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Notes from Montreal

October 10, 2021
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

I am the worst person in the universe to tell anyone how to unwind. So I won’t.

I write this morning from Montreal, where I was hauled—or kidnapped—by my family, lest I spend the holiday weekend holed up in Hamden, reviewing residency applications. I’ll still be reviewing applications, but in a foreign city as the girls wander around town. In between marathon computer sessions, they’ll be taking me to incredible restaurants. Yesterday it was Leméac and Hoogan et Beaufort. Two more are planned for today.

Before returning to ERAS, I’ll share two observations:

First, regarding Canada: this country has COVID-safety figured out. To get into a restaurant you have to show proof of vaccination. Stress dissolves when you can remove your mask, knowing the other diners are immune. Why can’t we do that in Connecticut?* Second, regarding residency applications: we have 4602. I review them all myself, which might lead you to imagine this conversation:

Reasonable Person: “Dr. Siegel, why do you review so many applications yourself?”

Me: “Yes, reasonable person, that’s a reasonable question. Indeed, why am I holed up in an Airbnb in Montreal, eyes fixed on a screen as the Wi-Fi crashes every 15 minutes, scrolling through app after app?”

It’s actually a simple answer. After 10 years of doing this, I can blaze through applications. I can see past the euphemisms and hyperbole. I’m fluent with the language of MSPEs and Department letters where “good” is bad and “very good” not much better. As more and more schools move to pass/fail (even honors/fail), I can fly through the narratives, sorting empty praise (“John is known for his enthusiasm”) from meaningful accolades (“Jane functions like a seasoned resident and we’ll try our best to convince her to stay”).

So, on this holiday weekend, please don’t emulate me. If you can, take time to recharge. Although I’ll be working, I’ll be feeding off the energy of the amazing applicants we’ll be interviewing, starting October 26. In between, I’ll literally be feeding- I’d tell you where we’re going today, but Heide and the girls haven’t told me yet. As usual, they’ll just open the car door and take me away.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone,


*”We’re Losing Our Humanity, and the Pandemic Is to Blame”:

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on October 10, 2021