Saturday Morning Rounds July 11, 2020 - Residency interviews in the age of COVID

Posted by BossB, MD on July 11, 2020
BossB, MD

Saturday Morning Rounds

A weekly round-up of career & negotiation content for women physicians

What got our attention

In speaking with a number of MS4s recently to get input on our forthcoming Residency Interview Guide, we've heard one common message loud & clear:

2020 is a year of terrifying uncertainty

The med students we've spoken with:

  • Have no idea what impacts COVID will have on the interview & match process
  • Feel abandoned by a lot of the institutions they would usually look to for clarity
  • Worry that virtual interviews and lack of clinical rotations will just exacerbate any disadvantage an applicant might already have (or perceive themselves to have)

Which gave us an idea. We - not BBMD alone but this whole community writ large - can help fill the gap for them. And the way to do so? Get the info directly from the source - ie program directors!

So here's the plan. We're gonna create and distribute a short survey for program directors about what's changing this year, what's staying the same, and how med students should adjust their strategies. Then we're gonna distribute the results to med students for free.

In order to do so, it would be great to have a couple of 1:1 conversations with program directors beforehand so that we can make sure we're asking the right questions.

So if you know any program directors who'd be willing to chat with us for 15min this week to help shape the survey, please forward this email to them or put us in touch some other way. Thanks!!

Who we're following 

We're huge fans around here of what you might call "pluck"

Pluck /plək/ (Noun): Determination, persistence, spiritedness, courage, resilience, adaptability

Taking your problems head-on instead of waiting for someone else to come solve them shows a lot of pluck

And this week we were impressed with the pluck that one osteopathic med student demonstrated on Twitter in response to the scarcity of clinical rotation opportunities:

In this Tweet, Melissa Few (@MelissaFew) - an aspiring family physician - showed more than just pluck; she also demonstrated humor, humility, and a good bit of creativity to boot. This kind of well-designed, personalized, virtual "hand-raise" is an idea that a lot of other med students could benefit from, and it's definitely earned her a follow from us. Best of luck Melissa!

BBMD tip of the week

All these conversations with MS4s recently has reminded us of a core truth about the world in general and interviews + negotiations specifically that's easy to forget.

It's lonely at the top

Most of the MS4s we've talked to speak about program directors as if they're some all-powerful, gatekeeping Gods whose wrath makes them all but unapproachable.

And while those who seem to have the "power" in an exchange - whether because of a leadership position or an informational advantage or scarcity or social/political capital or any number of other reasons - are certainly in a privileged position and are often gatekeepers, they're also human. Which means:

  • They have fears and goals, just like you
  • They likely have someone in a position of power above them, just like you
  • They have informational gaps and uncertainty, just like you
  • They want to be empathized with and have positive interaction, just like you

They're powerful yes, but more times than not they actually want you to approach them - if you have something of value to offer.

In terms of their goals, people decisions are the most important decisions the majority of institutional leaders make. Hiring a great person can literally be everything to a program, and hiring the wrong person can be a catastrophe. Yet women will only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the requirements, while men will do so if they only meet 60%. Kanye West is running for president for God's sake. If you're a good fit for a role, you're doing them a favor by letting them know.

In terms of their fears, public-facing risks like a lawsuit or bad press are what keep institutional leaders up at night. So empathize with that, express how you can help minimize that risk for them, and all of a sudden you'll be a name rather than a number.

It's all about humanizing - humanize your counterpart and the organization they serve, and they in turn will humanize you (you can also humanize yourself in many ways, one of which is employing humor like in the Tweet we highlighted this week).

Do that, and in the minds of these leaders you'll go from:

"Potentially sufficient candidate 642"



We teach more specifics about this in the "Finishing School" portion of our curriculum:

Quote we're contemplating
 "Loneliness is the penalty of leadership" - Ernest Shackleton


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PPS - As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions by replying to this email (we read 'em all) or getting at us via Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!