American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Opportunities and Resources

Upcoming Hangout: Balancing Family Life as a Surgeon

Woodson Smelser, MD, Urologic Oncology FellowMonday, August 31, 2020, 8:00 pm Central

Presenter: Woodson Smelser, MD, Urologic Oncology Fellow

Join Dr. Woodson Smelser, clinical instructor and Society of Urologic Oncology Fellow at Vanderbilt University, for a dynamic discussion regarding balancing busy life at work and at home as a surgeon. Dr. Smelser encourages you to include your significant other in this webinar since surgery residency is a team sport!

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Best practices for communication
  • Calendar synching
  • Crisis management
  • Protecting time with family
  • Challenges and solutions regarding parental leave and childcare

Register for the hangout. You must register for a hangout in advance of attending. You will be able to join the hangout once you have received an e-mail with the login information.

Research Scholarships for Residents

The American College of Surgeons offers two-year Resident Research Scholarships to eligible resident surgeons interested in a career in academic surgery. Here is a link to the Resident Research Scholarship webpage where residents can find out more about the scholarship and apply for the current funding cycle.

The application deadline is September 30, 2020.

RAS-ACS Webinar on Virtual Interviews

By Camila R. Guetter

The RAS-ACS hosted a webinar on tips and tricks for virtual interviews for both residency and fellowship applicants. This webinar was coordinated and moderated by the RAS-ACS Membership Committee, and our experienced and knowledgeable guest panelists included:

  • Dr. Andrew Wright, Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship Director and Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Dr. Nicole Chandler, Director of Pediatric Surgery Research,  Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and Pediatric Surgery Fellowship Program Director
  • Dr. Sophia McKinley, General Surgery Chief Resident, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; she recently completed an entirely virtual interview season for a complex general surgical oncology fellowship
  • Dr. Ashley Leberfinger, General Surgery Chief Resident, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA; she recently matched a fellowship in plastic surgery after completing a mix of traditional in-person and mixed interviews

The key points of the discussion are summarized below.

General recommendations:

  • The virtual format can highlight your strengths effectively, as well as demonstrate where your passion lies and what your interests are.
  • Program directors are still able to sense the fit of a candidate via virtual interviews.
  • Consider and treat virtual interviews like a regular interview, and avoid increased anxiety due to the format.
  • Prepare questions. Similar to a normal interview, the first half is used by the interviewer to ask questions, and the second half is allotted for you to ask yours.
  • Be flexible. Many programs are also figuring out how to best conduct virtual interviews.
  • Virtual interviews, like in-person interviews, can be tiring. It may not be wise to accept interviews you would not go to in person.
  • Be mindful of your behavior in front of the camera. Video interviews tend to exaggerate nervous habits, tics, behaviors, and odd postures.
  • Make sure you are always muted in a group talk to minimize background noises.
  • Sound notifications can be very disrupting during the interview. Turn off your phone, or at least silence the alerts, e-mail notifications, etc.

Pre-interview preparation:

  • Test your technology. There are several platforms that you will likely use. Make sure that the software is downloaded and be familiar with the platform. Ensure that your Internet connection is stable.
  • Leave your computer plugged in or at least have a charger nearby.
  • Pay attention to time zones for each interview and plan accordingly.
  • Be on time. Log in five to 10 minutes early.
  • Dress professionally (as you would dress for an in-person interview).
  • There is no preference between wearing headphones or using the computer’s built-in microphone. It depends on how much environmental noise you may have. If you decide to wear headphones, an idea is to position the wire behind your back to avoid it being a distraction, or even wear wireless headphones. Opt for smaller headsets rather than bigger colorful ones, which can be distracting.
  • Have a piece of paper and pen next to you so you can write notes during the interview.
  • Have a drink or snack nearby if you have a short break between interview sessions.
  • Practice your interview and test your environment with someone else (friend, colleague) so you can get familiar with the format.
  • When practicing, maintain eye contact, which means looking directly at the camera rather than to the person on the screen. It takes some getting used to, but it can allow for a better connection with the interviewer.
  • Similar to in-person interviews, have a plan to gather all the information you need to make your rank list, including questions to ask about the program, professional development, environment, campus, facilities, and work relationships.
  • Ask trainees about the cost of living, where they live, challenges in commuting, culture among trainees/surgeons, and how conflicts are managed.

Environment, background, lighting:

  • Set up a comfortable physical space to interview. Sit in a relaxed (but not too relaxed) manner.
  • Decide where you will be doing the interview. Choose a quiet place with a stable Internet connection where you won’t be interrupted or disturbed.
  • Be mindful of the lighting, and avoid having a window at your back. There are many videos you can find online to get lighting tips.
  • If you wear glasses, try to minimize glare issues. This can be done by adjusting your light source. Some panelists prefer wearing contact lenses to avoid this issue overall. Others prefer to wear glasses, but then adjust the light to avoid reflections.
  • Choose a background that is not distracting to your interviewer. Opt for a plain background such as a bookshelf. Your background can also be a point of conversation, so be prepared to explain something that can be found there.
  • Adjust your camera so that it is at the correct height. Your eyes should be at the same level as the camera.

After the interview:

  • The post-interview etiquette is the same as for in-person interviews. You can still send thank you notes/e-mails.
  • If you are still uncertain about the culture of the program after your interview, reach out to residents and fellows via e-mail to ask more questions.
  • In addition, if you feel there is something relevant that didn’t come across during the interview, consider reaching out to the program coordinator .
  • Make sure that with every communication you remain professional and authentic. Most programs are open to responding to interviewee inquiries and requests. For example, “I really loved your program. This is what I found appealing... My interest is in … Do you have more information on ...? We didn’t get to talk about this part of my interest …. Can you answer these questions…?”

For some extra recommendations for interviewees and programs, make sure to read the recent article by Sophia McKinley et al, Successful Virtual Interviews: Perspectives from Recent Surgical Fellowship Applicants and Advice for Both Applicants and Programs,published in Annals of Surgery.

TSRA Seeks Your Input, Survey Link Provided

The Thoracic Surgery Resident Association (TSRA) seeks to assess and objectively identify the driving interest of resident trainees regarding cardiothoracic surgery as well as identify areas of concern regarding attrition of the general surgery applicant. This survey can assist in educating cardiothoracic surgery training models, increase exposure, decrease biases, and ultimately help our field continue to attract the best and brightest from all routes.

This survey will take you approximately three to five minutes to complete. Responses are anonymous, and you will not be contacted with any further questions. We plan to use the data from this survey to better guide our organization as we continue to work for the cardiothoracic surgery trainees.

Goal: This study will better clarify sub-specialty interest and limit sub-specialty attrition.

Confidentiality and Anonymity: The information that you share will remain strictly confidential and will be used solely for the purposes of this research. The only people who will have access to the research data are the research team.

Take the survey

Thank you for your support.