Judd’s Journey: A sleepless medical student interviewing for residency

I am excited to introduce a new feature here on EyeSteve.com. Judd Cahoon is an MD PhD student at the University of Utah School of Medicine and over the coming few months will be traveling all over the country interviewing for ophthalmology residency. I originally met Judd during medical school and when he was invited to interview at my residency program, I invited him to stay at my home, but I first warned Judd before his coming that my transportation to and from the hospital is via bicycle, and that he was welcome to bike with me to work. Judd took me up on the offer, and rode to and from his residency interview in a suit and tie, on my wife’s bike.

Internship, residency, and fellowship interviews are full of bizarre experiences like riding a bike through cornfields in Iowa, sleeping in airports, relying heavily on Google Maps for directions, and sneaking extra muffins from continental breakfast for dinner later that day. These experiences are only a small portion of the much larger and important decision of how to rank training programs based on strengths and weaknesses of training, perceived prestige, location, cost-of-living, program personality, and other important aspects of residency training.

Join with me as we follow Judd’s journey around the country for internship and ophthalmology residency interviews.

– Steve

January 9, 2016

The List

Rank list is in. The approach to submitting the rank list encompasses incredible variety between applicants. Some people I know submitted the list weeks ago after their last interview; another applicant I met was still shuffling spots with only hours to go (and during a TY interview, too!). I submitted my final list the morning it was due, after my wife woke up from a restless night and asked if I could switch around a couple of programs, and then I went on another interview (hopefully my last). I had been in communication with a lot of applicants just prior to submission time, but the past few days have been largely silent. Maybe we are all just stewing with trepidation, dread, or excitement. I can’t speak to what others are feeling, but I am very excited. I am not as nervous as I thought I would be during this week (and can we all give praise to those at SFMatch that decided it need take only one week from submission to notification? Suck it NRMP). But there is one part I don’t look forward to, giving up the idea/day dreaming of attending various programs. I like that, right now, I can picture myself at any location in the country. I like thinking about the highlights of individual programs and I hate that I’ll have to give up something regardless of where I end up (I am trying to remain optimistic that I will end up somewhere).

I came away from most interviews very high on that specific program. It got to the point my wife would scold me every time I praised a program after my interview. It usually takes a few days for the glow of the program to wear off and reality to settle in. Coming up with the rank list required a lot of thought and introspection. But it also simply required trusting my gut. Based on conversations I had with people who were dissatisfied with their match into other specialties, I felt that a mega-spreadsheet with columns for categories ranging from call shifts to vacation weeks and attending strength was futile. I tried writing down initial impressions and details after every interview (and almost after every individual interview with each faculty member). Many late night flights were spent with pen in hand scribbling my impressions down in the dark because the passenger seated in front of me was so reclined that my overhead light shined directly in his sleepy (and now agitated) face. At the time, I figured I would compare details between programs and use the little Moleskine I kept throughout the season to review my thoughts just before compiling the rank list. The Moleskine sat in my backpack after my last interview and never came out. Maybe it was because I had already taken the time to write down my thoughts so that I didn’t need to look back, but I felt as though I had a good enough impression that I could trust my gut when deciding the rank list.

Speaking of things I didn’t do, I didn’t do much in the way of love letters either. Though maybe I should have. I don’t know what you call them, but love letters are the pesky things that go a step beyond thank you notes. Love letters show your interest in a program, and do so in a very elementary school kind of way. They follow a “Tell but don’t ask” rule. From what I have been told by my school, we should ignore any hint of love coming from programs (as it is absolutely non-binding) while at the same time we should be sending out our lofty praises back to programs of interest. The language required to write those things was very off-putting to me. Allow me to further describe my dilemma (drastically overthinking the situation is likely to ensue).

First, if I interviewed at a program and spent the money to fly out there, shouldn’t that be enough to let the program know I am interested? Do I need to send an additional note letting them know that I am really interested? (I am probably just stating how lazy I am). Second, does my interest in them change their interest in me? Like all things this cuts both ways. Was I more swayed by programs that showed more interest in me? Objectivity loses out to some emotional components in this odd time of life. I’ve heard some programs officially say they set their rank lists right after interviews, post hoc communication having no effect. On the DL I’ve heard rumors from residents that certain programs love being told they are number one. And those who match there have always told the program of interest that they occupied the number one spot on the rank list. So if that is true, and I have no way of knowing whether or not this is true, I imagine there are more than a few people out there telling certain programs they are literally number one before match day (after match day obviously every matched applicant will tell his or her program it was number one, right?). Now, with a fair number of letters coming into to a given program explicitly stating “number one”, does that alter the program’s perception of a love letter that comes in stating “very high” or some other term that, in between the lines, could be read as NOT number one? And would this have any bearing on where either applicant (the one who proudly states “number one” and the one who cautiously writes “very high”) ends up on the program’s final rank list? I have no idea. I don’t think so, but it does give me pause when it comes to sending out letters to programs near the top of my rank list. I would hate for a positive letter stating how happy I’d be to match there (an honest statement) to be misconstrued to be just as powerful in what it doesn’t say.

