When embarking on the residency matching process, you might not know what to expect. Based on our extensive experience, MedMatchPlus+ offers medical students these tips and tricks for matching with the right residency.
Tips for Your Application
- Spend time on the personal statement. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommends starting at least three months before the application deadline. Seek out examples of successful personal statements for inspiration and find out whether your school has resources to help with this portion of your application. This is one chance to display the person behind the CV.
- Solicit strong letters of recommendation. Most programs require three or four from a range of specialties. Ask faculty and mentors who will write a positive, strong, supportive letter on your behalf. Make sure to give them at least three to four weeks to write the letter, or longer when possible.
- Own your hardships. If you had academic difficulty or another struggle and are concerned about how this information will impact your education, take the opportunity in your application to explain how you navigated these challenges and emerged successfully.
Tricks for Standing Out
- Consider an “away” rotation with an externship at an external hospital or institution. Choosing an externship site with a residency program you’re interested in can be a valuable opportunity to network. Many programs even consider this an unofficial interview for next year’s residency spots.
- Gain research experience, which is particularly useful in certain specialty areas. Peer-reviewed presentations and publications are a factor that at least 43 percent of residency directors surveyed by the NRMP Program Manager Survey said they consider when reviewing applicants.
- Develop leadership qualities, which the same study found that 63 percent of program managers consider. For example, join a student group in your specialty and pursue relevant volunteer work.
- Maintain a polite, respectful demeanor throughout your visit to the facility, not just during the interview itself. If the program hosts a dinner for prospective residents, spend time with current residents. Not only does this help you learn more about the program, but current residents are also often asked for feedback on candidates during the post-interview ranking process.
- Practice ahead of time using resources available at your school and through the AAMC. Many schools host mock residency interviews where students can rehearse and receive feedback. Think about your ideal residency experience, then use aspects of that experience to highlight why you’re interested in the program at which you’re interviewing. Be informed about the program you’re interviewing with and have specific questions prepared.
- Interact with your peers. The interview team will be considering how well you work with others, so showing a willingness to connect with other applicants is a positive sign that you’re a strong team player. By the same token, arrogance or seeming “above it all” is frowned upon.
In addition to these tips, creating a supplemental profile with video and other resources using MedMatchPlus+ is the ideal way to catch the eye of residency coordinators. Highlight your skills, strengths, and personality to bolster your application.