Here I thought interview season was hard when you were the one applying for a residency position. Come to find out it’s not so much fun on the other side, either.

At least I do enjoy the dinners before interview day more. I know I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, and I don’t feel any pressure to say something brilliant, so I start a few conversations, to do my social duty and be friendly, and then relax in the background as my more gregarious male colleagues show up and start talking.

Interview day itself is something else. I thought I didn’t have anything to worry about any more. No, just who I’m going to be working with for the next four years. Residency is intense, surgery residency perhaps a little more so. You spend 14 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, working closely with your team members. If one of them isn’t competent, you find out within a couple of days, and you regret it for the rest of the month you’re together. If someone has an unpleasant personality, you figure that out even sooner – and it’s less correctable.

And here are all these polite applicants, dressed exactly the same, asking the same questions, trying to show why they should be one of the few whom I’ll have to deal with in July. Fortunately I don’t have anything to do with the decision making. I’m sincerely hoping that my program director has at least some kind of magic box for sorting out the really impossible ones. He seems to have done fairly well at it lately, so hopefully this year will be no different.

But then the applicants start asking me questions: “What is it like to be an intern?” How am I supposed to answer that with all my seniors listening? I know they know all the mistakes I’ve made this year, including some I’m unaware of. I try to say something about how it’s unlike anything you ever imagined from medical school, how the learning curve is so steep, and I know I’m only half-way up it, but this is a good hospital to learn at. I sincerely appreciate the help my seniors have given me, and I’m glad to have them teaching me; but it sounds silly when I try to say that.

And then we have to wait till July to find out what we got. The names turn up for both sides in March, but they won’t mean anything then. I can’t believe I’m thinking seriously about what it will be like to be a junior resident, how I’ll work with my intern. This is happening too fast.

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