“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

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Interviews are over ....

“The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it.”

Today was our last day of interviews. The rank list is done. The more I am involved in this process; the more I realize that it is not that scientific process. It gets difficult when you get to the last few applicants. What I have learned this year?

As I previously posted, I asked all of the applicants the same group of questions. In most of my interviews, these questions an provided the opportunity for further conversation. A couple of interviewees fell flat. I don't mean that the answered wrong or poorly, just that were flat. It is like a girl who likes a guy. She gives him every opportunity to "impress her," and he misses the cues. You know what I mean? All in all, the questions went pretty well.

For my first question, I asked, "in one sentence, tell me who you are outside of medicine?" To this question, the common themes were:
  • hard working
  • loves outdoors
  • loves being with friends and family
  • easy going
  • loves sports
Very few actually gave me a sentence. Most just gave a bunch of adjectives that described attributes that they think would be good attributes in an orthopaedic resident. For the few that gave me sentences, here are a couple I liked:
  • I am a geeky girl from the midwest.
  • I am a father, husband and friend, that loves music and the outdoors.
To the second questions, favorite book and author, I surprisingly got some interesting answers. Mostly popular authors and books. Several people enjoyed Dumas. A few like historical and biographical books. For most of them, this was not a difficult question to answer.

To the third group of questions, favorite song/album and artist/group, the answer was not as obvious. Most had multiple choices from Country to Indy rock. U2 and the Beetles where probably the overall winners. Groups like Shane and Shane were new to me. GNR and metallica were also popular choices. Lupe Fiasco and Tupac came out of no where from one application. I liked that.

Overall, I think the questions did what I wanted. They initiated conversation made most feel comfortable. I learned a non-medical side of the applicant. I got a glimpse into their psyche. It surprised me that no applicants in their review of our program prior to coming found my blog with the questions. Oh well, I tried to give a heads up.

I do think I will use these again next year. I may change them a little. May be I will ask what ringtone they would give to my phone number. Maybe they would use the Imperial March from Star Wars, like I use for all of my partners (other attendings).

One of my residents just told me he tagged my number with Pantera's Walk. That was FFT.

Pantera's - Walk

Avenged Sevenfold's - Walk cover

May be I will ask what CD's are in their car or songs on their IPOD's recent played list? Or may be I will ask what their ring tone is? I will continue to search for ways to assess an applicants past the USMLE and grades. I look forward to this next year.

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Anonymous said...

That's interesting how you went about interviewing and the questions you chose and why. My phone has bewitched when it rings. Wonder what that says? (rhetorical question)

Anonymous said...

You know, first of all, I found your discussions to be very helpful, and actually reassuring. Thank you, I commend your efforts. You care.

The reason why I mention this is simply because of the fact that I struggled in my first 2 years of medical school. It was not a problem with passing or not, it was more along the lines of 'getting honors' at my school. My school is (in my opinion) one of those schools that has a more stringent grading system (USMD program.) Honors are not given out very graciously. Our first two years were ran by PhD's who tested us on random details that had very little relevance, at least that's what I felt. As a result, I studied and learned what I thought was to be important (which later I found out was, because it what was emphasized in all of the review books, and clerkship books,) but suffered, because I couldn't remember the random detail about some random research mentioned in the lecture.

This made me extremely frustrated with our 'system'. I felt I *knew* the material, but still did 'just above average.' It was my gut feeling that I did *know* the material much better than my classmates, but they did better than I.

It is interesting to note, that amongst my peers whom received honors in the first two years, have a poor understanding of the general concepts and can't remember any clinical data and have poor judgement. Granted, I am generalizing and have an arrogant tone to this posting, but this is what I truly feel. I am upset with my institution, and feel that it has failed my peers.

I constantly am stating how if I was a medical educator I would cut out the BS and get down to the important mechanisms. I am constantly reminded of something that my biochemistry professor said to our class in college:

"The thing is about subjects like biochemistry, physics, chemistry.. is that you learn something, and then you can do something with it: Solve a problem, design something, etc. On the otherhand, you have subjects like Biology, where the students learn lots of stuff, and that don't do anything with the knowledge, and say 'yeah, that's nice.'"

I feel like I stuck with the idea of the former, and my school emphasized the latter. Now, I know in my heart, I am better off for it than many others, but I feel like my application suffers as a result.

Now, here I am in the middle of my third year, I have received honors in mostly everything (including Medicine and Surgery), have what I think is an ok stepI score (256), but I am still doubting myself for ortho because of this issue.

My gut feeling is that I will not suffer too much as a result of this. In fact, maybe I will be better off given the fact that programs that I wil be a best fit in would most likely think along the same lines as I. But who knows?

