“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.
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!