Making the Sale and Securing a Residency
August 2007 Issue
Securing a residency started at an ideal time-midterms! Having been eager to figure out where I would be living after graduation, I dialed countless phone numbers from the start of the school year. However, it wasn't until sometime in February before I got past the secretaries and their lukewarm statements: "They are not available at the moment, but you can send a resumé if you want." In the world of P&O, there is yet to be a defined timeline for all residency programs.
When interviews commenced, I knew exactly what I wanted from a residency. I was looking for an institutional setting that would allow me to work on both clinical and technical skills, with an opportunity to perform some interesting research. After a few short discussions with potential employers, though, I realized my desires did not align directly with reality; I would have to compromise-luckily not too much. For my target sites, it was a matter of convincing them that I was the right option. Like a car salesman, I thought of all the features that I come with and highlighted the right ones for each company.
Most of the interviews were similar. They were fraught with questions like, "Tell me what are your strengths and weaknesses." I was never quite sure how to talk about my strengths without seeming pompous (not seeming pompous is one of my weaknesses). I had an opportunity to tour a handful of facilities to see where I might hang my hat-assuming there was space between prosthetic liners and co-poly for a hanger. The days of spacious cubbies were long gone.
Another key to interviewing was meeting my co-workers because it gave me the biggest insight into whether or not I would be happy for the next year. Clearly, the environment would have a big impact on my state of mind. For my first real job, I assumed that negotiations would be important as well. Unfortunately, it would be a stretch to call it "negotiating." In general, I was told about the benefits, hours, and holidays. Hearing this I thought, "Okay, sounds good, but what about&" Then, before I could muster the courage to ask about salary, I would be given the figure. When the number registered, I mused, "Well, I won't be swimming in a vault of gold coins, but at least I will be throwing in a shiny nickel rather than an IOU note."
Overall, the interviewing process was not too overwhelming. I tried to be relaxed and realized that the people sitting across the table were simply trying to get to know me. Like my brother told me before I started the process, "At 5 o'clock when you realize it is going to be a long night of pulling plastic, are you going to be the person that your co-workers look forward to being with? (And vice-versa, of course.) I suggest acting naturally and asking insightful questions so you're not the only one being interviewed."
As far as what to expect from residency, I am not sure. It is a new undertaking, and it is always hard to get your bearings. All I know is where I am beginning my journey. On July 2, this Californian, who is used to the blazing sun beating down his back, moved to the chilling wind tunnel that is Chicago to begin my residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), Illinois. The cold worries me a bit. Okay, a lot, but at least with a warm coat I will be protected from the elements. However, I have no simple solution for protection from the patients. Five hundred hours of shadowing now seems like a cotton long-sleeve shirt, and I really need many layers of insulation. Even though I am confident that my schooling was excellent, I am still floored that shortly I will be charged with overseeing the care of real people-terrifying to say the least. The patient models that came into our classroom simply had to tolerate our mistakes for a short time, while my future patients will be relying on me to improve their lives. Wow! The responsibility is tremendous. It is like a marriage with each person I treat-relying on trust, honesty, respect, caring, and, of course, a lot of work. I really hope I don't get divorced too many times.
Ronald A. Roiz is a resident at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), Illinois. He is a graduate of the MSPO Program at the School of Applied Physiology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, and will be sharing his experiences as he completes his residency.