Interviewing, Match, Advising, Med Student

EMRA Medical Students: Senior Interviews

After another successful application cycle, we sat down with some of the outgoing EMRA Medical Student Council seniors to find out a bit more about their overall experience with the Match. In addition, we also asked them about their new residency programs and plans for the future.

Morgan Bobb (MB): First off, congratulations on your recent match! Where will you be completing your training?

  • Tommy Eales (TE): Indiana University (IU) in Indianapolis, IN
  • Josh Sayers (JS): Wright State University in Dayton, OH
  • Josh Davis (JD): Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA
  • Seth Kelly (SK): University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD
  • Quinton Campbell (QC): Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA
  • Linelle Campbell (LC): Jacobi/Montefiore in Bronx, NY
  • Rachel Nelson (RN): University of Rochester/Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY

MB: What was the single most important factor for you in creating your rank order list? Was it obvious which programs were going to be at the top?

TE: The single most important factor for me was my overall fit with the residents. It was immediately clear to me that many programs were going to be able to offer the opportunities and learning experiences that I need for my career goals. Post-interview, there were about 6 programs that I knew would be at the top of my list. After that, it came down to the people.

JS: The single most important factor was my overall gut instinct on where I felt I fit in the best. Immediately after I interviewed at my top 3 programs, I knew they were going to be my top 3. I just wasn't sure how I would order them.

JD: Atmosphere and gestalt.

SK: The biggest factor was my gut feeling about "fit" with the program. There are a lot of great programs out there and I would have been happy at almost all of the places where I interviewed. That said, there were definitely programs that stood out where I felt most comfortable with the residents and faculty and where the program structure aligned well with my learning style and career goals.

QC: Geography in a couple of different ways – I wanted to be somewhere where I had a support system or at least where I was familiar with the city already, and I also wanted to train at a program where I'd be working in a large urban environment to gain exposure to a diverse range of populations and pathology.

LC: I went with my gut feeling first and foremost, then location. It was really obvious who my top 2 programs were going to be.

RN: If I had to pick one, the most important factor for me was job opportunities for my spouse, closely followed by perceived "fit" of the residency program. It was not at all obvious to me which programs were going to be at the top (because I had a lot of choices that I loved!), and I had a really tough time finalizing my list before Feb 22.

MB: Did you rank programs differently if you rotated with them? Did you rotate at the program where you matched?

TE: I certainly felt like I had a better understanding of the programs where I rotated. I was very confident in the training and the fit at both of my audition programs, and I ranked them both at the top of my list. I did rotate at IU, and that played a major role in my decision.

JS: I thought that rotating at a program would have more sway on my rank list. One program where I rotated ended up not making my rank list because I felt that it just wasn't what I was looking for in a program. One of my top 3 was a program where I rotated. I did not rotate at the program where I matched.

JD: No to both.

SK: I ranked all of my programs based on order of preference without regard to where I rotated. I loved the places where I rotated, but it's important to recognize that it's easy to be influenced by a month of exposure to a program versus a day or two on the interview trail. You can't rotate everywhere. It is very possible that a place where you rotate may not be as good a fit as one you visit while interviewing. I didn't rotate at the University of Maryland.

QC: I did end up ranking the programs I rotated with among the highest on my list, which I think was a result of feeling confident on how familiar I'd become with each program, their residents, and the overall culture over the course of a month versus 1-2 days during an interview. That said, I did not rotate where I matched, but I felt it was as good a fit as programs I did rotate with when I made my list.

LC: My number 1 and 2 were equal in my eyes, and I ranked my No. 1 where I did simply because I rotated with them. I matched at my No. 2 and am equally as happy.

RN: I did not rotate at the program where I matched. Aside from my home program, I did 2 away rotations. One of them I really loved, while one of them I thought I would love and really did not mesh with. The latter one dropped on my list.

MB: Were you contacted by any programs after your interviews were completed? Did this impact your rank order list?

TE: I received 2 kinds of post-interview communication. The first was a short thank-you letter or email shortly after the interview, usually from a program director. I felt these went to all interviewees, so it didn't factor into my decision. The second was a phone call from either a chief resident or a program director, and this occurred shortly before the rank order list submission date. While this had no bearing on my rank order list, it did make me feel more confident about my chances at certain programs.

JS: I was not contacted by any programs other than to fill out a survey about my interview experience.

JD: Yes, I was contacted by programs after the interview process. Yes, it did impact my rank order list.

