Getting into Residency: Most Important Factors

How do residency program directors decide whom to interview? And what factors influence how they rank those applicants they do interview? The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) surveyed residency program directors in 2008 and 2010 about what they consider most important when deciding which applicants to interview and what criteria are most valuable when ranking residency applicants. This survey, an underutilized resource, provides valuable insight and information that can help medical students determine how competitive they are for a given specialty. The data can also empower applicants if they use the information to improve their candidacies.
Here is what the survey showed about 1) what factors influence program directors to offer a residency applicant an interview, presented as the percentage of program directors who considered each factor important, and 2) what specific criteria influence their decision to rank a residency applicant after the interview, using a scale from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (very important).

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All About Competency: Part 1

Think that great grades = great doctor? In the 21st century, success will require you build competencies that you can apply to evolving technology. Part one of a six part series.

The Successful Match: Getting into Radiology

the match

Of the 4,455 total residents training in 188 ACGME-accredited radiology residency programs, 88.3% are graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 7.6% are international medical graduates, and 3.9% are osteopathic graduates.1 Dr. Vicki Marx is the director of the radiology program at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and we asked for her insights into the radiology residency selection process.

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The Successful Match: Getting Into Emergency Medicine

 
There are 4,479 total residents training in approximately 150 ACGME-accredited emergency medicine residency training programs. Of these, 85.1% are graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 9.0% are osteopathic graduates, and 5.7% are international medical graduates.1 Osteopathic students may also enter an AOA-approved emergency medicine residency program. In recent years, there have been over 40 such programs.2 Based on recent match statistics, emergency medicine can be considered to be a moderately competitive specialty.
We recently discussed the emergency medicine residency selection process with Dr. Jamie Collings, the Executive Director of Innovative Education and an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. For many years, she served as the program director of the emergency medicine residency program at Northwestern. Over the past fifteen years, she has been heavily involved in advising students interested in pursuing a career in emergency medicine. Dr. Collings earned her medical degree at the Oregon Health & Science University, and then completed her residency at the University of Chicago.

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Acing Your Residency Interview

 
Most residency applicants have not found themselves in the interviewee seat since they applied to medical school. Well, the residency interview is somewhat different from the medical school interview. Because you have now nearly graduated from medical school (for the traditional applicant), no one is trying to assess your commitment to medicine; rather, they are specifically evaluating your commitment to the specialty to which you are applying. They also are evaluating your ability to perform well as a resident and if you will be a good fit for their program. This article will provide some tips to help you succeed, whether you are applying to residency this interview season or in the future.

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The Successful Match: How to Succeed in your Residency Interview

three tips mmi

For most residency applicants, the arrival of November marks the beginning of the interview season. This often brings back memories of the medical school admission interview, with the ubiquitous “Why do you want to be a doctor?” question.

Four years later, you find yourself in a similar situation – this time, hoping to land a position in the specialty and residency program of your choice. “Why do you want to be a doctor?” is now replaced with “Why do you want to go into [this specialty]?” and “Why are you interested in our residency program?” While the questions will differ to some extent, you may be experiencing the same gamut of emotions – uncertainty, nervousness, and perhaps even fear.

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The Successful Match: Getting into Dermatology

 
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

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Residency Match Success: Lessons Learned

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Read more

The Successful Match: Getting into Ophthalmology

 
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.

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The Successful Match: Interview with Dr. Marianne Green

 
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.”

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Getting Into Residency: Part 2

 
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.

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Getting Into Residency: Part 1

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.

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The Successful Match: The Importance of Mentoring

 
 
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.

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