Unless you are just joining the Lunch and Learn Community or maybe you have been living under a rock for the past 6-7 months then you are already aware that I took a job as a Program Director & Director of Medical Education for an Internal Medicine residency last year pretty much leaving the outpatient world to join the world of academic medicine. There definitely wasn't any downtime to ease into the position as the DME as almost immediately I was faced with the task of improving/fixing the program & structure within but most importantly help decide who were going to be next years intern class. Last week was the deadline to turn in the final list for potential first-year interns and after going through my first interview season and I can it was amazing to be on the other side of the interview table. Now I can't say that the whole interview season went without a hitch but the learning experience will only make me a better for years to come.
Now I remember when I was a IM resident we were able to be a part of the interviews for upcoming interns but it was totally different now as I was playing a huge role in not only selecting who got an interview but who would be the best candidates for our class next year. We ended up interviewing approximately 60 to 70 students and I could tell you one thing is for sure there were some common traits both good and bad that I saw amongst these fourth-year medical students from the first interview all the way to the last.
One of the things that stood out to me as a program director when we were interviewing many of the students was that a lot of them didn't really know how to sell themselves. And it was interesting because I had kids and a wide range of categories from amazing board scores to amazing letter of recommendations to amazing extracurricular activities but very few and far between actually did an decent job at really selling themselves for the position that they were looking for, which was a job in our hospital.
I think about when I joined my fraternity, (Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated) one of the best things I learned from that experience was the art of the interview. It's been my saving grace over the years which have allowed me to excel at most interviews I'm a part of. I know that as a medical student we didn't get a lot of on-the-job experience in particular when we are trying to sell ourselves to future employers.I think we go through school knowing what we need to do or what organizations to be apart of for our CV but when faced with the situation of actually having to prove that what's on paper is what you see a lot of it gets lost in translation.
We had one interview that was so bad that I immediately went to talk to the medical students at our hospital and let them know that we would be holding mock interviews for them before they left & became 4th years. I'll admit it was for partially for selfish reasons because I didn't want anyone of my medical students to go into an interview and have the person interviewing them wonder how could they come so ill prepared.
So as I said earlier January 19th was the last day that we as a program could submit our list for potential residents and I am just happy to say that all those involved which included my program coordinator, the designated institutional official, my administrative DME, several residents & CEO of the hospital could come to a consensus agreement on the ones we chose who will potentially be here for the next 3 years. What was even more of an amazing experience was reaching out and talk to some of the potential applicants and reinforce the idea that they are wanted in our program and if we were lucky to match with them that they would not be disappointed.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the whole process of how a 4th year medical student actually ends up at their place of residency here is what happens: If a program ranks a medical number as their top choice(depending on how many spots they have this can range from 1-20) and the medical student also ranks that program number one then they are “matched”, which means that that is where the student will be spending the next chapter of their life. What can occur sometimes and what actually often occurs sometimes is that student & a program have a mismatched rank and some other program is able to come in & get the student. The goal is always to match your top medical students and hope that those top medical students also rank you as number one but only time will tell. I can unfortunately tell you that there are some program that are notorious for telling the kids that they are going to rank them number 1 only to find out that they told that to way more applicants than the program can take. They do this to make sure that there spots fill without taking into account that these kids get emotionally attached with the thought that they are going to be at a certain location only to have that program lie that they were apart of the chosen few. It's a practice that I made sure that we didn't follow so we made sure to reach out to the students who truly had a shot at getting into our program.
Now the countdown begins and I have to wait till February 5th 12:00pm to see who will be the residents for our program next year at Wellington Regional and I can tell you I'm excited and ecstatic about it.
What I plan to do for all medical students and I want you guys to be on the lookout is I'm going to be hosting a webinar next month where I talk about tips to succeed during a residency interview and 3 tips on making sure you ace your interviews. If you are interested in joining the webinar or you know a 3rd or 4th year medical student who would be interested forward this blog post to them and have them sign the link below.