Medical Residency Interviews

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2010 8:03 PM GMT
    Hi everyone! I'm starting my interviews for a residency soon My first Interview is this Friday in New York City, and I'm starting to get a little nervous.

    Has anyone gone through this process? And if so any good tips/Questions to ask/Questions you were asked/etc? Also, did you come out in your interview, how did you handle this?

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    Nov 02, 2010 11:04 PM GMT
    I haven't done it, but it seems like a bad idea to come out in any interview. At best, it won't help you. At worst, it'll kill your app.

    Besides, some interviewers feel bringing personal info into an interview is a poor judgment call, and it may even make the interviewer slightly uncomfortable if they are new to it (being that they are usually told to avoid discussing personal things by HR).
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    Nov 02, 2010 11:31 PM GMT
    I've gone through the process, sat on the both sides as a resident and a fellow (our program usually wants upper residents to interview potential candidates), and then interviewed residents as an attending. Believe me, by the time you're done you'll forget all the details ("Where did I have that awful coffee again? Which ICU smells like my basement?").

    1st impressions are important for you and for the program. Jot them down as you're leaving and don't delay till you go home. Pros/cons columns should be populated in your mind and put to paper ASAP.

    I would not volunteer your sexual orientation unless they ask. You're there to work, not flirt. (And no, people tend not to have sex when they're overworked and dirty, unlike what Grey's Anatomy shows you on TV. Damn, they canceled Miami Medical)

    Good questions to ask (at least for me):
    1. Are the residents supportive, i.e. is there a cutthroat environment?
    2. (Not so much an issue now, but was for me) Do residents feel overworked and not able to learn? Don't misunderstand me, you're there to work, but you're also there to learn. The most medically clueless residents are often the most efficient ones to get out, leaving others to clean up their messes.
    3. Are attendings available to provide support for research? If you're going for a tough fellowship later on, research is very important to get started in your 1st year.

    Are you doing a surgical or medical residency?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2010 11:36 PM GMT
    Your sexual orientation is none of their business. It's never been an issue with my program or even getting into the best schools in the nation.

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    Nov 02, 2010 11:53 PM GMT
    Break a leg there man
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Nov 03, 2010 12:29 AM GMT
    Good for you ..... bravo

    Questions to ask
    Kind of depends on who is doing the interviewing at the time
    and the type of residency you're going for
    Surgical residency interviews are notorious for being mini-medical school interviews
    Some residencies will want you to research THEM
    others are more relaxed
    What you can ask is what will be expected of me .... and what will I expect to learn during the residency
    what you SHOULD ask ...... will the attendings be available and what format will there be for give and take other than the mere clinical training?

    But Never Never come out in an interview

    I don't see why that would Ever need to be known ........ and if I were asked I'd say ...... Why? Is this information required for my stay here?
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    Nov 03, 2010 12:33 AM GMT
    BTW, I forgot to add that you really want to pay attention to the electronic record system. Where I trained, they still used an old DOS-based system that took FOREVER to retrieve info and enter orders, so that much of my fellowship was done collecting labs on paper when my time could have been much better spent elsewhere. (Now I just click a few buttons and a table of labs in chronological order comes out. I do consults in 1/2 of the time it used to take me to do) Thankfully, the VA with which my program was affiliated was just rolling out CPRS and that saved me a lot of time.

    Ask if residents are allowed to dictate H&P's. I find that really helps with admissions and thinking logically what you need to do for the patient.

