What Should I Know About the Interview Trail?

Sheila M. Bigelow, DO


December 09, 2013


Do you have any tips or stories from the residency interview trail?

Response from Sheila M. Bigelow, DO
Resident Physician -- Pediatrics, UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio

Logistical Lessons From the Interview Trail

Interviewing for residency is a crazy, busy time of your life that leads up to one of the biggest decisions you will probably ever make: deciding your rank list. Depending on your schedule and medical school, you may be balancing difficult rotations with interviews, or you may be able to take a month to cram in all your interviews. Regardless of how you plan your interview trail, I guarantee that you are going to learn some lessons along the way and have some interesting experiences. Here are some of the lessons I learned from my trail.

Don't Think You Have to Interview Everywhere

I wasn't sure how competitive I was going to be as an applicant, so I interviewed everywhere from small community hospital-based programs to large tertiary and quaternary medical centers. I ended up going to 16 interviews, which was probably a few too many. I could have saved myself some time and money if I had been a little more confident in myself and my application. The number of programs interviewed varies greatly from specialty to specialty, so try to talk to alumni from your medical school in your specialty about how they tackled the task of deciding where to interview.

Believe the Mapping Website If It Says It Takes 9 Hours to Drive Somewhere

One of my worst decisions ever was driving from Columbus, Ohio, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after an interview instead of flying. I had driven to Columbus slowly, stopping across Pennsylvania and Ohio to do interviews along the way, and did not really think the 9-hour drive straight back to Philadelphia would be that bad. Let me tell you, it was definitely that bad. Picture driving 9 hours in the dark, encountering every sort of precipitation possible, including rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain, while driving through what felt like the middle of nowhere. I think I had a white-knuckle grip on the wheel. A side note: Don't be dumb; pull over and get a hotel somewhere if the conditions are bad. You really aren't that necessary for your rotation that if you don't get there the next day the world will collapse. No matter what rotation you might be missing, it's better to get there a day late than never.


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