Wow, my first post on this blog. Jenn is way more proactive about this stuff than I am, for real. Anyway, I interviewed at Duke a couple weeks ago, my first interview. I have many interviews in consecutive weeks starting next Friday, so it is helpful to reminisce about the experience and you get a front row seat to the casual meandering of my memory.
Overall the experience was very positive. Prior to the interview, Duke was tied for first place in my list of medical schools, and this interview went a long way to solidify its place at the top of my list. My experience started in the Raleigh-Durham Airport. I was picked up by a medical student in his fourth year and he took me back to stay with his family for the night. This family was amazing and they provided much essential information about life in Durham as well as the Duke Med experience from the scholarly as well as the wifely perspective. I was particularly impressed that the wife was especially fond of their past 4 years. Even though she had two children during the time her husband was in medical school, the ability to stream lectures and Duke's flexible third year curriculum allowed him to be at home when she needed him to be. Additionally she fell in love with the ward and the surrounding area. This was great to hear because there is a good support group already in place to help Jenn during the times I am completely occupied.
When I arrived at the Admissions Office, I was immediately intimidated. Not to malign the qualities of BYU, but all of the individuals in my interview group were from much more prestigious universities, including Harvard, Duke, and Stanford. Although not the most important aspect, my host did make it clear that it did put me at a disadvantage right off the bat. I did get along with these other interviewees really well, however, and that helped take some of the tension off. Throughout the presentations and tour, I really came to appreciate Duke's unique curriculum, compressing the basic science portion to the first 11 months as opposed to 2 years at most schools, freeing up a year for research. The financial aid presentation helped reduce anxiety about the high cost of tuition as well.
We had a lot of opportunities to interact with students in each class. It was unanimous among those we met that although the first year was difficult because of the accelerated curriculum, it was worth it. They all felt a camaraderie with one another and felt that there was very minimal competition between classmates.
Finally, the time had come for the actual interviews. Throughout the day I had a persistent case of the nerves and waiting for my interviewer to come through the door to call my name was the worst. However, as soon as I met my first interviewer and walked to the interview room, I was immediately calmed. I don't really know why that was; maybe it was the interviewers charm and ability to make it feel like a normal conversation (interspersed of course with difficult questions about my views of medical ethics) or maybe I was more prepared than I though. My first interviewer was a third year student and I was the first person he had interviewed, which I found interesting. I felt that the interview went pretty well and I'm pretty sure the interviewer felt the same way. During the interview I mentioned that my wife loves North Carolina and was back in Utah undoubtedly praying for the interview to go well. As I left, he mentioned that my wife doesn't need to worry any more, a casual observance that makes me think he felt positively about the interview.
I went back to the admissions office to wait for my next interview, but this time my nerves were gone and I felt confident. Even the half hour wait was unable to shake me out of my groove. I met my next interviewer, a faculty member who I just now found out is the Director of the Multicultural Resource Center. Interesting. Anyway, she was a really nice lady and we had a really good rapport. Throughout the conversation, we talked a lot about marriage because I mentioned my wife and the difficulties we will have with having children in medical school, but how we are prepared for it as well as we can be. I was really impressed with her, and I felt that she enjoyed the interview as well. In parting, it seemed almost as if she was trying to recruit me, but that might be standard operating procedure, I don't know.
All in all, it was a very positive experience, with only one downside: I won't find out about acceptance until March, because Duke waits to interview everyone before admitting anyone. Lame. But I am very optimistic about my chances and I enjoyed my interview experience to the point where I really hope I get accepted.