Sunday, October 30, 2011

Residency Interview – The Sixth

Only a couple states away my alarm sounded early enough to get me moving in the right direction. Sheer terror came over me, however, when I realized I would be driving across time zones putting me at risk for being an hour late to my destination. Needless to say, but I may or may not have driven a little faster than intended

Genesys Hospital & Health

Between the early morning hours and minimal traffic, lost time was quickly made up and I arrived in time for the afternoon interviews. The brisk breeze and color changing trees was a relaxing welcome to Genesys Hospital near Flint, Michigan. Walking in the hospital felt more like finding myself at a hotel lobby. The smells of a busy food court, music from a self-playing grand piano and visually pleasing flowers filled the foyer just beyond the doors. I quickly questioned if I had gone to the right place. Noticing the other suited students, it was apparent I was not lost.

After a brief meet-and-greet over lunch, the program director provided an overview of the day and residency program. We then divided accordingly to our respective interviews. One by one we met with the program director, assistant director, department manager, director of clinical education and chief residents. Each focused on various aspects of the interview including teamwork, leadership, extracurricular activities, and business aspects of medicine. This style was new to me and I tried to take advantage of the opportunity by not repeating answers. I will admit, however, that it felt as though the process was longer since these interactions were so numerous, yet the total time commitment was less than most programs. Well done Genesys.

There was plenty of time to interact with residents and have questions answered in a no-pressure setting. They took us on tours of the emergency department, hospital and associated athletic club. All were very busy, which I did not initially expect by the surrounding rural-esque environment. Genesys lived up to the great things I heard all the way across the country in Las Vegas and I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit their program in person. 

Question of the Week
What non-medical book have you read lately?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Residency Interview - The Fifth

The sun was still sleeping when I arrived at the hospital for my early morning interview. Having only worked a handful of shifts, getting to the emergency department was not a problem. Finding the interview room in time might be.

St. James Hospital & Health

Fortunately, I found the program director as he entered the building suited and ready to interview. A couple days prior I responded to a call on the medical floor to see if I could be of help before my shift ended. The resident in charge was unable to pass an endotracheal tube through the vocal cords and as luck would have it, I found myself at the head of the bed finishing the job. It didn't take long for the program director to catch wind of the event and in the moments before the interview it became a topic of discussion. Good thing for me...the patient was still living.

Only another student and I would be interviewing that day for one of the largest emergency medicine residencies in the country. After a short presentation about the St. James program, its many hospitals spread across the Chicago community and various local highlights, we sat for our individual interviews. They were short and to the point allowing the chief residents, director and me an opportunity to learn about each other and the program. Despite having nine hospitals in the system, we only toured the Olympia Fields facility where the interview took place.

The remainder of the morning was consumed by a didactic session with the current residents, faculty and guest lecturers. Being near a city with so many hospitals and residency programs, they are privileged to have recognized physicians lecturing on a regular basis. As quickly as it had begun, the day seemed over and it was already time to start my afternoon shift. I think it would be helpful to see some of the other facilities, but the residents trickle through my rotating ED enough to get an idea of their character. I continue to be impressed by their caliber, friendliness and hard work ethic. Since my childhood stomping grounds are miles away, this program definitely has an added bonus when it comes time to make a residency decision.

Question of the Week
If you could meet and have a discussion with any person alive or dead, who would it be and what would you discuss?

Suggested Considerations

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Residency Interview - The Fourth

Despite being invited to meet with the residents for dinner before interview day, I was not be able to join them due to a drive through Ohio's more rural parts. It was probably for the better since I was still wrapping my head around an interview early in that afternoon. 

Doctors Hospital

The west side of Columbus, Ohio felt very similar to my childhood stomping grounds; the suburban unencumbered traffic patterns with residences and businesses lining the streets. Prepared to leave my hotel early, I met another interviewing student at breakfast. We are not hard to spot as anxiety is obvious, professional attire the norm and portfolios a calming distraction. Doctors Hospital seemed to be at the center of community health with a steady flow of people coming and going. Dressed in standard suit and tie form I made my way into the educational building for the weekly didactic session among residents, faculty and fellow interviewing students. It was comforting to see other students I had met on the interview trail, once again proving how small the community within a specialty truly can be. I found the discussions by teaching staff and guests to be rather enlightening. To top off the morning session, we finished with a splinting lab before heading to the conference room for interviews.

After brief introductions were made by all in attendance, half of the group toured the facility while the others interviewed. The facilities were impressive. With so many residents in house, they have their own lounge with a mini fitness center and sleep rooms. The simulation lab was extensive and appeared to be well used by those in training. The ED was super clean, but did not seem to be as busy as one would expect for the middle of the day. One nice feature is that all the gurneys are the OB/GYN type, so that finding one when you really need it would not be a problem. The rest of the hospital was either on its way to being remodeled or in the process of getting the upgrade.

