Posted in Education, Health, medical school

Data Gathering During a Patient Encounter Made Easy

A Peek into How Doctors Think – An Introduction to “Columns”

Anyone who is on their path to becoming a successful physician needs to be able to take a good history and perform a thorough physical.  However in this day and age, patient care is performed in a very speedily process and thus the boards test a medical student on how succinctly they can perform a patient history.

Thus students and licensed medical providers need to be adept at “data gathering” no matter what the patient presents with.  Our job is to figure out what’s going on, no matter how difficult the task, and do so quickly.  So how do we accomplish this?

We start by looking at the cause and then breaking down what could be occurring resulting in that cause, or in other words, forming a differential diagnosis.  So if someone has chest pain, one may form a differential consisting of heart attack, pericarditis and costochondritis. But other issues may be at play such as a pneumonia or an esophagitis.

So when we look at a person with chest pain, we consider all the body parts or causes that could be causing the symptoms.

Hence with a patient presenting with chest pain, one would consider a cardiovascular cause, pulmonary cause, gastrointestinal cause, musculoskeletal cause, and even psychiatric cause.

This is the basis of forming one’s columns. For every chief complaint we form columns either mentally or on paper and then ask associated symptoms (or pertinent positives or negatives) to determine which column we’re in.  Usually a few “power questions” will help discriminate which column you are in. Once you hit the correct column you will ask further questions along that line.

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True there are many more questions we could ask than just the “power questions,” but during a time crunch we need to ask very specific ones to determine if we are on the right track.  If we receive multiple “no”s along a column, we know to move onto the next column.

Hence if a patient with chest pain denies dizziness and diaphoresis or sternal pain upon palpation but admits to cough, shortness of breath and sputum production, we have just narrowed down the chest pain patient to a pulmonary cause as opposed to assuming it was cardiac in nature. Then we would continue down the pulmonary column, thinking our differential may be a pneumonia/bronchitis/pulmonary embolism, and ask about hemoptysis, fever, chills, etc.

So for each patient one must create columns depending on the chief complaint and then ask power questions to help focus down your differential.

Now these columns can also assist with the physical exam component of data gathering.  If the above patient presenting with chest pain could have a cardiac/pulmonary/GI/musculoskeletal condition, one would examine his heart, lungs, upper abdomen and palpate the sternum and ribs.

For an added bonus, the columns can additionally assist one in forming their differential for the SOAP note. 

Chest pain r/o

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis           
  • PE
  • MI
  • GERD
  • Costochondritis

If a case involves a not so clear-cut symptom, columns could be used as well.

For example a patient presenting with hair loss.  If one complains of hair loss, a variety of differentials could be at play.  One column could be an endocrinology source (such as hypothyroidism or diabetes), another could be psychological (such as stress or trichotillomania), a third could be medications (such as chemotherapy agents), and a fourth could include genetics.  Narrowing these down with power questions could exclude non-contributing columns.

So whether it’s a direct body system or cause, columns help one focus down the differential and allow an easy visual that enables one during a timed test to think quickly and know which questions to ask.

Again these columns are instituted after the History of Present Illness in which a student obtains onset/chronology, palliative/provocative factors, quality of symptoms, radiation, severity and timing (OPQRST).

They will be written down in the SOAP note after the HPI.  

Example:  Mary is a 25-year-old female presenting with acute onset right foot pain.  It began 6 hours ago after she went for a job. Ice provides some relief but walking on it worsens the pain.  The pain is sharp, constant with a severity of 7/10. She denies fever, chills, open wounds, swelling, redness, temperature changes, numbness or tingling.

Since during this step in the history most medical students find it challenging to know “which questions to ask.”  The columns and power questions simplify this.

To learn this method to improve one’s data gathering skills click here.


Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Education, Employment, Health, Millennials, news

Personal Statement For Residency: Tips on Making a Great Impression

The trials and tribulations incurred during medical school culminate during one’s 4th year when they need to go on their biggest interview of their life: their residency interview.  But as with most interviews, one needs an excellent resume (CV) and cover letter to walk in the door.

Hence a student’s “Personal Statement” is what completes the package that is presented to residency directors who choose your fate.

An advantage to this is that it provides an opportunity to personalize your application, which unfortunately can look very itemized during the application process.

In communication we are successful when we use the “Three E’s.”  These stand for Engage, Educate and Enlist.  You engage a person by garnering their attention, then once you have their attention you educate them, and once they are educated you can enlist them (such as rank me for your residency).

