Evaluate Medical School Interviews to Choose Between Programs
Faculty interaction with candidates and students during an interview can hint at what med school life is like.
|Use your interview to learn about the community surrounding the campus and find out how the school will help you secure a residency.|
Congratulations – you have found yourself in the enviable position of having to decide between multiplemedical school acceptances. While this task is challenging in its own right, the information that you acquired during your medical school interviews can help you fully evaluate each program.
If you are reading this prior to your interviews, read up on how to extract the most value from yourcampus visits. Otherwise, refer to the framework below as you weigh your options.
Photographs on social media and tours on websites do not always tell the whole truth of a campus or a community. For instance, what level of security was present at the buildings that you will frequent? Was there outdoor space for student use? Did the current students with whom you spoke mention favorite on-campus pastimes, such as Frisbee on the quad?
Free time is rare in medical school, but occasionally stepping away from fluorescent-lit corridors is critical to your mental health and school-life balance. Is the campus walkable, or will you need a car to travel between buildings? Is there bike parking if you prefer to bike in pleasant weather? Did your interviewers speak to lab availability, or were you able to view these spaces?
While location can seem like a minor detail in the face of cost or curriculum, if you are unhappy with your surroundings, your performance may suffer.
During your interviews, how did faculty members and students describe life in the community, which extends beyond the campus? You will be living in this town or city for several years, so your reflection should extend beyond the urban or suburban-rural distinction.
How will you access grocery stores and restaurants, gyms and shops? Did your contacts share favorite locations – which may express interest or involvement in the community – or did they provide very little information?
Carefully consider what people said about where they live, how safe and affordable it is, and what the commute to campus is like. Is there an active campus life with well-attended student groups, or do students go their own way once class ends? Which would you prefer?
Impressions of Faculty and Students
How did those at the school represent the program and its academic activity? Did the faculty visibly like working there? Did they obviously care about the scholastic and emotional success of their students?
How did faculty members interact with any student representatives who were present? Were they engaging and friendly, authoritarian, or worse, dismissive? In short, did their body language and words back up their prior statements? Were students positive about their professors, and what did they say about their level of attendance in various classes? Did they prefer to skip and study on their own?
Beyond their words, weigh the general attitude that faculty and students expressed. Openness and positivity in their responses is ideal, but do not allow one outlier with a negative perspective on life to unduly influence you. However, do note that evasion is a red flag, whether from students or staff. If your contacts did not know the answer to one of your questions, a great response would have been to direct you to the person who did. "I don't know" should give you some pause.
Medical school is not the end of your professional training. Securing a residency spot should be a top priority for both you and the program. What did faculty and staff say about the resources they have to help you pass your board exams and to match? Look for early and sustained close contact and advisement in their answers.
Even if you do not normally seek out guidance, you should ensure that the school plans on making it impossible for you to slip through the cracks. There are several ways that a student can err academically. Does the program make it safe for students to say that they are a having a problem with the material, or with out-of-class issues like mental health?
Medical school is exceptionally stressful, and it can seem destructively competitive. Knowing that the school is invested in helping you as aggressively as possible, even before you might begin struggling, is a very positive sign.
The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate to a school that you are the perfect candidate, but it is also a fact-finding endeavor to help you decide between admissions offers. Use available data and your memories of that time to ensure that life on campus and in the community is comfortable enough for you to succeed.
Additionally, review all the interactions that you had, and verify that both staff and students sent a message of care, as well as reassurance that the curriculum was engaging and manageable. Most importantly, use your interview experience to make sure that your acceptance of admission means that you are going to an institution that is fundamentally invested in your success.
By Vipinjeet Sandhu | USNews
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