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The daily life of a medical resident..
a.k.a "It's 2 AM and I'm looking at urine outputs."
Tell me about yourself. 
Thu, Dec. 8th 2011
Mandatory Mea Culpa over once again letting this journal go empty for… months.

Chief is in full swing, and has been for months. It's been a ridiculous journey, and I still have yet to receive my ceremonial feathered headdress.

What it really has given me is an extraordinary insight into the interview process. Three years ago, I was on the interview trail looking for a residency program to call home. Now I'm bringing nervous students in black suits to my office, telling people to have a seat.

So, let's talk about what you should (and shouldn't!) do on your interview.

First, the suit. Yes, you have to wear it. I personally compliment everyone who goes with gray, navy or any other color. Also, please make sure it's pressed and fits you well. We do notice this stuff and it does matter.

Women, for the love of GOD, wear shoes you can walk in. I had to stop a hospital tour half way through one day because a female applicant had made a poor choice in her very tall heels that weren't broken in. She looked ridiculous and it reflected poorly on her as an applicant. Is it trite or superficial to judge her on that? Possibly, but we are having to make a snap judgement on your character based on approximately 4 hours of interaction and your file.

Which brings me to your file. To date, there are only a few things that have given me pause in a person's application. A DUI, a dispute with the med school administration (which the applicant then spoke about in a fairly unprofessional manner) and someone who had purposefully chosen to delay Step 2 until after they had interviewed.

The personal statement is sweet, and I could probably make a drinking game out of them. A shot for a dying patient, someone you "really reached" because they were noncompliant and you explained their meds to them, or "this doctor made an impression on me when I was younger, so now I want to be one!"

The letters of recommendation are usually glowing - but I really caution you against going for a "name" in your institution who doesn't know you. We can spot a bland letter of rec in a second and it doesn't do you any favors. The genuine ones can really help, because we're looking for anyone who actually gets to work with you for more than a day.

On the interview day:

DON'T BE LATE. If some catastrophe causes you to be late, call IMMEDIATELY. Nothing looks worse than someone who is late and doesn't appear to care about it.

DON'T SWEAR. (You'd think I wouldn't have to say this….)

Relax. Please just relax. If you're funny, crack jokes. If you're chatty, make conversation. If you high five people when you agree with something, go for it. We want to see who you really are, and I get frustrated by the people who I suspect are warm, fun interesting people who are petrified into statues of their former selves.

Because at the end of the day, all we want to do is figure out two things: are you going to do the work, and am I going to want to work along side you?

The applicants I ranked the highest spent a not insignificant portion of the interview talking about our mutual interests (trashy reality television as a guilty pleasure and food policy in the US, respectively). Their file had already demonstrated that they were a smart, hard working and capable med student but those conversations convinced me that I wanted that person to come to my hospital and join the ranks of my residency.

We can beat the stupid out of people as long as you work hard, and the scores and grades are really just what get you in the door. Once you're there, please just have fun and enjoy the free dinner.

And I promise not to make you sculpt an Eiffel tower out of toothpicks while reciting the mechanism of action of various antibiotics.
Wayne State University Class 2009
Comments 
Fri, Dec. 9th 2011 (UTC)
I had multiple catastrophes -- involving inclement weather, felled trees, and a series of cancelled/missing/severely delayed trains -- on the day of my interview for the medical school that I eventually got into, and I was on the phone every half-hour to reassure them that I really and truly was on my way. In the end, thanks to having originally left three hours of wiggle room, I was there five minutes before my scheduled time. But I cannot comprehend people not calling in before an interview that they care about if there's even the slightest possibility that they'll be late.
Fri, Dec. 9th 2011 (UTC)
I miss your posts!!!!

Thought of you on Labor Day when I cruised through rainy Savannah on my way to Tybee. I though, shoot, if I can get stung by enough jellyfish maybe I'll have to go to the ER.

Alas, it was not to be. Those damn jellyfish only stung some kids nearby, not us. Those bastards have all the luck.
Fri, Dec. 9th 2011 (UTC)
i've been following your journal for several years now, and i thank you so much for this post. while i won't be interviewing for residency, i do have a med school interview in january that i've been nervous about. :)
Fri, Dec. 9th 2011 (UTC)
Headdress. Hee! :-)

It's good to read you on LJ again. :-)
Fri, Dec. 9th 2011 (UTC)
I had an interview at a doctor's office once where I got lost on the way there, so I called right away to say I would be a few minutes late. He sounded confused as to why I bothered to call him (and he ended up keeping me waiting about 20 minutes, anyway, once I did show up), but knowing him now, he probably did appreciate the heads-up. This is not a man who appreciates being left in the dark.
Sat, Dec. 10th 2011 (UTC)
Interview season is always a blast. Strange, though, do you only interview candidates if you're a chief? It my program they pick a variety of residents (interns through 3rd years) to do interviews.

Some things that I would add:

-Don't chew gum. I'm shocked by how people seem to think that that isn't unprofessional anymore. And it's a personal pet peeve of mine.

-Don't mention an experience if you can't at least give me a believable story that you gave a shit about it and/or learned something from it. Amazing how I ask someone about a hobby listed on their app or some volunteer opportunity and out comes a blank look.

-Even if you rotated at the program as a student at least pretend to be interested in what I have to say about it. Cardinal rule of interviewing is that you should at least have a few stock questions. It's really irritating when a student gives me the, "when I rotated here I kind of learned about what I would need to know about it" line. Trust me, 2 months does not give you the whole story.

-Don't make racist comments.
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