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How have you other non-trads been answering these questions?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by wepio, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. wepio

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    What do you like to do in your free time, outside of studying?
    - What is a good response? As a non-trad, preparing for a career in medicine IS what I do during my free time. The only other thing I do when I'm not working, volunteering, going to class, studying, or doing homework is literally NOTHING. I take pleasure in just doing nothing after running at a million miles an hour for weeks on end. I go out with friends and socialize at restaurants/bars, sit around and totally veg-out in front of my computer and watch movies/shows, or clean up around the house. I'm not saying that I don't have hobbies or interests. Granted, I love doing the things I used to like working out, running, mountain biking, snowboarding, etc, but don't have time for them right now. How does one answer these types of questions in this type of a situation?

    What non-academic book have you read recently? Why?
    - What if I haven't read a non-academic book lately? I barely have time to keep up with the reading for classes. Honestly, I don't like reading for "pleasure", at all. I do like reading the text books for the classes I'm in because they interest me. I don't see it as a chore to read about genetics/biochem/cell bio/etc. These subjects interest me. Autobiographies/memoires/fiction/etc books don't. Will this make a terrible doctor because I don't like to read for pleasure?

    What other career would you consider if medicine is [absolutely] not an option?
    - Is it a nail in the coffin if you say that you'd just keep working at your current career? I mean, what if you tried over several cycles, improved your app, and just kept getting shut out. Do you HAVE to say that you'd leave your career regardless of becoming a doctor? Yes, you'd rather be a doctor than a [insert profession], but would rather keep doing what you're doing instead of whatever else.

    I'm probably just stressing out and over analyzing these types of questions. I'll shut up now. Thoughts?
     
  2. NTF

    NTF PGY-6
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    As far as the third question, I answered the question from the point of view of the technical standards rather than what I'd do if I didn't get into medical school.

    So in other words, what if something happened to me that prevented me from physically practicing medicine a la Stephen Hawking. What kind of work would I like to do?
     
  3. wepio

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    I see your point, and shoud also consider that perspective if ever asked that question. Does it still mean that if you could not be a doctor for technical reason, you should still give up your current profession? I guess I'm afraid of getting cornered if I say that I would stay in my current field. It seems like an interviewer could interpret that to mean I'm not dedicated to the helping people because i don't respond with another health profession.
     
  4. sindadel

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    I think the free time question can be answered honestly, but with humor. "Well, right now, my full time job doing X is my hobby. Haha. Heck of a leisure activity. Back before I started preparing to go to med school, I used to enjoy Y, Z and Q a lot. I am glad to be done with MCAT prep so that I can resume Q."

    Reading for pleasure isn't a problem for me. But I think they're looking for interests outside academia. Do you watch non-junk TV for interest? Are you interested in any fields other than science/medicine? Do you read magazines about your former hobbies?

    A willingness to remain in your current job indefinitely might seem to indicate that your interest in medicine is shorter term. On the other hand, it might just mean that you have two ideal careers and you're occupying one of them! Being in software has been great for me for the last 10 years, but for the next 10, I definitely need a shift. I'd remain where I am for one reapplication cycle, but then I'd move on into patient advocacy, I think. I think the best answer to this will lie in the way you explain: 1. why you are in your current career and what you like about it and 2. your motivation for making such a costly career switch. If all your motives line up, I can't imagaine adcoms would have a problem.
     
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  5. wepio

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    That's a really good response. It get the point across that I don't have a lot time right now to puruse my other interests without whining about not having time. :thumbup:

    Honestly, I just like doing things. I'm not that big on reading about things, unless it's related to academics. I've come to realize that I really like learning and going to school so I associate reading text books with "doing" because it's a product of going to school (sorry if it doesn't really make sense). I guess I'm sort of an outlier when it comes to reading/hobbies/interests because I don't subscribe to mountain biking magazines or fitness journals, etc. I just prefer doing. I guess I'll have to dig deep to prepare a good answer for this one. I guess I'm just screwed if this type of a question comes up. :(

    The first part of your response is what I was afraid of. I suppose this is just a really slippery question because the answer can easily be misinterpreted.

    Anyways, thanks for your responses. They are really helpful.
     
