Monday 8 June 2020

Motivation, its a hard one to show

Dear readers, After a relatively long hiatus I am returning to writing articles on the blog. Last few years were busy with many events in personal life, but hopefully I can return to writing more regularly.

On to the topic of discussion:

In the past many years I have seen applicants go through the application process, be it for residency or fellowship, one question that consistently makes the applicant falter or pause is "Why did you chose to get into medicine” or “why did you get into this particular area or topic”. The person who asks this question is looking for the motivation behind your choices and desire to get into residency. It may be a prior life experience, it may be a personal event or a loved one going through a tough medical issue. Something shaped your decision to get into medicine or another specialty. Program directors and interviewers are always looking for highly motivated applicants, because it is these driven individuals that can achieve both personal and professional accolades that trickle over into making the program or institution look good.

Motivation is easy to demonstrate but harder to explain. The fact that your are sitting in an interview with a CV that you worked hard on shows that you are committed to achieving this goal. But, when asked, to explain, sometimes words can fail us, making us look unprepared or only having a superficial understanding of the issue we are trying to describe.

If it a personal example, then the onus is to explain the emotions behind what was experienced and why those events shaped your choices. If the example is going to be a case or a teaching point remembered from medical college, then you have to prepare a little better for this. For the latter, here is a common example. Applicants will often say that they remember a complex case study from their medical school or saw this condition or that, during their clinical rotations and that is when they decided to get into medicine, or anesthesia or psychiatry or neurology or whatever. But when asked, what about that case made an impression on you? the applicant can get flustered. 

This could simply be that the situational stress of the interview got the better of you OR that you could not demonstrate your understanding of the processes related to those conditions or diseases. If it is the former where interview stressed you out, you need to practice your interview skills. Practice in front of the mirror, in front of family or friends but have the answers prepared. The best combination is prepared answers that seem natural and on the fly, a difficult but not impossible task. If it is the latter, where there may be issue with explaining fundamentals then the answer is read, reflect and realize the medical issue in question. Having noted this gap in understanding and explaining complex medical topics, I am working on a sister website called where complex medical topics are deconstructed using visualizations and visual analytics, simplify them to enhance understanding. The content audience is pretty much anybody including medical students, residents, fellow even lay persons. The medical topics will explain why a disease does what it does, or why some treatments work and some don’t. So feel free to browse, like and follow as new content will be added in both places.

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