How to Prepare for Residency Application Season

glassespenHi everyone! During the summer before the Match, it is important to start preparing for the residency application season. There are several things you can start doing to prepare for the residency application and interview season:

Clean up your social media.
Understand that some residency programs and their connections may look you up online. As an aspiring physician, hopefully you’ve maintained a clean and professional online presence. If you have any “vulgar” content on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, or other social media outlets, it’s a good idea to either remove the content, increase your privacy settings, or change your profile names so that it is more difficult to find you. If you have nothing to hide, great!

Take advantage of social media.
While some may argue that it is a good idea to get rid of your social media presence altogether, I personally disagree and believe there are a lot of advantages of not only keeping your social media accounts, but using them to your benefit. For one, there is a lot of great information you can get from joining an AUC Residency Match Facebook Group where you can gather different opinions and get a lot of your questions answered with help from your peers as well as alumni who have gone through the process already. NRMP also has a Twitter presence and hosts Main Residency Match Twitter chats from which you can learn a lot about the match process.

Instead of hiding your online profile, perhaps it’s an even better scenario for your potential employers to stumble upon your profile and be impressed by it. Afterall, you want to give them a positive impression of what they came to look for: who you are. Because of this, I recommend creating a LinkedIn account, and on it, post a professional profile picture of you looking your best, and showcase all the accomplishments you’ve done, skills you have, and other things you would put on a resume. It’s also a great way to highlight the stuff that you’ve done that you couldn’t put on your residency application (i.e. accomplishments before med school). 

Learn about yourself.
To show residency programs who you are, you need to first know who you are. If you haven’t already, this is the time to start reflecting deeply about yourself. What do you want? What are your goals? What do you value? What can you offer to others?What are your strengths and weaknesses? How did you get to where you are today? What shaped you into the person you are today? You will need to know yourself very well in order to write a strong personal statement and interview well.

Practice Interviewing.
Once you know who you are, it’s important to practice how to express that in words. Practice with a partner the most common questions that will come up in an interview. Practice enough times so that you have a basic idea of how to answer them, but don’t practice so much that you are basically memorizing and spitting out robotic answers. Remember, you want to be prepared to answer questions but also be comfortable to act naturally like yourself.

Write your personal statement.
While you may be busy rotating and studying for shelf and step exams, don’t put off writing your personal statement until the last minute! It took me longer than I thought to write my personal statement, and many rounds of editing to make it sound satisfactory to me. While the ERAS website gives you 28,000 character spaces to paste your personal statement, you wouldn’t use up the entire allowed space. In fact, you shouldn’t. Your personal statement should only be about one page long, or around 700 words, give or take. Residency programs have hundreds of personal statements to read through, and they won’t want to read a personal statement that is more than a page long. Telling your personal story concisely in such a small space is a challenge and part of the reason why it takes so long to write. If you are applying to multiple specialties, you’ll need a different personal statement for each specialty.

If you have a draft of your personal statement written and would like it to be professionally proof-read, AUC has a free service for this. You can also consider using for proof-reading and editing. Their service is expensive, but many people find it useful. Note that they don’t write your essay for you, but instead are an editing service.

Update your resume.
If you haven’t already, create a list of everything significant you have done and achieved during medical school, like leadership positions, volunteer work, awards, projects, papers, presentations, or if you were chosen for anything, like as a student evaluator for prospective faculty members. This would help you fill out your ERAS residency application as well as the MSPE questionnaire which AUC uses to write you an MSPE letter to send to residency programs.

Research residency programs.
Start thinking about what kind of programs you would be interested in joining. Do you have a preferred location? Do you prefer specific styles of programs, like opposed vs. unopposed, or community-based or university affiliated? Do you prefer a particular size of residency? There are many sites out there where you can find information about residency programs, like FREIDA, or if you’re interested in family medicine, AAFP. If you are an IMG, a particularly good site to go to is Match A Resident. You’ll need to pay to get access, but it is well worth it. You can also go to the AUC website to see what programs AUC alumni have matched in in the past. I would then recommend you going to the residency program websites and look into what their curriculum is like, what their mission statement is, what their requirements are, and in general get familiar with what programs are out there.

There are a lot of things to do during residency application season that will keep you busy, especially if you still have rotations to complete and step exams to study for and take. I have known people who have found themselves scrambling to take step exams, write personal statements, get LoRs, and finding themselves not having everything ready by September 15, the first day that residency programs can see your application. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have everything prepared by this day. There are people who have lost opportunities in receiving interview invitations because they submitted their applications later than everyone else, got their step 2 scores in late, or did not get all their LoRs in on time. Because of this, prepare early, and you can start with some of the tips I’ve listed above. Best of luck everyone!


Links for Residency Interview and Match