Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emergence of a rank list?

Cross-posted on Dose of Reality

At the beginning of the interview process, I had some sense of which programs would be at the top of my rank list*. I also had some ideas about which would be at the bottom. I'd set up a list for myself of programs likely to be in the top 5-6, and programs likely to be in the bottom 5-6, but the middle of the list was a bit of a mystery. Now that I'm through nine of my fifteen interviews, I'm getting a better sense of what I'm looking for in a program, although it's still difficult to make concrete pre-interview predictions. Some things I have learned:

  • As promised by all of the residents and faculty I've talked to, interacting with current residents is really important. Not only do they have a completely unique, insider perspective on the programs, but their personalities and preferences seem to be the best indicators available of what kinds of applicants match at particular programs, and what sorts of people do well there.
  • I'm really glad I'm not couples matching. Applicants who have a significant other (or anyone they want to match with, really, as there is no requirement that you be in any particular kind of relationship) who is also applying to residency this year can choose to link their match lists with that person's. The match algorithm then processes the two lists together so that if Applicant A only wanted to be at Program X if Applicant B were at Program Y, and Program Y isn't an option for that applicant, then the algorithm moves on and looks for a better match. This means that although OB/GYN isn't the most competitive specialty, those applicants who are couples matching with someone in a crazily competitive specialty have to apply and interview to many more programs. The travel is already wearing on me, and I can't imagine having to do more than I already am.
  • The fit and feel of a program are much more obvious after an interview day than I'd expected. I know it sounds dubious, but you really can get a good sense of a program after an informal mixer/dinner with the residents and then an interview day. There are, I'm sure, lots of things that can't come out in that amount of time, or that are intentionally hidden away during interview days, but the personality of a program really does come out quite clearly in that brief interaction. 
I've definitely not finalized my list at this point, as there are still lots of interviews to come, but it's exciting to feel like I'm getting closer.

*For those of you confused about what a "rank list" is, I refer you to a post from May that describes a bit of the match process.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catch up

Somehow it's been ten days since I last posted. I was home for a week over Thanksgiving, and thoroughly enjoyed the break from the travel. I'm back on the road again, and wanted to share some highlights from my interlude visiting Ruti in DC!
 She lives very, very near to the White House, and I realized that I'd never seen the front side of it. Here it is, in all it's glory!

 We tried a delicious soft-serve spot that starts with bars of frozen yogurt and actual fruits (or pumpkin, in my case) and then blends them into delicious soft-serve. I got the pumpkin spice flavor with chocolate ice cream - a perennial favorite for me, but new to the astonished gentleman behind the counter. It was amazing.

I went to the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian Museum of American Craft, and saw some of their permanent collection as well the 40 under 40 exhibit, which featured 40 works that had been created since the opening of the gallery 40 years ago. 

There were no pictures allowed in the special exhibition, but upstairs in the permanent collection I was particularly taken with this "Bureau of Beaurocracy."

On my way to the museum I stopped at the food trucks (below) just a block or so from Ruti's house. I did not get the most exotic tacos, but they were delicious (above).

We also went to an aerial yoga class, but mercifully there were no photos of that experience. Unlike the class we did last year, it was not explicitly directed toward producing impressive photos. Instead, it was focused on destroying one's triceps, and it did an admirable job of that. Thanks Ruti, for an amazing visit!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers"

Cross-posted on Dose of Reality

While I'm optimistic that the end of my interview trail will not parallel the end of Blanche from Streetcar Named Desire, I nonetheless feel that, at least right now, I am wholly dependent on the kindness of friends, family, and even some strangers. I'm writing this post from dearest Ruti's living room, having stayed with my sister last night and a gracious UM alum the night before*. In Boston I stayed with a med school classmate, and an old friend in Seattle. I've got friends lined up for many of the rest of my interviews as well, and I feel incredibly grateful at their willingness to pull out their air mattresses, unfold their couches, and make up their guest rooms for me. I'll be working to balance my karmic withdrawals by hosting some applicants interviewing at UM back in Ann Arbor. I can't say thank-you enough to all of these folks who have made the first half of the interview trail that much more hospitable. Don't hesitate to call if you find yourselves in Ann Arbor. Thanks!

*The Office of Alumni Relations runs an impressive hosting program that connects interviewing fourth years with UMMS alumni across the country. I've only used it once so far, but was thrilled with it. Yay for having a gigantic alumni network!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

End of the CSA

My CSA this year caused more anxiety than last year. I think I was working so much last year that I got into the habit of cooking massive amounts of food on my limited days off, and eating salads at every possible juncture. This year felt much less organized, with rotations that were really radically different each month, and somewhat unpredictable. I wasn’t nearly as diligent about cooking regularly, and so I frequently had panicky moments until I figured out what to do with the massive lot of greens in my fridge. When I finally had some time at home a few weeks ago, I cleaned up my refrigerator and finally used the last of the CSA. (I will note that since it's very, very fresh when it comes to me, it's actually just fine to sit in the fridge for a week or two. Not ideal, but fine.) Some of it, okay, truthfully, massive volumes of it, became sautéed greens with a fried egg on top. But another large portion became this:

Eggplant + final tomatoes of summer + chick peas = delicious

There’s not much "recipe" to share, as I just roasted the eggplant in the oven and then warmed it on the burner with the tomatoes and chickpeas. I seasoned it with zahtar, which is a mixture of sesame seeds, coriander, sumac, thyme, cumin, and black pepper. The sumac adds a citrusy deliciousness to the whole thing, and I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Time I got up to get to the airport in Boston: 3:15AM

Number of empty rows on each leg of my flight to Seattle: 10+

Number of screaming children traveling with me from Philadelphia to Seattle: 1

Cost of earplugs that I try to keep in my carry-on: $0.50

Value of laying down across three seats and sleeping for another four hours: Priceless

I have now forgiven US Airways for any past injustices, as I was on two very empty flights this morning, and I got to sleep for almost the entire flight from Boston to Philly, and then another few hours en route to Seattle. It was so incredibly nice to sleep a bit more since I needed to catch up after Boston evenings filled with a pre-interview mixer and a fabulous dinner with the most amazing out-of-town friends a girl could want, and mornings filled with interviews (starting at 6:45AM!) and flights (departing at 3:50AM!). My gracious host (a friend from med school) couldn’t have been kinder, but I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the bed she provided!