(Nobody Loves me Like You – Chris Tomlin)
So yeah, you’ve seen me writing about having interviews coming up and you’ve seen me writing about the waiting after the interviews. The interviews themselves were missing. I’ve written the post about the lead up to the interviews and through the interviews inside my head a few times…but the words haven’t yet made it from mind to fingers. It is hard figuring out how to balance the things I want to say, the things I feel like I should say, and the things I know I shouldn’t say. Sure, I no longer have any actual restrictions on what I can say, but I am not stupid. I know that there is always the possibility that someone could find my blog, identify it as my own, and use my words against me, so especially when writing about my job search I try really hard to have that at the back of my head to remind me that if I would be super worried about my current past or future employer to read me words then I should rethink posting it. I don’t always actually have my brain turned on enough to actually do that and I am like 99% sure there are at least a few things on my blog that maybe would be offensive to someone in one of those three groups, but at least when my brain is functioning enough, I am thinking about that…anyway, all that to say I have written and re-written this post over and over in my head, but the one thing that has remained completely unchanged is the title of the post. I am at a point in life I never expected to be. If life had gone at least sort of according to plan, I would be either in a position I love, or finishing a PGY-2 while interviewing for the position of my dreams. Instead, I am *still* looking for a PGY-1. There are a lot of things that maybe could have changed my situation, but I am where I am, and I have to believe there is some reason for that…so yeah…story time.
I guess let’s start the week before my first interview. I kind of didn’t want anyone but my manager to know I was applying for residencies, because I didn’t want everyone to know when I failed…but as it turns out, by this point nearly everyone knew or had at least guessed…which I guess is understandable considering I went to Midyear, asked off every Monday and Friday in February and switched out of all my February weekends, and had applied every year…so yeah, two of my coworkers offered to do some mock interviewing work with me and I was scared, but I agreed. I had been practicing interviewing myself from a massive list of common interview questions for a long time, but oh how I know that actually having to say something in front of people is way different than practicing alone in my apartment, and plus it is always helpful to have people willing to tell you that is a dumb answer, try again. Also, and this will be important later in the story, I worked four unscheduled hours that week allowing me to take four fewer hours of PTO.
So…Monday comes. I eventually decide to go use my coupon that is about to expire for bananas and get some lemonade or something. Around lunchtime or so I walked outside. I made it maybe halfway across the parking lot before I realized I had already almost fallen numerous times and maybe it was too cold or a bad idea to go then. Getting back inside was interesting because I had to go uphill and was kinda sliding backwards. Later I figured it was probably better cleared and I was going. Umm, yeah, I basically shoe-skated down the sidewalk. It was fun-ish, until a couple times I almost was blown by the wind into the intersection. So I decided the side of the road was a better option – still slippery, but not a continuous sheet of ice. I was doing okay until I got to a spot where I had to use the sidewalk and it was icy and I was struggling to get across this one sidewalk square that was out to get me. Someone wanted to pick me up, but they were going the opposite direction I was and plus I also did not know them, so I definitely wasn’t getting in. Long story short, I eventually got home but I was kinda cold because my five mile walk took a LOT longer than I dressed for and my gloves got wet from sweat on the way there so on the way back they didn’t do much for keeping my hands warm.
That evening I got an opportunity to at least hint at the stress from my interviews coming up and then I looked up the weather. It said winter weather advisory, avoid travel if possible. I was kind of nervous, but I knew that even if I had to drive super slow I’d eventually make it where I was going, and the advisory area really only extended a few miles past where I live. That night I didn’t sleep super awesome because I was kind of sore, but whatev.
Tuesday the weather was updated to winter storm watch, travel only if you must. Also not what I wanted to hear. I was stressed out and really didn’t sleep much that evening.