One of the strengths of this particular emergency medicine program is their involvement with the local community emergency crews. It seems that they are very involved in both ground and flight transport with regular training sessions to help educate regularly. On the flip side, with so many residency programs in one facility there are the expected clashes when one service wants to get their fair share, but has to step aside to let another service take over. In this sense, the program does not have unopposed care of all their patients. Nonetheless, trauma and pediatrics were external rotations done at inner city hospitals that get high patient volumes and acuity. With the tour complete, we started the individual interviews.

The interview was conducted by the program director, his assistant and three residents. It was a very laid back session with free-flowing conversation and questions. To my surprise, amid the questions an EKG was given to me to diagnose and manage the patient. Fortunately, I had some understanding of the tracing and could formulate an educated response and treatment, thus effectively "saving" the patient's life. This interview was somewhat unique in that the questions asked were not all typical of an interview I have experienced. They definitely required some thinking on my toes and hopefully provided insight into who I am as a person even if they weren't always well formulated answers. Overall, I left the program feeling good about the experience and enthusiastic about its potential.

Question of the Week
If you were given a large sum of money and could no longer work in medicine, what type of work would you do?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Residency Interview - The Third

The long autumnal drive from Chicago to Michigan was calmingly pleasant with beautiful weather and fall leaves changing colors all around. It was just what I needed to relieve the anxiety of another interview day on the horizon.


Sparrow Hospital

Driving through the streets, the college town feel greeted me as students busily went about their evening activities and the MSU campus seemed to remain lively even after the sun had set. I would soon be meeting some of the emergency medicine residents at Sparrow Hospital for dinner the night before my interview. The food was good and the residents friendly. Being the knowledgeable experts about their program, they answered our questions and introduced the program with great excitement. It was a perfect opportunity to get the inside scoop on a city and facility I knew little about. To make our stay that night more comfortable, reservations were made for us to stay on campus at the Kellogg Center, a business style hotel which was definitely a welcome opportunity.

After a brief meeting in the morning to highlight the program we had two personal interviews conducted by the program director and the assistant director. It was a comfortable exchange discussing program attributes and myself as a candidate. Afterwards we toured the main and secondary hospitals. I was amazed at the state-of-the-art feel as much of Sparrow was recently built. The emergency department was larger than any I had seen in my travels and seemed to have an endless supply of rooms. This undoubtedly met the demands of the community and appeared to do so in a great setting. There was ample time with current residents to have our questions answered and to really understand the underpinnings of the program. With a strong curriculum, experienced core faculty, wonderful facilities, and a supportive community this program definitely put on a great showing. The icing on the cake was a quick trip to the rooftop helipad that overlooked the city, simply beautiful.

As a final wrap-up to the day, we were invited to dine with residents and a member of the faculty. By this time, all of our questions had been answered and it was just a matter of getting "that feeling" of knowing it was the program; a decision that is too early to make. I am pleased to have experienced this program first-hand as it was rather enlightening.

Question of the Week
Where would you like to be in 10 years?

Suggested Consideration

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Residency Interview - The Second

At the beginning of the month-long rotation I was told to be ready for a spontaneous interview sometime throughout the month. Without much warning we would be pulled aside to discuss with program leaders the program and ourselves. However, I didn't think it was going to be three separate interviews on three different days.

Kent Hospital

As a courtesy gesture towards the students who rotated at the site, we were asked to not dress in formal attire. Needless to say, interviewing in jeans and a hoodie was comfortably welcome albeit a little awkward. The first sit-down session was with the chief resident, laid back and somewhat formal in questioning. It was a good way to get an idea about the program from a resident's perspective. Then the department manager pulled us aside later in the week to get to know us and our thoughts about the program. The following week the residency director met one-on-one to finish the interview process. I would imagine when formal interviews are held, it is a little more compact and rigorous, but since we had an entire month to demonstrate ourselves, there was little need doing so.

I was happily surprised with my experience at Kent Hospital. Having never really visited the Northeast and Rhode Island in particular, it was quite the adventure to be newly exposed to both in such a high-stakes way. The faculty, staff and even patients were among some of the nicest people I have met in my travels. The department itself was one of the cleanest, roomiest and most organized that I have visited. With those qualities, it made sense that a community hospital would always have a full ambulance bay unloading new patients. Although the visiting students did not get to see the ancillary rotation sites for this program, we were informed that the following hospitals are among the list: Tuft Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, St. Barnabas Hospital Bronx, St. Anne's Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Women's and Infants, and Butler Hospital.

I left the program feeling invigorated about emergency medicine and the upcoming match experience. On the interview trail, it seems that faculty know other faculty at various programs and the rotating students will show up time and time again. As we rotate around the country and interview for residency positions, students run into each other at various sites proving how small the world within a specialty can be. All in all, despite having three individual interviews for one program, I enjoyed the opportunity of experiencing first hand what this program had to offer.

Question of the Week
Why do you want to do _____ (insert your specialty of choice)? Why do you want to come to _____ (insert the interviewing program)?

The above are guaranteed questions in just about every residency interview.

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