Boonshoft Blogs

23 days and counting!
Salman Chaudry ’18
February 21, 2018

Rank lists have officially been submitted. Match Day is just a few short weeks away. I wanted to make a quick post about my thoughts on the interview season. First and foremost, the interview process is a game, But I will touch on this a bit later. 

Going into the application cycle, I was honest with myself and knew I would not have my choice as to where I wanted to go. Ideally, I wanted to end up back on the East Coast closer to my family, but my overarching goal like most was to MATCH. I also knew that a community (Independent Academic Center) program was more my fit. You must be honest with yourself and be realistic. I applied to a lot of programs. Applications were submitted in September and from there it was a waiting game. The first few interviews I got were exciting. It put the wheels in motion that this is really happening. The process of determining where I will end up for the next few years was starting. It was surreal at first. After my first few scheduled interviews, I hit a lull. It was almost the end of October now and I had only a handful of interviews. Now the pessimist in me was taking over. Is this it? Am I going to match? What’s the worst-case scenario? I met with some faculty who reassured me that there was still time in the interview season. Nonetheless I was nervous. I started reaching out to schools. Looking back, I wish I had done this earlier, but I made a lot of phone calls and emails. Reaching out to schools definitely works. Maybe not right away, but they keep you in mind. I ended up with 10-14 interviews. I feel like I was approached by multiple people, both classmates and other applicants, each trying to determine how many interviews I had. I was guilty of it too. I feel like it's more of a way to determine if you’re on the “right track” as far as the number of interviews. But, looking back, I don’t care how many interviews people ended up with.

Overall, the interview season was a lot of fun. Aside from the fact that it was super expensive, and I was somewhat tired of traveling by the end. I couldn’t imagine how it must have been for those doing more than 15 interviews. Just the traveling and cost becomes very repetitive. But it was nice to meet new people on the trail. Each had their own story that brought them to this point. I like hearing those stories. I find it very interesting. Then comes the interview day. The program is trying their best to sell you, and I was trying to determine If I could see myself there for the next five years. Some places I vibed with a lot. At others, I quickly realized that it was not the place for me. I also realized that programs started to blur together as the season went on. So, keep detailed notes on each program. I realized that a lot of programs has the same lecture. Great training, early operating, etc. This was all true, after all they are all ACGME accredited. The biggest thing that moved placed up and down my list was how well I got along with the faculty and residents.

I mentioned earlier the process is a game and here is my explanation. Every program tried to sell you. Sometimes fabricating information or even giving you false information. One place I went to was giving me statistics from 2014 because they were better than 2015 and 2016. Your ranked alongside everyone else and most places it’s around 30-60. So your 15 interactions with four to six faculty members will shape where you fall. It comes down to did you say something they liked? It is all super subjective. Also sometimes it hard to judge how interviews go, especially when they ask silly standardized questions. The worst one I got was, “If I asked your best friends to name three qualities about you that you DO NOT agree with, what would they be.” → I was like seriously? Anyhow moving on. Like I said, it is all a game. When it came time to make my rank list, I felt that I knew my top three and bottom three very easily. Everything in between was a bit more difficult. But I was able to talk with friends and family to finally formulate a list that I am happy with. Here’s to Match Day.

I think I may have been rambling, but I wanted to finish this post with some key points I learned as the interview trail moved along. I hope someone may find these useful.

1. Be honest with yourself. What is realistic for you based on your scores and grades?

2. I was told to apply to 1/3 of schools you overqualified for, 1/3 that you would be competitive for, and 1/3 of programs were reach programs. I think this is a good idea, but my situation as above was different. That is why I applied to more programs. I applied very broad.

3. Trust the process and don’t compare yourself to everyone else. My brother always tells me to "do you" and not worry about others! That’s what interviews are for.

4. If you’re not getting interviews by end of middle/end of October, consider reaching out to schools you're very interested in. There were some schools that I reached out to and got an interview opportunity the next day. It works. But do it earlier rather than later. By the time I sent emails and calls to schools in early November, many had already filled their spots.

