Grad Interview - Angel Qin, MD

Qin_Angel_web1Name: Angel Qin, MD

Year of graduation from the Residency Program: 2014 for residency, 2015 for chief residency.

Fellowship program specialty and institution: Hematology/Oncology at the University of Michigan

What sets your fellowship program apart? Why did you choose it? When I was looking at different programs, there were a few key criteria in my mind that needed to be fulfilled. 1) Fellow-centric program. I really wanted to be at a program where the emphasis was on the fellows to make key decisions and to be active participants in patient care both inpatient and outpatient. 2) Dedicated research time. This is very dependent on your career goals. For me, I knew I wanted to stay in academics and be very involved in clinical research and therefore it was very important to me that the program has dedicated and protected research time. 3) Mentorship. This is difficult to assess on the interview day, but you can get a sense of the kind of mentorship that is available and if you can fit in.

With all the above criteria in mind, I thought that the University of Michigan was the best fit for me. We are definitely a fellow-driven training program. In addition, all the call is taken as a first year and therefore your research time is truly protected as a second and third year. The research opportunities (basic, translational, clinical, outcomes) are abundant. The mentorship here is excellent and the faculty are very invested and engaged. Finally, geography for me was also important as both my family and my in-laws live in the Midwest.

What was the key to you obtaining a position with the program and performing successfully at the interview? What helped you stand apart from the competition? I have been involved with the recruitment process during fellowship and have some insight as to what my fellowship director is looking for in a candidate. USMLE scores and research portfolio are still highly regarded. The caliber of the applicant’s residency and how it is perceived (I will say that UH/CWRU is held in high esteem!) I was surprised to learn how much the letters of recommendation were valued. I think that because the number of people per fellowship class is so much smaller compared to residency, an applicant’s interpersonal skills and ability to work well in a team becomes even more valued. Finally, it is important to be enthusiastic and engaging. I know that this seems trivial, but an applicant’s enthusiasm for the subspecialty and for the program is very important. You want to stand out as interested, but not overly zealous. First impressions really stick.

What role does the right residency program play in a future career for a resident? As I alluded to above, the caliber of your residency program will affect which interviews you will be offered and how you are perceived. The degree of autonomy given to you as a resident and your confidence in your ability to be independent also greatly affects how you will do in fellowship and beyond.

How did UH/CWRU Residency program prepare you to be successful? I truly believe that had I not trained at a residency program like UH/CWRU, that I would not be where I am today. UH/CWRU is truly a resident-focus program. Therefore, from day one, I was my patient’s primary provider and participated in all aspects of clinical decision making. This translated into confidence in taking care of patients and making decisions independently.  Without these skills, I would not have been able to do well as a busy consultant. The affiliation with a well-known research institution also afforded me extensive research opportunities as a resident. This helped me to demonstrate my interest and commitment to research in Hematology/Oncology.

What is the most fun memory from your time at UH/CWRU? There have been endless amazing memories from my four years at UH/CWRU and my friends and I reminisce about them often. I will say my favorite was our end of intern year trip to the Dominican Republic. The bar at our hotel had an open-mic karaoke night while we were there. While the rest of the guests refrained from making fools of themselves, we had no such reservations. I still have the video of all us bellowing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Needless to say, none of us changed our careers to become professional singers.

What would you advise current residents to do in order to secure a spot in a strong fellowship program? While fellowship is certainly not for everyone, if you have a sincere interest in subspecialty training, then you need to demonstrate a commitment. This means doing more time on the inpatient subspecialty services (Ratnoff/Weisman for the win!), using some elective time to go to outpatient clinics, and starting research as early as possible. I think that what helped me was that I had a well-rounded portfolio of Heme-Onc experiences. I had letters from an attending that worked with me for a month as an inpatient, an attending that I did clinic with, and a research mentor that I had worked closely with for two years, all in Heme-Onc.

Future professional goals: Academic thoracic oncologist