Interview by Elizabeth Ansert, DPM.
Dr. Paul Cournoyer is a graduate from Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and completed his residency at the Wyckoff Heights Hospital in New York. He is currently the Chief of Podiatry and director of the podiatric residency at St. Vincent Hospital as well as a physician at the Premiere Foot and Ankle Clinic in Worcester, MA. Dr. Cournoyer is a diplomate in the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Eric Swenson is a graduate of the Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine. He is currently a second year at the Mount Auburn podiatric surgical residency in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Swenson has designed anatomical illustrations for podiatric articles and textbooks as well as co-authoring a recent metanalysis on total ankle replacements.
Q1. As a resident, residency director or administrator, what is one of the first things that you look at in an applicant’s CV and why? Is there a particular section that holds more weight for you than others?
Both Dr. Cournoyer and Dr. Swenson attempt to understand the candidate in a personal way. However, Dr. Cournoyer first looks at the applicant’s personal statement. Dr. Cournoyer feels that this gives me a glimpse into the applicant’s personality, character, why they chose a career in healthcare, and how they would potentially fit into the culture of our program. Dr. Swenson looks for any previous experience in the areas of team sports or leadership positions.
Q2. Is there a common mistake you see on an applicant’s CV? If so, how can this mistake be avoided or improved?
“Unfortunately,” Dr. Cournoyer says, “grammar and spelling mistakes are frequently seen.” Dr. Swenson often notices a lack of diversity. He advises applicants to try to highlight unique qualities, skills, or experiences to help them stand out amongst others.
Q3. If an applicant has publications on their CV, should they include everything or only peer-reviewed or recognizable articles?
applicant’s CV should include every publication they have worked on
Both Dr. Cournoyer and Dr. Swenson feel that an applicant’s CV should include every publication they have worked on and also note that the applicant should be prepared to discuss any details of their works. Dr. Cournoyer warns that too frequently when some applications are asked about any details of the presentation, it becomes apparent they were not significantly involved in the work required for publication.
Q4. What advice do you have for an applicant with no publications?
When this is the case, both panelists agree that the other aspects of the CV should be highlighted and built up. It is important to demonstrate a passion for podiatric medicine through other avenues. It is also important to try and gain experiences that will help you stand out as a candidate. Dr. Swenson says, “Not having publications on your CV usually won’t prevent you from being granted an interview. That being said, every program is different. If the program you are seeking is a very prestigious academic program, then the odds will be against you. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying.”
Q5. Should students include class research projects on their CV?
Dr. Cournoyer and Dr. Swenson agree that having class projects on an applicant’s CV is appropriate. Dr. Cournoyer does caution that applicants need to be prepared to discuss this project in a detailed, comprehensive manner and thoughtful explanation of the findings.
Q6. What interpersonal qualities or skills do you find most valuable in a student?
Each program has a unique personality and environment. Thankfully, this allows for many different places for different interpersonal qualities to flourish. For Dr. Cournoyer, he feels that Empathy and compassion are critical qualities for any resident. Residents can be taught surgical skills, but empathy and compassion are the foundation of an individual’s character and cannot be taught.
Dr. Swenson looks for if the applicant is a team player. “Will they make a good addition to my team? Can I rely on them?” he asks. Dr. Swenson lists the key qualities he looks for as: team player takes initiative, dependable, enthusiastic, eager to learn, are teachable, socially normal, professional appearance. Dr. Swenson also notes poor qualities in candidates, such as: lazy, not teachable, a know-it-all, bad attitude, no personality, not socially normal, dresses like a slob.
Q7. When at interviews, do you look for any specific interpersonal traits?
Specifically, at interviews, interpersonal skills can be highlighted and exemplified. Dr. Swenson examines not only the applicant’s thought process, but how well they can perform under pressure. Dr. Cournoyer states he is looking for compassion and empathy from candidates. In addition, he looks for an energetic candidate who demonstrates quiet confidence, but not arrogance.
Q8. Do you find any particular interpersonal skills or traits that you think to lead to a more successful applicant or resident?
Do The Research!
Dr. Cournoyer notes that highly motivated self-starters who can take constructive criticism well without being defensive can make a more successful resident. A successful applicant or resident can excel in a team environment where the function and outcome of the group are more important than individual accomplishments and recognition. Dr. Swenson believes that applicants who are relaxed and show their personality may have more success. He also notes that students who study up, practice case workups, and undergo practice interviews tend to perform better because they are less nervous and have put in the work. Also, he believes that applicants should know the program they are interviewing for! “Do the research!” he advises.
Interview by Elizabeth Ansert, DPM.
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