There Aren't Enough Words To Go Around
Ben Ferguson -- I’ve spent the last four hours staring at the evaluation form for the last med school applicant I’ll be interviewing this season. After doing 30 of them, I find myself completely out of words. I’ve been particularly blown away by the quality of interviewees this year, but even that can be problematic: How is one supposed to describe these people and differentiate them from one another? You can only use cookie-cutter adjectives so often before inevitably having to resort to the more exotic ones, and there are only so many of those to go around, too.
It makes me wonder: How on Earth do deans do it? Deans have to write lots of letters every year, or at least get help writing them, and at most schools there aren’t just 30; there are potentially hundreds. Being at a school with no grades for three of the four years, it’s made me acutely aware of the importance of the dean’s letter -- and of the need for the dean’s letter to effectively serve as the surrogate in differentiating students from one another in the absence of grades and class ranks. Is it possible? Apparently; people do well enough in the match, and the same goes for students from other schools with such grading systems, too. But honestly, how many “exceptional,” “outstanding,” “brilliant,” “extraordinary,” “remarkable” students can residency programs read about before going insane? (And how many of those students actually are any of those things?)
It’s a good problem to have, this abundance of quality applicants. But writing these interview reports seriously gets to be a pain after a while. When you start wondering how to incorporate “skookum” into someone’s evaluation, you know you’ve lost your marbles. (A recurring theme of mine?)
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