Hurricane Ike really made my University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) interview experience very interesting. Everyone showed a great deal of care by asking about my family back home in Houston; however, I didn’t want this Hurricane to detract from my main focus – showing my interviewers what I’m all about.
First and foremost, I was very pleased that unlike UTSA and UTMB, neither one of my interviews had to be rescheduled at UTSW. 🙂 In fact, both my interviewers thought I may reschedule due to the hurricane. Anyways, the day began at 9:00 AM with registration and a brief Powerpoint presentation about the school and Parkland Hospital. Looking around the room, I’d say about 70-80 people were interviewing with me. Then, the interviews rolled around from 10:00 to 11:00. At UTSW, one of the interviewers has read an applicant’s entire application (MCAT, GPA, extracurriculars, personal statement, rec. letter, etc.) while the other interviewer has just read the personal statement.
My first interview (which happened to be the blind interview) was with an assistant dean (ob/gyn by training). Naturally, we joked about the hurricane at first. He inquired about my family’s safety back home, told me a bit about himself, and then started the actual interview by asking me to “tell him about myself.” After describing my experiences in education, business, technology, and my interest in neurosurgery, he asked where I feel I’ll be in the year 2025. Since he was the blind interviewer, I had to draw upon some of the things I outlined in my application to describe the “moment” in which I realized that medicine was indeed what I wanted to commit the rest of my life to. We discussed research opportunities, why I graduated early from high school and college, extracurricular/leadership involvement, urban medicine, translational research, and other topics which I happened to integrate into my responses. Overall, it was a really well balanced “conversation” that we had.
My second interview was with an M.D./Ph.D. pediatrician. She was an extremely sweet and welcoming lady who also inquired about my family’s safety in light of Hurricane Ike. Come to find out, we had a lot in common. For those who didn’t know, I wanted to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. joint degree from an early age, but after realizing that neurosurgery training inherently posesseed a great deal of research, spending more time earning a Ph.D. would be useless. She completely agreed. Also (remember, she had read my entire application thoroughly), she kept describing me as one of the most “inquisitive” applicants who she has met. I was flattered having her appreciate my undergraduate accomplishments (awards, GPA, MCAT, leadership, etc.) and tried to remain as humble as possible in acknowledging the hard work that went into each. The funny thing is that I don’t remember her asking me any specific questions (again, she had already read my entire app). Just like the first interview, the second interview was definitely more of a conversation than anything. We talked about translational medicine, stem cell ethics, politics, etc. I’m sorry that I don’t have any specific questions, but that was just the nature of both my interviews at UTSW.
After the two interviews, I went downstairs to wait for the UTSW tour (given by 4th year students) to begin. Come to find out, my second interview must have run late or something, because the other applicants had already left. This was really a blessing in disguise. Three 4th year students (who were waiting to give tours) waited for other students to join me before we all embarked on our tour; however, no one came. Instead of touring the campus, I just sat with them and asked all sorts of questions about campus life. Where did they live? Why did they choose UTSW? How does grading work? How do residency applications compare to medical school applications? What was their biggest regret in medical school? Etc. etc. I feel this was exponentially better than touring facilities which I already know are top notch.
Next… lunchtime! After chomping down a turkey sandwich, white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, and double chocolate chip cookie (hey, I was hungry 😉 ), I was very pleased to run into an HBU alumnus, Sidra. She took away from her precious study time just to share what she has learned about UTSW with me. The student panel started, but instead of attending that, Sidra (MS2) and her MS1 friend continued to give me a private student panel session. Between their commentary and the insight provided by the three MS4 students in the morning, I feel extremely informed about the UTSW campus and Dallas life.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Now, my last interview looms ahead. The interview to my dream school. Baylor College of Medicine… next Friday… September 19th… for all the marbles. Here I go. 🙂