Another curiosity I have at this time is how programs feel about their list. I am sure there is an institutional sense of pride in matching only so far down their list, but who else knows this information, and, really, who else cares? I wonder how much transparency would help or hurt all of us in the long run. I haven’t been in anything remotely resembling the dating world for over 10 years, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that the algorithm deciding my fate right now, which won a Nobel Prize, has underpinnings of creating happy marriage arrangements (or at least that was the example used to explain the theory). Not everybody matches at his or her top choice, and not all programs match their top applicants, so it probably doesn’t do anybody any favors to let them know after the fact that you were only slightly disappointed when you matched. Best keep some things opaque, just like a healthy marriage, right? (Perhaps I will shortly rejoin the dating world after my wife reads that). However, programs certainly have an impetus to want applicants that want them; wouldn’t that create the happiest marriage? All I know is, there is no sense in telling every school that they are number one. Ophthalmology is much too small of a world.

December 7, 2015

Tails From the Trail

With one more interview to go and more than few under my belt, I am looking forward to not living in the airport any more. My belt is also looking forward to a reprieve from the delicious meals that have greeted me at every interview location. The best news about right now? I have stopped the email alerts on my phone. Nothing feels as good as not caring about responding to emails in a timely manner. A few inconsequential things really stand out as I reflect back over the past couple of months and here I’d like to share those thoughts. I think some things are ripe for improvement; this is the first of a few Quality Improvement (QI) projects I propose for the interview trail.

#1 Rental Cars

I drive a 1995 Jeep Cherokee and have never owned a car with a CD player. It seems I might never own a car with a CD player, which is fine because I just found out that cars have USB ports in them. Wow! I know I am probably totally behind the times with this revelation, but the enjoyment I get from the compact/economy Hyundai waiting for me at your regional airport is silly. The QI project I propose for rental cars is thus: When an email goes out to the applicants about the opportunities for drinks/dinner the night before or for the actual interview, we are usually bcc’d. This blinding helps keep anonymity, I suppose, for the next week until we all see each other, embrace, and share war stories with the same people we have been seeing for the past half-dozen interviews. Why don’t we unblind the emails, allow us to respond to all the invited and start sharing rides from the airport? I am more than happy to share my rental car with another applicant, provided that applicant enjoys pop music.

Pop music. I don’t know what happened to me, but sometime around interview number 4 I found Taylor Swift and my life has changed for the better. I come from a background where popular music was shunned. I remember trying to come up with a genre of music that I liked in junior high and “alternative” seemed a better choice than the Backstreet Boys to a tweenage boy who was unsure of what answer would get him the most cool points. Maybe pop music has changed over the past 15 years, or maybe it was just the novelty of a new music selection to listen to in new cities, but I will forever equate driving in my tiny rental car with listening to One Direction, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainer, and the Weeknd. In fact, there is even an Apple Music Playlist called Teen Pop Hits for Fall that I listen to on repeat. This is totally not creepy for me to be into at all, right? By the way, two pieces of indispensible advice: In addition to TSA Precheck, get three months free of Apple Music while on the interview trail. Final Confession: I texted I Heart Radio the key word “dress” in the hopes of winning tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert in Australia. No word yet on if I won… I need to get back to my kids.

The other benefit of ride sharing is adventure sharing. I have probably made more than one applicant regret allowing me to take them to airport (my intense singing to Shawn Mendes aside) as we have taken a few detours to hit one more good BBQ spot on the way back (despite having eaten lunch just a couple hours before). Palms get sweatier as I push on because the first restaurant is closed, and I am certain another good spot lay just around the corner. However, in my defense, I have yet to make anyone miss a flight, though I have driven a few applicants the wrong way down a one-way road.