5. Open a credit card with an airline. Get all the bonus miles.

6. Enjoy the interview dinner. Ask questions, get to know people. It’s a free meal, so order dessert. The dinners can sometimes prove to be more important than the interview itself. Also, look at how residents interact. Do they seem like they are friends, or does it look like they don’t see each other often? Do they hang out often? Pick their brains.

7. Interview day. Just be yourself. Prepare questions to ask. Don’t be Boring. ← Boring is the worst.

8. Spend 15-20 minutes the night before your interview or dinner to do some recon on the school.

9. Guys. Always bring an extra shirt and tie.

10. Keep a running list of each program. What you liked and didn’t like. Also, after your interview, as soon as you get out of the doors take a deep breath and reflect how that program made you feel. Good? Bad? Happy? Concerned? I found this helped me a lot personally.

11. When making your list, run any questions or concerns through multiple people. For me my friends/family helped to clear the fog when trying to decide between where to rank programs.

12. Reach out to your top programs letting them know you will be ranking them highly. Don’t do it for all of them as program directors talk. As far as surgery goes, programs I reached out do did not all respond, however I’ve heard on the grape vine, that programs do move people based on this. Take it with a grain of salt.

13. Just as these programs are ranking you, you are ranking them. So, choose places where you can really fit in. Places that will support you. People who will genuinely help you. Someplace you can really see yourself thriving.

14. If programs reach out to you, always respond. I have heard horror stories.

15. Figure out what matters most to you. Is it location? Academic vs. community? Post-residency opportunities? For example, for me having an interest in trauma helped me make some decisions.

16. When talking about interviews and programs realize your classmates may not be in the same situation you are. Just be mindful.

17. Take lots of naps. Watch a lot of Netflix. Enjoy the time off. Make plans to travel somewhere! Looking forward to what the Match will bring. Best of luck to all my classmates, friends, and those around the nation who are applying. I hope we all end up where we want to be.

Nighttime Reflection
Salman Chaudry ’18
September 28, 2017

Currently 3 a.m. on nights in the ICU. The commotion has settled, leaving the beeping of monitors echoing the halls. It is almost peaceful. An opportunity to take a nap. Nights like this are ones to take advantage of, knowing that things can become chaotic in an instant.

This rotation has been one of my more enjoyable ones. While the patients are unfortunately more critical, each provides a learning opportunity. I am constantly reminded of how little I know. While I am sure the 3rd year version of myself has come a long way, there is still so much to study. However, I will say that through the first few years of medical school I was studying mainly because I had to, in that there was an exam that I had to prepare for. Now I find myself looking up concepts or reading guidelines in fear of not knowing and being unprepared as a resident. As a medical student, our jobs are to absorb as much as we can and try to be helpful in the process. However, 9 months from now all that will change. For I will be required to make decisions that will influence the care of a patient and, while it will be exciting to be finished with medical school, it is simultaneously terrifying. To give some perspective, let me provide an example. I was reading about how a patient who was involved in a trauma who came into a hospital. He was triaged and had multiple CT scans performed. A critical result of a superior femoral artery occlusion in the right leg was found. While the radiologist noted this finding in the report, the intern resident was also notified of the finding with a phone call. For whatever reason, this was not properly communicated to the rest of the team. Hours went by before the vascular team was consulted and, after taking the patient to the OR, there was concern that the leg may not be salvageable. Such instances like this where a single miscommunication can lead to such drastic effects is frightening. I can only hope not to make such mistakes, but also realize that mistakes are inevitable. I asked an attending of mine, “Were you terrified as an intern?” She replied, “Everyday, and even my first year as an attending I was scared almost every day.” It provided some reassurance and perhaps the “fear” is necessary. It will ensure to me I'm grounded as a physician and always remember that this field is truly one of lifelong learning.