    Phlebotomy and radiology departments tend to suck in large city hospitals, and you may be required to do your own blood cultures and stat labs. (Where I am right now I've never run into problems with either department. The phlebotomists here can suck blood out of anybody that I would have easily given up on short of a femoral stick)

    The nursing culture will make your life hell if it's bad. Where I trained, the nurses do very little for you. Where I'm practicing now, they almost function like 4th year med students (i.e. they will check labs in the middle of the night and do orders according to those labs) and their common medical sense is remarkably more than what ICU nurses had where I trained.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11644

    Nov 03, 2010 12:43 AM GMT
    I have no idea of what you are going through, but if coming out is part of the interview, avoid the place. It is NOT a part of professional training.
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    Nov 03, 2010 12:54 AM GMT
    Hey there. Best of luck. I'm going through the same process right now. Applying for internal medicine. It sounds cliche, I know, but just be yourself. I start thinking of questions to ask during the initial welcoming speech. And of course, check out their website the night before so you can ask more specific questions.

    I found it to be a lot more relaxed than medical school interviews. As undergrads, we had to sell ourselves. Now, they're trying to sell us the program. The bulk of the interview session has been them letting me ask questions. They may ask you if you are couples matching or if you have a significant other which may affect your choice of a program, but I'd be shocked if they ever ask your orientation. It is unprofessional and none of their business. If they do ask, it's probably some curious guy who finds you attractive and wants to stalk you on facebook later!

    Let us know how it goes. If you're doing internal med, perhaps I'll see you on the trail. I have Pittsburgh and Ohio state coming up in the next few weeks. Enjoy it, bro! It's an exciting time.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 03, 2010 1:42 AM GMT
    Hey thanks everyone for the responses. I only ask about orientation because its common to small talk with some of the attendings and even the residents. Some programs even have a happy hour the night before the interview to interact with all the residents. Im pretty sure the whole are you married/dating thing could come up. I'm sure no one would ask me if im gay; but I have a boyfriend for almost 4 years who I live with and would be moving with me to my accepted program, so obviously I'm not single and I dont think I should lie about it. I would never start the convo with I'm Matt and I'm gay, but I dont think I should skirt the issue if it presented itself to comment on the situation. It also matters to bring up the gay/partner thing in response to hospital's health benefits and subsidized housing (esp in NYC) which is a big part of how I would rank my programs I interview at. Also for those who asked I'm going into OBGYN (be adult, no ewws- I get it a lot) which is pretty intense (80 to 100 hrs a week for 4 years) and is more then just a job; therefore how I interact with the rest of the residents on a social level is important. I should at least know (I assume) if its a program that's accepting of my life and partner.
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    Nov 03, 2010 1:49 AM GMT
    I don't think there's anything wrong with bringing it up outside the interview. You might even find another gay resident.

    Physicians are used to dealing with LGBT patients all the time, and few would probably judge you based on your orientation. (As long as you don't flaunt it like you said or bring it up at inappropriate times)

    Good luck
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    Nov 03, 2010 1:57 AM GMT
    OK, scratch almost everything I said about nursing'll be doing most of the work on patients (like pap smears, cervical checks, fetal scalp pH) instead of nurses. And no radiology woes for you (at least until after the patient delivers). And good luck catching any sleep. icon_razz.gif

    But seriously, good luck in your interviews.
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    Nov 03, 2010 2:34 AM GMT
    In teaching hospitals, in my experience, the nurses do next to nothing. The resident interns and 4th year MS run the place. I am in ED.
    I matched to one of the hospitals I had gone through during my 3rd year. They "somewhat" knew me already. They knew about my partner. It was a county hospital.

    Only one place I interviewed at-a small rural hospital asked me specifically about my family. I told them I had no plans of marrying soon. Then they asked something else. At two others it came up in conversation on the night before the interview when we were talking about kids. Turns out there was a lesbian there. Most OBGYNs (kudos to you for that, not enough are doing that) are women, maybe they'll be easier on you than white old men. You'll want to turn the conversation to something else at that point. q1w is right, you'll want to note your first impressions.

    Also I'm in TX, maybe different in NY. Maybe being gay won't be a big problem.

    Ask about their evaluation system. Will there be a formal mentor for you? Maybe you can meet them. I had two for my 1st year-one for day and one for night. The night preceptor was a real *****. How much scut work is there? How will you autonomy change as you advance through the years? How much teaching responsibility will you have with medical students? Are you thinking about being a fellow? How much experience will you get, research-wise?