SK: Yes, I was contacted by some programs and didn't hear anything from others. Similarly, I received responses from some programs when I sent thank you notes while others didn't respond. Don't read into this, and don't let it impact your rank list! Rank programs based on your order of preference, not which program you think wants you more than the others. The Match algorithm favors the applicant, so don't try to "game" the system or rank programs based on where you think they are going to rank you.

QC: I was contacted after interviews were completed, but it did not impact my list.

LC: I was contacted by almost all the programs I interviewed with by phone, and it did not influence my rank order.

RN: No to both.

MB: What features about your new program are most exciting to you?

TE: The most exciting features about IU to me are the clinical experiences and incredible opportunities for scholarly activity. Although I'm interested in an academic career, it was really important to find a program that would also provide me with experience in a variety of practice environments. I felt that the dual primary site experience at IU was extremely well-rounded and would prepare me for anything.

JS: SWAT and tactical medicine! Close relationships with local EMS were very important to me, since I've been a paramedic for 18 years.

JD: The location, the patients, and really just the thought of starting residency are all exciting to me.

SK: I'm really looking forward to learning from some of the prominent thought-leaders in emergency medicine as part of the University of Maryland's academic program. I'm also excited about the different hospital settings that the program uses to teach residents, including the University of Maryland Medical Center emergency department, the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

QC: The opportunity to be part of a program with new leadership and to see what innovations might come to fruition during my time there.

LC: I got a very warm and friendly feeling when I went there. Residents and faculty were very diverse.  I loved how the PD spoke about why he trained and stayed there for his career. I love the location (NY is home for me) and love the patient population (underserved). The program also has a great reputation and very rigorous training.

RN: My program has a very diverse patient population, and it has very strong experiences in critical care and in pediatric EM. It is also connected with a very strong patient advocacy program in the city, which I am particularly excited about. More than anything, I'm most excited to be part of such a collegial and team-oriented program with some really great co-residents and amazing faculty!

MB: Do you plan to be involved with EMRA as a resident?

TE: Absolutely! I'll be serving as the Vice-Chair of the Research Committee this year.

JS: I do. I intend on running for a board position in the next election.

JD: Yes.

SK: A main priority right now is figuring out what I'm doing as an intern and learning as much as I can this year, which I know is going to take a lot of time and effort. That said, I am staying involved as the incoming Vice-Chair of the Prehospital and Disaster Medicine Division and am looking forward to continuing with EMRA in this role. I want to stay connected as EMRA is a great organization; I've met lots of remarkable students, residents, and attending physicians through my involvement on the Medical Student Council over the past few years.

QC: Most definitely – I'm still deciding how.

LC: Of course. Especially through the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

RN: Of course!

MB: Graduation and residency aside, what's the most exciting thing coming up for you in the next few weeks?

TE: Besides SAEM in May, I don't have any formal trips planned. I'll definitely be spending as much time as I can with my family and friends!

JS: I'll be relaxing for 2 weeks before orientation begins.

JD: I have a new house, a new grant of mine was just accepted, and I just became certified to teach another fitness class (CXWORX).

SK: I'm looking forward to catching up with friends at SAEM in Orlando and then some vacation/travel toward the end of May before heading to Baltimore to set up my new place and get ready for orientation in June.

QC: I lived in Panama for a year during college and am heading down there to visit some old friends!

LC: I am going on a cruise with my classmates and traveling to Monaco to watch Formula 1.

RN: I'm taking a long-awaited vacation in May, and I'm in the process of buying my first house!

MB: What advice would you have for students interested in following your path to residency?

TE: For those interested in IU, I would strongly recommend trying for an audition rotation. The senior residents here are put through a pretty intense experience, and the best way to know if it's for you is to see it in person.

JS: Take charge of your own path and be responsible to yourself as well as others. Be bold.

SK: If you truly are interested in a certain program, the best way to learn about it is by doing an away rotation. Whether you can do an away or not, take the time to reach out to current residents and ask questions about what they like and don't like about their program. If anyone is interested in the University of Maryland, feel free to contact me. I'll be pretty new to it all at first, but I'm happy to find someone who can answer questions!

QC: If you're invited for an interview and you're unfamiliar with Philadelphia (or any city where you're interviewing), do your best to set aside a free day or two before and/or after the interview to explore the city and see what it has to offer. I did this when I visited Jefferson, and it provided me with a lot of extra information that impacted how I felt about potentially matching there when I made my list!

LC: Come into the process ready to be challenged.

RN: Come visit, see what programs are about, and reach out to current residents! We're happy to help you!