Wednesday the weather was updated to blizzard warning, do not travel. I started trying to find a way to make the drive Wednesday evening instead of Thursday afternoon. I found somewhere to stay the night, but I had a problem. No one would switch off days with me. And my manager is the one that sends an email every time there is weather to make sure we all come, so I wasn’t going to get a day off there, and my integrity keeps me from going behind his back to one of the other managers. Everyone told me to just call in sick, but I wasn’t sick, so I couldn’t do that. So anyway, that evening I did some interview prep with my coworkers and I probably sounded like an idiot, but they were super nice and encouraged me to advocate for myself. I went home and finished packing.
In the morning, the weather forecast had been updated again. Now the blizzard warning extended most of the way to my destination. Just in case something weird happened I packed my blanket, extra food, mittens, boots, a headband, lots of extra clothes. Looking at the weather, it was supposed to transition from bad to worse around noon…all morning I was doing my work dreading the drive and using all my down time to watch the snow plow cams and the MNDot map turn from green (good roads) and blue (use caution) to pink (avoid travel) and purple(do not travel). While I do compulsively research things that make me nervous, it doesn’t really fix the situation…it kinda just makes me more nervous. Some of those plow cams looked not so bad, but others you really could see nothing.
I was very patiently awaiting my turn for lunch. One of my coworkers went down to central to grab something and while there was asked if she needed to leave early to get home safely. She already had plans to stay in town overnight, but reported back to me that I should ask. I was really brave and I asked if I could leave early. I probably threw off their plans since I am usually the person willing to do extra work to let people have time off or other places, but hearing where I was going they agreed. I felt bad for leaving when I knew that would make it harder for other people whether they were trying to leave or just trying to cover, especially since all of our critical access people that day were people who live far from the site they were covering…so yeah…I felt bad, but I was proud of advocating for myself. I left a little under four hours early and got to just cover that time with PTO…so thankful for those four hours of PTO I saved the week before.
I got every last bit of snow off my car that I possibly could knowing that more snow was going to accumulate on my drive, and I settled in for a long drive. I barely made it onto the freeway because there was so much snow that I was getting stuck and had to floor it a few times to keep moving forward. This was going to be a stressful drive. The next entrance ramp I tried to slam on my brakes because someone else seemed determined to drive exactly where I was driving. Luckily just in time they realized my car was not slowing down much if at all and managed to get out of my way. Visibility was not great. And maybe like 15 miles in my tire pressure light lit up. Perfect. It wasn’t like I could stop though…there were definitely times I could suddenly see and realized I was in a totally different lane than I started in. And one time when I hadn’t been able to see a whole car length in front of my in a while and was really hoping I was still on the road. Then there was a brief moment of clarity. I noticed in my rearview mirror that someone was almost literally on my bumper. And about the moment I was freaking out about that, I could see the realization in their eyes and they were kind of freaking out too. We didn’t collide. Eventually I had to get to an exit from the freeway I was on, onto a different one. I tried really hard to slow down enough to make the turn, and just barely made it down the ramp. That was fun. I found a gas station and stopped. The idea was to check my tire pressure…but it was wet and cold outside and I felt awkward because at this gas station the air compressor parking place doubled as a handicap parking place…and so I gave up. At this point, it has taken me a lot longer than it usually would take to get where I was going, but it is still WAY earlier than I expected to arrive and probably before check in time for the hotel…but I figure I can’t sit in the handicap parking place forever, so I might as well go the last few blocks to the hotel. At the hotel I struggle to find a legal place to park. After driving all over the place (and anyone looking out the windows probably thinking I was an idiot), I found a spot that may or may not have actually even been a parking spot, but at least wasn’t labelled do not park, so I figured good enough and walked into the hotel. The person at the front desk was super nice and had a room ready for me and let me know where they would prefer people to park during check in and gave me directions to the underground parking garage…
So back in my car it was…but a few trips later all my stuff made it to my hotel room. It was probably the nicest hotel room I have ever seen. Beautiful furniture (that actually looked clean and was made of materials that I trusted they actually could clean effectively), very thoughtfully laid out more like a nice apartment than like a hotel. Spacious, and with basically anything one could need overnight available. My only real complaint was that the clock had a very short cord and was tethered to one specific outlet so there was no way to get it close enough to the bed to actually see it from the bed….well, I guess two complaints: and the clock didn’t have a radio feature, but neither of those complaints are really a big deal.
