Etoh at my program's pre interview dinner

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by organdonor, 09.30.14.

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  1. organdonor

    organdonor 7+ Year Member

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    I'm an intern and signed up for our first pre interview dinner next week. I'm looking forward to representing our program and the free food doesn't hurt. We were informed at our weekly conference that the program would not be paying for alcohol at the dinners. I can't say I agree with the decision but it is obviously not mine to make. I probably had alcohol at about half of my dinners (including this one) always following the lead of the resident and it was always paid for. Never had more than 1 beverage other than one place where a resident, his wife, and I split a bottle of wine and another brewhouse where the resident kept ordering pitchers of beer. I would hope I could trust doctoral students not to overindulge!

    It is up to our own discretion if we wish to have alcohol on our own tab but they ask us to "consider not" in order to not alienate a candidate who doesn't drink among a couple other reasons.

    I haven't looked at the final list of potential restaurants but I know ones being considered included a sushi restaurant and a local pizza joint (sounds stupid for a dinner but it's a really neat place and is a local landmark) with a microbrewery. In other words, places where I would almost always have a drink if I were there under any other circumstance.

    How do I bring this up so as to minimize the awkwardness? Does it need to be addressed directly? "Hey welcome to our city, we're not paying for alcohol" or can candidates reasonably be trusted to follow my lead if I don't? If I want a microbrew with my pizza I don't see anything wrong with that so I guess it would be more of a "we'll put the alcohol on separate bills."
     
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  3. FutureInternist

    FutureInternist 7+ Year Member

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    You can't skip one meal w/o EtOH even when you program is telling you to "consider not" doing it??
    Not worth the hassle specially as an intern when you have 2-4 more years with these people & reputations matter

    As for the interviewees, just straight up tell them that it would be on their own bill
     
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  4. mvenus929

    mvenus929 10+ Year Member

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    I'm pretty sure every program that I went to that had their dinner at a restaurant (not someone's house) didn't pay for alcohol. It's not that big of a deal.
     
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  5. thehundredthone

    thehundredthone 2+ Year Member

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    One of the programs that invited me said clearly that they would not pay for it, but we were welcome to buy our own. Something like that should really make it easy for everyone.

    On a side note, if you put it on a separate bill does that mean you're buying, or is it something all the residents will do collectively? (since you say it was always paid for)
     
  6. DrZeke

    DrZeke yzarc gniog ylwolS 10+ Year Member

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    "We will be ordering x many pizzas. If you guys wanna drink beer or alcohol, you'll have to get it on your own tab. Gotta save some $$ for the Christmas party."

    You're making this sound much more awkward than it actually needs to be. A quick disclaimer and quip or joke at the end is good.
     
  7. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    How on earth do you consider having an interview dinner at a microbrewery and not pay for ETOH??

    Maybe I'm the functioning alcoholic in this group, but I would consider it super weird if they hosted dinner at a restaurant and didn't pay for drinks.

    I think I only had one interview where we weren't served alcohol, and that's because the night before dinner was at the PD's house. And the residents took us out for beers (on their own tab, I assume) afterward.

    If my program did this, I'd get a beer or two on my own tab, and offer to buy a beer for any applicant who wanted one. Or if we were organized enough, I'd have the waitstaff put the alcohol on a separate tab and split it between the residents at the end of the night.
     
  8. rokshana

    rokshana Member 10+ Year Member

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    well having at a microbrewery and not playing for alcohol is a bit weird, but not paying for alcohol isn't that unusual…some hospitals/programs have policies against it. I think you can eat at a sushi place and not HAVE to get alcohol...
     
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  9. typhoonegator

    typhoonegator Neurointensivist SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    The decision to cover EtOH expenses is often related to the cost center the dinner bill will be reimbursed from. If it is private department money, the restrictions on what it can be used for may be different than if it is coming from GME or a general fund. It's not that unusual. I can't charge EtOH to an NIH grant even if I'm traveling on study business, either.
     
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  10. thehundredthone

    thehundredthone 2+ Year Member

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    That defeats the whole point of the R01 though.
     
