so many feelings

12 Oct

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”:


10 Responses to “so many feelings”

  1. Cynthia October 13, 2014 at 1:58 am #

    Hi Anna,
    Your post brought me back to last year when I was the one going through the same situation. Something very helpful was to forward every email with the word “interview” to my pager. That way I knew immediately when I had received an interview and could schedule a date ASAP, which as you know can fill up pretty fast! Here is how:

    Best of luck!

    • annaojesus October 13, 2014 at 3:00 am #

      Hi Cynthia!

      Oh goodness, so helpful! Thank you so much for both the advice and the luck!

      I hope you’re well!

  2. eklinman October 13, 2014 at 2:51 am #

    Anna. BREATHE. You will be FINE. Also, I hate pumps.

    • annaojesus October 13, 2014 at 3:01 am #

      Ha! That’s what my mentor at CHOP told me as well (“breathe,” that is 🙂 )–great minds. Thank you!

      And, yes, why professional shoes (both men’s and women’s) are so uncomfortable is beyond me!


  3. aliceed October 13, 2014 at 10:36 am #


  4. ericrosoff October 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    First interview! good luck – not that you need it.

    I actually did the Step 2 CS email alert thing under the same exact circumstances, and I handled it similarly to Cynthia with interview emails. I setup gmail to forward certain messages via text to my phone and was able to pounce on a new step 2 date pretty easily. People change their day all the time, and I don’t think you’ll have trouble getting a sooner one. The one plus side is that despite the fact it is an expensive test, it is not expensive to change the date in this situation (free when I did it).

  5. Amber October 13, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Hi Anna! I love reading your blog. I’m a 4th year with 2 kids (5 &7) applying in Family Medicine. I love your real takes on juggling parenting and med school. I wish there were more moms in med school!

    I had to chime in on this post so you know you are not alone! I recently found out that my school had not uploaded my transcript until 2 weeks after I submitted my ERAS. As you found, some programs had not even considered my application because of this, because they had not gone back to see if the application was complete! Anyway, I ended up sending a “Hi, I love your program because X, Y, Z. What is the status of my application?” e-mail to my top programs I had not heard from and most of the programs acted pretty promptly to get me scheduled for an interview. Whew! (I think it was too late for one of my top programs, but ~breathe~ the rest worked out fine).

    Did you love Charlottesville? I’m interviewing there in the near future. I’ve heard great things about the city, looking forward to learning more about the Family Med program.

  6. shamaness22 October 14, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Just wanted to send some positive energy your way. Hope all gets taken care of according to your plans! Thanks again for sharing.


  1. the unmatched | anna in med school - April 5, 2015

    […] I received from both Penn and UVA during my away rotation also helped guide me.  If you remember, I made some mistakes during the application process.  But here are what I would consider the top three things I did […]

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