Transferring from the Caribbean: Preparing for the Interview

July 7, 2007

iserson.jpgThere are a lot of things you should do for your interview, and Iserson’s Getting into a Residency covers all of them. I bought this book a month before I anticipated any interviews and read it cover to cover in the first two days. I was left dumbstruck by this book. When speaking about special situations like being an FMG, his advice is that the most important thing you can do is transfer to a US medical school. That knocked me in the head. There is a chapter called “The Questions – The Answers” that lists over 300 questions that people have been asked in residency interviews, what these questions are trying to discover about the interviewee, and strategies for handling them. I sat down and typed out every single question, printed them out, and then spent the next week forming my best answers. He will teach you how to stand, how to sit, and how to pack your suitcase so that things do not wrinkle. What to wear, what never to say, and what to do before during and after the interview are all topics that are covered very well in this book. If you walk into this interview without a resource like this, you are making a mistake.Why am I recommending a book about getting into a Residency? As a transfer student, you are already in medical school and are expected to know a little more about the field, its problems, and your place in it. There is an assumption made that if you have the grades and the recommendations to transfer, then you must be a very serious and driven medical student. Serious, driven medical students know what they want and have researched how to get it. In this way, you are much like a residency applicant who knows what type of physician he wants to be, where he wants to live, and which program will help you achieve this.

After reading this book, doing the research that it outlines for each institution to which I was applying, and answering all of the questions, I was in a place where I could enter the interview confident that I had not forgotten anything and that I had prepared as well as I Possibly could have. The confidence that comes when you can stop worrying about these things is invaluable, and I highly recommend the book for this purpose.

carnegie1.jpgThe second book I recommend it Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book changed my life. The way I read people’s response to what I say, the way I understand what they are saying, and how I handle every situation has been informed and altered by this book. I can say with confidence that a great deal of the good that has happened to me in the last year has happened because of the way I handled situations after reading this book. During my interview day, I saw so many of the other students making mistakes (some of them crippling) that are outlined by Carnegie. There was also one applicant that I noticed because she was so expertly handling the same questions and situations that were killing the other applicants. After the day was over, I told her that out of the entire field, she had her best foot forward the entire time and that if anyone was going to get in based on their interview today, it would be her. She emailed me a week later with the good news that she had been offered a spot. Do yourself the favor of reading this book. There are almost 500 reviews at (avg 5 stars). Here is a review of the book and how it changed someone else’s life.