medschool

Residency Interview Questions: What to Ask and How to Prepare

One of the most exciting, exhilarating, and expensive endeavors of fourth year is the interview trail, in which aspiring residents will visit countless programs across the country in order to demonstrate their merit as a potential incoming intern. The interview is not only a chance to demonstrate that you are in fact as good as or better than your paper application, but also an opportunity to determine fit – do you fit in with the program and does the program’s philosophy fit your aspirations? Although the interview process will seemingly become easier as you progress along the trail, it will also become repetitive. You’ll be faced with the same standard questions: “tell me about yourself,” “why do you want to be a(n) [insert specialty of choice here],” “tell me about your research,” “tell me about a time when [insert ethical scenario here],” “why do you want to come to our program,” and “what questions do you have for me?” If you’re like me, you’ll likely have difficulty with that last question because there is so much to ask, so much that I wanted to know about a program, yet so little understanding of a good question to ask. It’s important to remember that, once you are invited for the interview, you are qualified for the position. You have passed the screening process, and you have what it takes to...

Applying the Philosophy of Ubuntu to Medicine

Ubuntu is a word that I formally learned in beginners Xhosa class and informally through the people in which I engaged. The direct translation of this Xhosa word is: I am because we are. It is a philosophy that encourages humanity and interconnectedness. Little did I know that when I signed up for beginners Xhosa class in order to greet the patients I would meet in the clinic, I would learn of a philosophy that could heal the US healthcare system. Interconnectedness of Diseases The complex reality is that diseases are not isolated medical problems. They are medical problems in the context of interconnected biological systems that construct the human body. When we focus on treating diseases in isolation, we get a myopic view of the problem and thus a partial solution. Interconnectedness of Determinants Much like America, South Africa is a country with diverse identities, a sensitive history, and an environment segregated by race and social status. And much like America, these factors complicate healthcare access, equity, and outcomes. Throughout my time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities, I have learned to comprehend human disease within a context that encompasses, rather than sequesters, social issues. Interconnectedness of Departments Specialization in medicine has fragmented patient care and created silos. Collective wisdom will help heal the fragmented health care system. Previously independent fields are now integrating...

7 Reasons Your Family Medicine Personal Statement Might Be a Failure

Most Medical schools do take family medicine personal statements very seriously. In fact, almost all of them are of the opinion that they are a good way to make student describe what they have learned from their hands on experience. This way it helps them see your level of commitment to your work. They expect a detailed and realistic view on the patients you have come in contact with and the valuable time spent at the hospital they worked. The experiences you gained before you got into medical school and the ones you got after usually state the kind of family doctor you are likely to be.  So in writing your family medicine personal statement essays do not forget to include your core values and key qualities. Also be specific about your specialty in Family Medicine and be sure to make your experiences reinforce them. The best residency personal statement takes into cognizance factors such as: – Why you are committed to this specialty – What you intend to achieve from this residency program – Your plans for the future – What you intend to bring into the program; skills, expertise and so on Documents Required for Residency Admission This program is a 5-year clinical program. It is divided into 6 categorical PGY 1 residents as well as 2 non designated preliminary PGY 1 residents that are usually matched...

Part 2: How Filming a Documentary prepared me for Medicine

#5 Be Curious Before an interview, I would prepare a list of questions that I should ask specifically for that interviewee. In the beginning, the back and forth of questions and answers were scripted at first then gradually improvised and tailored to what was revealed prior. The lesson here is to be prepared but also be adaptable. By being curious, you will get all of the answers you need. “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis.” -William Osler  #6 Understand each piece of the puzzle One of the greatest responsibilities of a filmmaker is to serve as an advocate for each unique story so that it is holistically and accurately displayed. Documentary film as a medium allows one to showcase a representative experience. While the filmmaker presents the facts, the audience is left to make their own opinion. To do this with the utmost integrity, one must understand each voice in the choir. “The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.” -William Osler #7 What to keep and what to cut When creating a documentary, you have the choice of what story you want to tell. And when editing, you have the choice of what footage you want to show. This can be dangerous. There is a delicate balance of facts vs. opinions to maintain so the message won’t be misconstrued. Err...

Part 1: How Filming a Documentary Prepared me for Medicine

I embarked on unknown territory and began filming a documentary. During the process, it reminded me of the various intricacies of the role of a physician that I admire. Here are some things I learned from filming and how it applies to medicine.   #1 Be cognizant of your presence Depending on the shoot, you could be navigating places where you are technically not allowed to be (i.e. an operating room to film a surgery). In this space, be cognizant of yourself, your team, and your equipment. You will be disruptive no matter how discreet you try to be, so acknowledge that and be aware. “There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation…” -William Osler #2 Recognize the interviewees’ discomfort As we were setting up for an interview, it wasn’t lost on me that there were four additional people hovering, cameras positioned from various angles, lapel microphones, and extra wires throughout the room. As the director, I was reminded that within a foreign environment of technology and cords it was my responsibility to ensure that the interviewee was comfortable enough to share their vulnerability with me. While my team set up the equipment, I focused on talking to the interviewee and preparing them for what’s to come. Show some compassion and be patient. “Every patient you see is a lesson in much more than...

The Muller Effect: 10-year Anniversary of HIV-to-HIV Transplantation

10 years ago, a fearless surgeon performed the world’s first transplant of an HIV+ kidney into an HIV+ recipient at Groote Schuur Hospital in South Africa. Where many in her place would step back, she stepped forward. When institutions built walls around her, she continued to break them down. When government officials threatened her career, she persevered. “I started to realize I am so often refusing organs from a patient because they have HIV. I started to think this doesn’t make sense because we have all these patients with HIV who we can’t give dialysis to and on the other side of the coin I’m denying donors to donate and this was a simple way of solving the problem that drove the process.” –Dr. Elmi Muller At a time of HIV denialism in South Africa, where patients with end-stage renal disease and HIV had no option but to die, she pioneered an established procedure on a stigmatized population. This past year I was privileged to serve as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa under the mentorship of Dr. Elmi Muller. Prior to my arrival, what I knew of the pioneering procedure was limited to the scarce reports by the media and a handful of publications in the literature. But when Elmi first told me her journey, I knew that there was more to this story that people needed to...

7 MCAT Study Tips For The Busy College Student

There is no getting around it, the MCAT may make you or break you. Yes, you are more than a number. Yes, your extracurricular activities count. But, in order to show the admissions board what you “bring to the table,” you must meet that schools minimum score requirement for the MCAT. The MCAT is scary, it is, but the test can be conquered with the right prep and planning. I’m here to help calm your nerves, offer you a pillar of hope during your time of studying, and give you some tips on how to make your study time more efficient. The most important thing you can do is have a schedule and try not to deviate from it. There are numerous websites and companies who have sample study plans to choose from that can make your planning easier or you can devise on your own. Most of the templates follow a general trend and look something like this: 6:30-8:00 am – Wake up, eat breakfast, exercise, shower 8:00-12:00 pm – Study for the MCAT (Prep with questions, read material etc.) 12:00-2:00 pm – Break 2:00-5:00 pm – MCAT prep 5:00-7:00 pm – Break 7:00-9:00 pm – MCAT prep 9:00-10:30 pm – Unwind, go to bed. This schedule makes the MCAT look not too scary am I right? Well, usually if you’re scheduled to take the MCAT, you’re in...