cyberknife

cyberknife
Jul 27, 2010
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hey all, i'm kinda new to the studentdoctor forums and think this is a really awesome resource for all of us to keep a pulse on what's going on with the application cycle, among other things.

so i just had my first rad onc interview today and most everyone i met was really genuinely awesome (other applicants, residents, staff, faculty, etc). that said, there were a few observations i made about applicant-applicant interaction that were really disturbing. there's an image of one so-called offender that i am still having a hard time forgetting. that guy/gal (to keep it anonymous) really made a few of us feel very very very uncomfortable.

starting from the pre-dinner through the interview day, it really bothered me HOW MUCH ENERGY SOME APPLICANTS SPEND SIZING UP OTHER CANDIDATES.

these are ACTUAL questions i overheard (and a few that i was asked myself by another applicant(s):

1. "how many programs did you apply to? how many interviews do you have?"

1a. "what's your first choice? do you want to stay at your home program?? do you think you have a good chance there? oh, you probably have the inside track?"

2."who are you doing research with at your home institution? how many papers do you have?"

4. "what did you do in your year out/PhD/Masters, etc?"

5. "oh, you're married, you probably want to stay close to your husband? would you really come do school X?"

6. "you graduated in Apr/May/June? did you not match last year?" [YES, this was asked to the person sitting near me at dinner. i almost barfed right there. how ridiculously rude and inappropriate?????]

taken alone, each question is annoying, but could be construed as a getting-to-know-another-stranger (except the last one). maybe even just small talk to pass the time. but when i saw a fellow applicant welling up with tears when asked these questions, that's crossing the line. and when you ask such questions WITHIN EARSHOT OF THE HOST RESIDENTS AND FACULTY (i.e. dinner/lunch table or waiting room), that's really NOT COOL AT ALL. it just makes both the "question-asker" and, unfortunately, the "listener" (who kind of has no choice but to answer) both look like over-anxious, competitive fools.

we are going to all be colleagues down the road, in residency and much beyond. let's all try to respect that we are each trying to put on our "sunday best" at these interviews (and pre-dinners). be nice, friendly, and try to talk about something other than application/ERAS/interview/career/research/strategizing related stuff with your fellow applicants. it's really not that hard. don't we all do it with other strangers we meet? travel, sports, current events, pets, etc? great topics.

if you're the type of applicant who is going to size up others, let me ask you: does it REALLY make a difference? does it REALLY matter what someone's top choice is? do you REALLY need to know who someone does research with? will it REALLY impact your own decision? SO WHAT if someone has no JCO articles and you have 10?

you can look at my posting history and see that i participate in the threads related to some of the questions above. even when i don't post, i certainly read them. but, hey, we're all anonymous and it's a shared outlet and resource. being anonymous helps to speak without a filter on these forums...

but it's TOTALLY different when we're live, in-person, and it's interview day.... NOT COOL.

sorry for the venting and long post. in between the faculty and resident interviews, i know a few of us were feeling that we got body slammed by our peer-applicant(s).

hopefully others can share their thoughts. Gfunk, since you're already a resident, maybe you can advise how to handle such grilling by other applicants?

(btw, i'll try to provide interview feedback shortly. have a long journey home).

good luck to everyone!!!!!! we'll all do great!!!!!!!! :)
 

Gfunk6

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Good post, thanks for sharing.

For what it's worth, we see a few applicants every year that behave kind of like you described (e.g. can't keep their act together and play nice for even a few hours). We toss them off our rank list . . . seriously.

Resident camraderie at our program (and I suspect just about everywhere) is a critically important part of our residency experience. We (residents and faculty) frown severely on mis-treatment of medical students by other medical students.

If you are an unforunate recipient, I'd just grin and bear it. Maybe just toss in a, "no offense, but I'd rather not discuss it."

But in the end, karma is a bitch and they will get what's coming to them. :smuggrin:
 

SimulD

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Sorry you had to deal with that - you will see more than just that one person behaving like that. Options include: 1) Ignore them 2) Answer with quotes from "It's Always Sunny Philadelphia" 3) Tell them over and over that you are not a witch.

Although UCSF sounds like they know how to avoid people like that, many other programs get moist with the prospect of a MD/PhD or a Harvard grad that they ignore the social ineptitude. They'll match somewhere sweet, and torture future students and residents. Such is life!

-S
 

Scatter

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You are right to feel that way. I remember some people from the interview trail that definitely match the profile. I, too, deemed it a sign of very poor taste. Like the ones who fight over who's going to hold the door for everyone ... gimme a break. Or the ones who express unnatural interest in the personal lives of residents that are interviewing them ... cut the obsequiousness. Or the people (in my experience, only the ones with PhDs) who belittle other people's research experience.

Emesis basin, please! I can't stand fake people.

Well, the good news is that astute residents pick up on this (usually at lunch or pre-dinner) and report back to the PD. So do the other people they meet during that day, like, e.g., the secretaries. We had a candidate last year who was a total stud in every way. Well, I thought the candidate was too fake, and one of the secretaries told our PD that he was very rude to her. He was definitely taken off the Top 15 List ...

Just ignore them. Best of luck to you on the trail!

