What did I learn during the process of matching into residency? Here I’ll share my Top 10 Tips.
If you haven’t already seen from my many Instagram posts, I have matched into a Pediatric Residency!! I ended up matching into my first choice of programs and wanted to share what I learned along this journey. The entire application, interview, and matching process is stressful and intimidating. However, if you keep the big picture in mind and develop a plan to keep all the little details in check, you can be one step closer to your goal of becoming a doctor.
Top 10 Tips of Matching into Residency (ranked more by chronological order than order of importance):
1. Know why you want a career in that specialty.
Of course, you will need to make sure you know why you want a career in your specialty of choice. You will have to share why you chose that particular field multiple times. From your personal statement to interviews, you will need to know why this field appealed to you and why you can see yourself being this kind of doctor.
2. Know what you want in a program.
While this does vary by specialty and how many programs are out there, you will need to know what you even want in a program. Do you prefer an academic setting or community, large program or small? Are research opportunities important to you? Location? Fellowship prospects? Thinking about these types of things in advance will help you narrow down which programs to apply to.
3. Research programs in advance.
Now that you know what you want in a program, it is time to find the programs that fit. Have an idea of how many programs you want to apply to, which will depend on the competitiveness of both your specialty of choice and yourself. Use resources like FRIEDA, Doximity, and the program websites themselves to finalize your list. Starting your research early will help get this part out of the way when deadlines start creeping up.
4. Start getting everything together for applications early.
There are multiple parts that will make up your ERAS application. Your CV and personal statement especially take a good bit of time to edit and polish. Starting on these early will be key to getting everything ready to submit. It is also important that you have a mentor review these. They know better what programs are looking for and will be able to tweak and perfect your work.
5. Stay close to your phone when interview invites are going out.
This goes without saying, but interview invites are timely matters. Keep your phone close by at all times during this season so you can respond to invitations quickly. Sometimes, even though you may get an invitation, spots will fill up if you do not respond in a timely fashion. Then, you might lose your chance. This is especially key if you have a preference of which days you’d like to interview. These might be the ones that fill up more quickly.
6. Stay Organized.
Not only is this important throughout this whole process, but this is especially key when scheduling interviews. When you have to reply quickly to an invitation, it is so helpful to have a calendar handy to know what days will work best for you. A tip someone gave to me was to keep a paper copy of a calendar with you at all times. Write all of your interview dates on this calendar. Then, you can refer to this when a program emails you with available interview dates. This way you can be sure not to overbook. You also possibly could schedule interviews together at programs that are nearby in their locations to help save on travel costs. A paper calendar is a bit easier to see the big picture than using the calendar on your phone, and you can always transfer your interview dates to your phone calendar later.
7. Be Yourself on Interviews.
This is probably the most important tip on this list. More so than during medical school interviews, residency interviewers are wanting to know who you are as a person. The programs have already screened your application, so you know objectively you are someone they would want. If not, then they would not have invited you to interview. Now is their chance to explore who you are, more than what can be communicated on paper. Be yourself! Show them your personality, what makes you tick, and why you would make a great doctor.
8. Be able to convey your passion clearly and briefly.
This somewhat goes along with the previous point of being yourself. You need to prepare how you would express why you want to be a doctor in that field while also showing your personality in just a few sentences. Several of my interviews were in the style of Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). This is where you might be interviewed by 4-5 different people and only have 5-10 minutes with each. I believe several programs are moving more towards this interview style because more interviewers are able to interact with you. However, this makes it hard on the interviewee to present the factors they want to get across in so short a time. Be prepared for this by boiling down your passion and character in a way that can be offered both clearly and quickly.
9. Keep track of what you liked and didn’t like about a program.
After going on multiple interviews, the programs all start to become a blur. It is hard to remember specifics about each one and how they differ from each other. After visiting each program, make some notes about the factors that are important to you. Mostly, keep track of how the program made you feel. Did you seem to fit in with the current residents? Did you click with any of the faculty? How did they seem to interact with each other? These more subjective factors are harder to remember, specifically after the fact. But these factors are also, in my opinion, the most important to consider when making your rank list.
10. Make your rank list based mostly on your gut feeling.
This tip is largely my own opinion, so take that for what it’s worth. However, I believe that depending on your gut feeling with help you be happy with whatever the outcome of the Match is. Will you be happy in that location? Will you be happy working with the people there? While program curriculums might vary slightly, you will become a doctor trained in that specialty no matter which you choose. It is during that training that you want to be happy going to work every day. Think about what is most important to you and choose the environment where you see yourself thriving in.
BONUS: Be confident in who you are and why you will make a great doctor. This process is intimidating, stressful, and at times, overwhelming. But if you develop a plan of attack and listen to what is most important to you, you will make the right decisions. And someday down the road, you will become the doctor you were meant to be.
What do you think about all of this? Is there anything I might be missing? Do you have any questions about any of it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Being a pre-medical student automatically means a hectic life. Luckily, following Doctors of Tomorrow is easy! Sign up to get alerts of new posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. By signing up, you will also get exclusive access to FREE Study Plans, Printable Calendars, and Digital Wallpaper for your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also follow Doctors of Tomorrow on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This post may contain affiliate links. To read full disclosure, click here.