Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Well That Wasn't Easy

So I finally submitted my rank order list. Those of you who have gone through this whole process please skip the following couple paragraphs. Actually, just skip to the bottom of the post.

After interviewing for residency jobs the candidate has to rank the programs in order of preference. The programs do the same, they rank the candidates in order of preference. These lists are kept confidential so neither the candidates nor the programs ever find out who ranked what / where (theoretically). These lists go into an algorithm which "matches" the program the candidate wanted the most with the program that ranked him/her the highest. The algorithm favors the candidate. What that means is...(by the way, I am explaining this for the 117th time in the last 3 weeks so from now on I will be referring people to this post rather than reciting my little speech)...I will be matched to a program I really want over a program that really wants me. 

An example. I interviewed for several programs. Let's say every program I interviewed for had three IMG positions (this was not usually the case, most places only had one IMG position but this is my fairy tale blogland).

-If the program that I ranked first ranked me in their top three then I match there.

-If the program that I ranked first didn't rank me in their top three then the list goes to my number two choice.

-If my number two choice ranked me in their top three then I will match there.

And it goes down the list like that until I match (hopefully).

-Now, conversely, if I am ranked number four at my top choice, but their top three match somewhere else, then I get bumped up the list and would be their new first choice, thus I will match there. And so on.

So the programs have already submitted their rank order lists which is why I feel like I can be slightly more open about the process now. Well, a tiny little smidgen more open.

I spent the last 3 weeks in a career choice mulling daydream. I emailed former colleagues, texted friends, called my boyfriend, mother, and siblings to ponder out loud. I dropped in on past professors, lunched with career idols, and lay awake at night trying to figure out how I wanted to rank the programs. See the thing is, I interviewed in 3 different specialties...all of which I truly enjoy and all of which I see myself being happy in, ultimately.

These are examples of my considerations for some of the different programs (in no particular order...heh):

1. LOVED the residents, they sold the program very very well. The faculty were very upbeat and relaxed. They had really put a lot of effort into the call schedule and maximizing learning. Great access to outdoor adventures, training tailored to someone who wants to work in rural setting. Research project support as well as required classes on medical education that count towards a masters. Downsides were that the city is sketchy, the winters are brutal, and it is pretty far from the Rockies.

2. LOVED the program, very similar to one above. Brand new hospital, great call schedule, opportunity to engage with the community in interesting ways, very flexible and supportive of residents cultivating their interests within the program. Far from international airport, smaller population, lower volumes, loads of hands on training though as no competing fellows and fewer co-residents.

3. LOVED the institution and what it represents. State of the art training labs, simulators, anatomy sessions. My favorite location by far, bigger but not too big. A program that would definitely support any type of practice I might want to pursue down the road. Close to great recreation, international airport, major city.

4. LOVED the program director. Again, a lot of flexibility, support for master's training. BIG centers, huge volumes, massive exposure to EVERY POSSIBLE THING YOU COULD EVER WANT TO SEE. Big city, big rent prices, big drive to anywhere green and pretty. Very, very far from the Rockies.

And so it goes. Every place I interviewed had similar pros and cons. I tried to sit down and mathematically create an answer to my dilemma. I made categories like "recreation options" and "location" and "academic advantages" and I gave each place a rank for each category. But when I looked at it in the end, I was favorably ranking the programs I really hoped would come out on top, not necessarily objectively tallying the sums.

In the end, I ranked all of the programs I interviewed for. I suppose that my top four choices are all places that will make me jump up and down if I see them on my computer screen on March 5th (match day). My remaining choices will all be perfectly acceptable starting points that will get me where I need to go (and I suspect may be hidden gems).

I do believe that in 5 and 10 years I will look back at this time in my life (the rapidly approaching fork in the road) and laugh at where I thought I was going...and where I actually ended up.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kaplan Phone Support RULES!

OK normally I don't do GIANT TEST PREP COMPANY* shout outs but this really deserves one.

I had to call Kaplan because I was having issues with my account there and the guy who I spoke to on the phone was hilarious. After I mumbled something about the fact that I've dropped so much money at the Kaptest store I should have a gold star beside my name he informed me that I did in fact have a gold star beside my name. And then at the end of the conversation he wished me luck on my exams and said that he hoped that in the future if he ever got sick he hoped that I would be his doctor.

You just don't get that kind of flattery customer service when you call Telus.

Way to go random call center dude! I'm almost pleased that I've spent the equivalent to a couple of mortgage payments on your products.

*I am not getting any sort of money or discount from this post. Really. I wish I was!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gathering Thoughts and Dirty Laundry

I am a horrible blogger these days, I know.

It has been an absolutely wild ride recently. I have spent the last 3 weeks on the interview trail, living out of my suitcase, in rental cars, spare rooms, hotel suites. I am back in Ireland, on a nephrology rotation, and pseudo-homeless (as in, I have been looking for a place to live since I returned a few days ago).

I have a week to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life (and where I want to live for possibly the next 10 years). Yes, in one week I am submitting my rank order list. It is basically a wish list, in order of preference, of where I want to do my post graduate training. 

So once I've officially unpacked, set up my internet, done some soul searching, eaten some non-restaurant food, had some exercise and a full 6h of uninterrupted sleep...I will write an actual post.

In the meantime know that I am alive, wrestling with a major life decision and an ever expanding pile of dirty laundry.