To all the final year medical students around the country, I wish you all safe travels and great memories during your residency interview tour.
Recently, I was talking to a few students who were going through the process. There is always a lot of stress and anxiety involved – What should I wear? Will the interviewer like me? Will I match at all?? I was nervous before my interviews too.
Looking back, I was fortunate I found the whole process quite stress free and dare I say fun. It was the perfect chance to see cities all across Canada, think about how far I had come and ponder about where I would end up.
There is one thing I wanted to share from my experience, it’s that “The CaRMS tour is as much interviewing programs and finding the right fit for you, as it is the other way around.”
People are often so worried about schools liking them that they don’t take the opportunity to find out which schools they like. An activity that helped was after each interview, I would take 10 minutes to write down what I thought about each program. Some questions I would answer were
- What did I think about the city? Could I be happy living here?
- What do I like about this program, what impressed me the most?
- What did I not like about this program, what there anything that concerned me?
- What was my impression of the residents, the program director?
- Will matching here be the best for my career goals? Personal life?
- How would important people in my life react to me matching here?
- Could I see myself living here long term? Would it just be for residency?
This simple exercise was very powerful in two ways. The first was it actually made each subsequent interview easier. With each reflection, my interview answers were more articulated and sincere. I could better compare the program I was interviewing for with the ones I had already done, and I believe I was a better applicant for it.
Secondly, it made ranking the different programs much easier. Ranking your programs is perhaps the last stressful milestone in medical school. If you are not prepared for it, it can be overwhelming. But if you take the time to critically evaluate the schools when you visit them and create a general impression, you will have a pretty good rank list at the end of your interviews.
So to everyone currently going through the residency match process – enjoy the process. Keep in mind that these interviews run both ways, and you have the responsibility of interviewing each program too.