So what makes a good personal statement?


The length of your personal statement should be approximately one page.  This gives you 5-8 paragraphs to tell your story without boring one to death.  You don’t want to be too short and sweet but rather to the point and hammer your message home without getting into trouble saying too much later.

Open with a grab, but don’t choke them…

The average person puts down an article, book, essay within the first sentence if it doesn’t catch them.  So avoid opening your personal statement with “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor…”  Putting your future residency director to sleep seven words in prevents him from remembering your application and choosing you for his program.

So instead you should focus on a personal story that led to your resolve to dedicate your life to others.  Examples of this include:

My decision to pursue medicine began when I came to the United States with my family to start a new life……

The art of medicine compels one to study the canvas before haphazardly wielding a paintbrush.  I learned this when……

But don’t be too flowery. Get to the point early on in your first paragraph on how life experiences affected your decision to pursue medicine and the specific specialty for which you’re applying.

Which brings us to….

Know your specialty

If you are planning to pursue a career in Family Medicine, don’t discuss how you want to become a “Jack of all Trades.”  This isn’t what family medicine is about.  Just as the specialty of surgery isn’t all about “cutting.”  Let them know in your statement that you get it by saying something like…..

Understanding the wide range of pathologies that may affect a patient of any age is paramount to becoming an excellent family physician.

Being an advocate for my female patients and enabling them to bring life into this world attracted me to the field of obstetrics and gynecology.

Show you’re a team player

The residency director, who’s interviewing you, needs to know you play well with others.  The team with which you will work includes senior residents, attendings, nurses, ancillary staff and administrators to name a few.  So incorporate in your letter how you are cognizant of how a patient’s success is dependent on a hospital’s “team approach.”

Avoid negativity

Avoid insulting other specialties or specialists…which may occur inadvertently when describing why you chose your specialty.  For example, in one personal statement I edited, the student wrote, “I didn’t want to be a doctor who just cuts, so I chose primary care instead.”  

A better approach would be, “I found being a front-line provider, making the initial decisions in a patient’s care, to be exciting.”

Do your research

Most students begin their personal statement at the end of their third year, when actually it’s during your third year when you can gain much insight into how to write it. So questions you may want to ask your preceptor are:

How do you define family medicine (or the specific specialty)?

How did you come to decide to pursue medicine?

What do you look for in a personal statement?

If you could give me any advice on what to include in my personal statement what would that be?

Additionally, ask your clinical education department for resources or examples of good personal statements.  Prior graduates who secured their top five choices may have offered their personal statements to the medical school for others to use as a guide.

Have a format

Even though personal statements vary in length, creativity, subject matter and prose,  there is a general format most appear to follow.

Part 1 – your eye-catching opener that gives the program director a glimpse into your passion, personality, and plan (entering the field of ……).

Part 2 – a patient case or moment in your past that led you to forming this educated decision to pursue a specific specialty.  Don’t go into too many specifics regarding the patient due to HIPPA, and make sure your decision to pursue a particular field was not done on a whim or at the last minute before fourth year.

Part 3 – explain why you would be a good candidate for their residency program.  What makes you a good student, doctor, leader, team player, educator (you will be teaching medical students) and person.  Don’t itemize every accomplishment on your CV, but highlight some of your finest accomplishments and strengths.

Part 4 – after you’ve engaged and educated the reader, you are ready to enlist them.  The final portion of your personal statement reinforces why you are an excellent candidate for their program and how your goals are aligned with theirs in terms of providing good patient care, educating others, and giving back to your community.  This is also where you can suggest what you are looking for in a residency program, such as one that offers research opportunities.

Remember to end the personal statement with a note of gratitude, such as, “Thank you for considering my application to your residency program.”  A piece of humble pie goes along way.

Have it edited

When you have completed your personal statement, make sure you have someone else read it and find any grammatical and spelling errors.  Although most residency directors do not expect you to be a professional linguist, errors in one’s statement may suggest that you are haphazard, inattentive, have a lack of care for details, or lazy.

So in summary, being given the opportunity to market yourself is a gift.  So don’t put it off until the last minute and pray one draft does the trick.  Write this as it’s the most important 500 – 800 words of your life….


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.