  11. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Like I said - at least in my field it is by far the minority that don't serve alcohol. Only 1 out of the 15 programs I interviewed at didn't, and as said that was a casual dinner at the PD's house.
     
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  12. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    If you invite someone out to dinner you cover their bill. If you go to a microbrewery, bar, pub, saloon, or any other venue that has alcohol as its raisin d'être, you cover a drink, if the applicant wants one. I think you sometimes learn a lot more about an applicant when the drinks start flowing, and it becomes a looser more relaxed setting for everyone. Your program is missing the point of having these dinners. IMHO if you aren't going to just work within a budget regardless of what's ordered, and let the drinks happen, you are doing it wrong and shouldn't bother.
     
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    This.
     
  14. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV 2+ Year Member

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    No alcohol seems weird and uncomfortable. What if the place had Shiner Bock or nice wine list?! Am I supposed to order a drink and wonder to what extent people were judging?
     
  15. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Follow the residents' lead and fit in with the crowd.

    I wouldn't be the only one (or one of a handful) drinking. But if the barrier is just the cost of a beer and others are indulging - sure have a beer.
     
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  16. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Free booze is also the best way to get residents to show up.

    And it makes a very bad impression on your program if you don't have many residents show up at the dinner
     
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  17. docontherocks32

    docontherocks32

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    On a slightly unrelated note, how bad would a teetotaler interview candidate be judged at a pre-interview dinner where most people are drinking?
     
  18. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Not at all
     
  19. docontherocks32

    docontherocks32

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    Thank you for the kind response.
     
  20. Daveizzy

    Daveizzy ASA Member 5+ Year Member

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    No booze? What do people order? Root beer floats? Apple juice? Shirly Temple???
     
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  21. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Coke? Water? Iced tea?

    No one will care. Sometimes people just don't want to drink in that environment. I'd prefer an applicant who doesn't indulge at all to one who over-indulges
     
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  22. b-real

    b-real What, me worry? 10+ Year Member

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    It also sends the message that the program is poorly funded, even if that's not the case.


    Posted using SDN Mobile
     
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  23. Daveizzy

    Daveizzy ASA Member 5+ Year Member

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    1. I just had to look up "teetotaler".
    2. From an interviewee point-of-view, common sense goes a long way.
    3. Do residents really try to "loosen people up" to see what they are like?
     
  24. aProgDirector

    aProgDirector Pastafarians Unite! SDN Advisor SDN Moderator 10+ Year Member

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    INstitutions are tightening up on alcohol expenses. I can't charge any alcohol to my CME account anymore, and same with most institutional accounts. For now, alcohol continues to be paid for at recruiting dinners but I expect that may disappear. Plus there may be some liability for the institution involved -- if we pay and someone gets in an MVA and injures someone, a lawyer could argue that we are responsible.

    In any case, for the OP, they will almost certainly make this policy clear when you schedule your interview. And it's not that big of a deal either way.
     
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  25. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Not in a calculating way, but yes.

    People act a little differently with a couple beers in their system than they would otherwise.
     
  26. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I tend to regard people who don't drink but can still seem to enjoy themselves in a crowd of people who are having a beer or two positively. Plenty of people have legit reasons not to drink (religious reasons, recovering alcoholic, medical reasons etc). If you can have a soft drink and not make a big deal about not drinking, or make others feel like they shouldn't be, you are fine. The guy who succumbs to peer pressure isn't really what I'm looking for in a co-resident. Plus every group needs a designated driver.

    However the word "teetotaler" carries with it a historic connotation of judging others for drinking/advocating not to drink, so if you meant it in that sense, it might be problematic.
     
  27. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    unless your institution IS going dry for all institutional events, including the numerous fundraising dinners I'm sure they throw each year, it's kind of an argument of convenience rather than a valid concern. A person at what is essentially a job interview is 1000% less likely to drink to the point of intoxication than the typical fat cat the hospital CEO wants to solicit for that new surgery wing.
     
