I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Even in our first meeting to discuss medical school interviews our director stressed the fact that we would be going on tours of our prospective schools. “Wear comfortable shoes,” she said.

I’m not a “shoe” kind of girl. I generally have one pair of flip flops, sneakers, dress shoes, galoshes and boots. As I acquire newer versions of each of these things, the older pair will fall to disuse. Way back after I graduated from college I acquired a pair of “interview shoes” that I believed were reasonably comfortable. I wore them to my mock interview. No problem. I figured that, despite a slight pinching of the toes, they would serve for medical school interviews as well as they had served for job interviews.

My first med school interview had an abbreviated tour. The guide was late picking us up, so a few items on our walk were referred to from the street without our going in to get a better view. By the end of the day I had a blister or two and was certainly relieved to change into a pair of flats, but for the most part I was fine.

On my second interview, I glanced around the room and noticed that I had the smallest heels of any of the girls in our tour group. Surely I would be fine.

My first warning was the walk to lunch that took us across campus. I was already slipping my sore feet from their confines under the concealment of the tablecloth. We hadn’t even reached the tour portion of the day. The trouble wasn’t the heels (they were barely half an inch tall) but the fit of the shoe that pinched my toes and rubbed my heel. I could already feel a blister forming.

We walked back from the lunch, toured the hospital, the library, walked in a complete circuit to where we started and then headed back to the medical school. As we trudged up and down flights of stairs I was in agony. I could feel blisters across the tops of all of my smaller toes and a sharp pain in each heel. The left was the worst. I felt the precise moment when that blister popped and found myself wondering if any of the hospital bathrooms stocked band-aids.

By the time we made it back to the admissions office I was still walking out of sheer willpower. Our guides left us with about five minutes to prepare for our interviews. I limped to bathroom along with two other girls. The moment the door was closed I gingerly removed my foot from the shoe.

“I am in so much pain from these shoes,” I said with a laugh, aiming for the pained-but-tough commiseration. As soon as I saw my foot though, I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone. Blisters ballooned across my toes and my left heel was smeared with blood.

One of the other interviewees gasped and offered me a band-aid from her purse. I took one for the left heel but the rest of my wounds I left bare, uncertain that the addition of the band-aid would do anything but hasten their rupture. I thanked her profusely and limped back to the admissions office.

Even though most of the walking for the day was past, it was harder than I expected to even walk the short distance from the waiting room to the offices where we had our interviews. I tried to keep from limping or letting the pain show on my face. “It would be incredibly stupid to give a bad impression because your feet hurt,” I told myself sternly.

There was an optional session at the end of the day, but I couldn’t stand another moment in those shoes, especially with the daunting prospect of a walk to the parking garage where my car was parked. I said my goodbyes and walked stiffly to the door.

I made it about a block before I gave up. The shoes came off. I walked past hospital staff, administrators and students dressed in my very nice suit, barefoot, with a pair of dress shoes dangling from my fingers. “This isn’t me!” I wanted to shout to them. “Seriously, most days I’m very practical!”

I have since purchased a pair of far more comfortable interview shoes. The heel-side is the same, but they fit me well enough as to not rub, and weathered a particularly steep hike up and down the steep hill my next prospective school was located on. I have yet to hear the results of any of my interviews, so here’s hoping my poor shoe choices were not the kiss of death for my medical school career.

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