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Road to Residency with Mount Sinai

With interview season fresh underway, we knew our next Road to Residency feature had to include interview tips from the top and in-depth info about DEI, wellness and culture. We're excited to introduce to you Mount Sinai's pathology residency program director, Dr. Barbara Sampson, as she answers the hottest Match questions and gives us a peek into Mount Sinai Pathology.

How can PathMatch applicants stay motivated and inspired through interview season?

Residents conducting back-to-back interviews, sometimes with little feedback, can get very exhausting! Tips to tackle “interview burnout” can be individualized, but here are our recommendations:

a) Build a network: a support system of people in the same boat Build an active network of match applicants, residents, and mentors while on the interview trail. Share your experiences and listen to others’ experiences. Reach out to residents that you met (likely on Zoom or other social media platforms) and share experiences.

b) Understand that interviews are not meant to stress you but strengthen you Consider interviews truly as opportunities to learn more about the program and to tell the program more about yourself. Make a list of things you’d like to know more about the program to keep you motivated during the interviews.

c) Don’t stop pursuing your hobbies

Find ways to relax—continue your hobbies and extracurricular activities.

Left: Dr. William Westra during digital sign-out; Right: PGY-1 Dr. Yamato Suemitsu during digital slide preview. With over 70% of the slides being scanned and signed out digitally, residents do daily digital slide previews.

How can an applicant stand out in Zoom interviews?

Do be prepared and on time. Get a good night’s sleep and look presentable. Make sure cell phones and other devices that make noise are silenced. Refrain or limit constantly looking at or using your phone. Be confident and alert. Ask specific questions relevant to the program as it pertains to your ambitions and career goals. Be honest. Try to explain your goals and how you think the program is best in helping you achieve those goals. Be an attentive listener.

PGY-1 Dr. Erdem Kombak at the grossing station

What question(s) should prospective residents be sure to ask during residency interviews?

Most information about the curriculum is provided by the programs on their website or open houses. During the interview, try to learn about the culture of the program and any other specific questions that pertain to you. Try to see how the program aligns with your personality and your career goals. You might also consider:

  • How does the program value residents’ opinions in decision making? How much say do residents have in decisions in the program, particularly the ones that directly concern them—for instance, planning their own rotation schedule within the confines of the ACGME requirements?

  • What are the alumni doing? What fellowships are recent alumni are doing, and the jobs alumni have secured?

  • What program support is provided? Can you attend conferences, are there board preparation resources, and ultimately, do they assist with securing fellowships and jobs?

  • Are there opportunities for one-on-one interaction with the attendings including sign-outs and beyond? And is there an open-door policy?

  • Does the program have any structured mentoring initiative/program?

  • Is there research support? Is there a policy to provide funding for resident research?

  • How do you see the future of pathology?

  • Are there mentoring programs?

  • Are there any opportunities for fellowships internally?

What are do's and don'ts for interview season?

Be yourself. Be honest. Be polite. But also, don’t worry too much about how you’re being perceived.

Have a neutral Zoom background and good lighting. Make sure your internet connection and audio are working perfectly. Make sure you’re sitting in a room with no disturbances. Schedule a practice Zoom session with your mentor, friend, or family member.

After the interview, it’s a good idea to follow up and send a brief and polite “thank you” note to your interviewers.

Have your elevator pitch ready. Don’t use clichés.

Have enough time between two interviews to carefully study programs and know what to ask and discuss specific points relevant to the program.

Have ample time to relax.

How would you describe the culture of your residency program?

Supportive, unbiased, transparent and flexible. The culture in the Mount Sinai Pathology Department is nurturing and non-competitive. The focus is on balanced learning, tailored to each resident’s future goals and personality. Resident wellness and activities to prevent burnout are a huge focus, with a dedicated wellness program, wellness committee and system-wide wellness initiatives.

Dr. Sampson and pathology residents get a special visitor

The atmosphere is unbiased. Should a resident have an issue, there are opportunities to speak up on various levels including an open-door policy with the faculty, monthly and annual evaluations, and the option to report or ask questions anonymously. We understand that mistakes do happen, especially when starting residency. There’s a focus on developing systems to prevent these mistakes with no individual blame. We have monthly resident meetings with the program director where program decisions and policies are discussed with all the residents.

Life happens; our program is cognizant and supportive of this fact. Each resident’s training is molded, when needed, according to their special circumstances (while following the goals and objectives of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education).

How do you prioritize and incorporate mental wellness into your program?

Mental wellness is an integral part of the residency program at Mount Sinai. We have a dedicated faculty wellness champion leading a Resident Wellness Committee comprised of resident representatives, selected by their peers, from each class. There are monthly funded wellness activities including picnics in Central Park, visits to museums, potting and gardening activities, an annual Pathology art exhibition, pumpkin carving on Halloween, and a holiday gift exchange. We hold semi-annual meetings with the faculty wellness champion with a one-on-one discussion with each resident about their wellbeing, mental health, and life in general.

Succulent potting is one of the many resident wellness activities offered by Mount Sinai Pathology

Mount Sinai also has a Student and Trainee Mental Health Program that offers a free helpline for trainees whenever they’re facing any problems. Residents have opportunities to attend wellness activities such as mindfulness workshops and yoga classes, and most of these are completely sponsored by the Health System. Mount Sinai also offers discounted vouchers for various health and cultural activities in New York City, including theater shows, restaurants, and fitness classes.

How do you incorporate DEI efforts into your program?

This is an important part of our program. Mount Sinai was awarded the 2022 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award, one of the highest honors in the health care diversity field. Some of the ways we honor and incorporate DEI in our program include: a system-wide efforts to ensure equity across systemic practice of medicine. This includes recent work by our Chemistry Department, in collaboration with the Nephrology Department, in eliminating “race” variable from GFR (glomerular filtration rate) calculations based on serum creatinine.

We have mandatory onboarding training sessions to explain the practical meaning of medical terms and teaching how to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias from our practices. We also have a diverse group of faculty and residents. There’s a focus on upholding the values of DEI during recruitment and all aspects of training. We also host “Just Desserts,” a monthly informal meeting featuring women scientists from our faculty, and outside the Health System, giving the trainees an opportunity to ask questions about juggling work and life and succeeding both as women trainees and practicing doctors.

White Elephant gift exchange brings residents together

to ring in holiday season cheer

How can interested applicants find out more about Mount Sinai’s pathology residency program?

We're hosting 3 virtual open houses this year. Please register using the links below to discover more about our program.

9/1/22, 5 PM: COMPLETED

9/6/22, 12 PM:

9/12/22, 8 PM:

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