The answer I SHOULD have given....

     Are either of your parents physicians? 

     Who else in your family is a physician?

     What do your parents do?

These are all questions that I that got asked at my last interview.... I was a bit taken aback. But I answered in brief.

Are either of your parents physicians? 

Who else in your family is a physician?
No one. I will be the first. No one else has a graduate degree. Just me.

What do your parents do?
My mom is a nurse. Right now she works to help manage an Assisted Living Home. In the past she has worked in home health care, private practice and as a floor nurse in different settings. She has done a little bit of everything.

My dad is the Safety Manager for an Oil Supply Company. He does all of the employee safety training and is the first responder when someone in the field gets injured and needs to be taken for medical care.
Yep, this is what I said. Boring... True, but my responses pretty much answered the interviewers questions and they had little else to ask or follow with.
However, I have been thinking.... Why was I asked this? What did the interviewer really want to know?

Maybe she really meant....Do I have a role model that was a physician? Do I have any sense of how difficult training will be or what it is like to be a physician? Am I smart enough? Why do I want to become a doctor? Is this a family career or something personal? Why did I choose this career?

I have no idea why I was asked this (repeatedly) during my last interview but it bothers me... It bothers me enough that I will not rank this program as high as perhaps it deserves.

I applied and was granted an interview so someone had to think I was worth the time. So why then should I be made to feel as though I am not up to the task or not good enough to train at this program? Obviously this was not explicitly stated to me, but this is how I ended up feeling....  But I think, no, I KNOW, that I AM capable and worthy and so I am stuck on the WHY???? What was the purpose of this line of questioning? What does it matter? Do my parents define me? If my father had walked out when I was 3 or my mother had died when I was 13 would this change who I am enough to affect what kind of doctor I am going to be? Or was this just a stuck up NewYork style interview?

If you, dear reader, have a different perspective or think maybe I was over-reacting or misinterpreting this line of questioning I would love to hear your thoughts....

Otherwise, this is what I SHOULD have said.

Are either of your parents physicians? 
No. But they were both amazing role models to me. I learned how important it is to care and give back to the community from my dad and I was inspired to enter the medical profession by my mother who worked in many different settings as a RN.

Who else in your family is a physician?
No one. I am PROUD to be the first.

What do your parents do?
My parents do many things.

My dad is a Safety Manager for an Oil Supply Company.... But it was he that taught me the importance of community service. My earliest memories of him are helping to construct a homeless shelter/temporary apartment in our church basement. It was to be a place for an out of luck family to stay in while the parents sought work and got back on their feet. The apartment had a kitchen stocked with food, a desk for the children to sit and do their homework. A living area. Two bedrooms. It was sparsely decorated and very basic but it offered a chance for a family that would otherwise have to separate with dad at one homeless shelter and mom and the kids at another. I remember how much it meant to my dad to be a part of something bigger. My dad cares about people and has made sure that I always thought about others too. He made sure that I not only appreciated the resources and family that I was lucky to have but also that I did something to help those who were not as lucky.

My mother is a nurse. I remember hearing lots of stories about doctors of all kinds from her. She loved some and thought others were rude, arrogant and not good for their patients. She taught me what she knew of medicine and instilled in me a basic love of taking care of people.

My parents do many things, but first and foremost they love me and have done a good job raising me which is why I am  here today. So, have I answered your questions?

Yes, these are the answers I SHOULD have given...


  1. In my experience, I think the questions about your parents/family are supposed to shed some light on why and how you might've become involved in medicine. Many applicants have a long line of doctors in their family and oftentimes they pursue medicine because its basically expected of them and not because they're passionate about it...which in turn usually has some correlation on what type of physician they might be.
    I don't necessarily think the question and your replies have any bearing on how strong of an applicant you are perceived to be. As you pointed out- they selected you for an interview, so clearly you've met their standards. Furthermore, you're certainly not lacking physician role models given that you are married to one! And yes, part of it could just be a NY program- they tend to be a bit snootier than others for reasons that escape me.

    Above all, you know yourself and your motivations best, so as long as you get that across, you are good. You are an intelligent, compassionate, motivated, and skilled individual and and you'll go on to be an excellent physician- something that I am sure many of your interviewers have already assessed. Keep your head up, and don't let the mind games bring you down. You got this!


    1. Thanks S. I appreciate your perspective and you are probably right. If they had only asked the questions I mentioned above and not made some other rather dismissive comments I may have been more objective. But in either case... I am moving on. Thanks for reading and commenting as always.