ndab Ah Yes, Medical School: Buy Me A Clue

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.


Blogger Danny said...

so you decided on internal medicine? (another one bites the dust...)

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

doing the interview circuit makes me feel like a prostitute...i feel..used...

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha at least you are back....Come interview in NYC at least the place I am at seems nice!!!!!!!!!

8:15 PM  
Blogger alwaysthegoodgirl said...

Congrats on the Wii

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a KITA when I read you were born in '81. I don't know if that makes me old or makes you young. I probably spent most of '81 stoned in high school, lmao, and you were just born. And I have just realized I am now the 'old person' that I used to think was such a novelty when one was able to hang with us. O.M.G.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Twanna A. Hines | FUNKYBROWNCHICK.com said...

Two things.

#1. I love Wii. My friend L's husband M bought one the day that they became available. I played that tennis game with him for HOURS!!! It's so addictive (...um, I mean "interactive") & it's amazing how much "detail" you can add to the little characters that you pick to represent you.

#2. I almost *DIED* laughing when I saw the unedited, uncut (no pun intended) version of Dick in a Box. And, for the record, I'd like to point out that I wrote "Stockings on Their Dicks" long before I saw the SNL thing on You Tube.

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My school has a wonderful program allowing fourth years to interview the prospective incoming class. It is very tempting to take out my frustration with interviews of my own on the unsuspecting college kids who think they know what they are getting into. I managed to hold back...for now. But there are still a few interview slots in January.

Nice to see you posting again.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the prick was mad and late because he just came from a Wii line and came up short...

10:31 AM  
Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

Just quit medicine altogether and become a professional "tennis" player. Sounds a lot more rewarding...

(but if you stick out this stethoscope thing, good luck with your interviews)

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IM? My god man, why? At least say you're going into GI or Cards or something. Do you truly enjoy walking in circles debating electrolyte levels all day?

9:41 PM  
Blogger genderist said...

It's the K!
No, it's the Cl!
Who forgot the Mag?
Where's the Mag?

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my friend is at mount sinai in ny - come interview there! =) he loves it - but there are nights where hes like really busy too..

but for now hes doing psychiatry rotation now and he gets out at 5pm and jogs in central park! =)
he says people are really nice and more relaxed and not toolish there

snoopy girl

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and..at mt sinai you can get an apt (though a little expensive) near the hospital so you'll live in the city =)

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and he gets weekends off =) mostly..except when hes "on call" -strange, at the IT company I work at, "on call" means go home and do whatever you want, if they call you then come in.. if they can't reach you oh well..

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear! How horrible! Sad that the virtual world is your only creature comfort in these trying times. Good thing is that you'll be able to hammer all that stress on a virtual squash court.

I think I might even design a new office kungfu program for the job-frustrated demographic.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Carina said...

For fun, interview at a small community-based program. They treat you like a god. :-)

When Hubby interviewed at Michigan State-Kalamazoo Center for Med. Studies, they put us (the baby and I came, too) in a jacuzzi suite at the fancy B&B in town everyone stayed in for free. For two nights. With a fireplace. And a gift basket (local wine, local snacks, mug, and candy). He got a nice free lunch with the tour, and I got a spouse's tour with a free lunch at the best place in town. Free dinner that night, too, with several residents and all the applicants and their families. Good trip.

And the benefits--oh, the benefits! They help you buy a house, you get good medical benefits, and they pay for the boards. There's a recreation benefit, where they pay for a monthly outing wherever everyone wants to go, monthly book club, and a bunch of other stuff.

Overall, with no fellows, Hubby was pretty happy. People who wanted to specialize did well in getting into the programs they wanted, and those who wanted to stay internists, like Hubby, have all had their pick of jobs. It's a good life.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*releases held breath* ... good grief, that first paragraph had me wondering if you were about to exit the super-secret closet!!! not that there's anything right with that... ;)

5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with the interviews and Happy New Year!

8:48 AM  
Blogger A girl said...