Posted in drugs, Education, Health, news, opioids, sex, suicide

Is Your Teen in Trouble? Your Guide to Their Code Words

This generation of teens communicates differently from any others as smartphone technology has outpaced the normal evolution of day-and-age vernacular. As a result, adolescents use abbreviations and emojis to convey their thoughts while parents and society scramble to catch up.

What Are They Saying? Your Guide to Teen Slang

However, within these bite-size “codes” could be volumes of meaning, some delineating at risk behavior, some foreboding suicide.  These codes many times come from the letters that correspond to the key pad on a phone.  So here’s a guide to some of the unfamiliar terminology the young ‘uns are using:



text night.jpg

  • NIFOC – nude in front of computer
  • CU46 – see you for sex
  • 8 – “ate” used in discussions on oral sex
  • 831 – I love you – “eight letters, three words, one you/meaning”
  • 143 – I love you (denotes letters on keypads, or #’s of letters in each word (love has 4 letters)
  • 2N8, 2NTE – tonight
  • 4AO – four adults only
  • 2B@ – to be at
  • 4EAE – for ever and ever
  • 53X – sex
  • 775 – kiss me
  • ?^ – hook up?
  • BAE – before anyone else
  • IWSN – I want sex now
  • ITX – intense text sex
  • NP4NP – naked pic for naked pic
  • 1174 – strip club





  • < 3 – broken heart or heart
  • 182 – I hate you (1 stands for “I”, 8 stands for “hate”, 2 stands for “you”)
  • 2G2BT – Too good to be true
  • 2M2H – Too much to handle
  • Blarg, Blargh – similar to “darn” but deeper
  • Butthurt – receiving a personal insult
  • Salty – being bitter about something or someone
  • Watered – feeling sad, hurt
  • Wrecked – messed up
  • 4FS – For F***’s Sake
  • Poof – disappearing
  • ::poof:: – I’m gone
  • Ghost – disappear
  • 555555 – sobbing, crying one’s eyes out
  • ADIH – another day in Hell
  • KMN – kill me now
  • VSF – very sad face
  • KMS – kill myself
  • KYS – kill yourself
  • 187 – homicide


Drugs/Risky Behavior (to be revisited more in depth)


  • 420 – marijuana
  • 420 – let’s get high
  • A/S/L/P – age/sex/location/picture
  • A3 – anytime, anyplace, anywhere
  • LMIRL – lets meet in real life
  • WYRN – what is your real name?
  • Chrismas tree – marijuana
  • Catnip – marijuana
  • Gold – drugs
  • Gummy Bears – drugs
  • Blues/Bananas – narcotics
  • Bars – benzodiazepines
  • Smarties/Skittles – Adderall/Ritalin
  • Ski Equipment/Yayo– cocaine
  • Cola – cocaine
  • Candy/Chocolate Chips/Sweets/Smarties/E – ecstasy
  • Crystal Skull/Wizard – synthetic marijuana
  • Hazel – heroin
  • Gat – gun/firearm
  • Lit – getting high/drunk
  • Smash(ed) – getting drunk, stoned, or having sex


Parents nearby


  • 9 – parent is watching
  • 99 – parent is not watching anymore
  • P911 – parent alert (parent 911)
  • PAL – parents are listening
  • PAW – parents are watching
  • POS – parents over shoulder
  • AITR – adult in the room
  • CD9 – code 9 – parents in the room
  • KPC – keep parents clueless
  • RU/18 – are you over 18


And the above is just a small sample of some of the terms used these days.  This list continues to grow by the day so parents need to always be aware.  Kids want to KPC and avoid POS so be ready for the next group of codes being created as we speak……



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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.


Posted in Education, Health, Millennials, news

Finals Week: Your Survival Guide

Millions of high school, college and graduate students are entering the most stressful time of the semester: Final’s Week.  Here’s your guide to getting through it:

Map out your strategy

Your time is divisible so grab a calculator and aliquot into equal periods.  Make sure you have extra sessions included for breaks and catch up sessions.  Or you can use a calendar that is already compartmentalized on which to create your timetable.



Clean your desk!

A nice clean, crisp desk with plenty of pens and highlighters helps energize one more than cluttered paper.  Moreover have a second work space you can go to when you get sick of working at your desk.




Now this is easier said than done. Some will put their hardest classes on their study calendar first, some the easiest.  There are pros and cons to both. What I suggest is alternating difficult and easy subjects.  You need the start of your day and initial power hours knocking out the difficult material, but then the easier classes will boost your confidence and sometimes energy.  So one option could be:

  • Study block 1:  Tough subject
  • Study block 2:  Easy subject
  • Study block 3:  Medium subject
  • Hour 4:  Review
  • With breaks, of course, in between.


