Like so many things in my life, I have underestimated interview season. I think part of my general personality is that I try to do so much more than one person can possibly do in a given day/month. While I am not doing a whole lot of "school" stuff right now, I decided it was a great time to go back to work, start dating, do a mostly handmade Christmas, and catch up with all of my friends and family while also flying/driving around the country to interview for my future job(residency). To say I am exhausted is an understatement, but it has been one hell of a ride so far. I'm definitely a go big or go home kind of girl and sometimes I overwhelm myself.
This weeks interview was in Birmingham, Alabama. Due to some administrative/financial difficulties, I was unable to book my trip until last week and by that time flights were $700. So I decided it was a perfect time to take the road trip I always wanted to take. The total drive time was a little more than 11 hours and after adding in stop time ended up being about 12 hours each way. I also figured since I would have an extra morning and afternoon, I would take advantage of the time by hiking at the state park before my pre-interview dinner. And then would wrap up my trip with my interview Tuesday morning and make my drive back Tuesday night. It was an incredible trip, but very tough on the body. I slept most of today to try to recuperate.
The actual road trip part was pretty fun. I found I was the most tried the first couple hours of the drive and I got bored the last couple of hours of my trip. Tennessee and Alabama are absolutely beautiful to drive through. I found driving through St Louis was really the worst part both ways. I am very thankful for my Ipod and GPS. Lifesavers on a road trip. I basically rocked out for 12 hours each way.
Lessons learned: 12 hours is a lot for one driver on one day. Don't drink soda on a road trip. Bring more snacks.
On Sunday night, I stayed in Pelham, AL a small town about 20 minutes from Birmingham and home of the state park. I spent all day Monday doing a 16.5 mile hike through the park. As part of my go big or go home mentality, I decided when planning my hike I was going to see as much as the park at possible. It was a very relaxing and beautiful hike. The only people I saw all day were the rangers on the way in and the rangers on the way out. I would bet that it is even more impressive come spring time. I definitely underestimated the hike time and intensity. Overall I would say 80% of my hike was either up or down very steep hills. It is actually the downhill that really puts the most stress on my body. The last couple of days the back of my legs have been protesting to anything other than laying around. But it was totally worth it!
Monday night I headed to have dinner with the UAB residents at a pizza place and had a great time. The dinners are always the most interesting part of the interview process. Some of them are incredibly awkward and you spend the whole time thinking, please someone leave so I can also leave. It is all part of the process of figuring out where you fit in. This dinner, however, was very enjoyable and the residents seemed to go out of their way to try to include us in their conversations. We swapped interview, trauma, and road trip stories.
Monday night I stayed at a hotel a couple blocks from where I would interview in the morning and was very thankful for the big screen TV and big bed after what ended up being a very hectic day.
My interview in Birmingham started at 7:15 on Tuesday morning and it was definitely the earliest interview day I have had so far. Most of the interviews have a very similar set up. We typically start off with a presentation about the program highlights, take a tour of the facility, then settle in for 3-5 interviews with different staff members or residents, and finish with lunch. Probably the most interesting part of the process is what is going through your head.
For example all of the following thoughts have ran through my head during interview season: Am I sitting too straight? Is there something wrong with this chair? Should I unbutton my suit jacket? Should I button my suit jacket? Is my suit jacket too short? Should I have wore flats? I wonder if my eyeliner is running. Do my blacks match? Oh no, I forgot to put my necklace on this morning. What exactly is he wanting me to answer? Oh my Goodness, how am I going to answer that? Seriously you can give a whole presentation off the top of your head on arrhythmias and you can't think of an answer to What would you change about yourself? What are you doing with your hands? Did you really just say that? Why are you so awkward?
It is like a mind game with yourself. I am very curious what they are thinking during the process. I had a really good interview experience in Birmingham and was able to have a good conversation with each of my interviewers. So either the atmosphere was a lot more laid back or I'm finally getting better at this.
My drive home was slightly more difficult than I drive up and I think it was because it was on a weekday, but I got back into town around 2 this morning. I'm happy to be back in my own bed. I think sleeping in your own bed is one of the most amazing feelings in the world and I look forward to it each time I leave home.
Next week I have 2 more interviews. One in North Carolina and one here in Kansas City. In no time it is going to be Christmas time and at this rate I am not going to be ready for it when it gets here. While life is keeping me crazy busy, I am loving every minute of it. So many more adventures ahead!
Note: I have found most people don't know what The Match is or how it works. I wanted to take a moment to explain what I mean by The Match and how this whole process works. After medical school, the new doctors all around the country go into residency. It is in residency that you specialize in whatever you are going to be when you grow up. I'm specializing in Emergency Medicine. The Match is the process of getting into residency. In September, we put all of our information into a computer system called ERAS and this system then send out your application to the programs of your choice. Everyone applies to a different amount of programs, but I applied to 25 this year. Depending on your specialty, after applications go out different programs who are interested in your will send you an invitation to come out and interview at their program. We spent November-January traveling around the country interviewing at different programs. In February, we rank the programs we interviewed at on where we want to go and the programs rank the people they interviewed as well and then a separate computer system does The Match and matches you up with a program based on these lists. There is a possibility of not matching to a program which is every medical student's biggest fear.