Issue 3 - April 19, 2024
Savannah Santiago
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine Candidate 2024

Sole Purpose 3
Some of My Most Embarrassing Moments of Externships

To all you nervous third year students about to embark on your Residency program auditions, THE EXTERNSHIPS: IT'S GONNA BE FINE! In the spirit of transparency, and perhaps it may help you avoid some of the pitfalls I fell into, I'd like to share some of the most embarrassing moments I've experienced during my externships. Before I dive in, know that, despite the chaos, I received great feedback during my externships, landed interviews with all my dream programs, secured a spot in an incredible program, and crafted a match rank list with eight choices where I would be THRILLED to be a resident. Yes, there were embarrassing moments along the way, but everything turned out well. So go ahead, laugh at sweet Savannah's mistakes as she tried her very best.

Don’t Pass Out

Without a doubt, the most cringe-worthy moment of my life unfolded on the first day of my externship at what I thought was my dream residency program (on paper at least). I woke up with a mix of excitement and nerves, only to discover that my day would be spent working with the residency director himself. I got to clinic early and introduced myself when the bombshell dropped: a social interview over lunch. The director made it clear he could sniff out a good extern/future resident within minutes, and according to him, I was ticking all the boxes. Following morning clinic, I wolfed down half a protein bar before the social interview. During the interview, I was asked about my greatest weakness. I replied that my biggest challenge is prioritizing myself. However, I explained that managing my diabetes has helped me overcome this weakness because I must prioritize eating and maintaining my blood sugar levels to function effectively throughout the day.

Back in the clinic, I devoured the rest of my protein bar and a handful of mixed nuts. Two hours later, feeling like a linguistic superstar, I dove into translating for a Spanish-speaking pre-op patient. As I spoke Spanish and translated for the program director, I started to sweat and felt a buzzing sensation in my head. Recognizing this as a sign of low blood sugar, I thought I could tough it out until I could eat after the appointment. However, darkness began encroaching on my vision, and I recall the patient asking if I was okay. I managed to say that my sugar was dropping, and I needed my bag before I sat down on the floor and quickly passed out cold. EMBARRASSING doesn't even begin to cover it AND right after I claimed I had worked on my “biggest weakness”. I’m cringing just writing about the experience. I came back quickly, ate a snack and was fine within 5 minutes, just utterly mortified. The program still interviewed me, I had a stellar month, and lo and behold, everything turned out just fine in the end.

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Just Tape Her Glasses Up, For Heaven's Sake!

During surgeries, I sport some seriously stylish stoggles to shield my eyes. I usually secure the earpieces under my cap and tape the top of my mask to prevent fogging. However, one fateful day, my nose bridge apparently turned into a grease slick, and my glasses just wouldn't stay put. Now, I swear I didn't lay a finger on them or breach any sterile zones, but the surgeon (who also happens to be the program director) kept pestering the circulating nurse to adjust them. By the fifth time he asked, he was practically begging for mercy, saying, "Just tape her glasses up, for heaven's sake!" So, there I was, performing surgery for the rest of the day with a strip of white tape smack dab in the middle of my forehead. I was so terrified of irking the director further that I even ate my lunch with the stoggles still taped on. Let me tell you, the photos were hysterical, but the embarrassment was real. Moral of the story: invest in some chums for your glasses—trust me, they're a lifesaver! The program still interviewed me, and I had a great month, it all ended up okay!

Who Are You, Again?

Amidst the demands of medical school, I've had to resort to self-highlighting my "dishwater sink blonde" hair, reminiscing about the sun-kissed surfer girl highlights of my San Diego upbringing. Approaching the end of my externships, with dark roots surfacing, I sought approval from my hairdresser and ventured to Target for a root toner promising an easy fix. Long story short the toner ended up being MISPACKAGED. I emerged from the shower with JET BLACK HAIR. This prompted a frantic salon visit the next day, which only partially corrected the mishap. Come Monday, when I showed up for my rotation, no one recognized me. I'm pretty sure they all thought I'd had some sort of mental breakdown and were scared to ask what prompted my dramatic transformation. Talk about embarrassing! But wait, it gets worse. The following month, when I started a new rotation, my first-day appearance prompted a direct question about why I looked NOTHING like my photo. Despite the hair-raising ordeal, both programs extended interviews and provided positive feedback, ultimately proving that even the darkest hair days couldn't dim my career prospects.

The moral of this series of embarrassing tales is that everything will turn out alright. In the heat of these moments, I was absolutely convinced that my career was doomed and that matching or securing a good residency was out of the question. I hope you found some humor in my blunders! Oh! And be careful to not follow your resident into the bathroom or the wrong gender locker room…

Until next time!

Savannah Santiago
PRESENT Sole Purpose Editor
[email protected]


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