  28. docontherocks32

    docontherocks32

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    I have no religious or moral beliefs (or personal health grounds) against drinking alcohol. I don't appreciate people going over the top and creating ruckus, but that's a small minority. Its just that I don't consume alcohol. Most of my family consumes alcohol (socially). My group of friends in medical school used to drink ( a lot) and I had no problem with that, nor did they have any issue with my not drinking. They were actually glad to have me as I was the designated driver when they occasionally got knocked out.

    However, often some people feel uncomfortable with non drinkers in the group and I had been forewarned that it would pull me down in the US as well. That is my only concern.
     
  29. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    It's not like these dinners are all-night benders. Most residents will have one or two drinks - they are often coming off a long day, or on call the next day, or on home call. I really don't think I would notice if someone was or wasn't drinking. Just nurse a coke or something.

    It's only if someone were to have a negative stance towards drinking at all - either by language or behavior - at the event that they would negatively stand out.
     
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  30. docontherocks32

    docontherocks32

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    In that case I don't have a cause to worry. But you clarified that earlier as well. So I'll just relax and grab a beer, oops a coke.
     
  31. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Agree with everything you said except the suggestion that someone should be drinking while "on home call." imagine something goes bad that night and twenty witnesses can put you drinking at a microbrewery. That's the stuff medmal lawyers dream about. Don't go to bar events while you are on call, ever. Just my two bit lawyer advice.
     
  32. Raryn

    Raryn Infernal Internist Gold Donor 7+ Year Member

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    I'll go to bar events when I'm on jeopardy... and hang out with my friends while drinking water or diet coke. Doing anything else reminds me of an episode of scrubs...
     
  33. michaelrack

    michaelrack All In at the wrong time SDN Advisor 7+ Year Member

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    Last edited: 10.01.14
  34. DrZeke

    DrZeke yzarc gniog ylwolS 10+ Year Member

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    I can't agree with this more. Some people question whether or not it's ok to drink while on home call. However most programs have a zero tolerance policy if you look it up and if you're caught there's not much you can do... Not worth the risk...
     
  35. galactus

    galactus Devourer of WORLDS 10+ Year Member

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    My program didn't allow alcohol on the tab when we took applicants out to dinner.
    The residents took it upon themselves to cover the drinks and we all asked to keep the alcoholic drinks separate from the dinner tab.
    Then again it wasn't too bad. We only took out 1-4 residents out per interview day so it was pretty affordable.
     
  36. sakata8242

    sakata8242 2+ Year Member

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    This issue is usually brought up by the interview coordinator in emails to applicants. Other places I interviewed had preset menus arranged at the restaurant, and on the menu cards it explicitly stated that alcohol would not be paid for, or that the department would only pay for one drink. Frankly, this was not a huge issue for me and I recall that I really couldn't care less.

    Just be straightforward about it. I think you'll find most people will not care.

    I interviewed at a few places that didn't cover or limited alcohol expenses. I still drank, and so did the residents dining with us. Maybe it's an anesthesia thing; I would be more wary of a program where all the residents are teetotalers.
     
  37. killerleaf

    killerleaf beware, beyond there be dragons 10+ Year Member

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    Our institution refuses to pay for alcohol for any reason whatsoever. Our program has the dinner the night before at one of the attending's homes. I have heard that there is alcohol present, but my budget does not cover the cost. The host usually provides any alcohol that may be present.

    And there have been a couple of times that a candidate's future, (at our program anyway) was determined at the dinner, after a "few too many"...loud and obnoxious, inappropriate comments about spouses who were also attending, nope, not ranked very highly!

    And a candiate who did not drink would not stand out here. We have probably an even split between those who do and those who don't.
     
  38. AStark

    AStark 2+ Year Member

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    I think this is a pretty bizarre policy. And, arguably, lame. There's nothing wrong with not drinking, but on my tour completely "dry" events were few and far between. I've never see anyone - applicant or attendee - at these dinners drink to excess, though I've observed more than a few residents getting pretty drunk at bar events. At one program where staff attended the social they were amongst the drunkest there.
     
