Personality Counts

Dr. Barone,

Here's my story... I hope this will be inspirational for many.   I got divorced the first year of school and my grades tanked. I dropped to the bottom half of the class. However, I was able to pull through and do well on level 1 of COMLEX (after your class and your colleagues at Kaplan) and pass USMLE without issue. Then came level 2, when they changed the passing standards. I was the group right after the regrade. My level 2 score was considerably lower, about 153 points lower and just above the new passing standard. I was pretty bummed and tried to explain it in all my interviews, however no one seemed to care, they only wanted to see that I passed. I was trying for Family Practice or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I then only ranked two programs in the Osteopathic match and didn't match. Tried again in the Allopathic Match with 13 on my list and matched without a scramble! Thanks for the lecture two years ago and the pep talks! Kept me positive! 


What did you do to overcome the divorce and get yourself back on track.... and what advice would you give to other medical students going thru it now?

To overcome the divorce, I used the counseling services at the school. I had always tried to deal with things on my own, but he divorce kind of consumed my thinking, to the point that I could not focus on school work. My school has a systems based curriculum, and we were in the thick of the MSK system! I ended up starting a journal to get those thoughts that inevitably come at the late hours of studying and reverberate though out your head. Writing them down on paper made it more physical and I could reset. I also relied heavily on friends in school; started being more social. I filled the hole that the divorce left with friends and activities. Eventually I healed and met a woman in my class who will be graduating next year, and we are going to be getting married this May!

What do you think was the most important thing in you matching?

Personality was a huge factor in matching. Scores and grades are only a foot in the door, for an audition rotation!  But when you get there, for FP and PM&R, personality is a big deal. Can you work well with others? Can the residents and staff stand to work with you for the duration of the residency?  I felt I had a good personality and was a big team player, which is what programs are really looking for. If you get the interview, your grades and scores are not a big issue. They want to know if you are weird and that they can work with you for 3-4 years (at least at the programs I interviewed at, mostly Midwest).  

What did you do wrong in the DO match that you would have done differently?

In the DO match I only ranked 2 programs and both were different specialties. When I didn't match to my number 1, it was another gut check. I think it's very important to rank at LEAST 5-6 programs.

What advice would you give to students in a similar situation?

To students in a similar situation, keep your head.  Don't let the obstacles get you down.  They can't ask you about being divorced or married, but if you feel it made you a better person/physician due to the character building and perseverance, share it with the program. Remember grades are important, but they are NOT the end game. There are many super smart people that cannot talk to people or patients, and communicating and working with others is a huge deal in interviews!

What advice would you give to students on handling questions about your struggles on the interview?

Be up front and honest. Make it about perseverance and character building.

C.K.   03/21/2015



#1 Danaisa U 2015-12-29 06:24
Really useful.
Category: Success

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