Written Up

Hills around Aquaduct in Scotland

“The student doctor states that her most important achievement was caring for her grandfather and cooking dinner for him…”

Was this a joke? Surely it was a joke.

Panic settled deep in my gut, twisting and biting. I pushed it back. 

Then anger. 

I seethed.

This was my residency application letter from the dean. After a twenty minute interview, this was all he could come up with? After all of the activities I had been involved in? My grades? My exam scores? My stellar recommendation letters, including the one from the badass vascular surgeon? Those research projects I had done? Publications? Speaking at schools? 


Don’t get me wrong. I loved my grandpa. But cooking for your grandfather doesn’t get you into a good residency program. I kicked myself for even bringing it up when the man had jokingly asked what I did in my free time. 


I had narrowed down what I wanted to do to three things: surgery, family medicine, or psychiatry. 

This letter essentially sabotaged my chances of a surgical residency.

Other students were terribly upset, too. About a third, many of them top students, had been handed pathetic letters like mine. What was he thinking for crying out loud? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to improve the market value of your school’s degree by helping to insure that student got into good residency programs?

I imagine that having to write original letters for over 100 students probably was a bit difficult. It was his first year to do them as he was newly hired. Still. He had gone through this process himself once. He was a rheumatologist after all…

Several of us contested our letters by taking them to another dean. It was agreed that the Dean’s letters were not reflective of our accomplishments and we were assured they would be rewritten. Mine wasn’t. I didn’t know this man from Adam but he was jacking around with my career. I contested it again. On the final rewrite, it was rephrased slightly:

“The student doctor enjoys cooking for her grandfather in her spare time…”

So I scratched surgery off of my list. Don’t worry. I don’t regret it now.

It is recommended that you not interview for two different residency programs as it makes you appear wishy-washy. 

But I did anyway.

In the end I picked family practice. I knew that since I would be treating people from diaper to diaper and everything in between, that I would be less likely to get bored. Plus, in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse, a broad knowledge of medicine might come in handy. 

Sooooooo…. Here I am!

Thanks to Cryptic Garland for asking the question on my “It’s All An Act” post earlier this week. 


100 thoughts on “Written Up

  1. While it doesn’t sound good for a surgeon (and they are pretty much all assholes IMHO), I don’t think it is so bad. In fact, I think the original is better than the final.

    Doctors are caretakers. And you, at a young age, already really had a good idea of what that means. You, no doubt, saw aging, infirmity, loss of movement and many other things that others hadn’t. You knew more of what you were getting into.

    Besides, to get to that level, you have to have all those accomplishments; they didn’t need to be listed.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Glad the doctors are focusing on the important stuff. Now, the family practice is a good one BUT make sure you stay current with gross amputations. I don’t know how many times it happens that you get an initial non-fatal zombie bite on an extremity but no one knows how to do an effective distal forearm amputation. The person either dies/turns because the zombie blood gets into the general circulation or the amputation is botched and the person dies/turns because of that.

        Next time Cont. Ed. comes up, think “amputation.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was starting to say, “But you cannot do it fast enough to prevent the poison from moving thorough the bloodstream…” But then I caught myself. I am debating the reality of a TV show. Feels like Grey’s Anatomy all over again. :-/

        Liked by 1 person

      • For those of us living less than fortunate lives, when we hear things like this, it can make us feel like we deserve the bad which has occurred, or that others feel we do. Like we have not done adequate boostrap-pulling. So I say “Fooey” to that, although I do credit you for including that “generally”.


  2. Family General Practice is the best, least boring and requires you to be smart. The variety! I always thought I would get bored stiff being a specialist seeing maximum of 10 different problems.
    As far as the Dean goes, I am not sure if he was wrong. You cared for your grandpa- positive..And it got you out of being a surgeon. Win win, in my opinion- but you know me, I am a bit quirky in my opinions about medicine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Honestly Victo the best doctors i know do family medicine. I know the specialties pay more but their egos get in the way of doing good. I have met a number of technically skilled doctors (specialists) who i wouldn’t let close to me on a dare. Brrr! makes me shiver to think about it. Caveat Emptor. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for the medical community, but I think that medicine should have an entrance assessment for determining ability to relate to patients and not just organs. There’s lots of IQ and not so much EQ behind the scenes.

    From what you say, you are an excellent person for family medicine Victo – you really care about your patients on an emotional level. I’m sure you would have done well anywhere in the profession, just that us patients need people like you on the front lines. Better for us that way. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Maybe he was testing you throught that question.

    Being a doctor is not just a profession, it’s a vocation, it’s a way of life.

    So when he gave you this line, β€œThe student doctor enjoys cooking for her grandfather in her spare time…”

    Maybe he was asking you, what is your priority?

    Your family, your job as a doctor.

    Since you got frustrated over this result, then it means that your job is more important for you and not cooking for your grandfather.

