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A Little Personality Goes a Long Way

Several months ago, most fourth year medical students were busy figuring out which residency programs would fit them the best. Whether it was by reading forums, talking to mentors, family members or friends; they were somewhere getting information about different residency programs.

When it comes to finding a residency program, we all know that if you are from an international medical school (IMG), your score will matter the most. For U.S. MDs with low scores – well they have the name of their school and their counselors to depend on. Doesn’t it seem like these exams are getting more difficult every year, yet the competition is getting stiffer? What about those of us who did not get “double 99” on our boards, or even worse, what if you had multiple attempts on your exam?  While there are many books out there giving advice on tangible ways to get the perfect residency, I want to remind you that you should not neglect your personality. Isn’t that the reason why there are interviews?

Some students are so engrossed with the idea of excellence that they often lose themselves while pursuing their path to residency. That competitive drive is so strong within them that they can destroy their peers along the way. Others are simply arrogant. During my clinical rotations, I have encountered all kind of students from whom I learn what not to do. Some students act like they own the hospital on the first day of their rotation, and others think they are the Attendings. My advice to you is to be humble.  Know that it is impossible for you to know everything – stay alert and be ready to learn something new every day. Understand that most of the nurses have been doing their jobs for many years and that they may know the protocols better than you.

As a student, you are not expected to be right most of the time – why else would the intern, resident, and attending always be around to supervise? You can impress them by being a good team player and by choosing the right management for your patients after studying your case.  Arguing with nurses or belittling your peers is not the right way.

Getting straight A’s in every class and a score of 99 on Step 1 and 2 should be the goal of every medical student. However, it’s not likely that everyone will achieve that goal. Until then, a humble personality and a positive attitude may not automatically get you the job at first, but it will get you in the front door, and sometimes that may be all you need to get to your destination.

by Alberto Marcelin, Class of 2011