The car also feels like a safe haven to share your true thoughts and feelings. Something about being in a novel Korean-made economy cruiser loosens tongues and bonds those who share the trail. I have learned almost as much about programs by venting with applicants in the car on the way to/from the airport as I have from nights out with the residents.

Finally, there is Waze. Sometimes I think Waze is just out to get me. For the uninitiated, Waze is the traffic-smart maps application that supposedly keeps you in the minimal amount of traffic possible. Waze helpfully lets me know that in a half-a-mile there is an object on the side of the road. Thanks Waze! At its best, Waze will keep you off the freeway when it is congested and help you cruise side streets known only by savvy cabbies. At its worst Waze will (and this is no joke as it actually happened to me) make you drive around the clover-pattern of freeway entrances three times before finally directing you where you were supposed to go. I feel like this needs further explanation to realize just how ridiculous it was. Picture a freeway, it has four loops that you can use to get on going either direction from any direction, you need only take one loop or on-ramp. Waze made me take three loops instead of one on-ramp (the equivalent of three left turns instead of one right turn). This could be because Waze is vindictive after I told it there was no object half-a-mile down the road. But that doesn’t stop me from adding another BBQ destination to my Waze-guided itinerary as I travel back to the airport.

I read a fictional story about a future where minimum wage jobs are replaced by robots after a transition where minimally skilled workers wear a headset and a computer tells them every detail of what to do every minute (this is the point where I admit that, like you, I am a nerd). This story doesn’t seem that far fetched after I saw two self-driving Google cars on the road following each other (the bubble-looking car was followed by the Lexus) while I was taking an Uber (and I thought Uber was pretty futuristic). With Uber, what we gain in convenience and price is slightly diminished by the dearth of route-knowledge of those driving the car. Cabbies know the city inside and out, Uber drivers know how to follow a voice-guided map and are probably less than a decade away from being completely replaced by robots. Sorry for the aside. What I meant to say was that I came to find Waze after getting hopelessly lost in Iowa. Like the nascent Uber driver, I too have become overly reliant on technology to guide me step-by-step in a foreign city. This is a problem because T-mobile doesn’t work in the heartland.

I landed at zero dark thirty and wandered over to my rental car. I was able to crash at EyeSteve’s place for my interview and now I just had to get there from the airport. I went to a Keystone Conference in Breckenridge, CO about 7 years ago and it was my first experience traveling to a new city with a smartphone. I was amazed at how incredibly easy it was to navigate thanks to my handy gps and apps like Yelp telling me where to stop for food. We probably all take it for granted now, but back then it was like an epiphany. I could travel anywhere I wanted, without any previous preparation, and rely on the goodness of crowdsourcing and gps tracking to guide me along my way. I have since used this method to navigate every new city I’ve had the good fortune to visit during my time in school.

So it should come as no surprise that I took no effort in preparing to get to EyeSteve’s house. I simply plugged his address in to the maps app before I got on the plane and planned to follow the lovely robot voice to his house. But as the plane landed and I turned on the phone to first check emails (like any invitations were actually going to come at 12:00 am) and then to text my wife, the phone kept telling me it had no service. It wouldn’t flip over to whatever coverage it normally finds. My maps app was just a gray grid with one blue dot floating in an ocean of gray squares and second dot indicating my location. I was relieved that I had plugged in the address before I landed, but I was still pretty sure that eventually my phone would wake up and find some sort of signal. That never happened. I had previously heard that gps doesn’t rely on cell service and that night I tested the theory. While no roads ever showed up on my map app the blue dots stayed onscreen, one marking my current location and the other marking my destination as I drove from the airport to city. I watched as the blue dots approached each other. Navigating to the city was hardly anything spectacular, but navigating neighborhoods in the dark of night trying to get two blue dots to connect was nerve wracking. I took the main roads within the city for as long as I could and, like a shark making left turn after left run, ended up circling my targeted blue dot. I went down more than a few dead ends, took a couple of wrong-ways, and stared at a few too many stranger’s houses before I found what I hoped was the right place. I kept imagining that the house I slowly crept up to belonged to EyeSteve’s neighbor. I hoped that his neighbor didn’t also just happen to leave the door unlocked (after all, who really locks their doors in Iowa City?). I would have been 0% surprised if I were rousted from sleep and chased out early in the morning when some grandma finds me sleeping on the couch in her basement. Luckily this never happened and EyeSteve greeted me in the morning with a smile and a bike as we rode in the crisp fall air to my interview.

