Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interview Experience: Temple University

Temple University 9/13/12

Had my interview at Temple today. Since the school didn't have their host list up yet, I had to stay in a hotel. I ended up staying at the Motel 6 near the airport... it was decent enough, other than the aura of sketchness and the cigarette holes in the comforter. It sort of looked like the kind of place I would go if I ever needed to hide out from the cops...

I used the public transportation system, SEPTA, since that was the cheapest option. It worked out okay, other than my bus being half hour late on the morning of my interview. I was on the verge of calling a taxi when the bus finally showed up. I took the bus to downtown Philly, where I hopped on the subway, which was pretty easy to figure out. Then, I rode the subway up to Allegheny station, which pretty much drops you off at the southern border of the Temple campus and northern Philly.

I had heard quite a bit in preparing for my interview about North Philly being kind of sketchy area. And it's true, by the way. However, the actual Temple campus, which is pretty big, is really nice. Big sidewalks, big buildings, lots of people, and quite a few little food carts on the side of Broad Street. There were flood lights on top of the main hospital, which supposedly light the place up like day at night. That said, the area surrounding the campus is...less than safe. I wouldn't really want to wander out there in a suit.

I walked to MERB, the new medical education building, and checked in. I got there early enough to talk a little bit with the group that was interviewing that day. Everyone was really nice, and we all got to know each other a little bit better throughout the day. The day started off with the financial aid talk, which was fairly informative. It was supposed to start off with the welcome talk, but that gal was running a little bit late. She did get there, though, and talked about about Temple, the new curriculum, the new building, the class profile, etc. Then, the students tour guides showed up, introduced themselves, and showed us around. They were actually very helpful, knowledgeable about the school, and seemed excited to be going there.

The MERB building was shiny and beautiful, as advertised. All of the lectures, studying, labs, etc, happen here. The lecture halls were big and modern-looking. All lectures are recorded online, which is a nice feature. The curriculum itself is organized into several blocks, with each block composed of an integrated course of study (i.e. you learn everything about a particular organ system at one time, instead of pulling a bunch of information from different classes for the same organ system). The exams are in blocks too, and you don't have a bunch of exams in different subjects occurring at the same time. In fact, it seems like most blocks only had a final, and maybe a midterm. The first two blocks were a bit different, with the first being 7 weeks of anatomy and the second being about 4 weeks of biochemistry, if I remember correctly.

Class last from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 5 days a week, with 2 afternoons being taken up with a doctoring class. This is where students learn to obtain histories, perform physicals, etc. There are also a number of electives that students could choose to participate in-- these seem like they occurred about 6 Fridays a semester, and were pretty much "showing up = pass."

The anatomy labs, by the way, were very nice. They keep the rooms smelling fairly decent, considering the multitude of preserved bodies lying around. Each station had its own computer with internet access and access to an interactive anatomy reference, dissection instructions, etc.

We also toured the clinical simulation center, which was awesome. This is where the students first practice patient interactions skills, exams, procedural skills, etc. They use standardized patients and had a pretty high tech simulation manikin that breathes, has a heartbeat, vitals, can die, can be intubated, poked, and prodded. It seems like an awesome resource to have for your preclinical years. Residents use the center to practice their skills as well.

At one point in the tour, the students took us over a sky bridge that connected for the new building to some of the other facilities. Looking out to one side, you could see the expansive, nice-looking Temple campus. On the other side, though, you could see a run down, sketchy-looking neighborhood. It was a pretty stark contrast. Most of the students, it seems, live about 10-20 minutes away from the school in the surrounding suburbs, which is a reasonable commute.

The students then took us to a conference room, where sandwiches were laid out for us. They were the sticky kind that got stuck in your teeth.

After that, I had my student interview. The girl that I had was nice enough, but seem tired. The people who interviewed with me said their student interviews were really conversational. Mine was to some degree, but she also asked a lot of a kind of vague questions that I didn't feel like I had amazing answers for. Finally, I had my faculty interview. I don't know if they purposely did this, but I had somebody who was working in the field that I am interested in, which gave us quite a bit to talk about. We actually ran about 15 minutes over and had a pretty good time. It wasn't really stressful at all; it really was more of a conversation.

After the interview, I took public transportation back to my motel room. For most trips, I normally flew out in the evening after the interview, but this time there were no flights that worked with my schedule, so I ended up flying home early the next morning. That meant navigating the public transportation system again at 3 am. This would have been totally doable...if the bus actually showed up. It didn't, and after forty minutes of waiting, I ended up bribing a shuttle driver at another hotel to let me ride along with him to the airport.

Overall, I was really impressed with Temple. I love the new curriculum and the facilities. There were some pretty awesome resources to help students, including the new anatomy lab and the clinical simulation area. It seemed like the school is really concerned about its students. The location is questionable, but you can live elsewhere, and it does provide some awesome clinical opportunities. The only major downside is it's really expensive... rain down the money, Temple. 

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