ADCOM Q&A (being friendly)

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Being a physician means, obviously, working with people. A lot. So this is a natural question for ADCOMS to ask: “Are you a friendly person?”

And “yes” better be an honest part of your answer, if you want to get into medical school.

It’s easy to be friendly with your friends, though. What really makes a person “friendly” in the way this question is referring to is engaging with people you don’t know. (In a positive way, obviously.) I was reminded of this last Thursday at the airport. A severe thunderstorm (that’s summer weather in Chicago for you) delayed my flight by more than two hours, which I didn’t discover until I arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. I plunked my bags down in the Delta Airlines check-in line and waited. When it was my turn, a very pleasant woman helped me figure out how I was to make it to my final destination – Las Vegas, Nevada, for a non-traditional pre-medical student conference – via Minneapolis even though I was going to miss my initial connecting flight in Minnesota. I thanked her, and then before I stepped away I said: “You know, you have been very helpful. When people’s flights get delayed, they get pissy, and I know that’s not your fault.” She looked surprised. “Thank you for saying that,” she replied, and smiled.

Being friendly means going out of your way to make contact with the people around you. Sometimes you wind up actually making a friend – one of my most wonderful friendships resulted from a conversation a woman and I happened to strike up the first day of Gen Chem I last year – while other times you connect briefly and never encounter one another again. But it’s all about your attitude toward people, about valuing them, about valuing those connections and that contact. Because you never know what difference you might make in someone else’s life, or what difference they might make in yours.