Oooph. This week has been a professional emotional roller coaster.
For those of you who know me personally or have been following this blog for a time, you know that I lean a bit toward the neurotic. For example, some physicians were speaking near me about how this year there are more med students applying in pediatrics than there are positions. As I looked visibly concerned, they reassured me. I, in turn, rationalized that a little worry is what often keeps me out of trouble.
When applying to residency, I was careful. I asked for letters of recommendation and started my application months before I could submit it. I had my husband, mentors, friends, and colleagues read and critique my personal statement and my CV. I scrutinized over the wording to the one-sentence answers of some very basic questions, some of which resulted in multiple emails between me, the registrar, and the director of student affairs. And, when I submitted my application using a somewhat confusing and not always user friendly online system (which crashed the day we were allowed to submit our applications), I triple, quadruple checked that all my ducks were in a row, that my application had, indeed, been submitted, that every document was uploaded properly.
But I had this nagging feeling. Though I had been offered some interviews, looking at the status of my application last week, something seemed off. Finally I noticed a big problem: a very important document had not been assigned to the programs to which I had applied. So, I had applied to programs, but the application programs had received from me was incomplete for over three weeks. I still don’t know what happened. Was this my error or that of the system? My tendency to worry, to be a little neurotic, generally keeps me from making this kind of careless error.
I was tearful, disintegrating into an insecure mop in front of several residents (and possibly an attending) who were with me in the workroom as I discovered this error. I feared that, seeing that my application was incomplete, residency programs would simply pass over my application. I corrected the mistake, texted a few choice friends who generally give good advice on life, spoke with my mentors, and contacted the programs to let them know of the glitch and that my application was now complete. My spirits were raised somewhat when I received an interview approximately 30 minutes later.
And then Step 2 scheduling happened…
There is a practical component to Step 2 of the boards (it’s called Step 2 Clinical Skills, or Step 2 CS), where a med student experiences 12 encounters with standardized patients that test the ability to perform a history and physical exam, medical decision making, and interpersonal skills. It’s only offered in five cities, it is incredibly expensive, it takes forever to grade, and it has a high pass rate. Penn offers its own version of this exam, also with 12 patient encounters taking up the same amount to time, but with a higher fail rate. I passed this Penn rendition in April of this year, so I have not been stressing about Step 2 CS. Many of my friends took it in the spring of their fourth year, and a lot programs only require that you complete the exam prior to graduation.
I had some trouble finding a window to take the exam and, as I was trying to cram as much as possible into the fall semester, I opted for a January test date. Not 24 hours after I realized my application gaffe (in the middle of the night, actually, while feeding Evie), I discovered what I also should have noted months ago during my research into programs: that one of my programs requires the results of Step 2 CS long before I’ll be notified of my results. (You can imagine the behavior that ensued at, oh, 4am. My husband is a saint, I tell you!)
So now John and I have this crazy email alert system set up, ready to pounce on the next available test, in case someone bails last minute. (Hey, if you feel like giving up a test date, will you let me know? I bake!) I might just fly to L.A. or Houston (two of the random cities other than Philly where the test is offered) on a moment’s notice if need be.
On the plus side, my lucky suit (my only suit), which did not fit so well around my birthing hips when we left for Charlottesville, miraculously fits again now. And not a moment too soon; my first interview is this Wednesday! The bad news is that I have one day to get it cleaned and a hem fixed. I frantically whizzed to the mall during nap time today to buy pumps and hose, and am now starting to feel a bit more prepared. (Pumps: still not a comfortable shoe.)
And then there’s this, sent by my love to cheer me up, in response to the question, “What would you like to tell mommy”: