What does it take to get in to your top choice Medical School? We'll explore that and more in an extended live online episode of The Pulse. Join us for 1:1 interviews with notables including Paul T. White, Assistant Dean of Admissions at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Dr. Nida Degesys, previous AMSA National President. At our in-depth panel session we'll take your questions and answer them live on air!
Hello my future interviewees! Two weeks ago I told you about an interview experience which was less than ideal. This week I want to tell you about the best interview experience that I had.
The day did not get off to an auspicious start. I actually almost missed my flight due to a malfunctioning security scanner at the airport. Once I arrived at the school, I had the undesirable position of having the last two interview slots of the day. What that means is that everyone else interviewed first and I got to hear about how their interviews went. If you've never had this experience, it can be really disconcerting regardless of whether the other interviewees think it went well or poorly.
In this case, several of my fellow interviewees commented on one interviewer who was giving them a hard time. It was an interviewer who, according to their experiences, was driving them to pick a certain answer for an ethical issue. They all expressed that they thought their interviews did not go well. I checked my schedule and of course he was my final interviewer of the day.
I tried to not let the negative reviews of my interviewer phase me. I went to my first interview and it went fine, so I mentally geared up for my second interview. Much as the previous interviewees described, he began by asking me question about medical ethics situations and challenging my reasons. I stuck with my original answer and justified my thoughts. My interviewer looked at me, put down his folder and began debating with me as if it were a conversation.
That's when I knew that the interview was going really well. He was questioning my reasoning, but I was adequately defending my points. For some questions I answered that I wasn't sure, since I hadn't actually been in medical practice and hadn't seen this issue firsthand. My interviewer seemed to appreciate that I acknowledged that I wasn't an expert on every topic.
It was about forty-five minutes into the conversation when he asked me the single best question that I have ever gotten in an interview. He asked, "With your background in public health where you have the power to impact many people, why would you focus on clinical medicine where you have to power to impact decidedly fewer people?" I forget what I responded, but I knew in that moment, that he respected my as an applicant, had listened to the points I had been making, and really wanted to know what was driving my love of medicine.
I was the last person to leave that day. My interview went over twenty minutes longer than it should have, but I knew on the way out that those last twenty minutes had been worth it. I received an acceptance letter within two weeks.
What can you take away from my excellent interview experience?1. Don't worry about the other applicants. Their experiences will be different than yours and that's fine. Feel free to ignore any of their comments, since their worst interviewer could end up being your best.
2. If possible, treat your medical school interview experience as if you already have been accepted. It allows you to relax and really let yourself shine. At the time of this interview, I already had an acceptance letter which helped me to feel more confident during my interview.
3. It is okay to say that you don't know. It's actually one of the things that pre-med students struggle with the most, and your interviewer will be impressed that you're humble enough to admit that you are unsure. That said, don't just stop after saying you don't know. Explain what you do know and why you need more information.
4. Don't be intimidated by your interviewer. They are just trying to get to know you and they all have slightly different ways of achieving that goal. If you're going to a school for an interview, you are intelligent enough to get in. The interview is about making sure that you are a good fit for the school.
Good luck on your interviews and happy studying!
Hello my med school-hopefuls! I hope that you have gotten your secondary applications sent in and and receiving some invitations to interview. To those of you who are interviewing soon, good luck!
Today, I would like to share with you the story of one of my med school interviews that didn't go as well as I had wanted it to. Hopefully you can take away some valuable lessons from my experience, and remember that no matter how dicey this interview was, my story has a happy ending. (For privacy's sake, I've changed the name of the school to MedU)
My first interview at MedU started with the interviewer quoting something. I was at a loss for the reference and he got oddly mad. It turns out that the quote was from the movie Braveheart, but the way he reacted made me feel like the movie was required pre-interview viewing and that I had forgotten to complete the assignment. It was not an excellent first exchange
As the interview continued, it became apparent that his interview style was to pick a word from my application and ask me about it. He asked me about dancing, Cretin (part of the name of my high school), and Spanish. Then he began to conduct part of the interview in Spanish. That went fine for awhile until I began to describe my host family and used my hand to indicate the height of my younger host brother. My interviewer immediately chastised me for using a gesture that is apparently very insulting in Mexico. As I studied Spanish in Spain, I had no knowledge of said gesture and explained that fact.
I was getting increasingly frustrated. He wasn't asking me questions about medicine or why I wanted to be a doctor and I was at a loss about how to work that information into his seemingly random line of questioning.
Then he asked me if I was Native. I sat and thought for a minute about what he was asking. He knew I wasn't from the state, so that wasn't what he was asking. Oh. He was asking if I was Native American. I'm not Native American in any measurable way, so I responded no. We wrapped up the rest of the interview in awkward fashion and I left feeling very disheartened.
So, what can you take away from my negative interview experience?
1. Keep your cool. I never got overly flustered even when I thought he was getting mad for no good reason.
2. Don't worry about the content of your interview. Some of the best interviews I had involved talking about things that weren't even remotely related to medicine. Yes, you want to be able to talk about why you want to be a doctor, but don't stress if your interview veers off-topic.
3. Certain questions are illegal. Your interviewer can't actually ask you your race/ethnicity/marital status/sexual orientation. If they do, you need to inform one of the people in charge.
After my interview, I approached the Dean of Admissions who was at one of the presentations. He apologized for my negative interview experience and assured me that my second interview would be weighted more heavily in my admissions consideration. So, even though during the interview I thought that there was no way I would be accepted to MedU, my solid performance during the second interview allowed me to get my acceptance letter approximately a month later.
I would love to hear about any of your med school interview experiences, positive or negative! Feel free to share them in the comments.
Happy studying and interviewing!
Hello future doctors! Last week I had the opportunity to participate in one of the fun traditions which marks the official beginning of medical school- getting my white coat and stethoscope. You may ask yourself why there is a ceremony for getting a white coat and indeed it seems like something that should mark the end of a medical school journey, not the beginning. So, why is the White Coat Ceremony traditionally performed at the beginning of medical school?
The answer, I believe, is multifaceted and was given many times during the speeches throughout orientation and in the ceremony itself. If you're reading this blog, you may not have sat through a White Coat Ceremony before, so I'll fill you in on some of the take-home messages.
1. It's a time to acknowledge the accomplishments that we have made so far in getting to this point. At my ceremony, they cited the statistic that out of over 6,600 applicants, we 160 matriculants were sitting in the chairs about to begin our medical school education. Statistically it was very unlikely that any of us would have gotten there by anything less than perseverance and tons of hard work. As a part of acknowledging our accomplishments, the students were encouraged to thank our families who supported us throughout our journey and who were present to watch our transition into our new career path. Lots of parents cried.
2. To mark a new level of professionalism and illustrate the new commitment we made to medicine. One of the major differences between entering undergrad and entering medical school is the focus on professionalism. What that means is that being a future doctor has certain privileges, but also responsibilities. No more messing around in class, showing up to clinic in sweatpants or posting stupid things on facebook. The white coat is symbolic of the shift towards professionalism that we all made.
3. Obviously the real reason is the opportunity for sweet photo ops. Immediately following the ceremony, my family, roommates, classmates and I engaged in enough photo-taking and uploading to blow up my facebook news feed for weeks. Everyone wants a picture of them and everyone around in their shiny, new white coats looking very official. It's proof to the universe that you are, in fact, in medical school.
Even though it occurred at the beginning of our medical education, the ceremony did have somewhat of a graduation feel. I would like to point out, however, that my colleagues and I are all quick to acknowledge that when it comes to medicine, we still have no idea what we're doing. I'd like to think that humility that will serve us well further down the road.
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