I continue to voyeuristically read a number of forums for IMG (international medical graduates) matching into residency, despite the fact that my husband is safely in residency now after a six year struggle, and we are done that particular part of the ordeal.

I am stuck by how all of the forums are chock-full of things like “God is so good! I matched. God is with me.”

And while the IMGs are patting themselves on the back and thinking that God personally arranged their hospital’s rank list, all around are wars, famine, and diseases. Cancer for one, which physicians are likely to personally know the horrors of. God/the Universe/the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t stop any of those things. God sure hasn’t done a great deal for my dad, who was a faithful and kind man who believed, and served the public for many decades.

So I suspect God does not care about whether a particular IMG finds a US residency, thus enabling him or her to someday in the distant future drive a Beamer.

The Match can be a demoralizing, expensive, and labor-intensive process, fraught with uncertainty. I saw my husband go through it multiple times before he matched. Not only was it a financial drain, but for years I lived with paralyzing uncertainty about where he would go the next year if he matched, what would happen to us, and how we would start a family if we spent our mid-30s living on opposite sides of the country. I do feel for all the IMGs who are struggling, especially the older ones. Nobody knows the Match like my husband and I do.

But waiting for radiology or pathology match results is nothing, nothing like waiting for a radiology or pathology report. I know, as I’ve waited for both.

So when these forum-IMGs start calling on God, I want to tell them not to take their career trajectory so seriously. There are far worse fates than a career in the pharma industry, or not doing the exact job they trained for, or even relocating back to whatever country they went to med school in.

And if God isn’t out there helping those people who really need it, God probably isn’t doing much for the IMGs either.

And yes, I have read that piece called “Footprints in the Sand.” I first saw it at a colleague of my father’s house, at the age of eight or so. I wish there were a higher power helping me along, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. I think I am forcing myself to go on, because I love my father. Most people I know are religious. It is hard for me to understand how people could go through something like my parents are, and retain any faith that a higher power is watching over them, protecting them, or takes any actions at all with their well being in mind.

Life and health are fragile, and no guardian angel sits between any of us and the abyss. I wish that having discovered the fragility of life made me appreciate life more, but it just makes me frightened about what could happen, and what is going to happen tomorrow.


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