All About Competency: Part 2

Part 2: Identifying and Evaluating Your Strengths and Weaknesses

What is your biggest weakness?  What is your greatest strength?

Ever been stumped by these questions on an interview?  Who hasn’t?  I assure you the range of answers given to these questions should be a subcategory in the LOLcats website.  I’ve heard way too many “I focus a lot on my studies” as answers to both questions.  Nevertheless, most companies and professional school admissions committees cite these questions (or similar variations) among their many sample interview questions.
Some of my advice on this topic can be found on the Kaplan Medical School Insider webinar [free pre-registration required], using the analogy that an applicant’s biggest weakness was (noting the pun) being overweight.  While that particular example is quite valid, this article focuses on helping you identify a weakness that answers this question honestly.

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All About Competency: Part 1

Think that great grades = great doctor? In the 21st century, success will require you build competencies that you can apply to evolving technology. Part one of a six part series.

Interview Advice: What to Wear, What to Wear

“I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.” Gilda Radner
Let’s face it, we live in a much less formal era than those preceding. The anomaly of casual Friday has become the norm in American culture. Many people work from home, conquering the world through a computer while wearing a comfy pair of sweatpants. This new trend can lead one astray when it comes to the medical school interview. The increase in informality is compounded by the fact that many of those being interviewed may never have had the opportunity to wear a suit for a formal event.
Often times, an applicant is left with an awful feeling shortly before an interview when they realize they may not be in compliance with the “dress code.” It can be distressing when you discover there are rules to the game but no one gave you a copy. Not to worry.

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Personal Statement Myths

You have read every thread on SDN about personal statements, but you still aren’t sure what you should or should not do. A ton of conflicting information is “out there” and whether you are applying to medical school, pharmacy school or anything in between, you need to be aware of some common myths about what you “must” do.
I hear about most of these myths from medical school applicants: “But my advisor said I should NEVER write about that!” “But, my fourth cousin once removed who is in medical school at a top 10 school said I shouldn’t do that.” Like everything else in the medical admissions process, personal statements have few absolutes or formulas so always take such definitive advice with a grain of salt. So, what are some of the myths I hear most often?

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7 Top Tips to Get Stellar Letters of Recommendation

How to Get Stellar Letters of Recommendation

No matter what type of health professional school you are targeting, you will need to obtain letters of reference. Dr. Lisabetta Divita provides tips on getting the best letters possible.

How to Work with Pre-Health Advisors and Committees

Have you ever noticed that many schools note that they want a letter of recommendation from a “pre-health advisor or committee if available to the student”?  In this article, I’d like to give you the basics of what a pre-health advisor is from my perspective and why they can be your ally in the application process.

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Good Things Come to Those Who Are Waitlisted

 
You have all certainly heard the expression “good things come to those who wait.”  Since our first days of pre-school, the virtue of patience has been constantly reinforced as a valuable trait.  For years we have stood in lines and waited for our turns.
In the fast paced life of a physician, in which potential decisions must sometimes be made in a matter of seconds, patience is sometimes an undervalued trait. In the realm of medicine, “waiting” almost seems to be a dirty word for both patients and physicians alike.

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Life as a Re-Applicant

 
Just over a year ago, I stood, heart racing and hands trembling, in front of my mailbox.  Any other Thursday I would have nonchalantly checked my mail as I came home from work, but today was an entirely different story.
A friend had texted me earlier in the day to let me know that decision letters had been delivered by our state school.  I had only been offered two interviews, and the letter which innocently lay in my mailbox represented my highest hope for attending medical school that year.  I paced for a full two minutes in front of my mailbox before I built up the courage to open it.  I probably would have paced longer, but someone came down my hallway, and I felt a bit foolish dancing around in front of the mailboxes.
Four attempts at inserting my key in the lock later, I was holding a too-thin, white, letter-sized envelope in my severely shaking hands.  Suddenly, I desperately needed to know the contents of that letter, and I ripped open the envelope with fervor akin to a starving man diving into a steak dinner.  I never made it past the first line.  The phrase

We regret to inform you…

jumped out of the page.
Panic gripped me, and it seemed that I could barely breathe, but no tears clouded my vision as I stared mindlessly at those dream-shattering words.  I stumbled down the hall to my apartment, where I collapsed in my desk chair.
In an attempt to think of something, anything, else, I opened the browser on my laptop and checked my e-mail.  I immediately noticed that I had received an e-mail from the one other school I had interviewed at, my last chance for the year.  I quickly opened the e-mail, only to discover that I had been waitlisted.
Utterly shocked, I crossed the room and lay down on my bed with one thought on my mind.  What in the world am I going to do now?

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Getting Into Residency: Part 2

 
As the current residency application cycle is winding down, the next wave of applicants is getting ready to apply for the 2009/2010 season.  As you begin thinking about your residency application, you should consider who will be writing your letters of recommendation (LORs), how you will talk about your path to residency at your interview, and how you should contact programs and follow up with them (and if this really makes a difference in outcome).
This article serves as a follow-up to the article, “Getting Into Residency: Part 1,” which was published on the Student Doctor Network in October 2008.

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Student Hosts

 
So you’ve scheduled an interview at your dream school and bought your plane ticket, but where will you stay the night before the interview?
Interviewees have several options available to them when choosing lodging.  Oftentimes, the obvious choice is a hotel room located close to the school, but this option can be expensive.  Staying with a student host can be a great alternative.
If you have browsed the Student Doctor Network Forums, you are probably aware that student hosting exists, but you might not understand exactly how it works or why it’s a good option.

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How to Survive Interview Travels

 
You’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity. You practically snatch the mail from the mail carrier as it is being delivered and frantically search through the stacks of coupons and bills to find some good news; just as you are ready to steel yourself for yet another disappointment, your heart stops.
There it is.
The school’s emblem sits silently above the return address on the envelope, meeting your stare. Hands shaking, you fumble with the envelope and eventually manage to tear it open. Unfolding the letter it contained, you discover that someone out there thinks you are interesting enough to offer you an interview.
After you finish dancing with your neighbors who were minding their own business until that point and get done laminating the letter, you catch your breath and wonder, “How do I proceed now?”
It is possible that you have never been on a plane before, nor traveled out of state. Now you are expected to travel to a city you have never been to, alone, and make a favorable impression upon an admissions committee member-oh, right, and then there’s the issue of paying for the trip as well.
Luckily, on the Student Doctor Network Forums, many students have already been through what you are about to go through and can offer you some valuable advice. If, however, you don’t feel like perusing pages of threads to get the answer to a quick question, this article might be just what you need.

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Just Sign on the Dotted Line

 Updated September 19, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors and for … Read more

Tell Me About Yourself: Trick Question (Interview Advice Column)

tell me about yourself

Updated June 24, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors. “It is … Read more