While I have learned a ton, this ICU rotation has also been depressing at times. Most of our patients are post trauma and, while it is sad to see anyone in critical condition, for some their stories are particularly more emotional. Nobody expects to be involved in a trauma and trauma patients usually have no idea what happened to them, sometimes being a day or two before they wake up and realize they are in a hospital. I want to share a story that particularly resonated with me. A mid-20's male came in with a traumatic brain injury after being involved in an unhelmeted motorcycle crash. His injuries were confined to his head. Brain bleeds and serious skull fractures. Seeing him initially, I knew his prognosis was likely going to be poor. Then came having to tell his loved ones the state of his condition. He lived here away from his parents whom were in another state. It is difficult delivering such news to families but not nearly as heartbreaking as being on the receiving end of such phone-calls. Unfortunately, this patient’s condition did not improve. A man just around my age with kids and a family who two days ago was going about his day was now brain dead. Leaving his family the heart-wrenching decision to withdraw care and let him go peacefully, all of which could have been prevented with a helmet. His story, family and parents all repeating in my head. Absolutely saddening. It serves as a reminder how lucky we are and that every day is truly a gift. I drive more slowly now, always put my seatbelt on first and continue to be thankful for every day. Sorry for the sad story :(

I have been writing away for an hour now. Time to wrap this up. These past few months flew by (I feel like I say that in every one of my posts). I took Step 2, did an away rotation back home in Virginia and, most importantly, submitted my application for residency. Probably the single most important application I have ever submitted. In competition with every other student applying for general surgery, I can only hope that the eyes that read over my application find something of interest and give me an interview. I am looking forward to the interview trail. It will be exciting to visit other schools and try to find the best fit for me. Who knows what my Match envelope will hold in March. To be honest, the application process is a game. We spend hours writing about our accomplishments, volunteering, research, places we have worked, and of course our personal statement. The overarching goal being how well can you describe yourself, appeal to the reader, and do they find something among all those words to want to meet you personally. I feel someone reading my application will probably get under a 30% feel of who I am as a person. I suppose that’s where scores come in. A numerical filter to give you an edge or disadvantage depending on how well you do. Nonetheless, these next few months are going to be exciting. Only a few months away from achieving the goal I set for myself as a kid. A dream which is now on the horizon of coming true.

Finding My Way
Salman Chaudry ’18
April 12, 2017

Let me briefly paint the scene for you. I am sitting at a charging station. Across from me is a Tax and Duty Free shop with ladies makeup, perfume, and a large assortment of men’s cologne. Somewhat like a large Sephora except a larger variety of items for men. I only make this analogy because my sister always drags me to Sephora when I am home to buy her stuff. I did not bother going in because I know all the items are likely out of my budget. I have finally come to spring break and I am traveling to Pakistan for a week. Super excited. I haven’t been in about 3years, just prior to beginning medical school. My cousin is getting married and my whole family is getting together. Some relatives I have not seen in about 10 years. So I am eager to have a reunion. I have been marinating at O’hare international Airport in Chicago since about 12 noon today. To put things in perspective its currently 8pm. My flight boards in an hour. ☹

I know I have not made a post in quite some time. Partially because nothing significant has been going on. I have been making my way through my third-year clerkships. After each one I planned on discussing how I felt and bring up any interesting moments I had. Clearly that did not happen. However, I am hoping to doing better going forward. But to give you all a quick 880-word synopsis.

