I have a couple clever insights (maybe) about third year simmering, but right now I’m so worked up about this ERAS application that I want to get done once for all today, I can’t seem to compose a simple statement like, “I tutored junior medical students,” without spending five minutes pulling my hair out trying to think of the best phrasing. Trying to tell people how wonderful I am makes me so nervous. I understand a popular interview question is, Why should we hire you rather than the other applicants? Honestly, I don’t know why; I don’t think I’m much use at all, and I’m sure there are tons of better applicants. I stick my foot in my mouth, I jump to conclusions, I skip pieces of the physical exam, I’m not good at reading xrays or CT scans, I mumble and the patients can’t understand me – honestly, I don’t know why you should hire me, except for I speak English. But something tells me that honesty/humility is not high on their list of requirements during the interview, and that surely I can put an optimistic perspective on it: I may not know much, but I’m ready to learn. . . ?

I’m looking at my application and thinking, I can see so many sticky questions coming out of this. You don’t look completely American, what’s your background, and why didn’t you put that in the “race” section? Homeschooled? Have you recovered from your lack of socialization? Association of American Physicians and Surgeons? You don’t like a single-payer system? And then I get to fumble through my arguments on that score, and they say, too bad you don’t like to get paid! Didn’t your experience in the free clinic show you the problems with people not having health insurance? No research experience? Do you not like academics? You know our program requires research and publication, right? Do you have any significant other? No? What’s wrong with you? You don’t subscribe to the NEJM? Who are you to judge their editorial standards? It’s a very educational publication.

The Advanced Surgical Recall book I bought has a couple of interesting pages. “The Perfect Intern” includes the advice that one should avoid sitting down, because one is more likely to fall asleep sitting than standing. I was puzzled by why so many of the surgery residents did not sit down, even when there was a chair available and they were only reviewing a chart. Now I know. “Interview Advice” gave a list of possible questions including, “how would you work up right upper quadrant pain,” (now I know I haven’t studied thoroughly enough, I can’t remember the exact sequence after the ultrasound, when you do a HIDA scan, and when you do ERCP), and “how many hours do you sleep a night?” (seven, I would fail right there, the correct answer has to be, I only need 4), and “what was the last nonmedical book you read?” (finally, the one I want to hear!).

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