Choosing a Medical Specialty IV — Interviews!

The process of choosing a medical specialty, and applying for residency programs is nearly complete as I have returned from my tour of the West Coast and am nearly done with interview season. This is when medical students travel the country at great (and unreimbursed) expense to find their future training program. When all is said and done, all your research into programs and time spent interviewing boils down to a simple question. Do you want to work with these people for the next 3-7 years of your life?

It’s also nice to see the cities where you may live and get a feel for the type of lifestyle you may enjoy. You also get to take pictures from helipads! Like this one from UNC:


And then there is the famous medical art like the Gross Clinic at Penn which also graces a common surgery text:


Or Ether Day (in the Ether Dome at MGH):

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More pictures and some fun interview questions below the fold…
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Choosing a Medical Specialty II—the view from above

MarkH is going through the process of deciding what to what to do when he grows up. This is a much more difficult and important decision than many may realize. In order to understand the gravity of this process, I’ll have to refresh your memories a bit regarding medical education.

In the U.S., to apply for medical school, you must have completed a (usually) 4-year bachelor’s degree from a university. During the final year, you take what amounts to an entrance exam (the MCAT), and send out preliminary applications (often with fees). If the schools like your preliminary applications, they will send you secondary applications which are more lengthy and involve more fees. If they like your secondary application, you will be invited for interviews. For those of you who may not be familiar with U.S. geography, this place is big—really big. When I went on my interviews, I typically crossed two or three time zones. I took the red-eye out of SFO for Washington National, leaving around 11 p.m. and arriving around 7 a.m. The process is time-consuming and expensive.

After finishing the interview process, you may or may not receive invitations to matriculate. If you don’t get an offer, and you still want to become a doctor, you must repeat the entire process the next year. It is, needless to say, unwise to go through this process unless you’re pretty sure you’ll be happy with your decision to go to medical school.
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