As the Paul Gross Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. William James directs the dermatology residency program at the University of Pennsylvania, which recently was found to be the highest ranked academic dermatology department in the United States.1
With medical students starting to think about the upcoming residency match season, it’s a good time to review what residency applicants can do to improve their chances of matching. Many students think that how they write their residency personal statement is all that matters, but this simply is not true. As September looms, I want to focus on factors that are still (for the most part) within the residency applicant’s control. This article should also be useful for anyone who may be entering the match in the future.
- Do away electives
These “audition electives” can really help your chances of matching at a program. Some applicants with whom I speak are often fearful of doing away electives because they believe a less than perfect performance may actually hurt their chances of matching at the program where they rotate. Indeed, this is often not the case. As the associate director of a program, I often found that applicants who demonstrated a solid (or even mediocre) performance when rotating with us were ranked higher than other applicants with slightly better stats. Most program directors would rather take a student whom they know will be a solid, “no-problem” resident than take a risk on someone with whom they have not worked.
Of the 654 applicants who applied to ophthalmology in 2009, 196 (approximately 30%) failed to match. Similar results were noted in the 2007 and 2008 matches, making ophthalmology one of the most competitive specialties.
We recently discussed the ophthalmology residency selection process with Dr. Andrew Lee, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas and Professor of Ophthalmology at the Weill Cornell Medical College. Prior to becoming chairman, Dr. Lee was professor of ophthalmology, neurology, and neurosurgery at the H. Stanley Thompson Neuro-ophthalmology Clinic at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Following residency training at the Cullen Eye Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Lee completed a fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute.
Dr. Gary Flashner, MS, MD, ABFP is an emergency physician and Vice President of Medical Content for ExitCare, LLC. He completed his undergraduate work at Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA), Masters work at Penn State, medical school at Thomas Jefferson University, and residency in Family Medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital (Allentown, PA). His 20 years of clinical practice and teaching endeavors (including 13 years of full-time work in hospital-based emergency medicine) were split between the eastern U.S. (Pennsylvania and Ohio) and California, including working at Yosemite National Park.
Because the competition for admission to medical schools in the United States is extremely strong, many applicants consider attending medical school in the Caribbean. In fact, a great many bright and talented applicants are now opting to obtain their medical education in the Caribbean.
How can you decide what is the best choice for you? What must you consider in evaluating these schools? And will you be able to obtain a residency in the United States after you graduate? To help you decide if attending a Caribbean medical school is a good choice, this article provides a framework for evaluating these schools and the success of their graduates.
As an active member and advisor on the Student Doctor Network forums, I’ve received countless … Read more
A key component of the successful match is a full understanding of the residency selection process, and the factors that influence it. Program directors are key decision-makers in this process, and their insights and experience are invaluable. In future columns of The Successful Match, we will present conversations with program directors and other key decision-makers across the different specialties.
We would like to preface these upcoming columns by highlighting the results of an important study done by Dr. Marianne Green. Dr. Green is the Associate Dean for Medical Education at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is the former associate program director of the internal medicine residency program at Northwestern. Dr. Green is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, and her peers have recognized her as one of the “Best Doctors in America.”
AMCAS opens in early May and the next wave of applicants is preparing to submit applications, so it seems apropos to summarize some key observations I have made while privately advising medical school applicants. Here is my list of some essentials for medical school applicants to improve their chances of acceptance.
- Submit an early application
Everything you read tells you that the #1 rule of medical school admissions is to apply early. But, I find that many applicants still ignore this advice. You should not only submit your application as early as possible but also make sure that your transcripts and letters of reference are sent in promptly.
- Take your MCAT exam early
Again, the key word here is “early.” Your application will not be reviewed until your pending MCAT scores are in so, if you have worked hard to submit your AMCAS application in June, don’t negate this effort by taking an August MCAT.
As the current residency application cycle is winding down, the next wave of applicants is getting ready to apply for the 2009/2010 season. As you begin thinking about your residency application, you should consider who will be writing your letters of recommendation (LORs), how you will talk about your path to residency at your interview, and how you should contact programs and follow up with them (and if this really makes a difference in outcome).
