First off, I’m free from grips of STEP3!! That 2-day exam was exhausting to say the least. Lucky for me, I had the weekend off afterwards to I could melt my brain for a little while before getting back to work.
Here’s a crazy thought: a year ago I was interviewing for residency positions. It’s actually quite insane how quickly life moves after the interview season. Next thing you know you’re submitting your rank list, then you’re waiting for match week, then you’re getting things together to move and start your new job, then BAM! You’re a working intern. Then, as soon as you start getting your footing, the focus shifts over to recruiting people to replace you! Everything happens so fast. It puts a lot into perspective. When I see the folks we have come interview, I’m reminded of the bigger picture. I’m not going to be an intern forever. Before I know it, I’m going to be someone’s upper level. And eventually I’ll be someone’s doctor without back up. Sheesh.
Now that I have seen both perspectives I can hopefully reassure some of you applicants in this cycle. The interview day (and night before) are truly a time for you to get to know the program and for us to put a personality to your already wonderful application. You really shouldn’t feel nervous at all, outside of the normal nerves/jitters of not knowing what questions will be asked and hoping you won’t say anything stupid. That whole “what if they don’t like me?” thing needs to be stopped. Because we want you! And we want you to want us! We are honestly just trying to sell our program to you. That’s why people are constantly asking if you have any questions. It helps us get an idea of your interests and we can point you in the right directions within our program to fuel them. If you already know what you’re looking for in a program, the interview day is a time to check off your boxes per se, and ask questions about the boxes that aren’t getting checked. You should not feel overly intimidated by the program/faculty/residents–might be a bad sign.
As an intern, I only participate in the more social aspects of the season–the dinners and lunches. I haven’t read anyone’s application; I just know names and medical schools. My job is to represent our program, answer as many questions as I can, and provide my perspective on life as a resident in our program. I also end of cracking people up because it’s just in my nature to be silly and crack jokes, and it helps applicants lose the tension. One thing I do pick up on (and most other residents probably) is lack of interest. So if you’re like me and your face at rest is already problematic, you need to be intentional about your smiles and nods. Talking to interns is great perspective because we are in the midst of it all and can speak to how it is working with other departments, program support, work/life balance, etc. Upper levels are great as well because they have explored more electives, and typically have a more solid outlook on their futures.
Obviously in the moment you’re going to be nervous and partially freak out during interview season, especially when it comes to those programs that you really like. However, from where I sit now, I would tell my “younger” self to just relax. These programs already know what you’re about, and they like it. Now they’re just trying to see you as a person, not an application. Just be yourself, and know what you’re looking for.
Wishing the best to anyone currently interviewing this season!