P.S. SimulD, you crack me up.
 

autobahn

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I definitely agree that the questions cyberknife posted are a bit bizarre and gunner-ish, especially questions 1a through 6. However, I don't feel that question number 1 - places applied to? interviews received? - is totally inappropriate to ask. After all, applying to radiation oncology is the one major thing that all of the applicants definitely have in common and I feel that it would only be natural that the conversation moves to that topic. With that said, it would be totally UN-natural to be peppered with questions by someone about your CV and personal life.

Trying not to talk about the application process and the anxiety related to it would simply be ignoring the elephant in the room while everyone pretends to be interested in talking about the weather. If anything, I would think that a little bit of healthy conversation regarding the application process would help relieve some stress and would ultimately make people feel more comfortable since you can identify with someone who is going through the same thing.

And, Scatter, I don't think there's anything wrong with holding a door open for people. I do it all the time, not just when I'm trying to impress people. Just sayin' is all.
 

Trevica

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I've got to voice some agreement with autobahn. I have to imagine that a bunch of applicants sitting a room chit-chatting should naturally end up discussing the application process. Questions like, "How many programs?" "Where have you rotated?" seem like fair game, and are likely good ice breakers. With that said, questions about matching (or not matching) history, # of publications, grades, scores, etc. are foolish. If anyone asked me any of those questions I'd probably chuckle at them. We have to remember that these questions are often coming from insecurity, and given the competitive nature of the field...we all know what that's like. For those who are out for the throat...let them be. Hopefully they'll get what's coming...

Good luck everyone! See you out there...
 

CNphair

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Although UCSF sounds like they know how to avoid people like that, many other programs get moist with the prospect of a MD/PhD or a Harvard grad that they ignore the social ineptitude. They'll match somewhere sweet, and torture future students and residents. Such is life!

-S
:love:

Alas, this is very true. Rad Onc will always have some component of this - we like fancy degrees and publications just a little too much at times.
 
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Questions like, "How many programs?" "Where have you rotated?" seem like fair game, and are likely good ice breakers.
I have to disagree. While I'm not currently interviewing (applying next year), it bothered me when med school applicants did this at interviews. Inevitably, when two or more applicants discuss number/location of interviews, some applicants will have more/better interviews than others. Maybe the current program is applicant's A's top choice but applicant's B last choice. The result of the conversation means the superior applicant gets his/her ego stroked and the inferior applicants feels like crap. Sure this won't happen all the time, but in a match as competitive as rad onc I imagine applicants are pretty stressed out and could do without the direct applicant comparisons.

I think there are better ice breakers. Get to know your colleagues as people.
 

Trevica

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I have to disagree. While I'm not currently interviewing (applying next year), it bothered me when med school applicants did this at interviews. Inevitably, when two or more applicants discuss number/location of interviews, some applicants will have more/better interviews than others. Maybe the current program is applicant's A's top choice but applicant's B last choice. The result of the conversation means the superior applicant gets his/her ego stroked and the inferior applicants feels like crap. Sure this won't happen all the time, but in a match as competitive as rad onc I imagine applicants are pretty stressed out and could do without the direct applicant comparisons.

I think there are better ice breakers. Get to know your colleagues as people.

I agree with everything you've said. I should have been more clear...the "how many programs" question I was saying is a good ice breaker might be, "how many programs did you apply to? # of interviews offered is too probing a question. I was merely trying to say I also find it hard to believe a bunch of applicants are going to sit around not talking at all about the interview process that is consuming our lives right now. That's all.
 
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cyberknife

cyberknife
Jul 27, 2010
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I think there are better ice breakers. Get to know your colleagues as people.
I tend to agree here. There are a million other things that folks can discuss other than residency-related topics. But when you hear applicants discussing SDN, views on other programs, etc etc it sends a childish message about the applicants to the residents who overhear the banter during lunch.

My other favorite is the whining about Step 2 CS. It sucks, we can't do anything about it, and it's a hurdle we all have to cross. Listening to conversation about it just makes me cringe. It's like airing dirty laundry in public.

All of this just furthers the image of anxious little applicants. No wonder many program directors/coordinators/residents view many of us as inter-changable, faceless objects.
 

napoleondynamite

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When I was interviewing for med school (sheesh, now almost 10 years ago!) I went to one school that catered a nice lunch for all the candidates. We were all seated in this conference room which had 3 "normal" walls and one wall made completely out of glass.

Well, in the middle of the lunch, one of the candidates got up, I think to use the bathroom. She walked toward what she thought was the exit, but the glass was so shiny that she flew bird-style right into the glass wall! Bam, flat on her back. Would have been one of those trying-not-to-laugh-but-actually-hilarious moments, except for what we saw when we looked at her: blood everywhere! No joke, broke her freaking nose. :eek:But talk about an effective way to cut through all the superficial small talk and see who wants to "help people," LOL.

I always wondered if that poor girl got accepted to that school. I felt so bad for her.

Anyway, at interviews, be cool. Radonc is a small field. I have run into the peeps I interviewed with at ASTRO and it is nice to feel like you have made friends rather than enemies. Don't try to break other people's noses, I wax profound.