doc_strange2001

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This thread is for words of advice for future canidates.. Things Iverson doesnt tell you..Things that can only be experienced by making your own dumb mistakes...Feel free to contribute

1. Dont let anyone drop off your suit at the dry cleaners for you... I was taking my Step II on a Sat and I had an interview on Monday. So i asked my girlfriend to drop my suit off at the cleaners that Sat while I took the test. Thinking id just pick it up on Sunday before I drove out to my interview. Simple enough right??? WRONG!! She dropped it off at a place that is closed on Sundays!!!!!!. I go there on sunday and my stomach dropped as Im standing there alone in the parking lot looking at the dark, closed, locked cleaners. I missed that interview. Thanks honey.

2. Make sure you like a city before you schedule a bunch of interviews in it... I had 5 in NY..went there and hated it....ended up cancelling 3 and it was a total waste of a week...wifiey was there too and she b##$# and complained about how cold and ugly it was the whole time so that added to my misery and perhaps my perception...so mabey the better advise is..dont bring you significant other with you on interviews.
 

Krony

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Maybe your wife was just upset because she found out about your girlfriend...just kidding.

In all seriousness though - along with the mistakes, I'd be interested to hear about some of the not-so-obvious things that you may have surprised yourself by doing particularly well in this whole process.

P.S. doc_strange I pm'd you several weeks ago - did that ever go through?
 

VentdependenT

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Take second looks/audition rotations if you can. I don't care if they influence a programs view of you as an interested candidate. Its all about getting a deeper inside scoop on a place.
My potential first place dropped significantly after a month rotation there.

Also don't go on more than 12 interviews...acutally 10 is more like it. You'll burn out and it'll make your rank list paranoia jump exponentially.

Also, if you are slightly interested in a place check it out. It may be a "gem." See UIowa on me rank list.
 
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powermd

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0. Picking programs: Apply early, it's okay if your application isn't complete, and shoot for the top- you never know where you're going to get interviews until you apply. If you have a 215+ step 1, you should definitely be including lots of top programs, you may not get all, but you will get some.

1. Scheduling interviews: beware of scheduling too many in one week, especially important interviews. I wasn't in top form for two interviews at programs I was planning to rank highly because I was sick of interviewing at that point, and very much undersleeped from living on couches/futons for 10 days.

2. Feedback: asking a PD or interviewer for feedback on how likely you are to match at their program probably doesn't help you. You want to give the impression that you are a desireable candidate and you don't care how a particular program plans to rank you-- but you would still be a very enthusiastic resident there.

3. Travel: Try to limit your cities so you need to make as few trips as possible. You'll fit in more interviews that way, reduce fatigue, and save money. Make airline reservations 3+ weeks in advance if you can. Always investigate ground transportation options before you go. I had interviews in Boston and NYC and planned to take the Fung Wah bus ($10) to connect between cities-- but then a major snowstorm hit Boston, and I was stuck competing with hundreds of other stranded travelers trying to get on an Amtrak. You want reliable transportation secured before your trip.

4. Hygiene: A few interviewees on the trail smelled like **** in suits that hadn't been washed in God knows how long. You might want to watch that.

5. Interview questions: Learn who your likely interviewers will be before interview day, what they do at the program, and what to expect from their questions.

6. Away rotations / LORs: Make sure to do a rotation somewhere where a famous person will write you a letter. Even if it doesn't say much, it took some committment to do the rotation and get the letter. That looks good. If it is well-written and insightful, all the better. Also, don't be afraid of asking bigwigs for letters. This is standard procedure for them.

7. Publications: Take any opportunity you can to write something up. It doesn't take much to put together a case report based on something interesting that happened in the OR. You just have to get lucky and have something happen that's worth writing up. Even if it's not accepted, you can put it in your ERAS as "in preparation" or "in submission", and it probably enhances your application a bit.
 

gaslady

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dont bring you significant other with you on interviews.