This article serves as a follow-up to the article, “Getting Into Residency: Part 1,” which was published on the Student Doctor Network in October 2008.
You were able to get into medical school so you think it will be the same process all over again when you apply for residency. But every application process has nuances and the criteria for selection and how you will be evaluated during interviews is different for residency than it was for medical school.
This two part series discusses the essential ingredients for success, including rotations, written documents, letters of reference, interviews and follow up.
While this article focuses on residency admissions, portions of this piece might also be useful for medical school and fellowship applicants.
Away Rotations and Structuring Your Fourth Year of Medical School
As soon as you have chosen your specialty, you should schedule your away rotations since these slots fill up quickly, especially at top residencies. For programs in which you are especially interested, try to schedule rotations in the summer and early fall of your fourth year to make a good impression before interview season begins.
Dr. Harry Rosen was born in Israel and received his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge. He attended The Sackler School of Medicine, obtaining his M.D. in 2000.
He completed his residency at West Los Angeles Veterans Administration in 2004, and he currently works as a hospitalist at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Southern California. Most recently, Dr. Rosen has written “The Consult Manual of Internal Medicine.”
Editor’s Note: For more book information and sample content from “The Consult Manual of Internal Medicine”, please visit http://www.medconsultpublishing.com.
Q: Describe a typical day at work
A: A usual day at work starts off at about 9am when I arrive at the hospital and start on my first can of Pepsi or Coke — or, if I feel daring, a Mountain Dew. The caffeine and sugar help start the day off with a sweet pick-me-up.
While some associate prescription drugs with expense and inconvenience, others seek out the drugs, lying … Read more
Another summer is upon us. As you enjoy the warm days and break from classes, let’s consider another commonly encountered interview question. This one is almost certain to pop up during your interview conversation.
What would you do if you couldn’t be a doctor?
I’ve seen this question take many an applicant aback. When asked this question during my interviews I recall being confused and wondering whether there was a hidden meaning. Here’s what would go through my mind: “Why do they want to know what I’d do if I wasn’t able to be a doctor? Are they somehow trying to see if I’m really serious about my career choice? Is it appropriate to say there is no other option and that becoming a physician is the only reality for me?”
Otha Myles, M.D. is the Deputy Chief of Epidemiology and Threat Assessment at Walter Reed … Read more
After starting out as a failed journalism major, Dr. Lawrence Terra wound up graduating Phi Beta Kappa from a prestigious midwestern university with a B.A. in Psychology. He graduated with High Honors from an University of California medical school and now pursues his original dream of journalism through a popular blog.
He completed a four-year OB/GYN Residency and then went on to a Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI). He has worked with many of the pioneers in the field of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Dr. Terra is currently in full-time private practice as the Medical Director of an IVF program in Southern California. He is a sought-after lecturer, giving educational talks to hundreds of physicians and medical students annually. Dr. Terra is a Board-Certified Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an active faculty member at two medical schools.
He recently sat down with SDN to give us a glimpse of life as a Reproductive Endocrinologist.
In my last article for SDN, I addressed the importance of physician shadowing and clinical experience. This time, I want to focus on recommendation letters.
Recommendation letters are used by admission committees and are part of your application. To get good letters, participation in extracurricular activities and positive interactions with faculty and physicians are important.
Admissions committees see on the application what activities you have listed, but recommendation letters tell them how you interact with people, what type of person you are, and (hopefully) stress your good qualities and support your application to medical school.
In researching our book, we asked applicants what they found most difficult about the residency application process. A number of applicants commented on the same issue. “There’s so much conflicting information out there. How do you know what to believe? Who should you listen to?”
Applicants with mentors have a decided advantage. A joint committee of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine described a mentor as “someone who takes a special interest in helping another person develop into a successful professional.”¹ In defining the term, the committee described a fundamental difference between mentoring and advising.
Physician shadowing, in my opinion, is one of the best extracurricular activities in which a … Read more