You are hilarious, man… I hope IM is the right choice for you, because as far as I can see this residency is brutal. So best of luck with it. And yes, say goodbye to the programs that treat you like S%$# during interview, because it will be no different once you are actually a resident there.

PS Loved the Dick in the Box. Thank you for making me laugh.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon!! Boxing over Tennis!

Actually, your wrong, demand isnt higher than supply in this case. Nintendo is more than readily stashed....its just their marketing tactic to create continual hype.

4:23 AM  
Blogger Panda Bear said...

Oh man. "Buy me a Clue" is exactly dead on. It's probably the cattle-herd mentality of the residency interview season. They corral a couple dozen, herd them through the chute to processing, brand you, lop off your horns and then put you back out in the feed lot. Once you match they'll cut off your gonads but that's a different story.

It's inexplicable why they wouldn't treat you better on the interview trail. The funny thing is that you get treated better when you interview for competitive specialties, at least this has been my observation. With one notable exception at a place which is named after a large, grazing North American Herbivoire, I was treated respectfully and fed pretty well at every Emergency Medicine prorgram where I interviewed. I also interviewed at a few low-prestige medicine programs and you'd think they would have been happier to have an Amercian medical graduate but this didn't seem to be the case. Hey mother-fucker...did I mention that I speak english fluently?

Crappy food. Confrontational interviews. And general boredom.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn dude. No one makes the process sound so depressing quite like you do. Thanks again for another slap in the face with reality elixir. Down with the medical establishment!

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

snoopy girl - oops my friend is specializing in psychiatry thats why he gets out every day at 5 and jogs around the park - sorry

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear fake doctor,

last night i went karaoking with my friend the (that thing you do after you graduate - intern? residency?) and his band of er..(same) it was so much fun!! y'all are so unrestricted and care-free when you party i wish i could be like that..
i met the cast of scrubs except with different faces..there was a guy who spoke german (like Eliott on scrubs), (carla/eliott)a crazy girl, the geeky guy (JD), the cute alpha male who wasn't a doctor (the janitor) and we even sang cheesy old people songs like in Scrubs!! i felt like i was in either a music video or sitcom.. it was a blast..i wish i could be in med school so i could be uninhibited like that..why would anyone want to goto business school after having that experience? true i read your blog..but sometimes y'all have great moments of care-free ness that makes you the envy of people..who have to put up appearances etc.. and my friend the psychiatrist tells me the coolest stories about how he has to come to work and put a straight face while asking "so why do you think you have x-ray vision?" its so excellent! wish i had that job..

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Doc, no shame in spending some dough on a Wii to distract you from the horrors of interviews. Hopefully it did the trick, and you're having a small bit of relax time over the holidays. Good luck, either way!

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ah, I know you don't want to hear this, but you have a ways to go, dear boy. Good luck with your interviews (I loved IM for 3 years, but opted to specialize after because IM is just too much work for too little money). Keep up your outside interests and check out my blog on medical burnout on: www.docwhisperer.wordpress.com
Look up www.signout.wordpress.com too (about internship/ residency) you might find it useful. Cheers!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Patient Anonymous said...

Oh, you got a Wii! I'm still waiting... Sorry to hear you're having such a rough go with interviews.

4:44 PM  
Blogger supercheryl said...

this post was totally wtf inducing. i like.

5:09 PM  
Blogger QCOMDRJ said...

Hey, at least you get people to pay for your hotel rooms. Try doing EM. You're fucking hosed, except for at those few places (all of Michigan, much of Pennsylvania) that are desperate.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Larissa said...

Wii tennis is the best! Deuce!

10:45 AM  
Blogger MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

Since you're entering Internal Medicine I think the first thought about programs forgetting what it takes to persuade you is a little lost. Free lunches for a residency that overall doesn't fill the positions offered? That's what I think they call - supply being greater than the demand. These programs have obviously seen that there are plenty of fish in the sea and to hell with the rest of you.

Sad, but that's what you've got going on.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow medical student, thought you may appreciate this video from some first year meds at NYU, they're bringing 'study back'


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