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OBGYN Residency Interview
Questions

23 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Question 1 of 23

A young woman comes to you for advice on an unwanted pregnancy. What do you tell her?

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OBGYN Residency Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    A young woman comes to you for advice on an unwanted pregnancy. What do you tell her?

      This is a question that seeks to know how you might address a problem that is controversial and whether or not you see yourself as being in a position of authority—which you are not when it comes to controversial problems. Such problems are bigger than you, and the interviewer will want to know that you appreciate that. Your pro-life/pro-choice stance, for example, should not be a part of your solution for this patient, and the system is replete with self-help agencies for this. You would want to know, though, the institution’s position.

      Ryan's Answer

      "This is a personal decision on the part of the patient. Because it is very complex and risks being affected by one’s personal beliefs, I would simply tell this patient that there are many resources for exploring her options and offer to give her a list of them or the agency within the institution that addresses this problem."

  2. 2.

    What is the ratio of men-to-women?

      This question is for you to ask the interviewer. This is a trick on your part. In today’s diversity world, and with more women going into OBGYN than men, the nature of the female gender is that some of your peers—those with whom you share the work—will be getting pregnant. That means more work for you for months at a time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female—it isn’t a sexist question—both genders are at the mercy of their peers’ sitting out for a time. But it could be misconstrued by your interviewer as sexist, so phrase it as part of the next question or, simply, just ask the next question and you’ll probably be given that information as part of the answer. And that next question is… What is the diversity mix?

  3. 3.

    How would you prioritize between clinical and educational enrichment?

      Another trick question: you can’t. Be wary of questions that ask you to choose between one necessary component and another necessary component. If they’re both necessary, you need to demonstrate that you don’t see them as a choice of one over the other, but as a consortium of priorities to be blended—perhaps with some emphasis one way—but nevertheless a true blend in managing your priorities.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I’ve always found that educational enrichment was part of clinical enrichment. It’s a tandem endeavor, one dovetailing into the other. Besides, education sticks better when it’s acquired on the clinical job."

  4. 4.

    Are there any subspecialties not represented by the staff?

      This question is for you to ask the interviewer. You want a program that exposes you to all facets of OBGYN, not just delivering babies. You want exposure to high-risk OB, GYN oncology, minimally-invasive surgery, endocrinology, and infertility, at least.

  5. 5.

    How would you dismiss a patient from your practice?

      This is a question that seeks to know what you would find unacceptable in someone you’ve pledged to serve. At what point is that service untenable? Medicine is a relationship between patient and physician, and as such it requires the obligations of both parties. When those obligations falter on the part of one of the “partners,” the entire relationship becomes faulty and untenable. Just because a patient is being “served” by you does not give him or her a pass for defaulting on his or her obligations to the relationship. You need to show the interviewer that there are lines beyond which behavior is unacceptable and grounds for ending the patient-physician relationship.

      Ryan's Answer

      "To me, behavior and compliance are equally important in the sort of 'contract' I would have with a patient that makes up the patient-physician relationship. It must be a 2-way street if it’s a true relationship. If there is the behavior I cannot abide, such as abuse of the clerical or ancillary staff, I must determine that this behavior isn’t part of the pathology; if not, I owe it to those who render care—with me—to separate from this patient after due warnings. Compliance, on the other hand, only hurts the patient. I go to clinic, for example, whether the patient complies or not. Again, though, I would need to know that the patient’s lack of compliance isn’t part of his/her pathology. "

  6. 6.

    What do you feel is your greatest non-medical strength you can bring to the practice of OBGYN?

      This is a question that is testing your morality in medicine. Answers that include empathy, charity, integrity, and consistency will do well. You might want to have a particular anecdote ready that demonstrates why you find this strength important for your life’s vocation.

  7. 7.

    If you were Chief Resident, how would you resolve a dispute between two residents each of whom state they cannot take call on a certain day, yet one must be assigned. Both reasons are equally important. How would you handle this?

      This is a question to see how you address conflict. It’s not looking for a particular right answer; it’s mainly to assess your diplomacy skills, which are needed for any resident to handle the little day-to-day crises that hamper an already very busy schedule. Your answer should not dwell on the crisis presented but on your graceful approach toward re-establishing harmony in the program. No one wants trouble or disruption, so establishing a policy of thoughtful approaches to harmony will be satisfying to the interviewer.

      Ryan's Answer

      "For this particular problem, the sooner it is settled the better, because the day in question is going to come, no matter what. I would ask both of them to meet me in a private location or work room and simply tell them that someone is going to get his or her way and someone isn’t…therefore, ask them to solve the problem creatively. Perhaps one resident can cover an extra day of call for getting his way, or some other exchange can be made. There are as many solutions as there is creativity, but the clear message is that they can’t leave without settling it and you are happy to act as a 3rd party. Also, let them know if they can’t agree on a solution, that you will settle it without favoritism—or guilt!"

  8. 8.

    How do you feel diversity in medicine is working out?

      This is a question that really is asking how it’s working out for you. That is, it is a sneaky way to see what you think of the diversity strategy in medicine. Correcting inequities has always been difficult for society, requiring effort and consistency in spite of the difficulty. It has also been controversial for those who don’t embrace its rationale, so your answer can reveal whether you appreciate the rationale or not. Make no mistake: in today’s world, the program will expect an applicant it chooses to embrace the rationale of diversity.

      Ryan's Answer

      "Diversity happened because it was needed. If there is an imbalance in professional caregivers, there could be an imbalance in the care itself. Diversity in medicine is no different than diversity at large, and our society needs it if we’re going to 'make it' as a diverse society. I think it’s working out fine, but it’s not enough. It must continue and be refined for the betterment of all."

