Thursday, November 29, 2012

Change in Reception...

Well, this was certainly a little different than the previous places I went to. Today's interview day went okay. It was mostly negative, though. First off, none of the residents who were showing us around seemed to know what they were doing. The day started off with a tour, instead of an orientation like all my previous days had started, so we didn't even have an agenda. The person giving the tour was an intern resident, who has only been with the program since July and hasn't even worked in all the hospital departments yet. Usually it's a 2nd or 3rd year resident who does the tours. They also were frank about telling us some of the negatives about the program. When we got back, first I was with a faculty member and she seemed to start off a little colder but she warmed up gradually. Went over my application, I got a bit of a skeptical vibe from her, but I kinda shrugged it off, it didn't seem to be a big deal. After that interview, I was with a current resident who was pretty nice and seemed to like me fine. He even told me a little about the criteria for ranking people, which he probably shouldn't have, and said that being a Spanish speaker, interested in OB/GYN, underserved and rural medicine, etc. are all part of their checklist for whether to rank someone or not. 

After that came the program director (PD). I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at first, but he didn't seem particularly warm or excited about me. Certainly not like the Sutter had. Sutter probably knew I had genuine interest in them based on me doing the sub-internship, and I had spent a month with them being nothing but nice and pleasant and enthusiastic. I basically felt like the PD here started the interview with the assumption that I was a lying game-player trying to dupe them into thinking I wanted to be in their program so they would rank me highly. For one, he didn't seem enthusiastic or happy at all when I said (TRUE) stuff that matched their mission goals. I DO want to work with Spanish speaking patients, I DO want to have full-spectrum experience and know what resources are available to uninsured patients in California. I don't want to do nothing but OB/GYN but I'd like to be able to handle my primary patients when they get pregnant instead of sending them off to a "specialist".  He basically told me not to rank them unless I really wanted the program, and whenever I said what I liked about the program he seemed entirely nonplussed and just reiterated his previous statements. He even went so far as to say that it's "better to scramble for a residency than match at a place that is just a backup." 

Also, mid-interview, he asked about my Spanish experience and then proceeded to say (in MEXICAN Spanish) "How about we chat in Spanish for a bit?" At first I was thrown off because he used the Mexican-Spanish word for chat instead of the more common verbs like hablar or charlar. I never use the word he used, but based on the context of the rest of the sentence I figured it out after a second of confusion. I asked what he would like to discuss and he said tell me about a patient I saw in the past year. So I start telling him about a patient, and I wanted go on, since I was starting to get going better, and he basically cut me off and played it off like he just likes hearing peoples' accents. First off, part of me feels like he intentionally used the Mexican parlance to make it more challenging. Second, he didn't even let me talk long enough to hear much of an accent, OR let me get in the rhythm of it. He knows it's not my native language, and interviews are somewhat stressful even when you're a competitive semi-confident applicant. Obviously he was checking to make sure I didn't just lie all over my application.  I was expecting to run into someone who would want to speak Spanish with me as a subtle 'test', after all, they always say never to overestimate your language skills unless you can conduct the interview in Spanish.  It wasn't the fact that he tested me, but his skeptical expression and tone. I kind of wonder if it was because my personal statement seemed overly-tailored for their program - I only tailored the very last short paragraph, but the rest of the personal statement (the generic family medicine part) just so happens to perfectly suit their mission statement over the other programs a bit. My scores are also pretty competitive.  Maybe on paper it looks a little too good to be true for their program.

Either way, I had been starting to consider that the place might be nice to be at, if it came to it - it would definitely give me my Spanish experience, the residents all seemed pretty chill and nice, and the earlier faculty member I was interviewed by seemed nice and interesting.  Plus its location is pretty nice is near some nice places.  Ultimately, this program director's attitude was a complete turnoff, and the PD plays a pretty significant role in your residency training over the next three years.  I don't want to have to be around someone like him who treats me in such a judgmental manner and isn't even open to hear what I have to say. One of the other faculty members also attacked a 3rd year student from UCSF who was giving a talk about a global non-profit organization she started before medical school that was reducing maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide.  After we finished clapping and it was opened up for comments and questions, the first guy who raised his hand was this faculty member who essentially told her that some of their efforts were a waste of resources and time, and that they were going about it wrong.  Not a single word of encouragement.  A couple other people commended her after that initial commenter, and of course she took the initial criticisms in stride, but...I was upset because her accomplishments were honestly quite impressive.  

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