 I started off my year with pediatrics. There was something special about taking care of children. Taking the care out of a parents hands often left them feeling helpless. But to bring their children back to good health (majority of the time) was very rewarding. I loved taking part in the healthcare of children, however, I found that I enjoyed kids too much to see them sick. I rather take part in wrestling and having tea parties when kids are happy and healthy, not then they have RSV or some other illness that turns their smile upside down. Next up surgery. I loved it. It is a true privilege to take a stranger and place a 14inch incision into their abdomen. Slice out a few feet of their colon. Anastomose the ends, and stich them back up. I found myself not minding having to wake up at 4:30 and come back home at 6pm. I didn’t realize I went through the whole day with a few crackers and a couple cups of coffee. I was busy, but having a ton of fun. While in trauma there was a patient that came in after being struck by a car. The Reescalation involved a femoral line, two chest tubes, and eventually and open thoracotomy in the ER bay followed by a few hour-long surgery. (all I did was scissors off the clothes and do compressions; don’t be confused). I got to scrub in the surgery and milked every moment of it. Trying to absorb everything that was going on. By now you probably like “Sal is totally down for surgery.” Not necessarily. Even though I had a blast I still had people constantly telling me how bad the lifestyle is. How miserable residency is and how stressful is it on one’s personal life. My brother is a pulmonary critical care fellow in D.C so I wanted to see what internal medicine had to offer.

I never planned on OB/GYN but nonetheless I really enjoyed it. Coming off surgery I didn’t enjoy the gynecology aspect of specially per-se, being that the surgeries just weren’t as exciting as those I saw on the general surgery service. But, being able to participate in bringing a life into the world during obstetrics was very humbling. Something I will remember forever.  I helped in 2 deliveries, and become a placenta abstraction pro by the end of my rotation (by pro I mean.....I “caught” like 5-6 placentas).

I chimed in the New year and began my internal rotation. This is what I was waiting to experience. Would I Like and proceed to follow in by brother footsteps, who was a pulmonary critical care fellow? I knew that the work schedule was not very demanding. Aftercall, 2 Weeks on, 2 Weeks off was pretty appealing. However, I did not really enjoy it. I found myself exhausted after writing a note. Including every aspect of a patients past medical history was tiring. Easily 3-4x longer than what I was writing in surgery. However, the information was very important. Managing diabetes, heart failure, electrolytes, and acute coronary syndrome where all important conditions that I would need to know about no matter what.

I decided to delve back into the thought of surgery. I met with one of the female surgeons whom I had worked with during my 4 week of general surgery. She was a boss to put simply. Not only was she a female in a male dominant profession, she also had children, hit the gym, and really seemed to have the work life balance figured out. She told me that my lifestyle is what I wanted to make it and you can tailor your career to what you want. Weather that be more hours or less. More intense stuff or just bread and butter cholecystectomy’s. This dwelled on this for a while. While continuing to write long notes on internal medicine I realized that I had not had as much fun or enthusiasm as I did when was on my surgical rotation. I loved critical care but I could also get that throughout surgery. I also really liked trauma. If I wanted to pursue that it would only be 1-2 years of fellowship. Yes, internal may have a more laid back lifestyle, but I realized I would miss the OR. Without getting into all the other details I realized that surgery was the “Wright” Choice for me. I quickly met with my advisors and got things squared away for my 4th year schedule. Now when I warch greys or read some information of “Life as a surgeon” I cannot help but smile. I am excited to pursue a career as a surgeon and now wonder why I ever thought anything different.

Trying to figure out what I want to do with my life as really been the only significant thing going on in my these past few months. NOW, If you have read this far. I really want to commend you for sticking through me ranting on about my life decisions. SNAP! They just called my flight, it is time to board. Finally, a step closer to the motherland. I will be sure to update you all on my trip once I get back. Until then thanks for reading.


Break is Over :(
Salman Chaudry ’18
March 30, 2016

This message is being brought to you 20,000ft in the air. The air hostess hooked me up with a free complimentary coffee and got me in the writing mood. I am midway on my flight back to Dayton from D.C. and I figured I haven’t fulfilled by blog duty since the Fall. I haven’t written anything since because there hasn’t been anything worth writing about. School has been an endless loop of Study, sleep, eat, gym and repeat. There is also the occasional complaining about how school is hard and the difficulties of classes, but as a student that’s expected. I won’t dwell on that.