November 8, 2015

Chance vs. Fate

Tonight my (short-term) fate was decided by a coin flip as I found myself in the familiar situation of preparing to board a plane that was oversold. I was offered a flight that would still arrive a few hours later at a neighboring airport and, for my troubles, I would be the lucky recipient of a $500 voucher. That is solid gold. I wouldn’t even have to miss an interview this time. I was happy to oblige. However, Mr. Gong and Mr. Gu were not so cooperative. These men, who likely host a variety show together, were the two souls who decided to not show up. A second passenger in my position and I were called up at the end of boarding when it was decided the plane would no longer wait for Mr. Gong and Mr. Gu and we entered the bridge with an attendant. Both of us were slightly dejected that we would not obtain the magical voucher. That is when the attendant notified us that one, and only one, of the two seats available was in first class. He pulled out a coin, handed it to me, and my compatriot called “tails.” I flipped the coin on the jet bridge, watched it spin in the air, and continued to watch it spin for an uncomfortable amount of time on the ground (as the passengers and crew were waiting solely on us for departure) as it slowly came to rest on tails. I was stuck in the back of the plane. My fate for the next couple of hours was to be spent next to a sleeping lady instead of flying 1st class like a boss. Chalk it up to chance.

I think chance and fate are two sides of the same coin and powerful determining factors in the way this all plays out. I think they are equally important, simultaneously overblown, and possibly inconsequential.

Eight years ago I met a fantastic applicant on the interview trail. We had common interviews, common interests, and, most importantly, a common sense of humor. After deliberating the possibility of enrolling in the same program we ultimately ended up at different institutions. As I started medical school, I didn’t even know ophthalmology was a career choice. Looking back, I figured my unique experiences and good fortune were the reasons I ended up choosing ophthalmology (a result of chance). However, I couldn’t help but think of what my life would be like if I had accompanied my friend across the country and attended a different medical school. What lab would I have joined, what specialty would I pursue? I almost felt as though I could use him as a surrogate, demonstrating some sort of Sliding Doors/alternate universe of what might have been. Imagine my surprise when I saw him at a recent ophtho interview. As much as I feel like my career choices have been decided by which university I attended and what lab I joined (largely determined by chance), it was sublimely reassuring to see that all roads seemingly lead to the same destination (fate). My alternative timeline would still have produced a budding eye surgeon, regardless of the venue chosen to get there (or so it seems). Chalk this one up to fate.

I don’t think career choices are the only ones that are outside of our control. Where I end up training is influenced as much by random chance as it is by my rank list. While the distribution of interview invites mostly seems to match up (I have seen a regular crop of friends at similar types of programs), sometimes it just doesn’t compute. How could I not get an interview at program X, when this person got one? How did I get invited to program Y, and this person didn’t? When a program is faced with the daunting task of sifting through 500 applicants for 50 interview spots, chance is bound to play a role in who gets what interviews for any given program. I wonder if picking applicants for an interview is similar to picking a march madness bracket, where despite the objective data you sometimes just have a good feeling that a particular Cinderella is really going to surprise everyone and make a splash at your program. And this may seem unfair. But the unfairness goes both ways. My impressions of a program are not only shaped by interactions with residents, questions answered by program directors, and surgery numbers available to trainees, but also by things completely out of the program’s control. Who did I sit next to at dinner? Did I like that person? Was it rainy and overcast the whole time I was there? Did I happen to have extra time to explore and enjoy a sunny day in a new city? What kind of food was offered? How much food was offered? Was more than one meal offered? (Culinary offerings will go a very long way in determining my rank list). What kind of hotel did I book? I’ve stayed at some dives way outside of the city just to get a cheap rate and it colors my perception of the program, even if the program had no control over my frugality. Which begs the question, does it even matter? If this is a stochastic process will the results have significant effect on my future career?

A couple of years back, I was talking with a very impressive fellow. He had been schooled exclusively at private institutions. Starting in kindergarten and through grade school he received the finest education money could buy, and it was a lot of money, a mind-blowing amount of money to teach a six-year-old to not pick his nose. He attended a private high school where he was chosen as one of the 100 most promising high school seniors (or something to that effect). This allowed him to meet and have dinner with influential political figures, who all lauded his accomplishments. He worked hard, excelled academically, and attended a prestigious private university on the west coast for college. He went to medical school and completed his ophthalmology training at another prestigious private institution. He basically had the academic training I could only dream of. I come from a purely public school background. I always dreamed of attending a fancy Ivy League school at some point during my training but have always ended up at my state school. This is also not without its advantages. Being a medium sized fish in a medium sized pond has allowed me to excel in ways that perhaps would not have happened had I struck the lucky ticket into the big/deep ponds of academia. Malcolm Gladwell discussed this notion in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, specifically in terms of people staying in science. It is a familiar idea that runs something like this: it’s easy to get discouraged when you are surrounded by the cream of the crop at the big academic ponds compared to rising to the top (and more likely to stick to a science-based career) in a medium sized pond. So here I am, trying to break into the big leagues but a question keeps repeating itself in my head. What is the end game? And will it even matter?

