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by Dr. Margaret Aranda
It was 1989 and I was getting ready to graduate medical school next year. I was On Call every third night, putting in about 100 hours per week in clinical practice. No one had to tell me what to do any more. I knew how to draw blood, take an x-ray form in for stamping approval, and I could push my patient's gurney down the hallway to CT Scan or MRI by myself. My senior residents allowed me to discharge my patient and never had any questions or concerns. I tidied every thing up, thought of everything ahead of time, and scheduled them for a Clinic visit in one or two weeks.
I was getting ready to apply to Residency programs. I thought perhaps I would be a Family Doctor. I liked Ob/Gyn, and was offered a Residency position after I rotated as a medical student. I had memorized the algorithm for a molar pregnancy because I was fascinated with the anomaly. I had delivered or helped deliver over 100 babies in a singe one-month rotation at USC's Women's and Children's Hospital, and was confident in my abilities. But I did not want the life of a surgeon. I didn't want to commit to being On Call for the rest of my life, leaving my family to go back to the hospital time and time again to deliver another baby. I had to pick a specialty that would give me time with my son.
I was on my Ob/Gyn rotation as a third-year medical student and was assigned one day to go sit with the Nurse Practitioners that were delivering babies. I welcomed the chance to talk to nurses. Here, on a summer day with the light streaming in from a big window in a Conference Room, I met Emily, a Nurse Practitioner. I don't know why she took a liking to me, but she did. She told me not to go into Family Practice. Her husband was an anesthesiologist and she was adamant. I needed to be an anesthesiologist. She was so convincing, especially after she had called her husband on the phone to tell him about me.
The following weekend, I met him at their house. He was encouraging, too. So what did I do?
I applied to one Residency program, the anesthesiology program at USC. Everyone thought I was making a mistake. They didn't realize what trouble I had already gone through, transferring from Oklahoma to California to finish medical school with my son. I couldn't move again.
My friends flew on plane trip after plane trip, after having send Application after Application in for Residency Programs. This was the time to pick our Specialty. One person's father and grandfather were both surgeons, and this medical student was destined to become a surgeon. Another person was a orthopedic hand surgeon, just like her father, and another person was a gynecologist. We all waited for National Match Day, when the computers ranked all the candidates, picking the one "Match". It was March 19, 1989. We ran to the Exhibit Hall on the USC Medical Campus and waited for the administration to post the computer printout on the bulletin board. We stumbled upon one another, trying to find our name on the alphabetical list. We were excited and sickened at the same time. I said a quick prayer and waited my turn, patiently. Slowly, one person would find their name, then, with their finger, follow it across to the right side of the page, to read the Program that was Matched. One person would be screaming elatedly, then the next person would be angry. One person was crying, he was devastated. It was my turn. I found my name. I ran across to the right side of the page. I saw my Residency Program. I saw the name.
I got it. I was accepted to USC's Department of Anesthesiology Residency Program, and I was to start in just a few month. I thanked God. I was elated. I was thankful. I don't know what I would have done if I had been rejected. No, if I had not Matched, I was going to do a year of research...that was my back-up plan. Anyway, my back-up plan didn't matter any more.
I was accepted.
I was going to be an Anesthesiologist.
Nothing could have made me happier.
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Dr. Margaret Aranda's Books:
No More Tears en Espanol
Little Missy Two-Shoes Likes to go to School
From Menarche to Menopause: A Journey through Time
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Age 31: The Color Blue
Additional Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda
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