Sunday, January 13, 2013

To Be Wanted . . .

It's such a weird feeling (for me) to be wanted.

What I'm most caught off-guard by during these residency interviews is just how much the program wants me (I suppose that makes sense, otherwise they wouldn't invite me for an interview).  Still, I'm left awkwardly speechless when an interviewer enumerates the various things I've done in med school and react amazed when I describe them.  It's almost embarrassing.

Up until now I've received little recognition outside my circle of friends and faculty advisors for the things I've done.  Everything I've done felt like it was being quietly conducted in the shadows outside the glowing praise of my institution at large.  I never received an award or anything of that sort, and I doubt I ever will - I simply don't have the overwhelming popularity to bring visibility to the things I champion.

But at almost every interview I've been asked to describe (in some detail) the community advocacy work I've done for the Asian and LGBT communities.  Some interviewers are more keen on hearing about the health literacy project I did in the Asian-American community, others are eager to hear about the cultural competency training I forwarded in LGBT health education, and still some want to hear about my involvement on a state policy level.

At one of my recent interviews, my interviewer asked me, "How are you able to do all this?"  And I began to reply that I was lucky and these opportunities fell into my lap in such a way that I couldn't turn them down.  He cut me off and corrected me that I instead "seized the opportunities."  I never thought of it that way, but I suppose he's right.

As these interviews wind to a close, I'm more and more certain of what I bring to a residency program.  This wasn't crystal clear at the beginning, but now I know.  Programs didn't choose me because of my grades or Step 1 score (verily, I'm positive that many programs rejected me based on those criteria), but rather the extensive community outreach and advocacy work I've done.  I'm glad that the 11 places that chose to interview me saw beyond the numbers to something more important that I can bring.
P.S. For anyone applying to residency programs, everything you write in your ERAS application is fair game for interviewers to ask you about - and they will ask you about them, so know your application stone cold.


naturgesetz said...

It speaks very well for you that others realize that what was unspectacular to you was really pretty special.

fan of casey said...

I never noticed before but now I suspect you are asian. Not wanting to stand out is a pretty asian cultural upbringing and it's something you need to know when to toot your own horn of achievements. Asians frown on obvious arrogance and showing off (I'm not really sure why that is because asians are so concerned about image, they go to great lengths to project success even when it is not deserved), but when justified, you have to be willing to speak proudly about your accomplishments because that's how your competition is selling themselves. Don't look at as bragging, just being accurate about what you have done as examples of your potential for the future.

Biki said...

I'm not honestly sure why many of us downplay our accomplishments, and their impact, while others shout and holler how great they are.

You should be very pleased with yourself and the good you have accomplished. Being bi-ligual should help as well, depending on the location of the program you choose.

Good luck!