This impressive fellow ended up in a private practice, certainly making a wonderful living, and is very happy with his life. Is there any difference in where he is now and where I could be in the future? Could my largely free, public school education land me in the exact same spot, perhaps the same practice, as the fellow with the most impressive educational history? If so, what does it matter where I go for residency? While the patterns of credentials are obvious when it comes to looking at department chairs and leadership in academia, how much weight does the name of a program carry when it comes down to most residents obtaining jobs? I wish I could discuss this idea with more people who are 5-6 years out of training. We all get to talk to a lot of academic physicians but typically have less access to those in private/non-academic world. I am just barely starting to wrap my head around future fellowship opportunities, but actually getting a job is so far removed from my consciousness that I haven’t a clue how the whole process works. I can see how the reputation of the program influences my opportunities for fellowship (or more likely, how the reputation and connections of those I will be working with during residency influence my chances at various fellowships) but how does this all play out in the end? Does a path in academia require a prestigious pedigree? How does that pedigree play in to obtaining a job outside the ivory towers? Especially now, as I see a lot of my original classmates signing their first job contracts, in addition to the tinge of jealousy and regret I feel each time I realize they are moving on with their lives, I am also so curious to know how their residencies prepared them for that specific offer.

Will my final placement, as determined by the ultimate fate-deciding machine, The Match, drastically alter the career path I end up pursuing? Or will it be more like the coin flip on the jet bridge, where I end up in the same place, regardless of whether I get the first class ticket or not? Will it be like my good friend from eight years ago, where we are sure to bump into each other on the same fellowship interview in another 4 years, regardless of where we both train? If my public school pedigree can lead to the same outcome as the gilded private school path, should I even be worried about how this match plays out? Chance plays such a large role in what interviews the programs dole out and how the applicants perceive those experiences that it almost seems silly to fret over the process in the first place. We are all traveling the same path; we are all ending up in the same place (and I continually remind myself that by I have already won the lottery by simply being born in America). I’m no fatalist, but sometimes it is nice to take the worry out of it and let the coin land how it lands, whether that is directed by fate or chance it still up for debate.

October 29, 2015

Interview Problems

First, I’d like to thank eyesteve for inviting me to share my rambling thoughts. Since I’ll most likely never have a Lifetime Original Movie made after me, documenting this period of life on “Judd’s Journey” is a close second.

Second, this post is not to serve as a how to. This post is not to serve to as advice. This post (or series of posts) is likely to serve as a means of satiating the morbid curiosity that grips neurotic medical students as interview season approaches. I have no lid upon my head, but this will serve as a close surrogate to allow you to look inside and see what’s on my mind (why you would want to is not a question I can answer). Searching forums (StudentDoctor.net) has a way of damaging the soul. These posts may serve as a slightly less damaging alternative in narrative form.

Everybody’s got interview problems, too few, too crowded, and/or too expensive. The scale of problem severity likely starts at not being upgraded to first class despite your medallion status (1/10) to not being offered any interviews (10/10). After submitting my application to SFmatch, the paranoia of when to start habitually checking my email occurs. As centralized a process as this appears, every program operates on its own timeline. Some programs want to get you to come before the frost, some wait until December to show off their version of winter. So I sat there, waiting for the emails, and occasional phone calls, to come. The only question running through my mind during this time is, “Should I be worried?” and there are only a few ways to figure that out. The first answer, if it is still August or September, is “No.” But the intense curiosity to know what else is going drives me to sdn on a daily basis to check out which programs have offered interview invites. This is not healthy behavior.

