02 March 2007


Since I'm sure you're all waiting expectantly for the triumphant announcement of my unconditional acceptance to medical school - I'm going to give you a summary of interview day instead. Interview day is a combination of the medical school trying to sell themselves to you and of you trying to sell yourself to them. It suffers from split personality. Applicants show up in shiny new suits with their game faces on ready to put forth their best case for why they should be accepted, and then...you get a whole day of activity where only 2 moments really matter.

0845: Arrive, drink cheap free coffee (or not), make uncomfortable small talk with fellow applicants.

0900: First episode of "the sell". Admissions staff talk about everything the school wants you to know and appreciate about them.

1015: Financial aid staff come in and talk about all the money you're going to have to borrow because they aren't going to be giving you any. They want your tax returns, W2s, etc, AND your parents' because no matter how old, married, or parental you are, if your parents are alive, they count in the expected contribution although the financial aid lady said straight out that they really don't expect your parents to pay. Yeah, I didn't get that either.

1100: Bus to and then tour of the hospital by third year students. Kinda chintzy, we didn't get to see the cool stuff, although the closets that pass for on-call bedrooms were interesting to see. Cancer center, yes. Outpatient clinics, no. In-patient floors, no. Library, yes.

1145: Free lunch. In the hospital cafeteria. I agree with the admissions guy that it is good to see the kind of food you'd be stuck with if you were working long hours there, but again this is the split personality where if they were really trying to woo the applicants, they'd take us to any of the reasonably nice restaurants in the immediate area.

1400: My first 30 minute one-on-one interview. I interviewed with a professor emeritus, retired MD who now works solely in the admissions office. He had clearly studied my application in detail and gave me very few opportunities to talk at all. He did ask about my family situation in the context of telling me a story about when he and his wife were in residency simultaneously and had 3(!!) kids. I don't really know how to judge how this interview went because it felt more like a sell on his part than on my part. I'm hoping that is good news.

1510: My second 30 minute one-on-one interview. Again, an admissions person, this one not an MD. This one had lots of questions and gave me more than enough time to talk. She wanted to know about my path from undergrad, to grad school, jobs, and now applying. She asked how the teaching I've done relates to the desire to be a physician - a perfect opportunity to weave a nice story. We talked about all sorts of topics and I let her direct the flow of conversation. This means that I'm not good at staying "on message", but I feel like I want to be evaluated on who I really am and how I interact with people and I think she got a good representation of that. I left feeling like I'd done well.

1600: Campus tour by first year students. Some strange selections here as well, just two auditoriums, a student lounge, a lab and the library.

A 7-hour day where only 1 hour really mattered. Anyone you interact with other than the interviewers has no mechanism for feedback on your application and no bearing on what happens to you. For me, the best part of the day was actually talking with the other applicants and feeling somewhat normal. Since I'm applying at such an unusual point in my career, I spend a lot of time wondering if I'm doing the right things, going completely crazy, or just out in left field by myself. A chance to sit and talk with other people who are trying to make this jump, many of them coming from very supportive undergraduate environments, and finding out that I was right on track with everyone else.

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