    Do they provide meals when on call? Housing allowance? Learn about the on call schedule -especially important for you.

    Do the residents like the culture? While nurses can be hard to work with, they are not in your hierarchy and ultimately have only as much affect on you as you let them have. They will ignore about half your orders. I spent half of my first year being paranoid about what they though about me. Then I got tired of it and thought "the hell with them."But note, it is very important that you try to get along with them and respect them. But cutthroat programs are really stressful. Is there enough time for you to learn, or is there too much traffic?

    Most place are already doing electronic systems, you shouldn't have to worry about that too much.

    Remember, if you have decent scores and good evaluations and good background-research,etc. they'll be wanting to attract you. You don't have to impress them as much.
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    Nov 03, 2010 2:35 AM GMT
    Woot, Mat
    I can’t really give you any advice on the interview process, as I and my partner are nurses and most places are begging for us to work there, so we usually do the interviewing—what can you do for me?

    I wanted to applaud you, for one having and keeping a relationship while going thru med. school, and two for putting your partner in your decision making—so great hearing others making it work.

    We are lucky to work in a field that has made our sexuality a non issue. You don’t need come out during an interview as they shouldn’t care.
    Yes, on the second day when I field out the paperwork adding my partner to my insurance the cat was out of the bag. I was truly surprised how much of a non issue it was.
    Someday, I hope all companies and states will be the same as the medical community.
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    Nov 03, 2010 8:18 PM GMT
    good luck, matt!

    i'm not in medicine but have faced a similar situation in my career. i got good advice from a gay guy several years older who had done very well in his field.

    what he said worked well for me. research the organization you're interviewing with. find out how diverse it is there, and whether there are many openly gay staff, especially in senior postions.

    you can search for news stories to see if the organization has a record for actively supporting gay or diversity issues in community or industry organizations.

    also, see if there's a gay professionals association in your field. contact them for any info they can provide.

    make your decision on how to handle the interviews based on what you find out. in some organizations if could be advantageous to come out. other places it could be neutral or negative.

    hope this helps. and hope you'll update us on how it goes.

  • berimbolo

    Posts: 642

    Nov 03, 2010 9:01 PM GMT
    I don't think you need to explicitly state you are gay, but if it comes up in conversation, then I don't think it's inappropriate for you to reveal you have a partner who happens to be a guy. While OBGYN isn't the least competitive of specialties, it is still pretty surgical and you DON'T want to end up in a program in which you are treated differently because of your sexual orientation. And while you COULD put up a stink about it if you did end up in one, unless you want to be an index case and a political activist while trying to work the 80-90 hour week, I'd say you're better off in a program that could give two bleeps about your orientation than fighting the one that does.

    I didn't come out in my interview, because the topic never came up. It also did not come up in the post-interview socializing. I am out to my staff and fellow residents now, but that's also because I know they don't really care. As a surgical resident, you DO have to be a little careful as there are subtle forms of "discrimination" that can really make a big difference in your education, and most of them aren't defensible.

    Don't forget that your residency is basically a five year interview for the job you want at the end. These are the people who will be writing your reference letters for fellowship and jobs.

    Don't forget that the cases you get to do and the extent to which you get to perform those cases are entirely dependent on your preceptor's decision to let you do the case; and that they don't really have to justify their decision to let you or not let you do the parts of the case they let you do.

    As for the interview itself, you should have a pretty good idea of the parts of the program that draw you to that program and some idea of its structure. Ultimately, the rankers want to know that you are reliable, trustworthy, easy to get along with and trainable. Everything else can be taught.

    Your job is to get high on THEIR ranking list. That's it. You can ask all the questions you want, but ultimately, that's your goal. If you're high on everyone's rank list, then you can have whatever rank order on your list you want.