  39. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    There's always a few applicants per year who get pretty toasted. They get remembered for the wrong reasons...
     
  40. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    I don't drink, and it was not an issue for me. When everyone was ordering and it got to be my turn, I'd order my diet Coke, and the waiter would just write it down and move on. Not everyone will be drinking anyway. Some residents will be working/on call, and some residents/applicants will be pregnant/Mormon/whatever other reason they choose not to drink. Also, some med schools apparently advise their applicants not to drink at interview dinners. (Mine didn't, but a few of my co-residents told me that theirs did.) Like L2D said, don't make a big deal out of it. Just order whatever non-alcoholic thing you want to drink and enjoy the dinner.
     
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  41. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I would suggest maybe this is the most valuable information that can be gleaned from these dinners.
     
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  42. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV 2+ Year Member

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    Dancing naked on the table is a bad thing‽
     
  43. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Lifetime Donor SDN Chief Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    Eh...not when compared to drunkenly hitting on the lesbian attending. Sloppy, shows poor judgement and lack of gaydar.

    However it did provide fodder for conversation for years so that guy did us a favor.
     
  44. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV 2+ Year Member

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    He probably wanted to be surrounded by people open to new experiences. :)

    It's really a win/win, LOL!

    I'd probably just have a glass of wine with dinner. My girlfriend gets migraines from red wine so I rarely enjoy it these days.
     
  45. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    That's amazing.

    Our stories are much more boring. Usually just "wow that one guy got pretty drunk, huh?" "Yeah, he was a sweaty mess"
     
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  46. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I was at a dinner with a guy who apparently already got a "ranked to match" email from his top choice but for whatever reason decided to keep going to a couple of the "lesser interest" interviews he had lined up. He proceeded to run up a couple hundred dollar drink bill singlehandedly, and showed up at the interviews the next day pretty green looking. Doubt he got ranked at this place. That's the best story I personally saw on the residency trail.

    In law, I've seen summer law student interns hit on bosses wives and not use discretion about where they chose to publicly urinate at firm events.
     
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  47. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    That's impressive. What would have been better is if he did that the night before and then just no-showed the day of.

    The story I usually tell our fourth year students is somewhat apocryphal - as it was told to me by an attending. But he was out to dinner with his family at the same restaurant where the ortho program had their dinner. He went to the bathroom at the same time as two applicants and one of them, clearly drunk, proceeded to trash the program loudly to the other applicant. This attending made sure to stop by the table shortly after and tell the ortho residents what said applicant really thought of them.
     
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  48. BlondeDocteur

    BlondeDocteur 7+ Year Member

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    I think it's very specialty-dependent. On surgery interviews, every single program liberally opened the taps; some of them got quite bacchanalian. It was great because there are always the idiot applicants who use it for Dutch courage... and the idiot residents who get too soused and let you know all the dirt on the program, the attendings, their co-residents' sexual peccadilloes, etc.

    In pathology I interviewed at 36wks pregnant -> 5 weeks postpartum so sadly was out of the game. But it was much less common to have alcohol, and I know my current program is completely barred (institutional policy) from providing it-- likely due to the liability reasons outlined above. We heartily encourage people to buy their own, though, and lead by example.

    My favorite story was in Seattle-- a city where as long as you're wearing something with the North Face logo you're dressed for the occasion, be it the opera, a formal wedding, etc-- a guy showed up to our night-before (held at a Mexican bar) in black tie. Just to impress. He'd been pre-gaming before he showed up, and thought 'what the hell?'
     
  49. FutureInternist

    FutureInternist 7+ Year Member

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    Wait....ONLY a black tie , because o/w that's just stupid :)
     
  50. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    I tell all our applicants that this is why it is so important to attend the pre-interview dinners. The residents get a little tipsy and then get loose lipped. You get a great sense of what they really think of the program.
     
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  51. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV 2+ Year Member

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    I'll be sure to factor in the dinners when making travel plans.

    Will be mindful of the drink, as well. :)
     

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