Not because I’m awful at writing or I didn’t have good enough grades, enough clinical experience or a flashy CV. More-so, because the process of answering essay questions and attending interviews forces you to feel comfortable talking about yourself. I become an awkward turtle when I feel that I have to talk about what makes me a more competitive applicant than all the other bright and incredible students who applied. Why? I asked myself that so many times! (Generally, there’s some sort of wisdom brewing underneath my veil of awkward.) Right now, my answer is that in my culture, we don’t boast about our strengths and achievements. We acknowledge them and quietly pat ourselves on the back and then ask, “How can I be better?”
I can imagine many people in our profession have a similar sense of humility, we’re not in it for fame or fortune. I mean, most of the time when I’m at a party and somebody hears I’m going to become a naturopathic doctor, their response is, “Naturo-what?? ..So you do voodoo peyote hippie medicine?” (Hahahaha!!! Of course, after a couple of giggles we proceed to have an invigorating discussion about the benefits of integrative medicine and if solicited, the research that supports it.)
ANYWAY. This aspect of “marketing myself” is something that I realize I’ll have to become very proficient in for the rest of my life. There’s a fine balance between sounding confident vs. sounding like an overconfident rooster (you know what I mean by that). My biggest recommendation as you approach graduation: ask your clinical advisers and secondaries to discuss your strengths and weaknesses with you, if your attending allows it ask patients for feedback and most importantly ask close friends and family, they know you best. Nobody is perfect, it is okay to make mistakes, harness you inner strength and wisdom to learn from them. Fourth year is a crucial time to figure out who you are and how you can give back to our world, whether you apply for residency, start your own practice or join a practice.
Basically, after all this work I am left feeling like even if I don’t match to a residency site, this entire process was all worth it. I’m so grateful that we have opportunities like this.