Health Careers Journal

Securing the Residency of Your Choice

The rigors of medical school take an immense toll on prospective physicians. They are put at risk financially, physically and emotionally for the impending pay off of a career in medicine. While there are many factors that will determine the success of the gamble medical school presents, resident placement is important. After the long years of school work have been completed a student’s choice of residency depends upon location, specialization and reputation of the University. Prospective residents may have little to say about where they are accepted, making the application and interview process to a particular residency significant. Knowing what to expect and what’s expected of you can help.

Know what you’re doing. Clearly, good grades and board scores are important to the selection committee; reality is, the competition is fierce and those numbers are unlikely to separate you from a competitive field. More than that, confidence in your knowledge and skill is essential, as well as knowing what you need to learn. Your letters of recommendation should come from someone who knows you well and can make reference to your unique assets and skills with authority. Ideally the candidate should have a letter from someone inside the specialty they are applying to. Obviously, the best choice would be the chair of the department you are applying to; unless that person does not know you. It is of greater value to ask for a letter of recommendation from someone who can be authentic in their recommendation.

Personal statement. When crafting your personal statement it is important to consider that members of the selection committee read hundreds of these. Make yours stand out with a memorable patient story that has helped direct your career choice. Make it interesting and memorable. Using stock answers such as “I have always wanted to be a pediatrician …” is unoriginal and appears inauthentic.

Remember that you are interviewing. You are vying for a position that hundreds of applicants are after. While humor has its place in medicine and patient care, now is the time to remain professional and astute. Have good questions ready, they are expecting them and utilize them to learn about you and who you are through your thoughts. Be professional in demeanor. If a dinner is hosted, refrain from excessive alcohol. Dress appropriately. For more interview tips look here –

The extra mile. Be courteous and professional with the staff that arranges the interviews. Typically, these people assist the program director in running the residency. Leaving a good impression with them may not help your cause, but being rude and uncooperative with them is likely to hinder your chances. Follow up with notes of thanks to these people who make things work, as they are looked upon with great admiration by the selection committee.

Obviously, the groundwork for your residency application begins deep in the years of medical school. Going the extra mile in preparation for your application and interview process may help give you a voice in helping to determine your placement. Check out for more tips on a successful residency application and interview.


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