Friday, November 20, 2009

How To Schedule Air Travel / Flights For Residency Interviews

You've taken USMLE Step 1. You've figured out how to choose a medical specialty. You got the recommendation letters, slaved over the personal statement, and submitted ERAS. Finally, it's time to sit back and wait for those interviews to roll in. But wait, there's one big question to be answered.

How are you going to schedule dates, flightshotels, and rental cars for all those residency interviews?

There are several ways to go about answering this question, but the key is to have a plan. Here is the strategy I used to attack this problem head on. Note, this assumes that you are applying across the country and have roughly 10 to 20 interviews. If you are applying in one region, or are in a situation that requires more interviews, this strategy may not be for you.

No one really discusses the logistics of what happens after you submit ERAS. Sure, everyone understands that programs review your ERAS application, look at your grades, letters, and personal statement, and then decide to send out interview invites. You accept, go interview, then both sides rank, and you wait for Match Day. This model works great for one program, but what happens when you are dealing with 10 to 20 programs simultaneously? And, the programs send out invites at different times on a rolling basis?

To solve this problem, there are a few key principles: submit early, block out time, stay up-to-date, be inquisitive, and be a deal hunter.

Submit Early - There are two seasons to be aware of: the invitation season and the interview season. The invitation season runs from whenever you submit to roughly early December. The interview seasons lags this by about a month and a half, so most interviews run from late October to late January. However, to maximize your timeframe to receive interviews and schedule them, you have to submit your ERAS as soon as possible. Of course, you want to do a good job and have a complete application, but you need to be proactive in getting your application in so you can start receiving invites!

Block Out Time - If you are applying all over the country, it is a good rule of thumb that the further west you go, the later the invitations. That means, you should try to block out months based on regions: November for East Coast, December for Midwest/South, and January for West Coast programs. If you do this, you can save a lot of money by scheduling one flight for multiple interviews in the same region. It also helps you respond when programs offer multiple dates across all three months. Keep in mind that most programs do not interview the week of Thanksgiving as well as the weeks around Christmas and New Year. Remember, interview spots fill up fast so you want to respond to an invitation as soon as possible!

Stay Up-To-Date - Use the message boards either specific for your specialty or on Student Doctor Network to know when programs send out invitations. While this can be nerve-wracking sometimes, it helps you know when you have not heard from a program whether the program has already sent out invites to others, or whether to remain patient. At the same time, you want to keep your resume and information up-to-date as well.

Be Inquisitive - If you have not heard from a program, or know they have already sent out a round of interviews, it can sometimes pay to email the program coordinator to reiterate your interest. A lot of times, programs are trying to decide between many very similar looking applicants, so this extra show of interest can help push your application to the top and win you that invite.

Hunt For Deals - Traveling and interviewing is expensive. Between the flights and hotels, many interviewees end up spending thousands of dollars. Since there's no real way around this, it's important to be on the lookout for deals. Try to stay with friends, fly with the same airline to rack up frequent flyer miles and potentially a free flight, stay close to your hospital, and use public transportation to minimize taxi cab / rental car costs. Those saved dollars will really add up over the interview season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Medical Holiday Gift Guide / Wish List

Ah, the winter season. A time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and other holidays I am forgetting. A season of giving. But, alas, what to give?

In the past, I've written about practical gifts and must have gifts for medical students and health professionals. This time though, it's just going to be a wish list, plain and simple. Most of it is medically-related, sometimes a stretch, but honestly, some of it just good stuff one might want to have. C'mon, you (or your recipient) is in medical school! A doctor doesn't have to treat only patients all the time - sometimes a doctor should treat themselves too! Now, granted, these are wishes for particular gifts. Maybe you are wishing you were AOA or you could travel the world or perhaps lose weight quickly (quite a challenge in medical school with busy rotations and studying!) Not every wish can be encapsulated by a gift item though. Regardless, hopefully some of these gifts will lift your spirits nonetheless!

The Kindle by Amazon

First up, the Kindle. What's not to love about this device? It's almost as thin as a magazine, can download books wirelessly just about anywhere, holds up to 1500 books, has a super-sharp crisp screen to read, and can even read out loud to you! As a medical student, you can have all your medical reference textbooks in their full-size glory in one easy to carry device. In fact, some medical schools are starting to implement support for Kindle for all their resources (see this blog post about Kindle at Harvard Medical School). Yes, it's a little pricey, but that's a one-time cost - the total cost ends up being cheaper as books cost less on the Kindle. Besides, using a Kindle is environmentally friendly. Heh, and it just looks plain cool. And that's why the Kindle is tops on the wishlist this year.

Flip Video Camera

Those commercials got to me - using a Flip Video Camera to record the goofy moments in life seems fun. From a med student point of view, it's also useful for recording bits of a lecture or perhaps for composing a skit for your school's version of fall follies or senior skits. Not sure what I'm talking about? Clearly you haven't seen Jizz In My Scrubs.

5 in 1 - Neurology Combo Tool

This thing is frickin' awesome. First, the 5 in 1 combo tool just looks way more professional than the standard issue orange reflex hammer. Frankly, I lost mine a while back and have felt none the lesser for it. Second, you can really examine people thoroughly with this device. Instead of making ad hoc solutions to assess pin-prick sensation, you can use an appropriate tool for it. I guess I'm a sucker for gadgets, but the 5 in 1 - Neurology Combo Tool actually seems useful.

Apple iPod Touch

What can I say? The Apple iPod Touch is simply amazing. It plays music, it surfs the webs, it does apps. In some ways, it's even better than an iPhone - no lousy contract, but still get all the perks. From a med student standpoint, it's great because many apps have been developed for the OS that are relevant for medical professionals, and many are free. For example, you can get Epocrates on your iPod Touch now. Many hospitals provide Wifi service, so you can also use your iPod Touch to do research in between rounds. The device basically does it all.

Gift Cards

Still not sure what to get? Heh, can't beat a gift card. Get them something you know they'll love - something they picked out themselves!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

First Year Medical Student Resource Guide

One of the most difficult parts of the first year medical school is distilling a large volume of information into easily digestible parts. Here are some links to online resources you might find helpful.

This concludes my series on first year of medical school. I may add posts to the series in the future. My next set of posts will deal with planning for and traveling for residency interviews.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Related Products from Amazon