What an absolute train wreck

Happier times (despite not smiling)

Firstly, thank you to everyone for being so supportive and encouraging in my previous post. I am sorry I haven’t had the chance to reply or be really active on this space, but I thought I’d give you an update on what’s happening. It’s been a shit show. Words cannot even describe how disappointed and confused I have been over the past 48 hours. Let’s start from the beginning.

Some definitions. The centralised organisation that deals with our interviews is called PMCV. The software in which we recorded our interviews is called Sonru. We have a Facebook group where a lot of updates are shared by fellow students and there is a representative who communicates directly with the PMCV, however it is unofficial and certainly not where we expect to hear formal announcements.

Okay, back to what happened on Thursday. We were told all students would receive an email with the link to the interview before 3 PM and that all interviews needed to be completed by 7 PM. By 3:05 PM, none of my friends nor I had received the link. I eventually got at 3:25 PM, although from the sounds of it many didn’t receive it until well after 4 PM. I got myself ready and logged in about 40 minutes after receiving my link, ready to sell myself professionally to invisible future doctors who were going to review my responses. Prior to the actual interview Sonru runs a few tests to ensure your internet, microphone and camera are all working fine. I could not get passed the first internet test. I was stuck. My internet was working fine and I ran plenty of speed checks to ensure it was not a problem on my end, therefore it had to be an issue on Sonru. Checking Facebook made it obvious majority of the students had the same issue. To make matters worse, some were halfway through their interview when the connection broke and they were cut off. Around 4:30 PM we were encouraged by our student representative on Facebook to use our phones instead of computers, as it was supposedly working better. I waited until 5:30 PM before losing my nerve and resorting to my phone, which didn’t look as professional to me but was better than nothing. The moment I finished my interview at 6 PM, I found out we received an email saying EVERY STUDENT NEEDED TO REDO THE INTERVIEW THE NEXT DAY. We had completely wasted a day that was filled with stress and nerves.

You can imagine what happened next. Shit hit the fan and Facebook was overwhelmed with confused and unhappy people. It made sense for students who were cut off mid-interview to require a resit, but it did mean for many of us who completed it successfully we were unduly scheduled in for another day of stress. Some recommended allowing only those who experienced technical issues to simply finish off their interview, but this wasn’t helpful to students who treated it as a practise after receiving the email. I thought the best method was to allow both those groups to resit the interview properly, however I suppose PMCV thought that was unreasonable. I was disappointed I had to do it on my phone (and one of the questions was completely unfair and revealed private information that may end up disadvantaging some students), but would have accepted it as my attempt and left it there. But oh boy, it doesn’t end there.

The rest of the evening was a complete mess. Students were individually emailing in receiving different answers. Some were told everyone had to do it on Friday, some were told if they were happy with their original attempt they could opt-out for the resit. The situation was unfolding and we understood there needed to be time for chinks to be sorted out, but the biggest issue (which remained the biggest problem throughout the entire debacle) was the complete lack of communication. PMCV had apparently sent out subsequent emails saying “You don’t have to sit the second interview,” however most of us weren’t getting them. How do you screw up a mailing list? Students were posting screenshots of individual emails they were receiving and the information was completely inconsistent across the board. No one knew what was happening.

I was tired from a day of confusion and unnecessary stress therefore eventually went to bed, prepared for another interview. Cue Friday morning. The new interview was supposed to be released at 9 AM and close at 9 PM. Many advocated for clear instructions and an update on what the expectations were (who needed to do it and what happens if people ended up with 2 complete interviews, compared to some who could only do one), but of course that never happened. Once again I didn’t receive my link to the interview until 10 AM, and had no idea what the consequences were if I completed 2 successful interviews. So I waited. Some had received emails explicitly stating the interview was an opt-in process, but I guess PMCV wasn’t competent enough to send that to everyone. I was beginning to lean towards not attempting it a second time, because although I knew I could have done better, it was still a decent attempt and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to go through those 30 minutes of stress again. Another problem was that PMCV explained they couldn’t control which one out of the two was seen by the hospitals, therefore only a 50/50 chance of my “better” attempt being viewed didn’t seem completely worth it. It also appeared that the most honest and fair thing to do was to opt-out and allow only those who didn’t have a completed interview to retry.

But PMCV wanted to see the world burn. At 12 PM we finally received our first piece of correspondence since the “compulsory resit” email. The interviews were opt-in and PMCV had MAGICALLY discovered a way to allow us to nominate which interview we wanted to be sent to hospitals (they seem to contradict themselves a lot). Essentially, we had the opportunity to try again and put our best foot forward. For some who royally screwed up the first attempt, it was a great opportunity to improve. We knew the questions were going to be different, but very similar in nature. For people like me, who didn’t think their first interview was great but passable, couldn’t decide whether it was actually worth it. I believed I would perform similarly regardless, because that’s just how I am when I’m nervous. It continued to be unfair to those who didn’t have a complete interview under their belt, as they would not have the option of choosing their best attempt. So what did I do? Well, I’m a paranoid person and I hate missing out on things, therefore I eventually decided at 3 PM to resit it. And guys, it was about the same. I think I will end up using the second one, but I don’t even know whether it’ll make much of a difference.

