“Hey, just so you know. The position was approved so we are working on an offer letter. Congrats! Looking forward to having you join us.”
–Program Director of the Neurology Program at the University of Pittsburgh
I received that text message on January 30th 2020 while on a fancy pre-interview dinner with a program out west. By far the best text message I’ve ever received. I quickly excused myself to the bathroom for ten minutes of firing off numerous texts to my girlfriend, parents and friends. When I came back one of the residents said to me: “we thought you almost left us for a minute!” I have no recollection of my response but all that I can recall was how excited & relieved I was.
This was the second time in two years that I had managed to match a residency. Yes, twice in two years. Wasn’t something I planned either. How’d that happen? Well, I matched Internal Medicine in the greater NYC area last year only to realize early on in my intern year it just wasn’t for me. While I am good at Internal Medicine, it doesn’t interest me or excite me. There was nothing I wanted to specialize in any of the Internal Medicine specialties and general medicine wasn’t for me either.
So how’d I settle on Neurology? Well, neurology was the original reason I decided to go to medical school. As a teenager I suffered two sports related concussions, which affected my life for some time afterwards. When it came time to explore medicine as a career, my first experience was with a neurologist & later reading about Dr. Ben Carson—a top neurosurgeon (now retired) at John Hopkins. From that point forward, I was inspired to become a doctor.
Now before I go on any further, let me say something about switching specialties. Trying to switch specialties either through transferring to a program with an open position or reapplying again on ERAS like I did is probably more difficult then trying to match as a fourth year medical student. Mind you, I also reapplied well after ERAS opened on September 15th. Simply put, this isn’t for the faint of heart and there is even more uncertainty through this route.
Why is that? Well, there isn’t exactly a blueprint for transferring residencies—especially between two completely different specialties. If you look online, there are scattered mentions of it on reddit but not much more beyond than that. Second, telling your current program director of your change of heart and hoping they support your attempt to switch is risky and can be an awkward conversation that can go awry in a hurry. Third, depending on the time of year you decide to try to switch specialties you may have limited options available. Last but not least, the GME funding for a new spot. Not every program can afford a resident transferring in who has used up some of their funding. These are just 4 of the many intricacies involved with process.
However, despite all of that I remained committed to this process. Not because I knew or was extremely confident that I was going match again but my family & close friends reinforced it to me that I could. However, one internal realization solidified my commitment—the trickling or interview offers from solid academic programs. I began pondering this and realized “if this wasn’t meant for me or if this wasn’t God’s will for me he wouldn’t of opened so many doors like he has.” From that point on I realized I deserved the chance to match in the specialty I long desired.
Dr. Jennings Gyedu is currently a first year Internal medicine in the Newark, New Jersey! He was born and raised in Long Island, New York. He will be starting his Neurology training at the University of Pittsburgh in July 2020. Be sure to check his Instagram page below, which was created with the purpose of bringing transparency and inspiration to those interested in medicine.