Sunday, December 25, 2011

Residency Interview – The Thirteenth

The anticipation for this day was growing throughout the interview season as many students spoke highly of the hospital and potential opportunities well before I had a chance to see it for myself. Lehigh Valley Health Network incorporates a number of hospitals in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. If the size of the lettering has anything to do with the caliber of the program, they are off to a good start.

Lehigh Valley Hospital

Our day started with a short presentation of the program and the large group of interviewees was divided to spread the masses. The interviewing half had four stations with two interviewers each. As there were so many stations and interviewing students, these sessions were not excessively long which left plenty of opportunity to ask questions and provide answers. With couches in every room, the tension was definitely less than most and certainly more comfortable than other programs offered. Between program director, assistants, clinical faculty and ancillary staff many of the common interview questions were exhausted rather quickly. I definitely appreciated meeting the majority of the teaching staff and being able to ask specific questions of those holding particular responsibilities.

At lunch we all sat in our formal-wear lining the tables of the cafeteria learning everything we could from current residents. It was a moment to relax and really determine if we felt as though the program would be a good fit for us personally. Satiated, we made our way to the shuttles for a tour of the medical facilities. State-of-the-art simulation labs that modeled patient rooms, healing decorations and quarantine-prepared spaces were among some of the unique features we observed. Much of the remodeling benefits both the patients and staff. Fellowship, research and altruistic opportunities were in abundance. The emergency medicine program monopolizes one facility and shares responsibility for another. Being accredited trauma centers, they see a number of pediatric and adult cases that smaller facilities may not.

Being this late in the interview season, it was somewhat difficult to maintain a sense of enthusiasm that was obvious at the onset. Nonetheless, this program definitely elicited a sense of excitement as it has so much education to offer including well-trained emergency physicians. I can only imagine that the upcoming residency match will bring them some of the strongest applicants from around the world.

Question of the Week
What do you like to do when you are not working?

Suggested Considerations

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Residency Interview - The Twelfth

After a rejuvenating weekend in Philadelphia, my morning commute took me across the beautifully blue Benjamin Franklin Memorial Bridge into New Jersey where I found the UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine. Interviews would be ongoing throughout the day and I was fortunate to have mine early, leaving the remainder of the day to explore the surroundings.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

I joined the in-progress round table discussion between students and residents while waiting to be called for my formal interview. It was an opportunity I had become familiar with through the course of previous interviews; probing the minds of current interns and residents as to their thoughts on the program.  When used accordingly, these can usually be a solidifying factor in choosing for or against a program. Knowing how current residents feel towards faculty, facility and curriculum is a vantage point that cannot be overlooked. On this particular day, they were very positive about the program and spoke highly in this regard. 

It did not take long before I found myself across the table from my interviewers: the  program director, an assistant director and the manager of the emergency department. These men, sage in their years and thoughtful in their remarks were attentively looking for the next residents to fill their intern class. In their professional and experienced manner, they described characteristics of loyalty, integrity and honest above all else that they sought. For them, a cohesive residency would be an effective one. I was impressed by their warmness and desire to truly provide their residents with the best program possible. My questions were respectfully answered and I was told what to expect in the coming weeks approaching the Match. 

Shortly after interviewing, we joined the interns for a tour of the hospital. All facilities are community based without trauma designation. The hospital we toured was relatively clean, organized and efficiently run from what I observed. Although the interns were helpful, it would have been nice to have an upper level resident join us to answer questions interns were unequipped to field. Overall, our interview day was relatively short, yet I felt that it was a strong contender on my list of residency programs.

Question of the Week
What are you looking for in a residency program?

Suggested Considerations

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Residency Interview - The Eleventh

With my trusty rental car ready to go and a seven hour drive ahead, I braved the New York traffic. At first the stop and go nonsense was getting to me, but it made the Pennsylvania countryside drive well worth the effort. The open road, starry night and blaring music were a perfect recipe for calming the interview tension.

Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center

I arrived after midnight and found my hotel to be quite comfortable for the few hours before waking to interview. The sun was up, fog filled the rolling Allegheny mountains and a crisp winter air was obvious as my breath condensed the air before me. It was a beautiful drive into the small valley town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania where I found my way to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center. It is an impressive Trauma I medical center that stretched over multiple blocks on the side of a mountain and was busy even for the early morning hours.

We were greeted by the emergency medicine staff and invited to join the conference sessions already in progress. I enjoyed the interested participation of residents and faculty who seemed very much like a family in discussion. This program is pioneering an approach to the curriculum by reading the current journals in place of textbooks which tend to be years behind. It is a novel approach and seems to be effective from their initial assessments.

Individual interviews started shortly thereafter with one member of the faculty in three separate interviews. The first I was surprised to be invited to ask questions, which was an obvious deviation from the normal interview process. In fact there were no questions asked by the interviewer! As I went on to meet with the program director, he again provided me answers to my questions, yet asked none. I was astonished that I had made my way through two "interviews" and no questions were asked of me. Was I missing something? Are they getting the information they need about me? My third interview started along the same lines, but I was not going to let my line of thought lead the entire discussion. After one question, I stopped to offer time to my interviewer. His questions were unique, not related to medicine and more along the lines of how I approach an answer. When those were exhausted, he promptly provided me with a case similar to an oral board. I am happy to report that I passed with an appropriate diagnosis.

The interviews were followed by lunch and a tour of the facilities. I was surprised at the business of the hospital in such a small community setting. We even made our way to the helipad which had a beautiful view of the surrounding valley. This program is located in a neat location with all the benefits of a trauma center. It is willing to find new ways to approach learning and ensure competency in its residents all while maintaining the important family ties. It is one program I will not regret visiting.

Question of the Week
If you were to go on vacation between medical school and residency for two weeks, where would you go, what would you bring, what would you do and who would you bring with you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Residency Interview - The Tenth

After a transcontinental flight from the West, I found myself in the Long Island rain of New York heading to a pre-interview dinner on the town with the emergency medicine residents of Good Samaritan Hospital.

Good Samaritan Hospital

The table full of appetizers surrounded by residents and students full of questions. It was beneficial learning how residents cope with work, manage their time and invest in their future careers. It was definitely preparatory for the interviews.

We started the day later than most interview days which helped those of us who traveled through multiple time zones. Morning conference was a faculty or resident presentation with ensuing discussion. We had a detailed tour of the emergency department. I was most surprised by the rooms divided into two by a curtain, effectively doubling the bed space. Aside from the tight quarters, it appeared that work was unimpeded and frantically busy. Between trauma, pediatric and adult services, Good Samaritan is one of the busiest EDs on Long Island. The EM program is notably heavy with research and presentations commonly winning the majority of competitions attended.

After a brief overview of the program and surrounding area, we had lunch with the residents and faculty. We were then off to interview. Three separate interviews, each in panel format composed of three faculty and residents. The atmosphere calm, to the point and mutually educational. The area is culturally diverse, hospital continuously active and personnel readily available making this residency a strong place to establish a professional foundation. It was not until I was back in the car headed towards metropolitan New York that I got a taste of vehicular congestion, an avoidable yet frustrating association with this part of the country.

Question of the Week
What is your favorite movie?

Suggested Considerations

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