The Interview Trail

On residency applications there’s a section for “Hobbies and Interests”. We are able to write whatever we choose in this section and in mine I listed a few things that I enjoy doing in my free time: getting outside, traveling, and the link to this blog.

Many of my interviewers have either asked me about my writing or have even commented on stories I’ve shared in the past. Of course, this has been both a fun way to talk about my values and perspective on life with residency programs, and it’s also caused a little bit of anxiety – is what I write any good?

After one of these interviews, I dug around in my archives a bit and re-read the posts that had been recently viewed. One in particular is titled “An Open Letter to my Dreams”. This was written pre-medical school and I was in the trenches of medical school applications. Or should I say, medical school rejections.

These past few months have thrown me into a similar headspace as I near the end of this chapter and look to the next as a general surgery resident. I made a list, requested letters of recommendation, drafted my personal statement, paid the submission fees, and then waited to hear from programs whether I was good enough for them to invite me for an interview. I waited for program selection committees to determine my worth, forgetting that this is something only I can decide the value of.

The process of applying and interviewing for residency is often called the “Interview Trail”. This describes the criss-crossing of 4th-year medical student across the United States as they travel from one residency program to the next. It’s a grueling, expensive process that one might consider to be a rite of passage but for obvious, pandemic reasons is very different this year. We are interviewing virtually through Zoom, Webex, Thalamus, you name it. All from the comfort of our own homes.

While we aren’t on a literal trail, I would argue it’s still an adventure full of twists, turns, uphill climbs and downhill free-falls. I think we are supposed to be learning something, possibly something about what it is we truly value in our lives and how we will balance those values in our futures. It’s actually helped me to look back at the old posts because it’s provided some perspective on what truly matters, and will hopefully help guide my decision-making as I round the bases of this interview trail.  

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