In a misguided attempt to refine this behavior but still answer the “Should I be worried?” question, I thought it might be a wise idea to understand what is happening at a local level. No one likes comparing him or herself to the national ophtho applicant with AOA status, a 260 board score (and can we stop calling this a board score? It is part of the licensing exam, not the board exam) and a litany of published papers, so I turned inward to my lovely classmates (though some of them might fit the above description). There are a number of fabulous applicants from my home institution that will be hitting the trail with me. And to their credit, they acquiesced to the idea of sharing what was happening in terms of interview invites with each other. We have a stronger culture of collaboration than of competition here and figured it would be better to know what is going on than to be left in the dark. This was a good idea for about the first three interviews extended. Pretty soon it turned into a mix of humblebrags and despair. There is no easy way to satisfy the neuroses that come with the territory.

When the invites do come, they bring with them a new, albeit less severe, set of problems. The harshness of the new set of problems can best be measured by reaction time. The faster you respond (seconds to minutes) the less severe the headache you will incur. Nobody cares if you were in a class, taking a quiz, scrubbed in, or on an airplane. If you don’t respond within the hour you’ll likely end up with your third choice date, or worse. I have missed a phone call while on an airplane and the resulting delay in response has bumped me to the waitlist, not that awesome. Replies within 5 minutes of the email don’t guarantee your first choice either. This madness creates a disgusting compulsive habit of checking my email every 5 minutes; this despite the fact that all my emails are pushed to my phone and I get an alert. It matters not. I do not trust the “updated just now” message at the bottom of my email list. I still pull the screen down with my thumb and watch, eager with anticipation, as the spinning wheel circles at the top of my phone, the connection is established, and the “downloading three new messages” message appears at the bottom. My soul is slightly crushed when the only emails received are from Kayak, begging me to book a trip to somewhere more exotic than the Midwest, updates from the American Heart Association that I can’t seem to figure out how to unsubscribe from (the unsubscribe link directs me to a postal address in Texas, am I really supposed to send a letter in the mail?), and the weekly SBO email from my med school class presidency, not actually that bad.

The next level of problems comes in the form of travel arrangements. I got so excited after my first invitation I started booking flights despite being a month out from the interview. This also turns out to be a mistake. Plans change; other invites pop up, and before you know it that sweet deal I booked has changed three times over. And, since I hate flying Southwest (one bad experience standing in a line 8 years ago, and I still can’t get over it), that means re-booking fees add up fast negating any savings I may have accrued with my early reservation. So I wait to find the sweet spot between cheap flights and a level of certainty that plans will not be changing.

For some reason, when booking travel, I feel like the savings I would get from an overnight flight (no hotel!) far outweigh the negative side effects of sink-showering in a public restroom while trying to keep my suit off the floor. It is never worth it. But I just booked another one. This is the worst idea ever. It’s so bad in fact that the last time I did this, I tried to get out of it. The airline offered up $400 and a night in a hotel to anyone willing to give up his seat, and I fantasized about taking them up on their offer! In my mind, I was all set to just blow off both the flight and the interview. I was coming off of a week on the road and, thanks to my early booking giddiness, I had a completely separate flight scheduled for home the next day (the change fees outweighed the benefit of rescheduling it, when will I ever learn?) at a neighboring airport. They had only oversold the flight by 1 seat. If everyone shows up, I could get a voucher and miss this whole interview. It was 11:00 pm and I was delirious. I was also happy. I hadn’t quite worked out the logistics of getting from one airport to the other but that was a question for another day (tomorrow). I hadn’t even begun to contemplate the unprofessional nature of dropping an interview at the last minute, or the repercussions that would fall on the next round of applicants from my home institution. I just thought about that $400 voucher and getting back to my own bed. Then the lady from the counter approached me. She said that the oversold ticket holder never showed up, and there was no need for a volunteer. Luckily, fate wanted me to follow through on this interview. I slept an hour or three on the flight over, drove a while, and made it to my interview after sink-showering and un-wrinkling my suit in a deserted bathroom. I don’t tend to make the best decisions when facing a red-eye flight after a long week on the road. I am glad fate intervened the other way.

I question most of my life choices on an almost daily basis. But the most puzzling is always the need to fit more stuff in. I have a difficult time saying no. Not in that ridiculous “Tell me about your biggest weakness”-type question you may or may not get on the interview trail, but in the way that is damaging to my personal and professional life. Want to get involved in this research project? Yes. Want to get involved with the local outreach? Yes. Want to extend your education indefinitely? Yes. Want to get involved in another research project despite the fact that you application is in? Yes. Want to write a silly blog post? Yes. Want to be around for your family who is almost as used to you being gone as being home?…

Maybe this just got a little deeper than I was hoping for. Next post may or may not be a little more cheerful.


Judd’s Journey: A sleepless medical student interviewing for residency Click To Tweet


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