Since then, the cohort of 1000+ medical students applying for Victorian jobs has been recovering from PTSD. Emergency discussions regarding the weighting of the interview in the evaluation process (currently 40%) are underway, as people continue to riot. It will never be a fair process and I’m sure some of us will always feel as if we were cheated of something, but we cannot alter what has happened and cannot control how each hospital interprets the situation. I have no idea what is going to happen from this point forwards and where I stand in the debate, but I do know I am just tired, sad and done with it.

Something that I have sadly realised as well is that in times of stress, I am the type of person who needs to reach out to my peers in the same boat for advice and debriefing. I need to feel connected and have conversations to ensure I am not missing out on key details and making mistakes. But we all deal with stress in different ways and it seems that most of my closest pals are the type to close off and disappear for a few days. I’ve been left on “read” and I think asking again would be considered hounding for details and disrespectful. I was also eager for a post-interview celebration to reunite everyone, but everyone seemed to want to be alone or hang out with specific people only. I think giving people space is the most considerate thing to do right now, I suppose it was such a traumatising experience we’re all recovering quietly and would rather not talk about it. I’m not sure why I tend to be needy for connection in such situations, but I’d put it down to an overwhelming sense of FOMO (feeling of missing out). Anyways, I am going to end things there, I am sorry this entire essay has been me venting my frustrations, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and I hope to get back to you soon!

21 thoughts on “What an absolute train wreck

  1. Hey, the world’s not ending.
    You’re gonna be a doctor before you know it.
    If I were you I’d mention this blog to every prospective employer because it’s better than any interview you could ever sit.
    Just saying…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. In a few years you are going to look back on this whole things and laugh. What a great story it will be, with others laughing and saying “You’ve gotta be kidding!” It’s things like this that helps keep life interesting, even though they are maddening at the time. Hope you hear from the hospital you want soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hmm… could it be possible they did that on purpose? To see how a potential dr would handle stresses if they did not have access to the things they needed?

    I say that because in war times or in times of, say a virus… you don’t always have the ability to have everything at your finger tips… could they be looking to see who can rise above that and handle that stress?

    As a doctor sometimes you are going to have those crazy days where you want to throw your hands up and be done – as I’m sure you know lol … and sometimes you will get situations out of your control… how do you handle – could they be looking at that?

    This wouldn’t be a test would it? To pick the cream of the crop? Best of the best?

    Who can handle with poise and strength no matter what happens?

    I agree with a previous responder on the aspect – later on when you are established – it will be a funny story – too soon for that right now… but maybe someday ✌️

    I am the type to go silent if too heavy as well… but connecting with others in same situation or familiarity helps.

    Venting also does wonders for clearing your mind and stresses – I do that too

    I hope everything goes really well for you… you do seem to have a strength. I don’t think you will have any problems landing an amazing position ✌️ you are very relatable. People like that.

    Bedside manner for doctors is kinda rare over hear… we do have some really amazing doctors – but some are jackasses only interested in the money and prestige.

    Can you keep composure when everything is crazy? Maybe they looking for that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. God I hope not, it wasn’t even the interviews themselves that were stressful, everyone was just frustrated at how poor communication was. Especially when they emphasise how important it is for us to have good communication skills, probably not the best idea to then turn around and be a hypocrite.

      Thank you for the support 🙂 I hope it goes well for all of us too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The added stress and confusion is deliberate on their part, I suspect. Feigning ineptitude is a trick of the establishment to see how folks react and who is really paying attention. This is done even in low-level university courses, weed out those who complain or who can’t/won’t get with the program.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see how some would think that way, I really think they weren’t anticipating any issues. The interview itself wasn’t stressful and I think we all performed similarly regardless, but it was just incredibly frustrating to have very little communication. People had other commitments such as work on Friday, and to be told at 6PM the night before they’d have to redo the interview was probably not very appropriate. Some simply couldn’t do the interview again because they had commitments they couldn’t change on short notice. Especially since they emphasise how important it is for us to have good communication skills.

      All the hospitals have been told what happened and we’ve been told they’ll take it into account. We don’t know what that exactly means but we shall have to see!


  5. I think connecting is healthy. I hope you’ll keep a penchant for it, especially as your career in medicine moves forward. Needing space is fine and often, well, needed. Folding within is an inclination I can relate to, though in recent years I’ve been challenging it by reaching out.

    I probably don’t need to tell you any of this, because your impulses and instincts seem really sound, among them to get rest. Of course, you’ve been buffeted around with an impossibly inconsistent use of technology. When technology fails, as it does, then everything should stop and start again. What can be kept might be okay, but everything needs adapting from the original situation. And everyone should be communicated with, evenly. That’s not for you to have to work out; it’s for administrators.

    Well, I imagine you know all this, too. It’s a maddening situation that you and all of you should not have been subjected to. I’m glad you reacted to everything the way you did. Being nervous seems normal, too. At least I’d be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 Yes, I wasn’t upset the program failed and we had to make new arrangements, but the poor communication and inconsistent information was unwarranted. I think we all still performed well regardless, and now it’s just a waiting game to see what happens. Thank you for being so encouraging!


  6. For me, it is amazing that you handled things the way you did. Given how intense the situation was, it is likely that anyone would have been nervous. To want to reach out to others after a stressful event is only human. Communicating with others can help alleviate our stresses. Because of the way you comported yourself, I have no doubt you’ll make a great doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

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