I could have used my time to prepare for the interview the more traditional way, but I was stressed out, so instead I wasted time on the internet. I call it preparing by minimizing stress…because I know stress steals my ability to effectively communicate. I also realized I was starving and hadn’t had lunch yet, so at like 3 something I was eating my lunch. About the time I finished that, the hotel was serving soup. I went down in the elevator. You know you have/had social anxiety when you are super duper proud of yourself for meeting someone in the elevator. Yep, I may have failed to acquire her name, but I did find out what she was staying there for, so not a total fail. The soup was actually pretty good. If I’d been staying longer I probably would have brought some up to my room for a snack another day, but I was getting to the point where I was too stressed out to even really eat, so I didn’t really need anything for right then…especially since I hadn’t finished lunch that long ago anyway.
I got as far as sorting through my things to find what I needed for the interview and start putting the rest of my things at least near my suitcase if I wasn’t going to need them. I kinda sorta tried to practice for the interview, but I was tired (remember I haven’t really slept more than a few hours since Monday) so I set two alarms and went to bed. Seeing as how I had used neither alarm before I was a little nervous about them and was awake once every one to two hours to check the time. Which is good, because I would never have woken up to my phone alarm, and I am not really sure about the clock alarm, because I turned it off before it even had a chance to go off. I figured since the interview started at 6:55 I should probably get ready first and check email and facebook and stuff later. So I started getting ready and just my luck, in the shower a nosebleed started. Uggh. I didn’t want the interview to start with me holding a nosebleed, so I really really needed it to stop. I did not want to shower and get ready one-handed, but I definitely couldn’t risk prolonging it by just letting it bleed while I did things. So yeah. That derailed my plans. I remembered from the high school nurse that sometimes ice on the back of your neck can help some people stop bleeding. It would have been worth a try, except that there was no ice in the freezer and I wasn’t totally sure the ice maker was even hooked up since there was a note on the fridge that there was an ice maker down the hall…so yeah…everything takes longer when you have to do it one handed and work around trying to get access to whatever shoulder is currently entrapped. Eventually I was dressed, made up, clothes folded, and mostly packed up and had maybe 25 minutes left before the interview. Luckily, the bleeding had pretty much stopped. I knew I was taking a risk by not continuing to put pressure on it a little longer, but girl’s got stuff to get done! So I packed up my car then got checked out, and by that time I was cutting it super close to make a bathroom run and be in the lobby in time for the interview. I just barely made it…which means that I didn’t have time to check out the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Bummer. It also means I didn’t have any morning internet time, so I was just really hoping there wasn’t anything important on there…
Compared to that, the rest of the interview wasn’t too bad 🙂
The presentation was a lot shorter than it was when I practiced and there wasn’t much eye contact, but I wasn’t rushing, just leaving stuff out…
The question and answer time actually left me wanting more…I had practiced so much stuff to say and there were only like three questions for me, but I was so glad that they were willing to coach me towards the answers they were actually looking for when my answer left them wanting more. It was a huge relief that there was only one hour of question/answer, but I realized that the problem is that a single hour of that is not enough for me to feel like they even know me at all. I think they liked me, but I really don’t know…
The case was not ideal…I tried really hard, but it was infectious disease…and I do not like infectious disease. Again though, they were willing to help me out. Soon it was time to go see the downtown area and have dinner. I felt like I was really awkward. Also, it felt like my winter coat Velcro was making little pulls and runs in my clothing. Also, the resident had my juice bottle in her backpack. I forgot about that until I was on the road like 10 minutes away…bummer. So yeah, anyway, once they dropped me off back at the hotel I went to my car and tried to check the tire pressures. One was 17 and another was 25, but the other two I couldn’t get the caps off no matter what I tried. I really didn’t want to go to the gas station again, and considering I could only actually fill two tires I decided against it and headed to my parents house. The hotel parking garage is super frustrating to get out of – you have to get out of your car multiple times to open gates. It seems like it would make way more sense and probably be safer to either have them motion activated or at least install some way to open them from your car…but no one asked my opinion.
