Laurie Griesinger ’17, a native of South Bend, Indiana, hit the residency interview trail this year, with her sights set on a residency in pathology. Like thousands of her peers, she has interviewed in locations across the country in the months leading up to Match Day on March 17. No two journeys are alike, however. In the Q&A that follows, Griesinger shares some of the things she learned about herself, as well as some practical advice about parking garages and what to make sure to have in your purse, all gleaned during her months of travel and interviewing.
How many interviews did you do?
I applied to 17 programs, and was a bit surprised when I got offers from all 17. Initially I was going to try to do 15, but whittled that down to 12 interviews. They are a lot more exhausting than I thought they would be! I had four in one week (mostly in Chicago, so not a lot of traveling), and that was one of the most exhausting weeks I’ve ever experienced.
How did you decide where to apply?
I talked a lot with my advisor at the Larner College of Medicine about my career goals and what I was looking for, and decided to mostly apply to the bigger academic programs, which narrowed my list down. Also, being from the Midwest, I had a few cities that I had visited and was very interested in living in, so I made sure to apply to programs in those cities as well.
What are you looking for in terms of a place to complete your residency? Long term, what’s your career goal?
I’m looking for a place near my family, hence the strong emphasis on the upper Midwest. Some things I’m looking for in general are a collaborative atmosphere both within the resident cohort and between residents and attendings, a high volume of diverse cases, and plenty of teaching opportunities either at an attached medical school or just within the pathology department. My long term career goal is to work in an academic hospital where I can be involved with teaching residents and teaching at a medical school. Since this is my goal, I am looking for places that offer ample research opportunities for residents. I am also most interested in gynecologic pathology, so I am looking for places that are well-known for their gyn path, and either offer a gynecologic pathology fellowship or have strong connections to a place that offers one.
What have you learned through the process of interviewing for residency? Any tips or advice?
Some things that I’ve learned – never pass up a proffered bathroom break, because a lot of times people are going to forget that those aren’t built into your day; always have questions ready in your mind to ask to avoid looking uninterested (which can be really difficult but particularly important when mentally exhausted); and pay very close attention to how the current residents interact with and treat each other and to how they talk about their program, because you can really learn a lot about the culture that way.
Also, I have started to carry a small pharmacy in my purse that I bring to interviews with me. During my incredibly exhausting week of four interviews I was hit with a migraine mid-interview day and had nothing with me to take for it, but for some reason didn’t feel like I could tell anyone there about it, so I had to finish out the day with a splitting headache and brain fog. I’ve also had to deal with seriously chapped lips, sinus congestion and allergies (due to rapidly changing weather with changing locations so frequently). So now I have all sorts of things in my purse for all of these situations.
Lastly, I have started to take the signs in parking garages telling you to write down your location seriously. While in Chicago, I was running late for an interview due to traffic, so I just parked and ran without noting anything except the floor I was on and the general surroundings. Little did I know, there were four identical towers in the garage. At the end of my interview day I entered through a different tower, thinking it was the same place, and was convinced my car had been towed or stolen. The people in the office assured me they didn’t tow and that car theft was highly unlikely, so I had to ride around the entire garage in a golf cart with a man working in maintenance until I found my car. He said he has to do that two to three times a day, so I felt a little less silly, but now I ALWAYS write down where I’ve parked.
Read more about Griesinger and several of her classmates in a photo essay on the fourth year of medical school, coming out in the spring 2017 issue of Vermont Medicine.