Now that I am starting to get closer and closer to residency applications I have been thinking back to when I first applied to medical school. I have almost purposely suppressed most of these memories. But now that it has been so many years, I can look back on them fondly and admit that they are unfortunately pretty hilarious.
I applied to colleges and medical schools at the same time – my senior year of high school. At that time, I was your typical teenager – a headstrong know-it-all that couldn’t be shaken by anything… yet.
I remember walking into my first interview, sitting down in the chair across from a rather severe looking man, and trying to assess if I was shaking his hand firmly enough. That was literally my only thought – how hard to shake his hand. So, I was surprised when the first question out of his mouth was “What would you do if you were the surgeon general?” I was only a high schooler at the time (not that it’s any excuse for my ignorance) so using my awesome deductive reasoning skills (note the sarcasm), I determined that it must be a person in the army that did surgeries. I then blurted out something ridiculous about reducing infection rates, and gave myself a pat on the back for my quick thinking. Needless to say, that interview didn’t go so well.
After that first interview, I had a few others that ended similarly. I was asked what I thought of health care today (remember this is pre-Obama care). And I said, “I think it’s great—hospitals and doctors save people’s lives all the time.” Another instance, I was asked what I thought of emergency rooms being required to take in patients despite their ability to pay; to which I replied “Oh I didn’t know that. Interesting.”
Somehow, despite my ridiculous answers, often poorly timed jokes, and numerous improperly fitted black suits – I got into med school. I eventually got the hang of interviewing (plus some well-deserved humbling in the process) and was able to hold together a coherent conversation.
If there is one thing to be taken away from my experiences—it is that if at first you don’t succeed try, try again. This is a cliché, but a tried and true one. Interviews are tough and grueling, and you will make many mistakes. But don’t let them stop you. Anything is possible after enough failures.