The road I drove on is probs my new favorite road ever though. It has signs ever so often that say stuff like “concentrate on driving” and I’m like hey, how did you know I was not focused?! My new phone isn’t bright enough to use as a flashlight so my directions were useless. They were also useless because the exit they told me to get off on I am pretty sure doesn’t exist, but I found a road name I recognized and figured I’d just take roads I recognized until I got there…and it might not have been the most direct way, but it worked, though also taking longer than it could have because although I could see, it was slippery.
So I tried on some stuff to pick out an interview for Monday then me and my daddy went to the gas station with the fancy air compressor. We had to wait a long time for my turn and I had to move my car twice because some jerk who I’m sure could see that I was trying to use the machine parked in the spot right next to the machine, thus blocking my access to one side of my car…as it turns out, also, my dad had to borrow pliers from the store to get the caps off the tires, so it isn’t that I was too dumb to do it myself!! Then we got home and my parents hadn’t started packing for their trip yet (that they were leaving for at 3am) so they did that while I laid on their bed watching…
So I went to bed about an hour late around maybe 10pm, and I woke up around 4:55am. I figured I didn’t really need an alarm for 5 minutes so I didn’t bother. Yeah, so I woke up again at 8am. I mean, yeah, I was behind on sleep, but that isn’t my usual normal. I missed a day or two of iron though…and I’d been drinking milk so I think that is the biggest problem, because when life seemed like a big fog and I couldn’t figure out why I tested super low for hemoglobin, and when I started taking iron, eventually the fog seemed to fade…but when iron is really low, dairy intake is actually recommended to be avoided because it can greatly decrease the amount of iron your body can absorb. My guess would be that I am right at the tipping point of the teeter totter with my intake so if I consistently have iron and don’t have milk I am doing okay, but as soon as one of those things slips I struggle, so both at once was too much for my body to handle. But anyway, I had two bottles of conditioner in my bags but couldn’t find either and obvs didn’t have time to keep looking since by 8 my plans were to already be headed towards the car. So I showered and got ready for the day and got in my car and prayed that I could figure out how to get to my friend’s house without directions…and I did it and thanked God for a friend that tends to run late so that I could ride with her instead of trying to drive to yet another new place. It was super awesome to catch up and stuff.
And I was exhausted hashtag see previous paragraph and was practically asleep most of the rest of the day. In the evening though, I figured it was time to get ready for the next interview and discovered that not only did I leave my directions behind at home which I ended up printing new directions at work and hoping they were good enough since I didn’t have time to check them, but I also left all my notes and stuff at home, so I had pretty much nothing to go off of in preparing for the site specific aspects of the interview and had to start over…oh joy…I eventually ended up with some stuff that was far from perfect but was probably good enough…
So yeah. Sunday was great. I wasn’t running quite so late in the morning, but just my luck, I had another nosebleed that started in the shower. Yep…it is definitely time to at least *think* about an ENT appointment while trying to figure out if two in a weekend is really just that I didn’t do a good job the first time or if it is time to consider treatment options again if this is going to keep happening. Church itself was good. The roads were super slippery and I wondered why I go to a church so far away, but I got to do the kids for the first hour then attend the service and I got to sit by my best friend. People are super important to me. I couldn’t get up the driveway at home and got stuck in the middle. Later I tried to shovel. I am not good at it especially because the snow was up to my boots, but eventually I got enough snow cleared under and around my car to be able to move it, and eventually my brother came out to help finish up.
