Moments You Can’t Get Back

Paternity leave is a less common request for residents, but for Kevin Dueck, MD, the time off was invaluable for bonding with his three young children. Dr Dueck, now 33 and a resident in the family medicine program at McMaster University in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, knew early on that he didn’t want to wait until after medical training to start his family.

The first of his three children with his wife, Kim, was born 6 weeks before he started medical school. The second was born in his third year of school. This year, his third child was born in July, when Dr Dueck was supposed to start residency. He decided to arrange paternity leave for more than 6 months, beginning in January, and pushed back his start date until August. His program was very supportive, he said, adding that senior faculty told him, “I wish that had been available when I had young children.”

Dr Dueck says he gets congratulated for taking time off, and he’s uncomfortable with that because women don’t often get the same congratulations. Time off should not be seen as unusual for either sex, he says. The delay put him off cycle, so he will need to find work to fill a 4-month gap after graduation if he wants to pursue fellowship training.

He acknowledges that there has been little time for social activities outside those with family, and he has had to learn to say “no” to some professional projects and meetings. However, he says that’s a small price to pay for quality bonding time, to fully celebrate his children’s birthdays, ride bikes, take family excursions, and spend time at home with his family, before medical responsibilities compete for his attention. “Those are moments you can’t get back,” he says.

He adds that his experience as a young father helps him as a doctor. “Taking leave and having a family has helped with connecting with patients, especially those expecting or with young children. I’ve found having that lived experience to be an asset in clinic,” he said.

Excerpt from Marcia L. Frellick. Taking Leave in Residency: Tips and Traps – Medscape – Dec 08, 2017 [LINK]


Interview Tour

With interviews on the horizon I thought back on my experience last year.  I found this post useful (link), it collects some tips and was put together by another Western grad.  To those I will add a few of my own:

  1. If you don’t know how to yet, go watch a few YouTube videos on how to iron. No matter how you pack your clothes will get wrinkled.
  2. Clerkship likely had you drinking a good deal of coffee. A smile makes a difference for first impressions, there is lots of time to get that smile shining again.
  3. Comfortable dress shoes.
  4. Don’t forget your charger(s).
  5. Be patient. You are traveling Canada in the winter, your flight/train/ride may be delayed.
  6. Drive safely.


  • Review your CV, especially any items highlighted in your personal statements.
  • Be able to discuss any published research or other works.
  • Re-read your personal statements and details about each school before the interview.
  • Do a mini-autobiography to identify anecdotes, motivations, major life events/influences, etc. Who, what, when, where, how did it shape you?
  • Participate in interview prep with friends, peers, residents, etc.
  • Think of a few patients that moved you, that you connected with, a good outcome, a bad outcome. How did you react? What would you change?
  • Think of a conflict with peers or others, how did you handle it?
  • Review standard interview questions too and have examples for strengths, weaknesses, a time you failed, an accomplishment you are most proud of, etc.

Best of luck

Good Luck Western Interviewees

Best of luck to all interviewing this coming weekend at Western.  The 2017 class has put a together a great admissions video (trailer) and lots of friendly volunteers will be around to give guided tours, answer questions and ensure you have a good experience.  An excellent site for prospective students was also put together this year:

Good luck Western University Interviewees!

Our first of two interview weekends is this week, should be a great time.  We have lots of volunteers to give tours, calm your nerves and talk to about the school and more.  An excellent video has been put together for you to enjoy by the 2016 class.

Best of luck in this interview and any others you may have, look forward to seeing some of you on campus next year.

In the words of one of my mentors to a group of first years, “you are giving your youth to learn how to care for others, it is a beautiful thing…”


As most of the schools have sent out their invitations for interviews I thought I would finish off this series on the “getting in” portion of medicine. I have already covered a lot of these points and I figure it is pretty well known, so don’t expect anything profound.

In general:  As is commonly recommended read/skim Doing Right. Many ethical scenarios aren’t as cut and dry as the book presents, but it does familiarize you with the language of medical ethics.  I found standard interview prep books useful for the panels and the MMI book by MSC Medicine good (but expensive). Other than that dress well, be confident, calm, and thoughtful.


  • Practice with others and do it as if it was real. 2 minutes prep and then 7-8 minutes to talk. If you finish early, sit there
  • Put the water bottle in one of your pockets, the extra pencils in another. Don’t try to carry everything in your hands
  • If you keep a pencil in your hand, no stabbing motions towards the interviewer
  • Be familiar with current events, both in the world and developments in the medical community
  • If you are unfamiliar with current medical issues, downloading the White Coat, Black Art podcast is a good place to start
  • Try to see issues from multiple viewpoints
  • Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know
  • Try to see what more information you would need to make a decision
  • Actually make a decision, and once you’ve made it stick with it unless there is a valid reason or alteration to the case (don’t flip flop)
  • You may need to act, interpret a picture or painting, tell a story, instruct another in solving a puzzle or drawing a picture, respond to a video prompt, write a short essay, etc.
  • Be self aware. Although doing an autobiographical summary is more useful in the panel, it can come in very handy in the MMI where you can bring in a relevant anecdote
  • Be friendly and professional both during the interviews and during the day


  • Have a response for standard interview questions (ex. strengths/weaknesses, who are you, how would your friends describe you, challenges, conflicts, examples of critical thinking, etc.)
  • Know your anecdotes and personal history, especially if the interview is open. If it is U of T, they have essays from you and your application in front of them and may point to things and ask about them
  • Make eye contact and talk to all of the people that are interviewing you, it may be 2-3
  • Current issues are once again important
  • Have questions for after the interview that show interest in the school/medicine as a career


  • Billet if you are able. The students are very friendly and I found staying with them calmed me down
  • Eat well, sleep well, exercise leading up to the interview. Don’t drink too much coffee before the interview, especially if it is MMI as there can be quite a few stations
  • Try to enjoy the day and see what the school is about, not just focus on the interview. If you are interviewing at multiple schools it is important to get a feel for what each school is about in case you are given the choice. See the attitudes of the current students and ask questions

Lastly, good luck!

Ranking based on interview day experience

I had written a post looking at the effort put into the interview day at each school that I was fortunate enough to interview at, but it disappeared…  Perhaps I will re-write it, but not tonight.  The ranking is based on an overall impression from staff/volunteers/students involved in the day, videos or presentations given, effort in preparing an area for the interviews and similar considerations:

1. UWO

2. U of C

3. U of A / Queen’s

4. U of  T

5. U of M