Take real breaks!

You should design two types of breaks: Short and Long.

Your short break should be no shorter than 10 minutes.  During the break you must do the following:

  • Get up and stretch
  • Drink water
  • Eat a small snack
  • Go to the bathroom
  • Listen to some music, dance, phone a friend


Your long break should be no shorter than 45 minutes.  During these breaks you can:

  • Eat a regular meal, if due, and drink plenty of fluids
  • Take a small nap
  • Take a shower – helps refresh and energize
  • Check social media – stick to your time limit though!
  • Watch a 30 minute episode of your favorite sitcom
  • Exercise such as going for a run




Identify signs of burnout

If you’re “going through the motions” of studying and feel “burnt” you won’t be absorbing the material and subsequently you’ll be wasting precious hours.  You must identify burnout by looking for the following:

  • Apathy
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor sleep when you get done in the evening
  • Negative attitude towards school and others
  • Procrastinating your next study block
  • Being irritated
  • Feeling empty
  • Low energy
  • Thinking about quitting




How to avoid burnout

When studying for finals it’s difficult to avoid the boredom and stress, but the following may help:

  • Study with friends
  • Mix up your study sessions with videos and flash cards if reading gets overwhelming
  • Watch a short funny video to get you laughing
  • Take regular breaks
  • Make sure you’re eating and sleeping well




Finals week is never supposed to be easy so accept it and own it!  But put your health first since you can always make up a test……


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Education, Employment, Health, news

Woman Arrested After Passing Gas and Then Pulling Knife on Offended Bystander

Embarrassment many time leads to violence.

This week a woman who was embarrassed by a remark after she passed gas pulled a knife, threatening to “gut” him.


37-year-old Shanetta Wilson was standing in line at the Dollar General Store in Broward County, Florida, when she let loose some loud gas.  When a man confronted her on how loud it was, she allegedly pulled a knife out of her purse, threatened she would “gut” him and appeared to lunge.  She was arrested with a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (the knife, not the fart).




Does embarrassment lead to violence?

One of the most undercited reasons for violence is embarrassment.  Violence that ensues after one is fired, rejected, ousted or expelled appears to occur fairly often.

Last year in the same county, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by Nicholas Cruz, who was previously expelled by the school.

Last month a man rejected by his fiancée killed her and two others at a Chicago hospital.

In August a 14 year-old Oklahoma teen stabbed a 16 year-old 11 times after she rejected his request for a relationship.

Now, most likely many of these soon-to-be-violent individuals are rejected due to their odd behaviors.  However, the time surrounding the “embarrassment” may be the most dangerous.

Hence society’s approach to stopping domestic and workplace violence may need to tap in on key times that surround one’s expulsion.



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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada

Posted in Education, Health, news

Teachers Need to Evolve to Avoid “Losing” Their Students

Recently in education, more teachers admit to struggling to engage and connect with this generation of students.  If they fail to engage, they can’t “capture” them to educate their minds.  If the students don’t feel educated, they won’t be enlisted to self-study, or come back for more.

The Three E’s in Communication: Engage, Educate and Enlist


And maybe this has always been an issue for our professors, but if one doesn’t understand their audience, they risk having a failed performance.


Millennials (Generation Y) and Generation Z’s Expect Communication

Those born between 1981 and 1995 comprise the “Millennials” and those born after 1995 are called “Generation Z.”  Those born before 1980 are known as Generation X, and those born before 1960 are considered “Baby Boomers.”

The Generation Y’s and Z’s differ greatly from their older counterparts.


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Communication is huge in the newer generations with insult taken if the communications aren’t received and responses aren’t given.  Whereas in my age group (Generation X) we could pretend we weren’t by a phone or hadn’t listened to our message machine yet, Y’s and Z’s are expected to have received the text even if they don’t have time to read it.

Thus, if a teacher doesn’t listen to their concerns or respond to their emails, they will “lose” them.

Younger Students WANT to Stand Out

When I went to school, the best strategy was to “lay low” and not demonstrate your ignorance, unless of course you could be the one privileged student to earn “teacher’s pet.”  Our odds were better at success if we stayed within the herd.

The younger generations, however, aren’t of the “herd” mentality and want to stand out.  They understand that competition is fierce and unless they make themselves known, or be seen as unique, they will be skipped over in a heartbeat.


