It has been a little over a year since Dr. Suhani Thakore was preparing for her own CaRMS interviews, but she remembers it like it was yesterday.
“When you realize that there are only a select amount of spots for each specialty, and you’re likely not going to match in the specific program or location you want to be in, I think that is really a huge source of anxiety, “ said Dr. Thakore. “Your whole future is resting on these very short twenty minute interviews…I think that is where the fear is based.”
In order to better prepare, and deal with these fears, Dr. Thakore signed up for the national CaRMS mock interview program, organized by the CMA and co-hosted by Doctors of BC last January in BC. Dr. Thakore says while her school, UBC, did offer interview prep sessions, the CMA program provided additional help by bringing in new medical residents as trainers. For her, it was a detail that made all the difference.
“It was nice to see residents who had already gone through the system themselves, particularly residents who had matched with the same types of programs we were applying to,” explained Dr. Thakore. “They provided a lot of examples of things we might be asked, and strategies for how to structure our interviews and bring out our best selves.”
In the end, Dr. Thakore ended up matching to family practice at the Surrey South-Fraser program (UBC). Her experience with the CMA CaRMS mock interview program was so valuable, she decided to return this year as a trainer.
“As a resident, we have been in that place of pressure and we know the anxiety and the nerves. Going back and remembering that time makes you want to give back, to help the next group of medical students go through this journey.”
Over the course of an eight hour day in January, Dr. Thakore helped facilitate four separate sessions, each about two hours long. In each session, students went through a series of “mock” interviews, conducted by residents, with everyone providing feedback. Dr. Thakore says for many of the students, it was the first time they practiced their answers out loud.
“You can see it in their faces, and sitting there, you can see they are extremely nervous, almost like they are there for the actual interview.”
Dr. Thakore says what makes the program work is the collegiality, being able to get feedback from current residents, as well as their peers, and hear how other medical students answer interview questions.
“At the time of my CaRMS session, I didn’t realize how lost I was, and how anxious I was, and now from a resident perspective, I can see how much of a process this is,” said Dr. Thakore. “Students don’t really understand how they are ranked, what actually is valued in applications…and looking back, I now see how confusing it is for applicants.”
Her advice to students: stay confident, if you have a setback in the interview keep going, stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to show who you really are.
FAST FACTS ABOUT THE CMA CaRMS prep program:
The CaRMS prep program is available, free to charge, to all final year medical students who are members of the CMA and their provincial or territorial medical association. The program runs each year from September to January across Canada.