Monday, August 24, 2015

Medical School and Residency Interviews: Illegal Questions and How to Manage Them

The interview - whether for medical school, residency, fellowship, or dental school - is subject to basic legal rules. Admissions officers/faculty members should refrain from asking questions that are not relevant to the position the interviewee is seeking. Questions about race, religion, and marital/family status fall into this category.

If you are asked these types of questions, you can simply answer - if it's not distasteful to you - or respond by addressing the intent of the question without revealing personal information. ("I think you're asking if my home life will affect my ability to carry out my duties. I can assure it won't.")

If you have the opportunity to give feedback to the institution, you can consider doing so after the interview. When I was interviewing for residency, I was asked by a faculty member if I had a boyfriend. After the interview day, I talked to a faculty mentor at my school who reported the situation to the other institution. The faculty member who asked me the illegal question was no longer permitted to interview.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Medical School and Residency Interviews - Power Posing

As medical school and residency interviews approach, I want to remind everyone about Amy Cuddy, the Harvard faculty member who speaks about the psychology of power, influence, and nonverbal communication. Her research shows that a "fake it until you make it" philosophy and "power posing" practices improve your performance in interviews. Cuddy's TED talk has been viewed over 27 million times.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do Interviews Matter?

For residency candidates: The NRMP Program Directors' Survey makes it very clear that interviews matter a lot, which was also my experience as an Assistant Residency Director. I recall very robust conversations about even small comments candidates made during their interviews, some of which affected their ranking on our Match list.
For medical school applicants: Although there is controversy over how much college interviews matter, even skeptics acknowledge that graduate school interviews make a difference in the application process. In this NYT piece, two former interviewers strong advise conducting mock interviews and being prepared for "curve ball" questions.
Remember: If you're well-prepared, once you get your foot in the door, you can make a strong impression about the worthiness of your candidacy.

Monday, August 3, 2015

NRMP® Data Suggests Residency Applicants Should Apply Broadly

In their publication Impact of Length of Rank Order List on Main Residency Match Outcome:2002-2015, the NRMP reports that matched applicants consistently have longer rank order lists than unmatched applicants.

What that means to those approaching the residency application process is that candidates should throw a wide net in choosing programs at which to apply. Of course, there is a cost to this strategy, and that expense needs to be balanced. However, if you can afford it, starting out with more options usually will provide more opportunities to interview and thus, the ability to create a longer rank order list.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Doctors Sick at Work

Here's a quick New York Times piece on healthcare providers who come to work sick. I have to say that I cannot think of one physician-friend I know who has not come to work ill at some point. Unfortunately, the system needs to change drastically, especially for residents, to keep doctors away from their responsibilities when ill.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Are you a Residency Candidate Applying in More than One Specialty?

If you are considering applying in more than one field, you have a tough road ahead of you, and you should strategize accordingly. Remember that, although your ERAS activities cannot be individualized to different residency programs, your personal statement and letters of recommendation can. Demonstrating commitment to each field through your essay and letters will be a challenge, so take time to write thoughtfully, and make sure you speak candidly to your faculty recommenders.
Above all: Ensure that you assign the correct specialty-specific documents to the correct programs!

Monday, July 13, 2015

How Fast Do You Need to Submit Your Secondaries?

I've recently had several questions about what the turn around should be for secondary essays. Aiming for submission within 3 weeks of receipt assures you submit your essays quickly while maintaining high quality work. The secondary process can be a challenge - with a slew of applications coming in simultaneously. Pace yourself and try to use (thoughtful) variations of the same essays as much as possible.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Letters of Recommendation

It's time to start securing your residency letters of recommendation (LOR) if you haven't already. Remember that your letters have a big impact on your application, and even a mediocre letter can bomb your candidacy.

Don’t be afraid to ask a potential letter-writer if she will write you "a very strong" LOR. It may seem awkward at the time you ask but getting a wimpy letter will be much thornier. If the faculty member says no, hesitates, or tells you in May that she has to plan her Thanksgiving get-together, politely thank her and move on. Although disappointing, acknowledge that she has done you a huge favor. You now have the advantage of substituting a stronger LOR written by someone who likes your clinical work.