Therefore, teachers and professors shouldn’t with this generation of students “teach to the flock”, but rather have lessons and activities that allow each to own it and demonstrate their skills.

They may want to connect with you as a mentor

Older professors may be reluctant to have open-door policies or one-on-one conversations with their students. However, what we must realize is many of these students are lonely.  They are surrounded by social media “peeps” all day long that they may lack meaningful interactions and strong relationships.  “Brotherhood” and “Sisterhood” are terms we don’t hear nowadays…. again, they aren’t the “herd” generation.  So be open to them wanting to discuss educational or meaningful topics with you that they can’t do with their “friends.”



The student crunched for time doesn’t want your opinion, they want facts

This generation is bombarded by opinion 24/7 on their phone and social media news feeds.  Hence if they have one hour with you, they need to be convinced that what you’re teaching isn’t another “opinion.”  If there is more than one way to skin a cat, you can convey that, but they will need to be convinced that you aren’t just dishing your own preferences, unless of course they revere you and feel your opinion is the one that matters.



We need to earn their respect

In the olden days, being a teacher or professor was one of the  most revered professions because everyone in society needed us at some point in their schooling.  Now, however, being a professor may not come with all the glory as the internet supplies many teaching tools and sometimes more effectively than what we can do in a classroom.

Therefore earn their respect early on.  How?

  1.  Consider learning their names, especially at the college and graduate levels. It can have great benefits when engaging your students.
  2. Respond to their questions, emails promptly
  3. Individualize lesson plans and activities
  4. Know your material
  5. Give the student something they can’t get from an internet read on the same subject, such as connecting the material to real life situations.
  6. Recognize each as an individual with special talents, and if the student is struggling, embrace their strengths and redirect lessons.
  7. Put yourself in their shoes and understand they are frightened of graduating with no job in sight.




What should teachers avoid doing?

  1. Ignoring emails, messages by the students
  2. Turfing students off to other professors.  If you don’t know the answer, let the student know but offer willingness to help if the student can’t find it from another professor.
  3. The “you’re on your own” mentality. This drives students crazy and alienates them.
  4. Appear you hate your job.  Students will pick up on it and carry on the negative energy.  If you’re burned out consider a vacation or change in professions.
  5. Teaching students in 2019 the same way you taught in 2007.  Students are different and face completely different challenges than their older classmates.  They are also a visual generation and benefit more from visualizing how the material works rather than reading a paragraph.

We have the most blessed opportunity to help the next generation navigate through this world.  Let’s make sure we’re teaching to them by evolving with them.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada




Posted in Education, Health, students

Interview Tips for Residency Programs

Thousands of medical students are hitting the final stretch of their medical school education and beginning to embark on one of the most critical times of their career…choosing a residency and applying for a position.

Despite one’s academic prowess, however, the interview could make or break an applicant.

Therefore, let’s get you ready for the biggest job interview of your life.




Know your audience

Every residency program is different. And each one has defining elements.  So don’t make the assumption that all hospitals, doctors, staff and teaching programs are the same.

Do your research before your interview, and know inside and out what makes them tick.

  • The services they offer that other institutions don’t
  • The type of community they serve
  • Current research studies
  • What are they known to have excelled at or trail-blazed

It might even help to read up on the program director and see what he/she published.

Why?? Because the first question they ask you is:

Why did you choose our residency?


Know the specialty you’re applying for

This may seem like a no-brainer but many students will, when nerves take over, cite  misconceptions or negative stereotypes of the field their entering.

For example one may cite during a surgical residency interview that they “Prefer cutting over figuring out what the patient has.”

Or during a family medicine interview say, “I don’t like working in the hospital,” or “I would rather be a Jack-Of-All-Trades, than specializing in one subject.”

These answers could make the interviewer cringe.  So the following examples may be better statements:

Surgery – “I enjoy working with both my mind and my hands when it comes to the vast amounts of pathology one sees as a surgeon.”

Family Medicine – “I enjoy working with the family as a unit and am excited to have the capability to treat those of all ages.”

Internal Medicine – “I’m fascinated by the complexity of cases seen in internal medicine and how the history and physical exams skills we learned in medical school can be just as accurate as the most powerful imaging study used when determining what is wrong with a patient.”

Pediatrics – “Children make me laugh and smile and to be able to do that every work day is a rarity in many professions and specialties.”


