Sunday, September 25, 2011

What are the branches of the aortic arch (in order)?

An unlikely question to be asked on the pediatric residency interview trail. But it could happen. Every once in a while students share with me some of the more surprising things they have been asked while interviewing at their dream program, or other programs along the way.

What if you get one of those
(insert adjective here: unusual, surprising, crazy, no they didn't just ask me that) questions? The it's getting hot in here can you open the (nailed shut) window scenarios.

Here's TIP #1 for handling those questions. Stop and think, maybe they want to know my recollection of anatomy OR maybe they are actually trying to see right now how I handle a stressful situation, as there may be some of those in my upcoming residency training. Then, recognizing it as such, try not to feel stressed about it, but rather, show how you can do in such times of accelerated heart rates and pupillary dilation... let them see only the appropriate amount of proverbial sweat. Maybe they want to know how you think on the spot, "why is a manhole covers round?"

But on to the more common and yet still easily botched questions if you are not ready:
  • What were your key findings in this paper you published on XYZ?
  • What town were you in when you went to Guatemala?
TIP #2: Know everything that you've listed on your own ERAS application/CV. You've already submitted this, and you have ensured its accuracy and truthfulness already. Now make sure you can discuss anything and everything on there. And that you can say something you learned or something meaningful about through any of those things you've listed.

Another common, easy, yet surprisingly often flubbed scenario, right at the start of the interview.
  • Please tell me something about yourself.
TIP #3: Have a strong one liner about yourself! What do you want them to know, if you had the chance to simply tell them?

What if your interviewer asks you something about what you have done so far in 4th year, but your "strongest" part of your schedule is upcoming? Answer honestly but steer the response towards what you are planning to do. If asked about research you've completed but you have only made initial contact with a proposed mentor for an upcoming project, discuss honestly that you have not done much yet, but that you are embarking on this spectacular investigation of (skillfully fill in the blank). Maybe ask what kind of research the residents in that program have done, or whether they have strong mentorship in the projects they pursue.

TIP #4: Make sure you have a few key points that you want to convey about yourself during the interview, then you can work those in at some point during the interview.

Who is you
r interviewer? Maybe you will get the heads up that they are in pediatric ID or ED or GI or advocacy or research or (fill in the blank - so many wonderful choices in pediatrics!).

TIP #5:
Don't say "I don't want to just do primary care pediatrics" because your interviewer, who likely understands full well that primary care isn't for everyone, may very well be one of just those kinds of pediatricians.

Please check back for future posts on the residency interview, specifically Behavioral Based Interviewing.

the R and L coronary arteries come off the ascending aorta, then the brachiocephalic trunk (which splits to form the R subclavian and the R common carotid), the L common cartoid artery, and the L subclavian artery come off the aortic arch... usually

not just because the manholes themselves are round, not only because round tubes are strongest and least compressible, not only because then the covers can be rolled, but also primarily because this is the shape that makes it least likely for the cover to fall into the hole. And while we're at it, why not person-hole covers?

Alternative Answer: Ah, I see that you are trying to see how I handle a stressful situation...

What surprising questions have you been asked (or have heard about) on pediatric or other residency interviews? Comment below or email PediatricCareer AT or tweet me @Kind4Kids

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