“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.” ~Carlos Castaneda

Friday, November 23, 2007

It is interview time again

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
~Frederick Keonig
It is that time of the year. All of the applications are here. We have to go through the tedious process of review resident applications for interview. It is a difficult process for our program because we actually go through all of the applications for the pre-screen. AARRRGGGHHH. I wish there was a fail-safe approach to screening applications and selecting residents. I have not found one yet.

So many people ask the question, what does it take to get into orthopaedics? I have posted before some statistic on what many programs look for in an applicant. But, my view of this is like drafting in the NFL. The statistics do not give you the intangibles. Randy Moss and Terrel Owens are great receivers; but if they are in the wrong system or with the wrong combination of players, they don't do well. And, who can forget the Ryan Leaf or Akili Smith. Then there are players that put in the right systems they flourish, Willie Parker and Tom Brady. With that prospective, I believe that there are people and programs that are a better fit. That is not to say that if you have some of the basic stats (USMLE, Grades, etc) you are or are not a shoe-in to a program. But, I do believe that there are better fits.

From the program end, what we try to do is know who we are. We understand what type of program we have an what residents do particularly well and which don't. We can look back over years and know what is our normal pattern of applications. We know what schools and states we receive a lot of applicants from and which ones we do not. This makes that application selection process different. In our program, we are not necessarily looking for some statistical wonder or the ugly duckling. What we generally prefer is a solid individual that fits what we feel is our personality profile.

From the applicant prospective, I believe that best approach to applying is to be realistic with yourself. Know what you strengths and weaknesses are (yes we all have them) . This is an important inventory but difficult to do, well. Next, you need to see where you would like to be located regionally, and look at you school's history of placing people in programs in that location. Then you should look the programs in that area and evaluate how they fit into your personality profile. This will help you in choosing the best program that will help you flourish.

In the end, most of those that obtain a residency will complete and become an orthopaedic surgeon. The more important question is will those same people have a positive experience and become the best with their abilities. My view is that not every flower will be beautiful in every soil; but, given the right soil, every flower can be beautiful.

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be”
~Marcel Pagnol


Chrysalis said...

That must be a daunting task to weed through all of those. A hard thing to hold someone's hopes of getting into a program, and then making a decision on them. Good luck with the choices you make.

Anonymous said...

While I understand the process and the fact that there is a huge surplus of applicants and very little time, I think the most irritating thing to me as an applicant is to go on an interview where the interviewer has not read my application. If I can take the time to drive hours or fly half way across the country, and spend what minimal money I have on a hotel, the interviewer should be able to take 5 minutes to read my application before we meet. Instead of meeting them and getting to know each other, I spend the entire 20 minutes regurgitating what is right front of them. I think the worst is when their first question is, "Tell me about yourself." They should just be honest and say, "I didn't bother to look at your app, so sum it up for me." When someone knows who you are on paper, it facilitates the conversation so much better.

Overall, I find this to be somewhat rude/disrespectful on the part of the program. I feel bad when they only give the interviewers the file as you are walking in the door.

Ohh well, just had to rant.

Someonect said...

chrysalis: it is a daunting task. there are very few bad applicants. many that will be good to great surgeons, the question is which is right for your (my) program. it's tough.

anon:i understand the frustration. i can tell you my most frustrating interview was an interview with residents. the chief residents talked to each other about a case for about 10 of my 20 minute interview.

there are many interviewing styles. some like to learn about you prior to forming a biased opinion based on your CV or LOR's. Others like to have a predetermined questions. some prerank and change based on the interview. it varies.

unlike you i think the question "tell me about yourself" is a great question. why? it tells me what personal traits or qualities you feel are important to you. regurgitating your CV tells me nothing about you. i feel this is a question that is to your advantage. it is an easy question to prepare for and you can bring out your best attributes that may not be spelled out in you CV or transcripts. that being said, i don't usually use that question because i like to tailor my questions to the person i am interviewing.

Chrysalis said...

I agreed with anonymous. I think the interviewer should be prepared regarding the person that will be in front of him or her. It would in fact come off as rude and disrespectful (from my perspective), and you know I am not in the field, so please take me in the vain in which I intend this, because I would feel the same as anony.

That person the interviewee meets is also being sized up. I would think that student is wondering (even with having done research on placement) what kind of training they will get and they may use that interviewer as an object or example of how that ship is run. Perhaps you can do a post on how to answer that question, "Tell me about yourself?" It seems it would come off almost as a challenge if you were sitting in the poor candidates position. It puts them right on the spot. I never liked the question either. It's very hard for someone to come up with how they are "all that and a bag of chips," without coming off as cocky or arrogant. I'd be interested to see what your suggestions would be.

I hope you don't take offense in anyway to my observations and thoughts on this. I am genuinely curious..you know this about me. I'm also never argumentative, but have a quiet disposition...so please read all this as such. :)

Chrysalis said...

uh,oh, hope I didn't over step...I should probably start reading law blogs instead.

Someonect said...

Chrysalis Angel: no you didn't. i have just been trying to get through these applications and doing some committee work, plus operating and stuff. I am actually just getting done in the OR today.

i had to think about good answers to that question. again, i personally don't ask that question, but i feel that it is like an open book test. it is your life so chose what you want to emphasize.

i think most people feel it is a question that requires you to recite your academic history. but, i don't think you have to.

if someone asked me that question, i would answer:

i am a father, husband, surgeon, clincial educator and running enthusiast with midwest roots. my opinions and view are just left of center and i love "law and order."

so, i don't think the question is as hard or as ridgid as people believe. it is you. who knows you better than you. you can chose what you want to sell and highlight. typically if you leave the questioning and inquiring to the inderviewer, it is more likely that we will find flaws.

it is also a question that you can prepare an answer for before you start interviewing.

Chrysalis said...

Hi Someonetc - I'm sorry, I know you are really, really busy. I was 1/2 joking with you when I left that.(although did worry a tad)Long day for you. I shouldn't tease. Hope you can get rested.

I like the way you would answer that question. Perhaps we do tend to make it more difficult than it is.

Midwife with a Knife said...

That's a great perspective on the application process. I have to interview residents starting on Monday Dec 10. I also like the "tell me about yourself" question, because it has a reasonable chance of getting an idea of what someone's like.