And then there was Monday. It would have made way too much sense to scrape off the car the night before or at least before I got dressed for the interview, so I had to do that in the morning. I left WAY earlier then could possibly have been necessary – even in the snow storms two years ago it never took longer than like 45 minutes to drive to the student parking and walk a few blocks from there to the hospital…and the roads Monday morning were at least a bit better. So I gave myself way more time than I thought it should take, expecting that I’d arrive WAY too early and have time to prepare for the interview and finish that with still too much time to try to figure out what to do with myself…like I expected to have more than even an extra hour…haha funny story, I got on the freeway and was going about 2mph. That is not a typo. Single digits. I kept thinking that traffic is always worse in the cities metro area and it was going to be fine – I just wasn’t used to traffic anymore…but eventually I realized I had like 45 minutes until the interview started and I was kind of panicking about what to do. Shortly after this, I heard on the radio that there was an accident partially blocking my exit. As soon as humanly possible (at like 2mph) I got off on the next exit. By the time I got there, I had 35 minutes until the interview started and my phone told me it was going to take 33 minutes to arrive. It was terrifying. Luckily I did not take my phone’s advice on the last couple turns, because I knew a shortcut and taking that and literally running through the hospital to the pharmacy, I showed up right on time and just barely before the RPD came in to start the interview. So that wasn’t a great start since I didn’t have my prep time and I was super stressed out.
The interview itself kinda went downhill from there. We started as a group for a few minutes then my first individual activity was writing about accomplishments. We were supposed to use the SMART acronym that I am totally over…all my ideas did not at all fit into that stupid acronym…but I had limited time, so I just skipped the parts that I couldn’t figure out. Not ideal, but I made it work…then I was supposed to verbally summarize what I wrote, and let’s just say I pretty much made a fool of myself doing that. Then I had the management interview. I had probably the dumbest answers ever that seemingly contradicted themselves and were really poorly thought out and primarily consisted of one word followed by I don’t really know, umm yeah. So that didn’t go super awesome. I next went to the staffing interview. I was so stressed out by this point that even the questions I totally did know a great answer to I stumbled and started saying dumb stuff that wasn’t really related. I definitely sounded like an idiot, and I could see at least one of the grading sheets where I noticed I was mostly getting 0 and 0.5 out of (I think) 2. So yeah…I didn’t just think I was failing, I knew…I tried really hard not to be super awkward on the way to the next activity…but knowing me, you know I still failed. The person walking with me, whom I knew from rotations, was incredible, and it was super awesome to try to catch up with her, but yeah, communication is not my specialty.
The last individual part was the case. And oh man did I feel like I failed…and it wasn’t even an infectious disease case! I think my clinical mind was basically turned off because my stress level and everything got too high…and there was only one question and it was so open ended that I didn’t know where to go with it, so my mind shut down. So that was embarrassing.
And then we did our presentations and I used basically no eye contact and I think I made a bad choice about my presentation topic, because mine was different than everyone else’s and it wasn’t like some crazy disease state or anything. And you know my presentation style was more like turning around and reading my slides…I tried really hard, but my anxiety got so high that I could barely stand there and talk. I was so mad at myself. The rest of the day was just lunch with the residents and a “tour” of the hospital. Then we ended with talking as a group with the RPD again. She talked about how it is okay to not match. I loved that, because it usually isn’t something that is really talked about as if it is a possibility. And that is such a disservice to students. Statistically it is clear that a very large number of students will fail to match, yet it isn’t talked about like it really could happen until it happens – and even then it is usually talked about as if it is almost the end of the road. If more people could talk about it openly and honestly like she did, it would obviously still be hard to not match, but I feel like it would feel at least a little easier…and any little bit easier would definitely have been appreciated each time it has happened.
So yeah, then we left and I felt frustrated that I really wanted to do a good job and didn’t. And then the worry started that I would fail to match again. I feel like this year is my last chance. I don’t know what I will do if I don’t match in phase I this year…but I am starting to prepare for not matching. I know communication is my biggest challenge…so I am starting to attend a bible study with people I don’t know. I’m not sure how well it is going to work, but it was something I could start right away, and considering I’ve been one week so far and struggled to speak, I know it is something I definitely need to be doing.