SPRING BREAK is over :(. It always sucks when I travel back to school. Breaks always feel like a tease because they are never long enough. But I will take any time I can get. It was nice to have my mommy make all my favorite foods and to hang out with family and friends. My sister and I binged watched the 100 on Netflix, it was wonderful (if you haven’t seen the show I suggest checking it out). Also got to visit my favorite food spots. My pants are running a little tighter now than they did on the flight home.

The end of spring break means that Boards are that much closer. It is still hard to believe that two years of med school will be over in May. Time has gone by sooooooo fast. I took my first practice test and I am pretty sure a non-medical student could have done just as well as I did. That being said the only way from here is up. But I think taking the practice has motivated me to study, and talking to friends who also took it was reassuring. It is nice to know that my classmates are also feeling the struggle of boards, reminds me that I am not alone. We are all in this together. Board prep is like being on a cruise to the Bahamas, or better yet a cruise to Greece (I really want to go there), My classmates and I are all on this cruise and the inside of the boat is the end of boards. Currently were stuck on the deck, its pouring rain, and it is cold out. There are no buffets, instead peanut butter and jelly and Ramen noodles are all that’s offered. But once we get in the boat in June it will be GLORIOUS!

The plane is getting ready to land so I am going finish off this free coffee and listening to come country music to finish off this flight. I am assuming my next post will be full of joy and excitement as I will have taken boards and made my way inside the cruise to paradise.  

Remembering 1st Year
Salman Chaudry ’18
July 9, 2015

It is difficult to grasp that in just over two weeks I will be starting my second year of medical school. There are still times where I still cannot believe that I made it to medical school and managed to complete first year. As I sit on my deck, enjoying the last few weeks of what will probably be my last summer, I figured now would be as good a time as any to reflect on the past year

I remember getting my white coat fitted during my interview, not knowing if I would ever actually wear it. Then came white coat ceremony and just like that it was official. I was the proud owner of that white coat and my journey to a career in medicine began. I knew what I was getting myself into, I have an older brother who is now a physician and he forewarned me of the long nights, constant studying and slowly decreasing social life. For the most part that is how it started with anatomy. Anatomy was much like learning a new language, but this language was both written and pronounced in English. I knew how to pronounce all the words I read, however was familiar with none of them. I had my fair share of long nights listening to video recordings and then spending quality time in lab. In the end I overcame the anatomy hurdle and each class after was just another hurdle that needed to be jumped. What “worked” in one class may not have worked for another. I found myself having more free time throughout the year. I am confident that my study skills improved with each class, but I also realized the importance of keeping myself “Healthy”. Making sure to eat right, hit the gym, and enjoy myself every now and again.

Also I need to mention that none of medical school could have been done without the friends I have made while in school. I think it is interesting how complete strangers can become the best of friends in such a short period of time. My friends kept me going when things got difficult and we always supported one another. We studied hard and partied harder. While I have my close knit group of friends like everyone else, I enjoy the remainder of my classmates and hope to continue to build friendships.

Well time to wrap up this post. First year has now come to an end. I still can’t believe the amount of information that I have learned throughout this first year. Given that I have forgotten many things, it is still crazy to think how far I have come and how much I have grown. If I can offer any advice to future first year students it is that

1)      Medical school is Doable---> Everyone before you has made it out alive. Take it a day at a goes by super fast!

2)      Keep your sanity---> Find ways to relax or else the stress will eat you!!

3)      Go outside of your comfort zone--> Make new friends, meet new people

4)      Put in the effort and treat it like a full-time job--> A job that pays you nothing and charges you interest instead

5)      Remain Humble---> Don’t forget everything you have accomplished to get here and everything that you will accomplish in the months/years to come.

All in all I conquered first year, went on an epic spring break trip to NOLA, saw Drake in concert….TWICE and experienced Peru over the summer. Despite the schoolwork I have had one unforgettable year. Second year is here….time to stock up on highlighters.