Actually you should bring your significant other on as many interviews as you can. They have to live in the place you pick too. If they hate it they will make you miserable for 4 years rather than one short trip. Even if you can't bring them, their wishes should be important in the decision also. You're going to be working hard. You should be in a place where they are most likely to be happy. Otherwise it will create unnecessary tension in your relationship and your life.
 

walla

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totally agree with everything powermd said... all of it. i was going to write some advice, but that pretty much sums it up. especially the first. i never thought i would get interviews at any top programs, but learned that lesson in med school, so i applied anyway. i had interviews at bwh, bid, columbia, penn... albeit, all cali schools gave me the total and immediate boot. i have realized if you are not from there, you better do a rotation there if you want to be considered.
 

hawkslo

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Smelling like **** for an interview, I guess that's one way to make an impression.

I was wondering if you elder guys (who will soon be leaving us newbies) would be willing to visit this site (post-match and post hangover) to share with us maybe 1. where you matched, 2. how happy you are and 3. list scores etc. that you think landed you there.

Also, do you all predict that the competitiveness of gas will continue to rise, level off, or decline. People speak of the cyclical nature of gas (and all residencies for that matter) and with the overall match percentage being around 96% last year, I wonder where it will go.


Thanks for your help, time and advice.
 

drlee

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i'll have to respectfully disagree with powermd. i think it's ok to ask for some feedback during your interviews. i think asking what your chances are conveys sincere interest in the program. i wouldn't go around asking for feedback in every program, however; just the ones which you are particularly interested in.
 

doc_strange2001

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Originally posted by gaslady
Actually you should bring your significant other on as many interviews as you can. They have to live in the place you pick too. If they hate it they will make you miserable for 4 years rather than one short trip. Even if you can't bring them, their wishes should be important in the decision also. You're going to be working hard. You should be in a place where they are most likely to be happy. Otherwise it will create unnecessary tension in your relationship and your life.


I was just kidding. I agree. :laugh:
 

recall

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Perhaps this belongs in a separate thread, but I include it here as a pearl:

This is what St. Vincent's (NY) had to say:

"In view of the large number of applications that we have to review, we are compelled to employ screening standards which may appear to be arbitrary. While we do not have rigid or fixed requirements regarding USMLE or COMLEX scores it would be unusual for us to accept an applicant with an individual USMLE score less than 210 or a COMLEX score less than 550. "

Don't waste your money if this is not you.

Though things may change in the future, some program directors actually do read through all applications without employing board score screening methods, so do follow previous advice about shooting for the stars. I do appreciate and applaud these programs!

CA programs were a different breed -- I don't understand
them -- perhaps people who interviewed there could provide more info to prospects on this.
 

recall

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About asking for feedback:

It also depends on how you ask.

"Will I get in?" sounds very different from "What criteria will you use to assemble your new group of residents?"
 

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Yeah, I totally agree with what has been said. Here's some more while it's still fresh:

1) Don't underestimate you application. You only get one chance to apply. If you think you don't stand a chance but like the area, apply anyway.

2) Amtrak is rarely on time. I didn't know this and arrived at my destination at 1 am when I was scheduled for 5 pm.

3) Goes with number 2, if you are in an unfamiliar place, don't wait until the morning of to find the hospital. Showing up late because you got lost looks bad, and you feel real stupid. I did this (but I blame it on (2) above).

4) The quickest way to stand out as a jerk in a crowd is to constantly compare the program you are at to your home program. At least try to act like you enjoy the program you interview at. When I was at Umich, I saw a guy compare UMichigan to a, well lets say 'lesser known' program in Michigan. Come on dude...

5) Don't print up a list of questions to ask residents and attendings and then read this list between interviews in front of other candidates. Sorry if any of you on here did this, but I just thought it looked dorky. Maybe they were more prepared than me?

6) Coffee + Bran Muffins that they give you in the morning + greasy pizza the night before = Bowel urgency at the interview. As you know, if this turns into a bowel emergency during the interview, you're in trouble.

7) Have an interesting case in your mind when you interview. Know a little about it. Be prepared to talk about it.

8) Be prepared to have those illegal questions asked. Many places ask where else you interview and what your other top choices are. The single or married thing came up a few times too. No matter how you answer, just be prepared for it.

I'm sure I'll think of some more here soon...
 

VentdependenT

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2ndyear I hear you about the bowel urgency. Taking a mindblowing crap in the anesthesiology department's bathroom while perspirating through your suit sucks. It hurts even worse knowing that everyone else in the conference room knows you're droppen a deuce.

Yes, it is a good idea to have a case in mind. Always have a few positive subjects unique to the program rehearsed as well (e.g. their ICU, regional, whatever).

