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The Waiting Game

Thomasrobey72x724Thomas Robey -- Like many fourth year students, I'm anxiously awaiting notice from residency programs about interview invitations. Some specialties have been sending invites for a few weeks, while others wait to make an offer until after they receive your medical student performance evaluation (MSPE, formerly called the Dean's letter). My chosen field, emergency medicine, is in the latter category. So when my colleagues who've applied to surgery, family medicine and pathology tell me about the 10-15 interviews they have, I have the opportunity to practice some of the calming techniques we teach patients with panic disorder.

It's also nice to rehearse the clinical interviewing technique of reflective conversation. With it, I'm getting to know my friends and colleagues better. Reflective conversation is when the interviewer summarizes what the patient says. This helps the care provider both understand the patient's position and reinforce the therapeutic alliance. By focusing on the other person's challenges of navigating cheap airfare sites, organizing program information, and their worries about how to offset their expanding carbon footprints, I'm learning what could be in store for me over the next month when emergency medicine programs start contacting me.

Even with these constructive approaches to dealing with my own anxiety, there are still the sheepish check-ins with my colleagues applying to EM residencies. I see one classmate rather regularly on my commute to the hospital. We're at the point where he greets me with, “Still only three.” And I reply: “Two here.” (We each applied to about 30 programs.)

Sometimes I see the glint in residents' eyes when they overhear our conversation. They're thinking, “those medical students... what a big deal they're making of this!” I know because it's the same thing I think when a contingent of first year students board the Metro bus after being released from afternoon class. We talk about trans-continental airfare and living expenses; they compare study strategies and small group assignments. Soon, we will be focused on work hours and continuing education.

But now, we fourth year students have sent in our applications, confirmed a number of interviews and are antsy about learning about what's next. In a few weeks, the emails will be flying about interview date preferences, the cash will be flowing to online flight booking agencies, and the dark suits will be dusted off for more adventures in interviewing. By comparison, now is the calm before the storm. It's funny though -– I don't feel very calm.

October 19, 2008 in Thomas Robey | Permalink


Wishing you many more interview offers, Thomas. The waiting must be sooo awful...waiting always is. Remember to take care of yourself.

Best always,

Posted by: tfb | Oct 20, 2008 5:47:45 AM

I'm going for EM too, this is an awful wait. Hopefully soon we'll be overwhelmed with awesome offers.

Posted by: Di | Oct 21, 2008 6:52:49 PM

i think i saw you, Thomas, on another post..."look for thick, bouncy (love that word choice!) veins." Cool knowledge, even if i'll never need it, i'm sure the student will be happy you posted that information.
ummm, sorry, do you feel "stalked"? :)

Any more interview offers? Wishing you the very best!

Posted by: tfb | Oct 28, 2008 6:05:54 AM

Hi, I think your article its very important and interesting,good work, thanks for sharing!! Have a nice day!

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