Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interview Experience: University of Washington

University of Washington School of Medicine 10/22/12

For this interview, my wife and I spent the weekend before in Seattle with a relative, which was awesome. We were able to spend some time touring Pike's Place Market and downtown Seattle--a nice change of pace from some of my previous trips, which tended to be along the lines of "fly in the night before, fly out right after the interview."

The Monday of the interview, my wife and I arrived at the school around 9 am. We went up to the admissions office to check in, and they gave me a yellow envelope with some info about the day, a little information on the school, and a flash drive with a bunch of additional stuff on it about the school. After a bit, a gal introduced herself to the applicants (there were seven of us) and gave an introduction to the school and the interview day. A fourth year then came and led us on a tour of the school and hospital. The facilities weren't anything to write home about. I mean, they weren't in disrepair, but they weren't particularly nice. It looked like they were in the process of updating/expanding, though. The building is supposedly the 13th longest in the world...don't know if that's actually true, but I could definitely see how you could get lost!

After the tour, there was a faculty "meet and greet," where a doctor who taught a second-year course came to talk about the school and answer any further questions we had. Then lunch was brought in, and three more students came to talk with us...and probably to get free food.

The curriculum for the first year is fairly traditional. It sounded like two days of the week were longer...maybe 8-5 pm or so. The other days go from 12-5 pm. Second year is organ-based and goes from 12-5 pm. The students sounded like they were fairly busy, though they did have time to participate in some of the numerous interest groups available. Lectures are recorded (though it sounded like the system isn't always reliable) and each class has a syllabi with the information you need to know. There is the usual doctoring course once a week throughout the two years. Second year, all the students from the satellite campuses (twenty in Spokane and twenty from Pullman/Moscow) come back to the main Seattle campus (though it sounds like students will be able to stay in Spokane for the first two years starting next year). Grades are pass/fail for the first two years. Third and fourth year rotations happen largely in Seattle at a blend of private, safety-net, academic, community, clinic, and VA settings. This is where the cool part about UW kicks in--you can spend time anywhere in the WWAMI region and the school pays for your travel and arranges your lodging. In fact, you have to spend at least 24 weeks at least 50 miles away from Seattle.

After lunch, I had about an hour and a half until my interview. You can attend a class if you want, but nothing really worked out well with my schedule, so I just went back to the admissions office. They actually had an applicants' lounge with snacks and computers to help pass the time, and of course you can talk with the other applicants. Finally, a man came out and called me in for the interview.

The interview is a panel format with three people-faculty, staff, students, etc. One of them presents you to the admissions committee. I had heard interesting things about UW's interviews, but my panel wasn't particularly mean or anything at all. They weren't buddy-buddy either, but it wasn't too bad. No ethical questions, but they did do a role play, which was actually sort of fun. I sort of bumbled through the first few seconds, but then I felt like I got into the swing of things and made up for lost ground. I didn't have any "Why UW" questions--they were mostly about my application or how I handle stress. Overall, I felt ok about the whole thing...maybe not amazing, but ok.

Overall, I honestly wasn't really blown away by the school. It seemed pretty lecture-heavy, and the facilities were so-so. Its shining point was the clinical opportunities in the 3rd and 4th years (though, it would be a bit of hassle to spend a lot of time out of Seattle--especially since I'm married and will likely have kids by that point [though I do vaguely remember reading that kids qualify you for an exception to the 24-week policy]), and it's obviously highly ranked. I didn't quite get the "feeling" I did with Loyola and Temple, though...for what it's worth. We'll see.

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