Interviewing As An Applicant of Color

Navigating Interview Season As An Applicant of Color
As an applicant of color navigating the residency process can be even more stressful, the pressure of selecting a residency program where you will be well trained, be supported in your research/career aspirations, and finding a good “fit”, can be a lot on top of the trying to find a place where you will be accepted and supported as a person of color. There is an ongoing issue and discussion on how to best support people of color at the level of medical and post-graduate medical education. However these are some of the tips that made navigating the interview process and figuring out which programs I would be happy in not only as a budding doctor but a woman of color

Find the residents of color
This can be challenging particularly when visiting programs where there are very few residents of color. I encourage you to visit the website and I identify residents of color early. It is important to go to the inteview dinners as this will give you a chance to speak with the residents outside of the interview day and ask candidly about their experiences in the program as people of color. Some important questions to ask are:
What has your experience been like as a person of color in this residency program?
Do you feel the program supports diversity and inclusion and if so in what ways?
Do you feel well supported as a person of color?
Have you dealt with racism/microaggressions, and if so in what ways has your program supported you in this?

Ask Important Questions on Interview Day
On interview day you willl be able to speak 101 with faculty, staff, and residents. From my experiences what I think is more important than having residents of color, is the programs ATTITUDE on diversity and inclusion. I interviewed at programs where there were residents of color, and the program recruited residents of color, but did very little to support the residents of color once they were there. I also iterviewed at programs that had very few residents of color but they all felt HIGHLY supported and it was obvious the program was invested not only in recruitment but also retention and SUPPORT of residents of color. Use your time with faculty and the program director to delve deeper into these issues and get a sense of their attitudes on the topic, and diversity and inclusion initiatives they may have in the works.

Mentorship is key
Be sure to take note of the faculty that you see on interview day and their makeup in terms of diversity . Find out from the residents who their faculty mentors are, how hard is it to find a mentor, do they have mentors of color, and is it difficult finding a mentor of color?

What do the patients look like
I think this is probably one of the first things applicants of color think about when choosing a program because most of us went into medicine to serve our communities. We all want to be the doctor that our grandma, father, aunt, or cousin needed. We often have a desire to serve racially diverse populations made up in part at least of communities that look like us. So be sure to ask questions about the makeup population being served beyond the blanket “diverse patient population.”  Every program says they have a diverse patient population. You must delve deeper, in what ways is the population diverse, is it socioeconomic status, is it race or ethnicity, are there a wide array of immigrants from various parts of the world, etc.

Contact info
You will likely be paired with a faculty or resident of color for your interview, so be sure to get their contact info to email any questions you may have later on down the road about the program.

Good luck & Happy interviewing

-MJ

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