What are your thoughts on this?

Also, my research consisted of retrospectively reviewing the effectiveness (relative) of a specific surgical procedure using standardized patient satisfaction outcome surveys. Is this considered 'valid' research? Medicine in this day and age harps on evidence based, randomized, controlled, double blinded, multi-center - type studies.. Although this has inherent value in the treatment of patients, I feel that medicine is mostly not based on EBM, and case series are really how we learn, especially in surgical techniques. Personally I feel that my research is 'valid', but how do the programs generally feel about this subject?

Thanks for your reply, I'm sure it will be interesting to read at the very least.

Someonect said...

anon#1: yeah the questions and answers where not as important as their approach to them. can we sit and have a conversation with this person? music, books, movies, sports, these are usually safe topics for conversation. i could have asked about politics. that would have been fun.

bewitched as a ringtone .... your a witch? LMAO, i don't know. i do think that the ringtone does tell you something about a persons personality. i am not sure of what yet. it probably just tells us that you are in a certain category of people (i.e. trendy, popular, tech savvy, don't care, cool) heck i don't know.

anon#2: let me put your mind at ease. you will be fine. you have a great USLME score and most view clinical grades as more indicative of how you will perform as a resident. (USMLE correlates with OITE; clinical grades correlates with clinical performance). you research is important for the interview, you need to know it cold. you will do fine.

emily said...

"The question of the day" broke the ice with our medics this summer during Annual Training for our Army Reserve unit. The answers amazed us!

"What song do they play as you enter the stadium?"

"If someone made a movie of our unit, which actor/actress would play your part?"

"Which cartoon character are you?"

Anonymous said...

This is from anon#2
Thank you for your immediate response, you definitely lowered by blood pressure a few points. I definitely am in awe of the work that you're putting into this. And I'm not just saying that b/c I want to do ortho like nobody's business :)

I think a good interview question for you to use in the future would be "if you were stranded anyway, where would it be, and what would you bring?" or, if there was one thing that you wish you could do better, but only could do that, what would it be?

I like that. And I agree with your idea to interview the person. Everyone is the same on paper.

Someonect said...

emily: love the question of the day

in general conversation, we have talked about what son we would have play when we where on the floor rounding. obvious choice, "Big Pimpin"

who would play me, Vin Diesel. cause we look similar. an his guns are almost as big as mine :).

cartoon character? hmmmm ... marvel hero wolverine (just cause he is a cool, anti-establishment rebel). may be Jack-Jack 'cause he's so cute, but he has a dangerous side :)

anon#2: the stranded question is a good one. it has been used.

i really like the "if there is one thing you wish you could do better" question. it shows if the applicant has personal insight.

yeah, and you know you have to interview the person. CV's are hard to teach. they are a little full of themselves and tear easily under pressure.

Anonymous said...

from anon#2

Well, easy to break through someones BS on a CV, no doubt. We'll see what happens though. Perhaps we'll meet in the interview arena and I'll be 'pimped' realtime.

although, I doubt that will happen. I hear that a lot of ortho programs are very home-state friendly, meaning they don't like to take people from other states, but that could just be a rumor. Who knows, do you?

BoneDoc23 said...

A little off subject but I got an e-mail today about the portion of the annual meeting dedicated to discussing the need for a universal match for fellowships.

I am currently a fellow and do not believe a match would have been anything but an inconvenience to me. I interviewed, was made an offer, and accepted within 10 days and that is with a holiday and several non-working weekdays thrown in there.

As someone up on what is going on with the education process do you know why this is an issue and what is your opinion on it?


The only contribution I can make otherwise is that I once had a residency interviewer think so little of my leisure reading, he gave me the title of a book to read and asked I send him a postcard upon completion to tell him how it would affect my life and career.

Thanks again.

BoneDoc23 said...

I guess I should finish. I read the book and did send him a postcard but never heard back. I matched a place lower on my rank list as well. Oh well.

Midwife with a Knife said...

My song for board turnover with the residents would be "Pimpin' aint easy". Seriously, I was frustrated with interviewing applicants who very painfully wanted to be in our residency, but who, for whatever reason, didn't seem to be a very good fit.

Someonect said...

anon#2: pimping during interview in orthopaedics, it happens. i am not sure what it proves. may be that the interviewer knows more than the interviewee.

BoneDoc23: yeah the fellowship thing is kinda crazy. totally different from the resident match.

oh yeah, the interviewer should have at least followed up with you.

MWWAK: i knew you were a pimp ;). the whole program fit is extremely important. you know at not every applicant fits with every program.