A Poem About Match Rankings by a Fourth-Year Med Student

Jinit Desai


February 16, 2021

This month, residency applicants who were fortunate enough to receive interviews will probably find themselves returning to one question: "Am I making the right choice?" I wish to share a bit of what I have gathered from my experience with "The List."

On Ranking

I claim no wondrous insight, no special labor, no mythical process.

My hope is for these words to find kinship or be of instrumental value.

I can think too much. I dig mental grooves as wide-eyed thoughts pace, scrutinizing data in the different lights made by a seeking soul.

Knowledge's arms can be short, cold, and irrelevant.

I know there is no perfect list.
I know to consider "the vibe," curriculum, career, and so on.
I know to interrogate and prioritize preference, to aim for honesty and acceptance.
I know that, often, you just "go with your gut."

My cacophonous insides, however, are like falling snow in their argumentation and consistency. Swerving. Contradictory. At once both bold and hesitant.

Peace is a kind of conflict. A rugged balance won with perseverance and guarded by faith and compassion.

Who am I?
What have I chosen?

Many scales hold countless masses. No unifying fulcrum announces its character. Throwing time into this space of interdependent needs, values, and goals yields a bewildering calculus that grows only murkier as one peers farther and further from now.


Challenge your order.
Watch how it fights, squirms, lands.
Wait for it to settle.

The spirit reasons, quibbles, and rants. The spirit hungers, languishes, and bucks. A spirit needs an ear and a hand. A spirit needs a home.

Residency is largely exploitation poorly clothed as noble apprenticeship.

Chances are, horizons will stumble and collapse. Effort will fail and gasp.

But residency is also something beautiful and sacred, a strait filled with colorful, contorted bodies.

Ask where the tide's uncertain tidings shall carry the least fear.
Ask where the moon will rise.
Ask where the wind will stir again.

Love and becoming matter no less than duty and valor.

Our work is honorable enough.

Jinit Sanjiv Desai is in his last semester at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford, Illinois. His other publications include "Medicine is a March," on in-Training, and "Humbled," in Academic Medicine. He hopes to begin psychiatry residency this summer.

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