    I'm going to go against the grain of GQjock and say that you shouldn't be asking stuff like what will be expected of you and what will you learn? You're expected to work hard and do as you're told. You're expected to anticipate and make decisions and manage the patients under your care. You're expected to learn the specialty as laid out by the specialty's training objectives, which are probably readily available online.

    Ask thoughtful questions. And don't ask or answer questions in a way that imply you're not willing to give up significant parts of your life to work. I know I sank an interview unknowingly that way.
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    Nov 03, 2010 9:10 PM GMT
    Very true, bryanc's last sentence. I know that as an interviewer I was turned off by one particular applicant who asked if her personal circumstances (having 2 young kids) could get her a more "lenient" treatment on call. That sounds like a disaster in the making for whoever is stuck on call with her, not getting the "lenient" treatment. Do I have anything against her or the kids? No, but I sure don't want my interns or residents to suffer because of that. There are programs that will accommodate her special circumstances, but just not the one I was in.

    For you it probably isn't an issue, since you already identified the need for 70-80 hours/week of your life in the hospital. I hope your significant other knows that. icon_razz.gif
  • charrismd

    Posts: 117

    Jan 04, 2011 6:42 AM GMT
    First off, congrats on making it thru the last 4 years. It's a grueling marathon, to be sure.

    Second of all, regarding coming out during interviews. For some medical students who have been involved with AMSA's LGBTPM, this info should be in your list of activities and the interviewer should have it ahead of time. This can certainly be a conversation starter.

    Thirdly, this decision really depends upon where you're interviewing. Having worked in North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Ohio (Cincinnati), Tennessee (Nashville) and Los Angeles as a pediatric subspecialist. Each city is radically different regarding acceptance of gay people but ALL have gay pediatricians in the department.

    Hope that this is helpful. Good luck and truly enjoy your interview trip. I very fondly remember jumping in the car and driving around for 3 weeks, seeing the country.
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    Jan 04, 2011 1:35 PM GMT
    I am a Doc on faculty in one of the NYC schools. I would love to talk to you about this question. Drop me a note.
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    Jan 05, 2011 4:13 AM GMT
    I know residency interviews are wrapping up, so this posting may be too late for the current cycle. The only evidence-based guidance I could find comes from a brief 2005 report in Academic Medicine. Unfortunately the sample size is small (n=27 gay medical students interviewed). Nonetheless, here is the salient finding in regards to your original post:

    "During the residency selection process, 52% of medical students were unsure about, 33% planned to, and 15% did not plan to disclose their sexual orientation. Of those unsure, 37% were not certain if it was appropriate to do so, 33% would decide once they knew more about the program, and 22% once they met people at the residency program. Of those who planned to disclose, 26% wanted to determine if the program would accept their sexual orientation, 26% wanted to “find out the environment for people like me,” and 22% wanted to increase LGB visibility in the residency selection process. Of those medical students who did not plan to disclose, 60% were concerned they would not be accepted, 30% believed it was not relevant, and 10% were concerned that their medical school officials would be contacted."

    Here is the reference:

    As you know, anti-discrimination laws protect you from having to answer certain types of questions. Ideally, the interviewer should know not to ask such questions. Here is a useful resource on how to navigate this often fuzzy area:

    In regards to questions you should ask, this has been covered above and you must be a pro at asking questions by now given that you are far along the interview trail. Hope you match into your top choice in March.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 23, 2011 2:41 AM GMT
    I did my interviews. I was out in all of them and on my app and I felt it helped it out. Then again, I volunteered with GBLT organizations and plan to work in the community so it's not really something I wanted to avoid.

    I wouldnt shy away from making your orientation known (programs are under pressure to gain diversity which can include GBLT status and thus help your application). Alternatively, it may just not come up.

    As my friend has said, if they dont support GBLT people, are you sure you even want to be there?
  • AvadaKedavra

    Posts: 3554

    Feb 23, 2011 2:44 AM GMT
    oh wow a thread full of gay doctors. how hot.