicants that they interviewed. The rank lists are plugged into a magical matching algorithm, and in the end, we’re told whether or not we matched, and 4 days later, the school holds a Match Day ceremony for us to find out, on stage and in front of all our classmates, where we matched.

The Match Day ceremony is a bit of a controversial tradition. While some regard it as a celebration of one another’s accomplishments, others liken it to forcing everyone to get up and announce their test grades in public. In general, though, I think those that enjoy attending the ceremony the most are those most happy with their matches. I have to admit that I was one of “The Missing.” I attended my school’s ceremony, but decided not to get up on stage to make my announcement. I didn’t get my #1 choice, but I’m overall fairly happy with what I got. Especially considering how competitive my specialty is, I’m happy to have matched at all.