  6. ruraldr

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    how about selecting a book to read that both prepares you for this question but also would allow you to have insight into a potential future patient situation? (so you felt like you had a goal in reading?)

    Something like Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking--to address the feelings of losing a husband?

    I find it is easy to read a book while traveling via air to interviews...
     
  7. kiyomander

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    It's so funny that you posted this. I actually had to answer the first two questions in an interview last week. Here are my thoughts...

    What do you like to do in your free time, outside of studying?
    - I think this is a round-about way of asking whether you have balance in your life. That, or a way of seeing whether you have an outlet for managing stress. I presume this because of the nature of some of the follow-up questions I received. I don't think the specific activity is as important as actually having something you like to do in your limited free time. Do you exercise? Watch a movie? Walk your dog? Cook?

    What non-academic book have you read recently? Why?
    - Even if it's been months since you picked up a non-academic book, have one in mind to talk about. Simply mentioning your favorite genre or author and having a book to discuss seems to be acceptable. Again, I think they're looking for a well-rounded person, not just a medical robot. Of course, use your better judgment. There was no way I was about to tell my interviewer that the last fiction book I read was "Twilight." Doh! Automatic rejection!

    What other career would you consider if medicine is [absolutely] not an option?
    - I never had this asked in an interview. I think an acceptable answer would be that you would do everything you could to improve your application and re-apply, but if it was absolutely not an option, say you would seek out a career that encapsulated as many of the same qualities as medicine as possible. One where you could work directly with people, that's tied to science, and is service oriented. Some options might be in the fields of education or international development (peace corps). I hope that would be an acceptable answer.
     
  8. wepio

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    You know what?!? :smack: I'm a total freakin' tool! :bang: You reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago! :slap: It is called Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and I'm sure a lot of you have heard of it. I'll just have to skim through it again and refresh myself. How quickly we forget.
     
  9. student1799

    student1799 "Señora” to you, hombre
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    I"m not sure I'd use Stiff as the book you want to discuss. I personally loved it, but its tone was very humorous and irreverent at times, and I think it's possible that many older doctors with a more traditional mindset didn't "get" the book and may have found it offensive. Your interviewer could be one of those people, in which case it would be an awkward conversation.

    If you can't think of anything else you've read that's guaranteed to be non-controversial, go out and read something just for interview purposes. It shouldn't be too hard to find something that interests you--just check out the amazon.com Editors' Picks or something like that.

    Regarding the "if not medicine, then what" question, I would NEVER name any profession other than medicine in my answer. If you do too good a job explaining how profession X has some of the same qualities as medicine or would make you equally happy, I think it would be natural for your interviewer to ask (or think to him/herself): "Why not do profession X instead?" At the very least, you'd make them feel subconsciously less guilty about rejecting you, because you've said there's something else you'd be happy doing. That's NOT an impression I would want to leave.

    If asked this question, I'd answer that if rejected, I would do my best to address the weaknesses in my application and try again. If pressed further ("What if you got rejected a second time?") I'd say something like, "I would have to consider my options at that point." But I wouldn't explicitly commit to any non-medical profession, even in a hypothetical scenario.
     
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  10. halekulani

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    uh, in your case i would tell them about what you used to do. they don't want to hear about you sitting on your couch. they'd rather hear that you snowboard.

    SOL unless you pick up a book. just read something to talk about. preparing for your interview is part of this whole medicine process. why don't you read stuff about medicine? you could go fiction with house of god, or go non-fiction which is extremely popular with books like better, complications, mountains beyond mountains, etc.

    well, if the question is absolutely no medicine, i wouldn't try to persist that medicine is the only thing. again, this is an opportunity to show them that there is more to life than medicine, and that you're a human. you have to like different stuff. it's normal to have a passion for different things outside of medicine.
     
  11. pingouin

    pingouin just chillin'
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    Although the first two questions certainly could come up in an interview, I would propose they'll be more interested in your current career and what you anticipate your transition to medicine to be like than they will be with relative minutiae about your life. I had answers for all of those questions, and never had to use them.

    As far as the third question, that is one I heard. My best advice is that admissions committees do not want to accept people who are running away from something else because they think medicine is the grass being greener. My response to that one was "I really like my current career, but I like medicine more. I have no problem continuing doing what I'm doing until I get in." Luckily, it was the truth, too. ;)
     
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