Friday, December 14, 2007

Interview Trail

I just got back from a 1.5 week long road trip containing five interviews. These interviews all pretty much follow the same format. Dinner with residents the night before, then an introduction by the program director and/or chair in the morning followed by 3-4 interviews with the program director and several faculty. Usually there is a lunch at the end, and residents pop in and out throughout the morning. Virtually all the interviewers ask the same questions, and I am now at the point of reciting the same answers over and over. One of the nice things about interviewing for residency is that the programs want the applicants to have a favorable impression of the program. One of the ways they attempt to give this is by providing housing and meals for the interviewees. While one or two programs just sent me a list of suggested hotels, about half provide hotels at 1/3 normal price, and about half actually pay for the hotel altogether--usually very nice hotels. For instance, I have now become accustomed to having a king-sized bed and a room that is magically cleaned every time I leave it. I have had several new experiences in the last two weeks. I have visited two new states, tried raw fish for the first time, had thai food for the first time, slept in a king-sized bed for the first time, and had a jacuzzi in my bedroom for the first time.

Also novel to my experience is going to a restaurant and having the entire menu as fair game. Usually when I eat out I limit myself to a cheaper entree and don't even get a soft drink. There is something incredibly liberating about going to a nice restaurant and having no boundaries--at most of the pre-interview dinners we ordered several very good appetizers (which included my first sushi experience), got entrees without regard for cost, then followed it up with dessert. The best evening of all was last night--I walked into my hotel room, threw down my bags, then looked up to realize that there was a two-person jacuzzi five feet from my king-sized sleep-number bed. I was a little shocked. I actually still am. I didn't have a chance to try it out right away as I had to get to the dinner. We went to a restaurant attached to the local Hilton and proceeded to have quite possibly the best dinner of my life. We started out with several fantastic appetizers. Then I got my beef tenderloin garnished with crab and smothered with some delicious sauce. Words cannot describe how good it was. It alone made the whole trip worth it. Stuffed, I followed it up with blackberry cabernet sorbet. When I got back to the hotel, I filled my jacuzzi with steaming hot water and lounged with the air jets massaging my tired body. I then dried off, climbed into my sleep number bed, adjusted the settings to the perfect firmness, and drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately I then had to wake up at 5 am to get ready for the interview. I was very tempted to skip the interview and stay in my room until check-out time.

I still have a couple more interviews. I have no idea how I am going to rank the programs. I've liked all of the programs I've interviewed at, and I think all of them turn out well-trained surgeons. There are a couple I know I'm going to rank low, but because of location rather than any deficiency in the program. One of the biggest decisions I have to make is whether I'm going to try to stay where I am or not. My problem is that whenever I'm interviewing, I'm attracted to the program I'm interviewing at. I think I am going to have to wait a week or so before starting to seriously evaluate the programs.