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?

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