26 November 2014

Med School Update: Residency Interviews

It was only a few days after Scott applied to residencies that he started to receive invitations to interview. Residency interviews take place from October to February of fourth year. Each residency contacts the applicants by email to extend the invitation to interview and offer potential dates. Students will likely have other rotations planned during that time, so they have to take time off from their rotation in order to attend the interview days. Typically, these residency interview schedules will include a dinner (the night before or night of the interviews, often including spouses or significant others), a day of interviews blocks (7:00 or 8:00 Am until around 3:00 Pm) with current residents and faculty, with a lunch in between for casual mingling and Q&A. The student may be interviewing with four or more other applicants on the same day, depending on the size of the residency. Interview questions are similar to job interviews, where they ask the student questions like: "why this specialty", "why this residency", "how do you overcome your weaknesses", etc. COMP-NW provided  its fourth year students with an online resource to prepare mentally to anticipate and answer these residency interview questions.

The requisite pre-interview selfie demanded by crazy blogger wife
Scott has now completed four residency interviews. One of his interviews happened while on an audition rotation with one residency. For that interview, Scott had a one hour discussion with the residency director on the last day of his rotation. All of the other interviews are scheduled for a full day, and Scott has had to take time away from his scheduled rotation in other states to travel to and attend the interviews. He has had to make up any time that he missed for those rotations due to interview travel.

Last month I had the opportunity to travel with him to one of the interviews. I attended a dinner the evening before the interviews. It was very casual event where some first and second year residents talked about their experience with the program and answered students' questions about program curriculum, camaraderie, and faculty. There weren't any resident spouses for me to talk with at that particular dinner, but there were other applicant spouses at the dinner. It was mostly interesting for me to hear how the residents enjoyed their experience. I observed their emotions as they talked about the curriculum and faculty, their home lives during residency, as well as the interactions between residents. I also observed how my husband interacted with this group of residents. That information was invaluable to me, and I would have never learned tidbits like that from the residency website or even from Scott's recount of his day of interviews.

I heard the residents speak somewhat about their satisfaction in residency choice. All of the residents there were extremely satisfied with their choice and talked about school friends who were unhappy elsewhere in the country. Not to say there is A LOT of choice involved when you go to a residency, since in the end students have to go through Match Day; but students do rank their residencies, and we have heard that family medicine residents are likely to get a higher ranked residency choice. At the end of our dinner, one of the residents said that in his experience, there are two types of applicants - the type to make a spreadsheet in preparation for the Match, and the type that base their decision on gut impressions. *insert sheepish grin

I may or may not have created a spreadsheet for Scott prior to his interviews. Let's be honest, we all knew what group I would be in, and thus what group Scott is in. That same resident recommended to our dinner table that the students use their gut instinct to decide how to rank residencies for the match. What does he know? I had a system.

Actually, after my interview day with Scott, I would 100% agree with that resident.

Those who know me are shocked, I know.

Since I wasn't allowed to be a fly on the wall of the hospital during his interviews, Scott and I talked about every detail on the six hour drive back to Oregon following the interviews. Based on his impressions during the interviews, that residency had exceeded his expectations and went higher up on the list. Still, the most insightful question was "can you visualize yourself being happy in this residency?"

In the end, it doesn't matter if one residency had a six in one column of the spreadsheet and another had a nine - I want to know where he feels like he would fit in best, where he can visualize himself being successful. Because if he comes home happy every day and is excited to go back to work, then I'm happy too. *spreadsheet deleted