Instant Gratification

It’s fall of 2006, and I’m applying to med school. I’ve got my strengths, and my weaknesses. And although I submitted the second week in June, I took the August MCAT, so my application’s not complete till Halloween. I fight for residency status in Oregon. I send email updates, express interest, and go on some interviews, all after New Year’s. At the orientations, many programs explain that by this point I’m interviewing for a wait list spot.

Fast forward four years:

It’s fall of fourth year, and I’m applying to family medicine residency programs. I’ve got my strengths, and my weaknesses. I submit a week after the application opens, which feels late when people posted on facebook a week ago that they’ve already applied to residency.

Fast forward one day, to my email inbox: The (Supercalifragilistic) Family Medicine Residency Program would like to invite you to interview… Please call to schedule.


“Hi, my name is Rachel Seltzer, and I just received an interview invite! Thank you so much! I’m so excited! I’m calling to see which days you have available?”

“Hi, Rachel! We begin interviewing on such-and-such-a-day. Would that work for you? Let us know if you’re interested in staying with a resident while you’re here, and I’ll help facilitate that! And bring your plane ticket purchase receipt—we’ll reimburse up to $X00.

Two hours later, in my email inbox: The (Expialidocious) Family Medicine Residency Program would like to invite you to interview…

The next business day, and the next, for a week straight, these roll in. Most of the rest come in over the course of the following two weeks. For family medicine, it’s like Dr. Keenan says about voting: “early and often.” It’s instant gratification.

Then the interviews start. Instead of feeling like I’m sitting at one end of a really long mahogany table being scrutinized from twenty yards away, it’s, “I think you’d love it here! Of course you can do that! Some of that is already built into the curriculum, but we can work together to set the rest up if you’re interested. So what questions do you have for me?… Great. So what other questions do you have for me? So… any other questions for me?”

At the places I’ve chosen to interview, it seems the programs are fantastic, the residents are dynamic, the faculty are phenomenal, and everyone’s innovating to address population health.

The biggest sources of stress so far:

  1. Writing the personal statement. (It takes just as long to write in February as it does in August.)
  2. Booking travel arrangements. (And figuring out how to pay for them when my credit cards get here in a month.)
  3. How to compare the programs.
  4. Moving back from Eugene and packing for a month away the night before a 6:30am flight.

Finding out at the airport that I purchased a “Classic” ticket and my bags get checked for free?


3 responses to “Instant Gratification

  1. This sounds great! I’ll have to give you a call at some point so you can help me make everything work out this well next year. Best of luck for Match Day.

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