Don't be afraid into bring in some water to the interview room. You're going to be doing an excessive amount of talking. Eventually the lips and tounge will begin to adhere to one another. Looks bad when you have to keep licking and smacking them.
 

supahfresh

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I had the pleasure of a having a voluminous caffeine induced BM at my NYU interview. What could i do....I had to take care of buisness. When I came back the secretaries were freaking out because I was 5 minutes late for my interview with the PD. I think he was unimpressed.

I had no idea what to say when asked about a particular case. So I just said I loved everything. The interviewer dug it.
 

2ndyear

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I was asked to talk about an interesting case, so I started to describe the anesthestic plan for a Norwood procedure that I saw. I thought I was cool. I got through the 'well the baby had an IV so he was induced with a little propofol because he was a baby...' The interviewer proceeded to grill me on the Norwood, the Fontan, etc. I didn't know what vessel went where and couldn't even describe the indications for the procedure. Not a good way to start with the chair of peds anesthesia at a pretty good children's hospital. Bottom line is either know your stuff or describe something easy. From then on out when asked I described an ICU case because most people didn't care. The Norwood was still pretty interesting though, for reasons I'll probably never understand.
 

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walla and recall,

i'm not sure exactly what convinced the cali schools to interview me but i didn't rotate out there (didn't do any away rotations, actually). i do think i had strong application with good numbers and good letters (or so i was told about the letters). additionally, LA is my birthplace, though i'm chicago-bred. i don't know if it was a combination of the two that got me interviews or if one weighed more heavily than the other.

like 2ndyear, be careful picking a case that was interesting and make sure you know it.

and when you get pimped, don't sweat it. you either know it or you don't. and it definitely feels better to admit up front that you don't know rather than sit and flounder. know your limitations. ;)

also, know that many chairs are a little eccentric or come off as cold and impersonal. i was unprepared at the beginning of the trail because the chair at my school is really cool, in a grandfatherly way.
 

powermd

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Originally posted by drlee
i'll have to respectfully disagree with powermd. i think it's ok to ask for some feedback during your interviews. i think asking what your chances are conveys sincere interest in the program. i wouldn't go around asking for feedback in every program, however; just the ones which you are particularly interested in.

If you're going to ask for feedback, you better do it gently. For all you know, the PD may be thinking of ranking you-- dead last. Don't put the PD in the awkward position of being asked to say something you don't want to hear. Why do you really need to know anyway? Are you that insecure about your application? Maybe they will drop your rank slightly, favoring a more confident applicant. I understand this point is controvorsial, but I see asking as a liability. Why take a risk when there's no benefit to you, other than satisfying curiosity/insecurity? The PD's willingness to give you a slot should not affect your ranking preferences, and there are better ways to appear interested and enthusiastic about matching a program. For example, you may want to say "I know you have lots of great applicants, but I would be really excited to come here, and plan to rank your program #1." That sends a clear message. I tried that at my #1 choice. We'll see how it worked out on match day!
 

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I agree with the above words of wisdom. I'd just like to add a few more points.

(1) Really know your application. Be prepared to discuss anything on it including extracurricular activities. I had an extensive amount of leadership roles that I was asked about, and it was nice to be able to discuss some of the projects that I had been involved with. Also know your personal statement and how you presented yourself. I was asked a few times about a inspiring quote that I put in my personal statement.

(2) Relax. Formulate your responses before they come out of your mouth. The most extensive kind of pimping that I got was a scenario where something is going wrong. What would be my next step? Just be logical. I was also asked more than a few times about how I would deal with others (esp surgeons).

(3) Eat light. The above points hold true. For some reason, they always seem to serve messy food, so be cautious. You don't want to walk into your interview with an embarrasing stain.

(4) Program comparison in the conference room. You end of spending the majority of the day with the other applicants discussing other programs and comparing. I was always sort of weary of the fact that you don't really know who is listening to you. But honestly, it's sort of inevitable b/c you and these other applicants only have 1 thing in common -- you're looking for a residency.

(5) Check out websites and interviewers. The internet is public information, and therefore, it was important to know the program information that's provided. Even better, know about the research that the interviewers are doing. If you do this, you've done your homework.

I hope that helped. Best of luck to you all. Only a few more weeks left.
 
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