The Long and Winding Road

By: Brian Hill

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I recently completed the application, interview, rank, and match process for sports medicine fellowship. This process gave me déjà vu back to when I was applying for family medicine residency. Both the residency and fellowship have similar steps including completing an ERAS application, obtaining letters of recommendation, and submitting your medical school transcript. Both require the applicant to narrow down target programs from an overwhelmingly large list. Then, after submitting the applications, there is a waiting process to see which programs will extend an interview, with every program being on a slightly different timeline. Naturally, there is excitement with interviews granted and disappointment with “regret to inform you” messages. Fellowship interviews came with the same schedule wrestling, time away, stress, and price tag I recall from residency interviews.

Next came the pro/con analysis and second-guessing of rank list formulation and submission, which happened sooner in the year for fellowship. Also occurring earlier in the year for the fellowship process was the excitement and relief of match day. Because the process of preparing, applying, hitting the interview trail, ranking, and matching was so similar for family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship, it made me thankful this time around that I had already experienced it once.

I also realized during and after the fellowship process that there are also some parallels to earlier times as well. For medical school, I had to prepare, apply, interview, and be accepted. Prior to that, a similar process happened in order to enroll in college. As physicians, we are lifelong learners, but a sports medicine fellowship, in all likelihood, will be the final stop on my long educational journey. There will still be more CV tweaking, applying, and interviewing in the future when it comes time to get a job.

I realize that my life has been a series of steps through the education ladder, each with similar but different set-up, criteria, and lessons. On match day for fellowship, I felt an incredible amount of excitement and relief, but I also felt a void or emptiness in a way. I was very proud to have achieved this accomplishment because I had known for years that it was something I really wanted to pursue, but, I also came to the realization that, in some ways, sports medicine fellowship match day was the day I had been working towards since high school. I may not have realized this until more recently, and it wasn’t always a direct path, but my entire life had been building to this moment. So, even with the year of fellowship and my entire career to come, match day left me with the feeling of, “Well…what do I do now?”

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Brian Hill, MD, is a third-year resident currently working at the Madsen Health Clinic. His medical areas of interest include sports medicine, behavior health, and psych. He received his undergrad degree from Clemson University and attended medical school at Medical University of South Carolina. In his free time, Brian enjoys sports, traveling, food, microbrews, outdoors, and trivia.


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