I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

Interview Day At RMC

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Today I had my interview at Rush Medical College in Chicago and surprisingly, it was a wonderfully positive experience. The people that I met, the students that I was interviewing along with, the program and hospital itself - all of it was truly wonderful.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though. Before I began writing this post I was thinking about how I wanted to recount my personal experience but also, hopefully, answer some of the common questions pre-meds have about interviewing and give you all a better understanding of how the day will work. With that in mind, I'll go through the day chronologically and try to be as thorough as possible.

The first thing I want to stress is GIVE YOURSELF SO MUCH TIME TO GET THERE IN THE MORNING. I live in the Wicker Park area of the city which is about 15 minutes by bus to the Rush Med campus. I knew I needed to be checked in by 8:30 AM so I figured I'd leave at 7:45, giving myself 45 minutes to make the commute. Unfortunately, I took a little longer than I had expected to get ready and ended up in a panic because my bus was almost half an hour late and I blew my "cushion time." Luckily I was able to get there right at 8:30 so I was OK but I realized that I probably should have given myself a full hour to make the trip. Even though I usually don't like getting anywhere more than 15 minutes early, I think in this case (and for my own peace of mind) it would have been a good idea to have given myself extra time. 

Once I arrived, sweating and out of breath, I was handed a schedule with my name on it and ushered into a spacious room with chairs set around tables placed into a U shape. There were drinks and refreshments and I immediately drank a huge glass of iced water which helped me to calm myself (at this point my nerves were a little frayed and I was feeling a bit dehydrated). I was surrounded by 23 students, most dressed in dark suits which made me glad I had chosen to wear black but also happy that I decided to wear a print top that kind of stood out from the typical white/light blue shirts in the room. It was kind of funny actually because several of the professors that spoke to us joked about how serious we all looked in our identical suits so I was glad that I decided to deviate a bit with the top that I chose. There were one or two students who wore lighter/different colored suits and they still fit right in so it was nice to feel like there was a bit of leeway to express yourself.  I know this might sound silly or mundane to some of you but I was really concerned about what image I would project based on my clothes and I had read everything from "don't look like everyone else" to "interviews are not the time to experiment" so hopefully this will calm those of you who want to change up your look a bit without going too crazy.

After we all settled in, Jill Volk, the director of recruitment and special programs, walked in and the mood went from slightly strained to pretty relaxed in about five minutes. Jill was funny, energetic, and reassuring. She made it very clear from the outset that they wanted to make the day as stress-free as possible and that, while we were there to be interviewed by Rush, this was also Rush's opportunity to show us why we should choose them. I really liked this approach and felt like it made everyone so much more comfortable than they would have been otherwise. It especially helped me to focus better because I wasn't wasting mind-space being worried about how intense my interviews were going to be. 

We found out that each of our schedules were personalized and that no two schedules were exactly the same. Everyone would be present for the welcome and financial aid talks but then roughly half of the group would be up for their first interview while the remaining half stayed behind and got to know each other. One of the nice things that I appreciated about the organization of the day was that you were brought to and from each interview (which was held down the hall from the room we were all in). This took the onus off of us to worry about timing and was a huge relief to me because I had read about people being late for their second interviews because their first interviewer went over their time. Luckily this wasn't a problem because Rush was responsible for getting you to everything on time so if you were late, it was their problem not yours. Again, it was just a small way they were able to help make the day smoother for us and I really appreciated it and felt like it really showed how much they cared. 

In addition to Jill Volk, we were welcomed by the Assistant Dean and the Associate Dean of Admissions as well as a representative from the Financial Aid Office. I liked that we were greeted by some of the higher ups in the College because it showed that they were intimately involved with the interviewing process, which I think is important. They were also so excited, friendly and eager to talk to us that the general mood was considerably lightened.

I was in the first group of interviewees so promptly at 9:30 I was whisked off to meet with Dr. Rebecca Hoban. Rush's interview day includes two 1:1 interviews which can be with a faculty members or students. I got two faculty but some others had people had a professor and a student. Dr. Hoban was a neonatologist which was really exciting for me because I have been interested in neonatology/pediatrics ever since I decided I wanted to pursue medicine. Our interview was "closed," which meant that my interviewer had only seen my basic information but I liked that because I felt like it made everything a bit more relaxed. We had no problem getting to know each other and our time actually flew by. We had to get two warning knocks on the door before we were finished and I left the room feeling pretty good. This may be an attribute of Rush in particular but the questions were pretty basic and Dr. H seemed really interested in just getting to know me as a person instead of interrogating me so the experience was much more pleasant than I had expected it to be.

When our interviews were over we were picked up and returned to home base where we had a few minutes before people were called for the second group of interviews, leaving the rest of us to sit and chat among ourselves. It was great to have a bit of down time and we were able to get to know each other and also ask Jill some questions about the school. She was incredibly knowledgeable and super laid-back which encouraged a friendly dialogue. We were able to learn a little bit about the process that occurs after interview day and how the selection committee functions, which was helpful. 

Everyone reconvened after the second wave of interviews and we were introduced to three M4s who took us on a tour of Rush Hospital and Cook County/Stroger Hospital, which is partnered with Rush and the location where Rush students have many of their rotations. At this point I was having a bit of trouble because I had a blister but I had asked for bandaids earlier and everyone was so nice they just went and grabbed me a few from somewhere so it wasn't too bad. Keep this in mind ladies...pre-emptively bandaid if you're wearing shoes that aren't super comfortable!

Touring the hospital was awesome because walking the halls made the idea of being a doctor one day SO REAL. It was also not my absolute favorite part of the day because it was difficult for all of us to keep up and sometimes hard to hear our tour guide. I couldn't listen the whole time because it was impossible to understand what was being said so for the most part I just soaked everything in. After the tour we were escorted back to the room for lunchtime (thank goodness, at this point I was so hungry!). 

This is getting to be a crazy long post so I'm going to postpone the lunch-and-after half until tomorrow (also that way I can build suspense about my next interview...). Keep tuned for PART II!

Suits, Medical School Interviews, Professional Attire
Fancy!

2 comments:

Johnny C said...

Hey I came across your blog when I was doing research for my own interview at Rush yesterday. It was really help and it was nice to have an idea about it was going to be like in advance. Keep it up!

Chantal Mendes said...

Thanks Johnny! I'm glad this helped you :) I hope your experience was as positive as mine. Who knows, maybe we could both end up going!

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