Interview in Habsland

My language insecurity persisted today.  50% of the candidates are legitimately Quebec French, so of course I felt like my French was a little substandard.  The good part is that I can at least carry on some semblance of a conversation and for that I am truly grateful.   It even came up in 2/3 interview stations, despite the school being Anglophone, as the patient population is in its majority bilingual, but a portion is unilingual French.

On pulling up to the hospital I noted one major factor… One, it was huge and two it was not pretty.  This hospital is what East Coast hospitals are like… Older ones.  Very different than those out west and even in Ontario.  I learned that the health care funding in Quebec is not as good as in some other provinces and that there are problems with aging facilities.  I also learned that the Jewish Hospital is significantly more aesthetically pleasing and that they are currently building a new hospital that is the typical classy modern slated to open in 2014… So, if I were to go there, I would benefit from said hospital.

The hospital has an interesting build to it.  I entered on the 6th floor.  The radiation oncology department is on the 5th and built into the side of the hill and under the parking lot.  Good use of natural rock for shielding.  Unfortunately, not good for natural light.  There is one skylight at the front of the department and apparently, this needs to be removed and a crane drops in the new linear accelerators, as the doors and elevators are not wide enough to accommodate.  That I would want to see.

The department itself is well equipped and at the forefront of research in several aspects.  All of the cool toys are there or coming, including an MRI simulator, tomotherapy and a ton of brachytherapy.

I was really impressed with the friendliness of the residents and how well they all get along.  It says a lot about the program.  The two chief residents were ridiculously enthusiastic about selling the program to us.  One of them said, and I quote, “This program is legend… Wait for it… Dary!”  The same one also informed the women in the group that Quebec has the best maternity leave plan in Canada for residents and thus the female residents “pop out babies like machines.”  Made my day.

The interview had a similar feel to many of the others.  Three panels of two for twenty minutes each.  The questions were generally straightforward.  No big technical curveballs, but lots of very standardized questions that repeated somewhat between stations.  The first station I went to was especially chatty and I had to be extracted from the room by my next interviewer.  Too funny.

Most unusual question:  What is your favorite word?  After much deliberation, I answered fabulous… It sounds dramatic and it is a fun word that can be used in a number of situations to describe great things.  Also, that is what I thought very sarcastically when the question was asked.  In retrospect, there are other significantly more awesome words like cacophony and scintigraphy.

Question that took me most by surprise:  This one is a toss-up.  One interviewer asked me why did I choose Radiation Oncology when I have such a strong Palliative Medicine background.  I was expecting the imaging one, but not that.  The same guy asked me why I didn’t do further education?  I was kind of confused, I mean, I am in med school for goodness sakes.  But, he is an MD-PhD, so I get it.  He wanted to know why if I had a high GPA and do well academically I chose to go to med school and not do a Masters and such.  The answer is easy… I got in to med school.  Why prolong things?  I can do a Masters in residency if I so desire.  I would consider it if it doesn’t interfere too much with life and school and my finish date.

By the time all of that was over, we had lunch… Baguette sandwiches… So good.  I was disappointed that I didn’t get to have a Montreal bagel, though.  I may try to find some in the airport.  I was sharing a cab with someone and didn’t even get a chance to take pictures of the hospital, though I did get a few pictures of McGill at night (on my way home from the social).   I did, however, find a Montreal Canadiens parapanalia store and got Patrick a surprise.  Pretty neat what one can find in an airport.

Welcome to McGill!

Pillars at McGill entrance.


Main McGill campus area with delightful lighting.

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