ndab Ah Yes, Medical School: December 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Buy Me A Clue

Last month, I found myself among some of the elite young men this generation has to offer. All of us were there, at around 9:00 AM on a beautiful Sunday morning, with clear purpose and emboldened spirits. There were men of all ages, races, and religions present, standing together with a clarity of mind not seen since the glory years of our civilization (which, in case you are curious, began during my birth in 1981 and ended with the second half of the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” episode of The Simpsons in the early 1990s). We braved the temperate weather and clear skies for one thing, and we would not rest until it was safely in our hands. We were all after it, knowing few would actually get it. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who have wanted to meet me in person, your best chance at catching me in an impromptu public appearance already occurred at around 9:00AM on a Sunday at our local Circuit City, as I joined some of the other local nerds, rejects, and losers waiting desperately in line for the Nintendo Wii.

Please do not adjust your monitor. You read that right.

While standing in line that morning, after having stood in other lines for countless hours, coming away empty handed every time, I had a thought on how this relates to my other current pursuit, namely a residency program that does not make me want to throw up. This occurred to me in the context of some basic economic principles (basic because my career in economics began and ended with Econ 1), because it was clear to me that while the Wii is currently in a seller’s market, with demand so much stronger than supply that the stoner employees at Circuit City could have taken a dump on my forehead and I still would have waited in line, internal medicine residency spots are currently in a buyer’s marker, because why on Earth would anyone want to do this when so many other higher paying medical careers are available? Cue momentary existensial crisis…OK done. So with that thought in mind, and having been through eight interview days (with at least five more to go), I thought I’d use some basic economic ideas to highlight what it takes to make the sale for a residency program.

Principle #1: There Might Not Be Such A Thing As A Free Lunch, But I Damn Well Better Get One.
Perhaps some programs have forgotten this, or perhaps they refuse to acknowledge this, or perhaps they just don’t give a crap, but some seem to have neglected the fact that many applicants have traveled far and wide at considerable financial expense to interview at their programs. As such, these programs see no problem with providing simple snacks or crappy hospital food in lieu of a real lunch. This may seem like silly whining from a spoiled brat (which I clearly am), but it really doesn’t say much about your program if the best you can do is a bag of Doritos and a Diet Coke. Remember, this is a buyer’s market, and I ain’t buying no Otis Spunkmeyer.

Principle #2: Econ Lectures Are Boring.
No really, they are fucking boring. I still remember being bored, and I took Econ 1 spring quarter of my freshman year of college - that’s roughly 7 years ago. With that in mind, I’d like to point out that while it’s really cute that programs feel a need to bring applicants to noon conference and have us sit in on lectures like the real residents do (golly gee whiz!), it’s a fine line between being really cute and excruciatingly boring. And if the only thing I can remember about my interview day is falling asleep during a lecture I didn’t even want to go to in the first place, that’s about as cute as Nicole Ritchie after a weekend bender in Vegas.

Priniciple #3: Insider Trading Is Only Illegal If You Get Caught.
Let’s just say hypothetically that you go to a medical school that went through a lot of changes during your time there, and while it was often a rough transition and you were exceedingly frustrated much of the time, you made it through the four years having only lost your passion and desire to do good, while the people in charge kept saying things like “Don’t worry, you’re in good hands, just trust us, we know what we are doing.” Now, let’s say that same institution has a residency program, and during the morning presentation about the program the people in charge mentioned many big changes that are coming that would affect the incoming class (i.e. you), but that you should not worry because you are in good hands and they will take care of you. Knowing what you know, having experienced what you experienced and being the insider that you are, how confident are you in that institution’s ability to actually come through on their claims of a seamless transition in the wake of substantial changes this time around? That’s what I thought.

Principle #4: The Customer Is Always Right.
So I had this one interview experience that briefly went as follows: I, along with a visiting applicant, was scheduled for an interview at a certain time. The interviewer did not show up. We were told to wait for a replacement. A replacement was quickly found for the other applicant. I continued to wait. I waited through the lunch. I asked again and was told to wait. I waited through the afternoon question and answer session. I asked again and was told to wait. The interview day officially ended. I asked again about my interview and was told to wait because, per the people in charge, they wanted to take care of everyone else first. I continued to wait. I was finally brought to an interview. I was then grilled by some arrogant prick for 45 minutes. Check please.

With these simple principles in mind, you too can learn how to run your very own residency program. More importantly, you too can stand in line for hours with the faint hope of getting a Wii, much like I did not too long ago. I am pleased to report that on that glorious Sunday morning, I was successful in this journey, and I have been immersing myself in video game nerditude ever since. So whether it’s a good residency position, a Wii, or a dick in a box, I hope you got what you wanted this holiday season. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go kick my roommate’s ass in video game tennis.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Excuse Me While I Whip This Out

Apparently, rumors of my demise have not been as greatly exaggerated as they should have been. Sadly, I have been holed up in my apartment for the last few weeks cramming like no other for Step 2 of the medical board exams. Well, that, and jabbing a pen in my eye and pulling it back out through my nose. As a result, I have not had time to reach into the eternal grabbag of shame known as my stream of consciousness and pull out some mildly comical and moderately depressing observation on the human condition as it relates to my self-centered life as a medical student. However, I promise that I will have a lot to say in the coming weeks, including my in-depth analysis of why interviewing for residency programs while studying for the boards is a really bad idea. In the mean-time, I thought I'd collect a few interesting articles for you all to read because it's pretty clear none of you have any lives anyways:

Groopman on Experimental Drugs

A Take On Apocalypto

Jews, Christians, and Values

And, finally, remember when I wrote up a post detailing my admittedly pathetic attempt at circumcision? When I made a concerted effort to remain neutral as possible regarding this topic, focusing exclusively on my incompetence, so as not to piss off any of the extremists on both sides of the argument? Except I was bombarded by a horde of anti-circumcision fanatics calling me a horrible person, Satan, and other such unpleasentries while suggesting that even the consideration of a itty bitty teeny weeny benefit to circumcision is undeniably wrong? Well, in response, eat shit and die, assholes.

P.S. Extra points if you know which movie has the phrase that inspired the title of this post.