Number 9 and the big city

I have been awake since 4am.  Voluntarily.  Well, sort of.  You see, I decided that my $40 night in Kingston is significantly cheaper than what I would pay in Toronto, plus I booked that hotel assuming I would not have an interview there and would proceed from Kingston the next day.  But then I got the interview at 9am.  So, I had to book a flight that would get me to the Princess Margaret Hospital in downtown Toronto by 9.  Thus, 5:45 departure from Kingston.  Thus, 4am (well, 4:03 because my OCD only allows me to wake up at 3 or 7 past something).  Given all of this, I am not feeling too bad.  Probably my anticipation of finally getting to see Patrick tonight.  Other bonus, I got to eat Indian/Pakistani last night… so worth it!

I arrived in Toronto and took a cab to the Princess Margaret Hospital.  It took over 45 minutes.  The traffic was ridiculous.  Like nothing I have ever seen (except that time we got lost in New York city, then accidently went to Jersey).  I marveled at all of the giant glassy condos all through the city.  They are pretty.  I can’t imagine living in one of those for my entire life, though.

The Princess Margaret Hospital is the big cancer and research centre.  It exists on a block that is almost entirely hospital.  I have never seen so much hospital.  Old buildings, new buildings.  I got to see Mount Sinai and the Sick Kids… Places you hear about on TV, as well as PMH.  So cool.  I had time to kill post interview and wandered around marveling at how crazy it all is.  These are places I hear about and think “wow, they are so important” and there I was interviewing to work and train at one of those places.  Pretty epic.

PMH is 18 floors up and 3 underground.  Again… Biggest.  Cancer centre.  Ever.  There are glassed in elevators, skylights and this amazing rooftop garden on the 16thfloor.  Some of the clinics have faux hardwood floors, free snacks and really comfy seats.  I felt like I was in another world.  They have 18 linear accelerators, a PET/CT simulator and an MRI simulator.  They have two gamma knives.  They have a million floors dedicated to research.  They have four floors just for clinics (and a bit of administration).  The call rooms have real beds and TVs in them!  And this is just one of the local cancer centres… There are two.  Sunnybrook is in another part of town and houses even more.  Crazy!  Toronto is actually one of the largest Radiation Oncology centres worldwide and is the largest in North America.  It blows my mind how big a place can be and how much they can have.  I get that a lot of it is related to research, but nonetheless, the money that has been put in and the number of lives they touch is quite amazing.

PMH. One of the several hospitals on the block... And the biggest one I have been in... Ever.

The old entrance to the Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Back of the Princess Margaret and research institute.

Cool statue for breast cancer.

Cool... Hockey and fighting cancer... Two things I like... For very different reasons, of course.

Suit up! No wonder they are so big... They can really sell the fundraising with clever marketing like this.

The interview was fairly standard.  A panel of four for 30 minutes.  I feel like it went really well and there were no questions that I really messed up.  We were collectively a bit nervous about the interview, as they have such a reputation for excellence, that we expected some really difficult questions.  But there were no really difficult knowledge questions as such.

The most unusual question:  What fictional character would make a really good radiation oncologist?  Yes… True story, they asked this.  I am pretty sure I may have given the interviewer a “are you serious look.”  I thought for a few seconds (felt like an hour) and was drawing a blank.  I ended up picking Rory from Gilmore Girls.  I really didn’t have a great reason when I said it because it was just the first non-socially inept character that popped into my head (the first few being from The Big Bang Theory, all of whom I knew were bad ideas).  I somehow determined that my reason for choosing Rory was that she was quite personable, organized and detail oriented.  Phew.

The question that took me most by surprise:  Obviously, the one above did. Nothing else really shocked me.  Everything was fairly standard and I had heard some rendition of before.

I have to say, the residents do seem happy in Toronto.  They were telling us that the focus on shoveling out research projects has declined substantially and was now quite reasonable and that they are more flexible for people to pursue their own interests if they are more inclined to teaching or advocacy, though research is highly recommended.  I can see why, I mean, they have a huge facility and many of the staff are involved in research, so they need help and want to encourage the tradition.  I did notice that they don’t all know who all of the others are.  They made us a video joking about CaRMS and Rad Onc with all kinds of movie analogies… Gamma sword instead of gamma knife and the person thinking it was more of a lightsaber from Star Wars.

We were going to venture into the subway system to get to the airport, but one of the residents kindly drove us to the airport.  In more ridiculous traffic… Even though it was 2 in the afternoon.  All in all, a good day.


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