Remember it’s an interview

Dr. Thomas Hunt, Program Director, Valley Health System Family Medicine Residency Program, states:

Generally programs are looking for a good fit – fit to the specialty, culture, community, and mission of the program. Each program will weigh elements of your application differently, taking into account your transcripts, scores, letter of recommendation, etc. looking for candidates that best adhere to their “Ideal” resident.
That being said, the best advice I can give to students interviewing for residencies this season is to relax, be yourself, and remember that you are interviewing the program as much as they are interviewing you. Watch how the faculty, staff, and residents interact with one another and ask yourself “How do I see myself fitting into this program over the next 3 to 5 years? Is this what I am looking for? Will I be happy and thrive in this environment?”

So remember…. it’s an interview.  The reason why you are sitting before them is because they liked what they saw on paper but now they need to see you how you act, speak, and compose yourself in person.  So the same rules apply.




  • Thank them before and after the interview, using a handshake when appropriate
  • Dress professionally, but comfortably so you appear comfortable and professional
  • Avoid slang and overly wordy responses
  • Keep giggles to a minimum, even if they make a funny joke
  • Be respectful
  • Be gracious to everyone with whom you come into contact with that day from the security guard to the program director to the parking attendant
  • Be humble
  • If a question seems random, and you don’t know the answer, respond with, “That’s a good question, let me give some thought into my answer before I respond,” to provide you with some pause to collect your thoughts.


Why should they pick you?

Each program is being inundated with applications and your competition is fierce. However, don’t let that over-intimidate you.  The fact that you clutched an interview means you are already ahead of the pack.  Now you need to convince them they made the right choice in choosing to interview you.

  1.  Remark how appreciative you are in them giving you the opportunity to interview for such a highly coveted position.
  2. Highlight your strengths and how they can be of benefit to their residency
  3. If you are multilingual, don’t hold your tongue, let them know!
  4. If you did an audition rotation there and worked well with the residency team (less transitioning needed) remind them of how well you all worked together
  5. If your academics and board scores are strong it can enhance their test score average
  6. Some may straight up ask what three things make you valuable for their residency program
  7. You want to become apart of the community in which the residency resides and help continue their good work.

Many programs want to train those who will stay instate and provide much-needed care to their residents.  If you do plan on living in the state in which you train, make sure you let them know!

Will they try to trip you up?

The short answer….No.   Program directors don’t have time to waste by choosing applicants and then scaring them off or tricking them into performing badly.

However, they are going to want to get to know you.  Residents and their attendings are committed to working with each other anywhere from 3-5 years and your future boss wants to know you can make the cut and work well with others.  Don’t be afraid to show some personality but remember to be brief and continue to allow them control of the interview.

So what are some sample questions?

You might be asked any of the following:

  • Why did you choose our residency?
  • What made you choose this specialty?
  • How would you define our specialty?
  • What do you like about our institution?
  • What do you dislike about our program?
  • What sub-specialty are you interested in?
  • Where do you want to live once you graduate?
  • Do you work well with others?
  • Give me an example of when you had a conflict with a coworker and how did it get resolved.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Tell me about your research.
  • Tell me about your volunteer work.
  • Tell me about your community service.
  • Have you had any leadership roles?
  • Briefly touch upon some of your academic challenges.
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • How do you relieve stress?
  • Do you have family and friends who support your career choice?
  • Do you read books, and what book are you currently reading?
  • Describe a challenging patient case you’ve come across.
  • How would you approach a colleague who is abusing narcotics?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

For the final question, refrain from asking the interviewer questions that are easily answered on their website or catalog.  Use the opportunity to show off your interests whether it’s regarding what research, community partnership, or teaching opportunities exist.  You can also ask them what they like about the program, why they chose to teach there, and what they would like to see in terms of evolution and progress.

After the interview

You will thank them and shake their hand but when you return home send a thank you note for their time.  Don’t stress over how your interview went.  Most likely you performed better than you thought.  Moreover expect your skills to improve with each interview.  Some suggest to leave your favorite picks to the end until you gained more practice, however, some may argue to not allow the interviewer to get “applicant fatigue” such that by the time they meet you they have made their choice.

Practice with classmates or faculty if you need and remember to prepare.

Finally, realize that you have interacted with hundreds if not thousands of individuals in your lifetime whether they were students, patients or faculty and are very skilled at what you do.  If not you wouldn’t be about to graduate medical school.  You got this!! Crush it!


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.