Sunday, March 17, 2013

Match Day '13: Leave it all on the field.

I remember the first day I met each of them. Shaking their hands hard and asking them questions like, "What is the proper pronunciation of your name?" or "What's your favorite food?" Yep. Those icebreaker questions opened doors to relationships.

They sure did.

We sat in classrooms dissecting clinical cases and exploring algorithms on whiteboards. Then, later we stood shoulder to shoulder on hospital wards. They asked things that challenged me and made me go home to read. They often had the answers to the things I'd forgotten or never knew and they helped us to create this collegial, safe learning environment that brought out the best in us all.

And sometimes--a lot of times--they simply made me laugh.


All of this unfolded over the course of years. Text messages asking for urgent meetings. Us hashing out details of professional and personal lives and hoping that our solutions worked. Making phone calls and sending emails and even offering some tough love on the days that it was necessary. Yep. A lot went into it.

A lot.

This year for match week, I was unusually emotional. Almost embarrassingly so. I know--it's hard to imagine me being even more emotional than I usually am, but just try because that would give you some idea of where I was this past Friday. I think part of it is because I see life with different eyes now. Since Deanna passed away, now more than ever I recognize how important it is to love and live with zeal. It's the only way to have no regrets. And yes, I do think that I live my life with purpose, but I think that kind of loss rips the covers off of your bed and leaves you more emotionally naked and exposed. You see things with a different clarity. Love comes more into focus.

At least that's what I think.

I was proud of my students Friday. And you know what? I admit that I was proud of me, too. Proud that as I watched them ripping open those envelopes and erupting into loud cheers and happy tears. Proud that I had given of myself fully to the ones entrusted to me. And I was hyperaware of it all as it was happening. Almost like it was in slow motion.

Even going into the day as my nerves began to stand on end, I spoke to one of those students to try to offset some of my crazy onto him. Instead, he spoke words that helped me to take a deep breath and relax. Those words were: "Dr. M, I'm going to be happy no matter what. I know for sure that I gave my very best and that my advisor fought for me with all of her might. I know that. We truly left no stone unturned. I'm okay knowing that we left it all on the field."

We left it all on the field.

That's it. That's why I felt so emotional. I left it all on the field. I knew for certain that this year, more than ever, I had gone hard. Harder than I felt I ever had before. Many of my students did the same, so we wouldn't have to struggle with the "if I coulda-woulda-shouldas." No. Not this year. So match day was the day when, after running and gunning as hard as we possibly could, that the score was posted high on a board for all of the world to witness.

And this year? That score was a winning one.

This time was a little different than it was with Small Group Alpha. All but one of them graduated in four years and opened envelopes on match day in 2011. But this year, three of my eight in SG Beta are taking detours to do things like earning Masters degrees or becoming famous as researchers. So yesterday, we applauded five from our family and felt tiny butterflies forming for the same experience next year with the remaining three.

Additionally, I have what I affectionately call my "accessory small group." These are the students who aren't in my officially assigned bunch that have captured my heart and my time in ways that made them, too, part of my tears yesterday. They underscore what my grandmother once told me years ago:  "The heart makes room."

Yeah, it does.

And so. With my hand on my very proud bosom and my eyes still glistening with happy tears, I'd like to introduce you to a few very special people who allowed me to celebrate in their successes on Match Day 2013 . . . .

First, from my beloved Small Group Beta

Marla W. ~ Urology, University of Florida

Driven. Insightful. Professional. Conscientious.


Mark G.: Integrated Plastic Surgery, UCLA

Bright. Determined. Worldly. Chic.


Doris K. :  Emergency Medicine, University of Chicago

Consistent. Malleable. Supportive. Smart.

Jenna M.: Anesthesiology, Western Pennsylvania Hospital

Thoughtful. Exuberant. Faithful. Brave.


Dan W.:  Internal Medicine, Penn

Confident. Remarkable. Trustworthy. Unselfish.


And now, a couple of others from my "accessory small group" who've also stolen my heart. . .

Kevin S.: Internal Medicine-Primary Care, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Harvard)

Leader. Selfless. Gracious. Unforgettable.


Bryan O.: Internal Medicine, Oregon Health and Science Center

Talented. Kindhearted. Hardworking. Earnest.


There are definitely some more students that I could include here but won't since this is already getting long. That and the fact that I don't have pictures of them handy, either. But that said, those students know who they are. Know that I am equally proud of you, too. 

And all of the rest of you, who aren't quite at this stage yet? Know that I'm just excited for you because I know that "you got next." I promise to have my waterproof mascara ready for you, too.

What a wonderful day it was. Yes. We left it all on the field. 

And we won.

That's all I got for now.

Happy Sunday.


  1. This. This is what it's alllll about.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

  2. It's a little like you are the mother of them all. You have birthed them into doctors. Of course it's hard to let them go and of course you are so very proud.
    Good job! All of you!

  3. Ohmy that is a lot of smart in one small group! Harvard, Penn, U Chicago, OHSU, U Florida and all the rest. Congatulations Mama. You done good.

  4. Congrats to them all! What a teacher you are!

  5. Mentoring these students through their training and into their careers is really an incredible gift, and I think the relationship you have with the students you train is amazing. Were I interviewing medical schools today I would ask each one, "Who do you have who cares about students as much as this woman? Do you have a Dr. Manning at your institution?" That is more important than all the NIH research funding.

  6. Wow Anonymous, that was an awesome comment. Dr. M, I wonder if you didn't influence some of those awesome kids into the best specialty ever (BSE), internal medicine?


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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