    I’ll say you’re very rational and you have a mind of a doctor. I know you’re going to get in a residency. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The pompous eejit. I’d have been fuming, in fact I am fuming on your behalf. I know here in Ireland consultants were treated like Gods but thankfully it’s not quite as ridiculous as it used to be. Was that what happened here? That he didn’t have to answer to anyone and became an idiot.
    Who knows how many he led down different paths.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What was he thinking putting that in a residency application letter? I think your priorities were right but that wasn’t very professional of him. I can understand your frustration.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My jaw is still wagging like it’s unhinged. What? Then again, I had a teacher once who could have been this guy’s twin. {scratches head}. So long as it all worked out in the end, but still the loss of energy to all the frustration. 😦 ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. From what I can tell on TV, I definitely need to know how to tie a tourniquet in the event of said Zombie Apocalypse.

    That response sounds like some of the interview documents we get back from hiring supervisors. Why don’t people know the impact of these types of things (or why don’t they care?)?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think caring for your grandfather is a very noble thing to do. So many don’t. Also, psychiatry has gone to hell since the medical model’s domination in the early nineties. Surgery…eh, good money but not worth the stress, probably die young.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love to learn how things “work.” Systems, machinery, etc. Sometimes it is really best left in the dark. That one person, who in this case sounds like a misogynistic dinosaur turd, can with one letter, make or break someone’s whole career is just crazy. Who comes up with this stuff and why do they have jobs?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Choosing a specialty is really tough!!

    Surgery felt to me a murky murky world, with much competition and unnecessary stress. But my recent encounters with orthopaedic surgeons have put surgery back on the map. So regrets at all by choosing family medicine?

    It is interesting to see the different application processes. We have just finished applying for our foundation training, everything is computer ranked, depending on our scores we are allocated programs of our preferences. As for more senior posts, I’d imagine it becomes more like what you have described… Yipee…

    As always, thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m guessing the dean who wrote the letter felt subconsciously guilty about not helping his grandfather, and when he is old and needs someone to cook for him, he will suddenly realize his error. Then they’ll throw him to the zombies to create a diversion.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Pingback: My Article Read (4-2-2015) | My Daily Musing

  14. Most of the time you can break it down to one thing…how much money is behind that decision…and the politics involved in the selection process…unfortunately. The good news is you made the right choice anyway!! We so need people just like you to take care of us through the different stages of our lives! Thanks for everything that you do πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My kid, the doctor, applied to two specialties, too. Very stressful keeping that hush-hush, especially at the sites where she had interviews for both programs. She has been seriously considering three, one was surgery, but no time for a sub-i for all three. She just did a couple of surgical rotations in her residency and whilst loving the OR and getting praise, she is feeling she made the right choice, not based on actually operating, but on the culture of surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The culture, especially where it concerns women and accommodating our needs, is in dire need of a revamp. That was what gave me peace about not applying in the end. I would have been very good at the technical part but the lifestyle? Nope.


  16. thats fu**ed up big time. I remember in undergrad there was a professor that essentially crushed people’s dreams of med school with shady letters of rec..like why play games with a person’s future?? it must have been different then, my friends that had interviews for residency match basically interviewed anywhere they could get one, and ended up where they wanted instead of playing the odds against them and getting not even 1 match at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Very interesting to read this, as a layperson. What a nasty man. Reject entirely his actions were innocent. Wonder what was wrong in his life. Wonder if he did this every year.

    Noticed the comment re: statins. Strongly anti-statin here, unless you’ve had heart problems. These dangerous drugs are now being prescribed for children.
    I cannot put my finger on the metastudy reported by ScienceDaily which blasts the poor quality of all of the statin-supportive “research” todate, but this NYT op-ed piece covers some of my concerns.

    I was told to take statins years ago, because my cholesterol was 299. Who gives a fig? It would have been difficult to find a person with a healthier diet or lifestyle. I have two connective tissue disorders. My body probably needs all that cholesterol to make repairs and handle stress. And my good cholesterol was 75 or 85 at the time. Why, exactly, would I want to mess up a good thing? I specifically asked about contraindications with my other meds and was told “No worries”. BIG OOPS. Statins are NOT a good match with my mix of Plaquenil, Acyclovir, Topamax, Naproxen, blah-de-blah, blah. But, if I recall correctly, Plaquenil most especially. Thank you, whichever doc THAT one was.

    My male parent was prescribed statins. So now we have the first male in the family to lose his sense of balance before the age of 100. Before the age of 90! Multiple falls. Loss of cognitive power. Not normal for our family at all. The power of statins, I say. His good cholesterol? Also high. Did he have heart problems? Yes. Yes he did. Did he have a cr#ppy diet? Yes. Yes he did. Lived on steaks and cheddar cheese. Statins first? Stern talking to was never tried. Food diary was never tried. Should have been tried.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Statins can be life savers but in the past I was told they should be in everyone’s wheaties. Now? Not so much. Using the 10 year cardiovascular calculator really changes who gets on statins and who should not. But they are also not as evil as everyone makes them out to be. But yes, plenty of people were over treated with them in the past.


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