The Residency Interview Trail

Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Laura Turner

By Adelle

It’s finally begun! This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: to finally interview for our very first jobs as physicians It’s definitely been a long and crazy process getting here, through the long hours of lectures and studying during our first years of medical school, then spending long days at the hospital, and then finally hitting that “submit” button on our residency applications. I’m tired just thinking about how I got through all of it, but I’m here now and ready to enjoy interviewing at many programs and hopefully finding the one that’s the perfect fit for me.

About the Ads

For those that don’t know, let me provide a quick recap of the residency application process. Though the application itself is due in September, most of the hard work has been done before then. The application includes grades from preclinical years, grades from clerkship rotations, board exam scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. I began collecting my letters of recommendation from preceptors I spent a significant amount of time with and who I felt could speak to my strengths and abilities. The second part of that sentence is the most important: these attendings have to be confident in their ability to comment on you! The letters must also be from attending physicians, and not residents or fellows. At least one of them (for most specialties) must be from a physician in that field. The personal statement component must also be prepared well in advance and typically goes through multiple revisions by multiple people before you  are confident it conveys exactly what you want it to.

Once I submitted my application, it was time to wait. And wait, and wait some more. It took about a month before I heard back from most of my programs regarding the status of my application and any invitations to interview at their institution. But it was really exciting to begin getting the interview offers! I was able to start planning my schedule for the next couple of months and tried to give myself some time to explore the cities I would be visiting. My interview trail took me everywhere from Minnesota to New York to Georgia. The one unfortunate thing about my school is that we are given minimal time off during the interview season (October-January). This limits our ability to get to know the cities we are visiting. I’m headed to New York City soon and would love to spend a couple of extra days there exploring, but unfortunately I’m limited by time. I would highly encourage those who can to carve out a couple of days to explore the vibe of each city.

I also learned quite a bit about myself during this process. I had to ask myself questions like “Where can I see myself living (realistically) for the next few years?” and “Would I like to stay close to home or move farther away?” These are very real questions that you have to answer early on, because once you have committed to a program via the Match process it’s binding and very hard to change in the following years. But it’s also a great chance to explore!

Once interview season wraps up (which is in the next few days for me), I’ll have to start making my Rank Order List  where I list my preferences in order of where I’d like to train and submit them to the system (the National Residency Match Program or NRMP). While I’ve been interviewing and assessing whether I’d be the right fit for the program, they have been doing the same with me and will rank me against other applicants that they have interviewed. The Match program attempts to optimize my preferences against those of my programs and create a Match. I will find out where I’m headed in March, so until then I’ll be a little anxious. But if all goes well and I end up where I want to be, I’ll be able to relax a little bit and look forward to the next exciting chapter in my life!