Saturday, January 28, 2006

First and Last Impressions

As for my interview this week, the flight out went well enough-- it left on time, and there was not even a screaming baby to complain about! After I arrived at the airport, I hiked over to the car rental counter and had to keep from jumping up and down for joy when I found out they were all out of the economy cars and would be giving me a free upgrade to either a Kia Rio or an SUV. Being the greedy girl that I am, I went with the SUV… or so I thought. I was a little confused when they pointed me towards a Pontiac Montana. Now take a quick look people-- is this not a minivan? Their website says some crap about a sport van, but whatever. I did end up being grateful for the bigger engine than my originally booked Chevy Aveo as I ended up having a bit of mountain driving to do.

My actual interviews were short, but seemed to go pretty well. I ended up being the only interviewee for the day as the other two students that were scheduled cancelled at the last minute. A resident came up to the office to give me a tour and chat me up a bit during lunch, and that’s when it happened: I totally smacked him in the crotch! I don’t know quite how it happened, but I went to set my folder down on a coffee table and when I stepped back, my entire hand ended up cupping his package. How embarrassing, especially as this was just at the start of my having to spend the whole next hour with him! And let me tell you, this guy was not an easy conversationalist. He was very negative about the location of the program, and kept saying how it was a very busy program, but over the next hour I became convinced that three years there would perhaps not be in my best interest. Why the hell would you pick someone so negative to present your program to new applicants? One of my interviewers had told me the residents had been instructed to be honest about the program, but this was just ridiculous.

At the end of the tour, I was more than ready to get out of there. I had decided that since my minivan had very darkly-tinted rear windows and I’d already checked out of my motel that I’d just slip out of my suit and pantyhose in the car rather than hauling all that stuff into a gas station or restaurant bathroom to change. I thought I had done pretty well too, but after I finished changing I looked up from the backseat out the non-tinted windshield and saw that not only had a bus pulled up to the stop across the street while I was changing, but there was now a bus driver leering at me! He drove off with a big smile on his face, so I guess at least someone had a good morning.

So there you have it: crotch-slapping and stripping in front of a stranger. It was not exactly how I had intended the day to go, but perhaps just as well. At least I am finally officially done with interviews! I have scheduled a second-look at one place that I was really impressed with, but a little hesitant to relocate to. I can start reviewing all of my notes and making a rough-draft of my rank list. If nothing else, it was nice getting away from my current rotation and perhaps worth it for the scenery.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Tomorrow I head out-of-state for an interview. As a fourth-year medical student, I’m currently finishing up a second year of clinical rotations and applying to residency programs. Residency programs are started after graduation from medical school and are done in the field of one’s choosing. I have applied all across this great country of ours and received 9 interview offers out of the original 30 programs I applied to. I was originally shooting for 10 interviews, but already I’m finding myself exhausted and lacking in enthusiasm. Some of the rejection notices that I received from programs were very disheartening, but I suppose it has thickened my skin some, and at this point I really don’t think I would like to do any more interviews.

Some of the interviews I have been able to do while rotating at that hospital, thus reducing expenses. However, most of them have unfortunately cost me airfare, hotel, and sometimes a rental car. Interviews come at an enormous expense to the hospital too, as several of mine have paid for my hotel, dinner with residents the night before, as well as breakfast and lunch the day of the interview.

After interviews are completed, medical students submit a rank list to include the programs that they’ve visited in the order of personal preference. At the same time, residency programs are making their own list of preferential candidates. All of this information gets fed into a computer, which aligns everyone’s preferences (generally siding in favor of the student’s choices) and spits out a match list. For me, this whole process will culminate on Match Day, which this year occurs on MARCH 15.

At first I was excited about traveling, but soon the novelty wore off. Some of my classmates have used their vacation time for interviewing, however I wanted to actually vacation during my vacation time, so I’ve been working around my interview dates. Traveling for interviews generally means: sitting at the airport for several hours, maybe spending an additional hour or two driving from the airport to my interview location, unpacking and ironing interview clothes, meeting strangers for dinner, not sleeping well in a strange bed, not adjusting to a new time zone well, waking up super-early to attempt to curl my hair and apply makeup in an orderly fashion, sitting through meetings, interviewing with up to 5 people for 20-30 minute sessions, lunching with other applicants, taking a brief tour, driving back to airport to wait for flight home, arriving home very late, and getting up the next morning to go to work.

This has roughly been what the past few months have been like for me:

July- Used 2 weeks of “vacation time” to study 8 hours a day for Step 2 of medical licensing exam.

August- Filled out online application to residency programs, took application photo, and reformatted resume.

September- Sent off application costing several hundreds of dollars. Spent several weekends scouring malls for appropriate, yet flattering interview suit, jewelry, heels, and matching portfolio folder. Worked ass off at hospital as applied to their program.

October- Purchased new winter coat as teal/purple Columbia ski jacket was not the most professional look. Started receiving rejection letters. Interview 1.

November- Continued to receive rejection letters. Interview 2. Interview 3. Worked ass off at hospital as applied to their program. Found out that passed Step 2 of Boards.

December- Continued to receive rejection letters. Worked ass off at hospital as applied to their program. Interview 4. Interview 5. Interview 6.

January- Interview 7. Interview 8.

I do not mean to sound ungrateful. I did not have a particularly easy time getting into medical school, and I thank God for the opportunity that He has given me, but right now I am just tired and ready to be done. I’m more than willing to work hard and continue to study so that I can take care of people in the best manner possible and know how to help them. I am just so tired of the moving around literally from state to state for different rotations and better learning environments. I have worked so hard to get up to this point, but now that I’m approaching the finish line, I am just asking for renewed strength.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday, Sweaty Sunday

Wow. Just when I start to feel down on myself and that I'm not making any progress at the gym, a complete stranger goes and rearranges my whole perspective:

After finishing my run on the treadmill this afternoon, I headed down to the locker room to clean up. I was trying my best not to make direct eye contact with the rather large-volume naked woman seated on the bench by my locker when she made the comment "You look like you had a good workout."

I was thinking to myself: Thanks a lot lady... I know I smell, but I'm here to shower up and take care of that when she went on.

"I just don't feel like I get a good workout in the pool."

Basically, she wanted to know exactly what my workout routine is, and indirectly complimented me by including me with everyone else upstairs who she described as being so physically fit that she did not want to workout around them.

So I told her my tale of building up to 30 minutes a day of cardio on an elliptical machine and losing 30 lbs over several months a few years back, and that now I'm running on a treadmill every other day and throwing in some weight training here and there. I don't know how impressed she was, but she did sound like she might be willing to give it a try. I told her I could sympathize with her not feeling very self-confident and suggested workout times when the gym tended to be less busy.

Now if you were to ask me, I think I am probably the person with the least amount of self-confidence at the gym. I wear headphones so that I don't have to talk to anyone. My outfits don't match my shoes, I don't wear perfume, and any makeup is a remnant from earlier in the day. I am nowhere near a size 6. Thanks to my fair complexion and fine hair, I tend to get very red-faced and my sweaty hair plasters to my scalp in quite a non-sexy manner. If a member of the opposite sex looks my way, it usually turns out that I'm just obstructing the view of their plastic-enhanced girlfriend. And should one happen to meet my eye, I always reflexively look away immediately, too bashful to smile.

But there you have it: here I am agonizing about cellulite, stretch marks, and the 4 lbs I picked up over the holidays and some woman wants to emulate me. Hrmph.


Here's to new beginnings! A friend of mine has been encouraging me for quite some time to start a blog of my own. I am hoping to use this space to put my thoughts to words, and perhaps to log some of my experiences and encounters.