The interview tell

It was the summer before my last year of medical school and I was traveling around the US for family practice residency interviews. My wife and I were staying with some of her college friends while I looked at a program in Denver.

It was a well known and very well regarded program. I didn’t know if I had a chance of being accepted, but I knew my wife and I could enjoy living in Denver. After a brief tour of the residency clinic, I sat down with the Director for my interview, the first item in a full day of interviews and visits. After telling me how prestigious his program was, he asked me if I were married. Worrying that I had not brought my wife to the interview, I said yes, but that my wife was visiting with some friends from college and could probably come by at some point if he thought it was important.

“That’s too bad,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize she was supposed to be here. She’s having a good time. She hasn’t seen Gail and Doug in four years. But we can stop by later or tomorrow.”

“No, I mean that it’s too bad that you’re married,” he said.  “Ours is one of the most demanding residencies around. Pretty much all our residents end up divorced by the time they finish their third year.”

I don’t know how much of my reaction was to what he said, and how much was the self-satisfied smile that accompanied his words. But I was done. Speechless (rare for me) and done.

I stood up and walked out without a word, and my wife and I enjoyed our two days in Denver immensely. And, more than 40 years later, we’re still happily married.


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