Third time is a charm

Interview number three is done!    So wonderful to be done another step in the right direction.  I have just arrived in Winnipeg.  I was only in Calgary for about 20 hours total, so as you can guess, I saw very little of the city.  In fact, I only took one picture the whole time I was there.  It was of the stadium where the Calgary stampede is every day and it was directly across the street from my hotel.  I took the picture as I waited for the taxi.  Since then, I hadn’t had the time to actually take other pictures.  Not even of the hospital.

The stadium and the nice weather.

I stayed in what is likely to be crowned the sketchiest hotel on the CaRMS tour for me.  It was a Super 8, but was more old motel than anything.  I entered the interview area with lovely red, watery eyes, runny nose and a lovely asthma cough.  Fortunately, I was so tired that I still managed to sleep the night before.  I did have a really strange dream about dissecting fish.  They also did not have an iron on-site.  Who does that?  Apparently, the last one was stolen.  Free breakfast was cereal and toast.  Mind you, that is all I can stomach on a pre-interview morning, so that was fine for me.  The toast bread looked awfully manhandled, though.

Yet again, the hospital was nice.  Not as nice as the previous two, but significantly more decked out from the radiation oncology toys standpoint.  9 linear accelerators!  For those of you who aren’t rad onc friendly… Most departments have 3 or 4.  So, epic to say the least.  There is a big space issue there, so there are many issues with getting patient beds on site.  Also, they have had to move a lot of the clinics off-site to another hospital due to space constraints.  Seems a bit inconvenient, but at least there is space elsewhere.

I had to go an hour an a half (well, two hours) before my scheduled interview time for a tour.  At least now, I know the majority of the other applicants well enough that it is not unbelievably awkward.  And there was someone from my home school interviewing for the same program today.  Always a big plus.  The great part about interviewing for such a small program is that the majority of us travel together, stay in similar places and so forth, so we have already gotten to know each other well.

This interview was a panel of three for a half hour.  There were two panels, but each person only saw one of the two panels, which was a bit different.  Overall, it went well.   The ummm and so ratio was stable from yesterday.  Hopefully that will continue to decline.  This was a very straightforward interview.  No real curveballs or surprises.  It also helps that there is significant question overlap.  The interviewers had a sheet with the questions and took avid notes, as well as ticking marks in a check box.  That was a bit unnerving.  I kept semi-consciously (not quite unconsciously, because I did kind of want to know, despite realizing it was inappropriate to gape) trying to look to see what they were checking.

Most unusual question:  There actually weren’t any that were especially bizarre.  Really, all were quite reasonable and relevant.  If I had to pick, I would guess talking about a time I had to give bad news (hello, hospice example) or the one where I had to talk about the good and bad experiences of doing a self-initiated project (talked about my research for summer school).

Question that took me most by surprise: Why this school?  Just kidding… For real, it might also be the bad news question.  Or the talk about the role of radiation in treating cancers… mainly because I misinterpreted it and discussed the different uses of radiation in treating cancers, in collaboration with other treatment modalities, which was almost the same as the next question, talk about different radiation modalities.  Whoops.  But, I think my answer was still decent, just not on the cell-killing, energy transfer level, which is what I suspect they were looking for.

After the interviews were over, we were taken to a fabulous restaurant that served interesting panini sandwiches, soups and salads.  I had a tomato-corn and grilled chicken soup with a romaine heart salad.  Others had what turned out to be the best and classiest grilled cheese ever, seafood paninis and some fantastic looking salads.  We had been told by some of the residents around that the Calgary dinner was a highlight of the tour… So true!

Post-dinner, we all (by all, I mean half of us) had to catch a cab to the airport to make it to Winnipeg in time for the social there.  A $40 cab ride 5 ways is very feasible.  Plus, people to discuss the creepiness of whole body scanners and the potential risks to patrons while waiting in the security line never hurts.


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