  9. 9.

    What is the call schedule typically in this residency?

      This question is for you to ask the interviewer. This will give you an idea as to whether the program is too abusive to learn anything. Being on call every other night for hospital that has < 30 deliveries a month and only 50-100 beds is not problematic; but if you’re going to be up all night every other night, that’s a problem. A good rule of thumb is delivery about 20-30 babies a month but split over several on-call days. You’ll want to know if you have the day off after an on-call night—this isn’t necessary if you’re not up all night, but if you are…are you expected to put in a full day following? Don’t get into these particular questions—the interviewer will think you’re pompous—just ask what is the typical call schedule like. You’ll definitely get the info you seek between the lines.

  10. 10.

    What is the diversity mix?

      This question is for you to ask the interviewer. This a trick by you. First, you want to know what the gender ratio is (ask first), but you also want to show that you’re a fan of diversity and embrace it. Diversity, besides being a really good thing and important, is a big, big, deal, and just by the way you ask this question will reveal to your interviewer that you’re well on-board with it and see it as a good thing and something you find attractive.

      Above all, people selecting applicants want someone who gives them the following indications:
      -That they can rise to challenge, even during the most challengeable times.
      -That they can stay the course and finish the program. Accepting a candidate is a big investment, and one dropping out represents a huge loss that cannot be recouped.
      -That the things important to the program, e.g., diversity, empathy, etc., are just as important to the applicant.
      -That the applicant is stable, that is, is consistent in his/her ethics/morality.
      -That the applicant isn’t just 'book knowledge,' but has the attributes traditionally see as necessary in the practice of medicine; that he/she is a people person and dedicated to the human connection in caring for patients.

  11. 11.

    Is there exposure—and how much—to subspecialties?

      This question is for you to ask the interviewer. Do you just hear lectures on them, or do you actually rotate through them, caring for patients?

  12. 12.

    What is the rate of completion of the residency by those who begin their first year here?

      This question is for you to ask the interviewer. This time, you are asking a trick question. It is a way of asking how successful the residency is in training qualified specialists.

  13. 13.

    What has been your biggest ethical challenge thus far in medicine?

      The interviewer here wants to sincerely know how you solved your biggest problem. This is not a trick question. Your answer should reflect that you know what is ethical vs non-ethical, where you need to intervene and how, and that the patient-physician relationship puts the patient first, but not at the expense of the physician’s ethics.

  14. 14.

    Your 21-year-old Jehovah’s Witness patient suffers an abruption, threatening her life and that of her unborn baby. Your upper-level resident tells you to order a blood transfusion so she and her baby won’t die. Do you do this? If so, why? If not, why

      Another trick question. Here is an adult who refuses blood by the nature of her beliefs, but she needs something written or documented (from verbal indications, e.g., in a progress note) that she would refuse blood even if it meant saving her life. If there is no such directive and there is no documentation of her beliefs, you are obligated to seek the best clinical outcome, regardless of what her family may say. If there is, you are legally forbidden to give blood, even though mother and baby will die. Beyond the ethical dilemma, giving blood would be considered malpractice, legally, which puts your program in a vulnerable position.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I would need to know if there were an advanced directive documenting her refusal of blood. Regardless, I would have whoever is part of the hospital ethics committee join me in the decision-making on this patient. This problem is bigger than me and I shouldn’t be the only one to make such a decision. I would need and seek the backing of someone delegated to navigate these issues legally. The other issue involves insubordination to my superior resident. I would urge him/her to do the same in seeking assistance from someone so designated to do this, even if it meant rolling it uphill as high as the Department Chairman."

  15. 15.

    You are treating a 22-year-old for endometriosis and schedule a laparoscopy. Her father calls you to tell you confidentially that it is all a ploy to get narcotics. What’s your next step?

      This calls into question HIPAA policies and your respect for them. This is not a matter between you and her father, but between you and her, so HIPAA requires that you respect that, even if it means risking naivety on your part. HIPAA trumps any refusal on your part to being 'no one’s fool.' This is a tricky conflict (choosing between the law and being played), and a good answer will explain how you manage to be true to yourself while doing what’s appropriate.

      Ryan's Answer

      "First off, I would tell her father that I cannot speak to him about any patients and cannot even tell him if his daughter is a patient; but that I can listen to him. That would be the extent of our interaction. I would get a drug screen on her as part of the pre-op, which is a test that is justifiable on any patient for any reason. If the results indicated inappropriate drug use or doctor-shopping, her non-life-threatening surgery could certainly be put off for a week or two for purposes of psychiatric and addictionology consultation. If the drug screen were unsuspicious, I would document this, proceed on with the plans because endometriosis cannot be ruled out without surgery, but I would be careful to follow the state’s guidelines on prescribing scheduled drugs postop. "

  16. 16.

    What do you feel are your family obligations?

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  17. 17.

    Physicians are very busy people. What would be your formula for balancing work duties with family obligations?

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  18. 18.

    OBGYN is a mix of book knowledge, insight, dexterity, and ethics. If you had a pie chart, how might these, %-wise, divide out for you personally and is there any change you feel you should work on to adjust it?

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  19. 19.

    Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? 20 years?

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  20. 20.

    What have you learned from your family that will carry over into your professional life?

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  21. 21.

    A patient of one of your peers wants to switch to you because she felt he was 'creepy.' What do you tell her and how would you manage the switch with your associate?

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  22. 22.

    Another resident confides in you about a substance abuse problem. How should you address this, if at all?

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  23. 23.

    You are assisting in a C-section on a homeless woman having her 4th child, and your upper-level resident makes some disparaging remarks about the patient’s situation. What do you do?

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