For those of you who don’t know, I am now heading into the final week of this month long orientation to the Family Medicine Residency of …my top choice program! Fort Belvoir! I was talking to a med student the other day (oh haha, I remember what it was like to be a med student…), just one year behind me in the process, and realized that I was already forgetting many of the interview trail details and tips I would have offered up just 6 months ago!
So before it’s all gone, here’s a “brief” synopsis…
RANK LIST: I wanted to be in Family Medicine, no 2nd choice specialties. I wanted a military residency but also wanted to be in the D.C. area (as my hubby was there) so my rank list on the military application, which I had drafted up sometime in August, but was officially due by Oct 1st, looked like this…
#1. Fort Belvoir
#2. Civilian Deferred
#3-11? or so… Other military bases
SCHEDULING “auditions”/”Acting Internships”/”Sub-I’s”: I wanted to do my audition rotations as soon as I could, but also planned to do them after taking step 2 of the board exams, which I took end of May with just one week of scheduled exclusive study time, and I got a 608 (COMLEX, Level 2), think it went pretty well. I chose to do them back-to-back so it would interfere with my school’s curriculum as little as possible and less flying around in theory AND some less jumping around for daycare for Andy. I rotated at Eglin Air Force base in July and Fort Belvoir in August. After scheduling these (which I did so in December the year prior), I also stuck an extremely stressful but extremely useful audition with the Georgetown Family Medicine Residency program in my schedule immediately before the one in Eglin – so I did that one in June. I had to schedule that one through VSAS (visiting student application system) I believe. If it wasn’t VSAS, then I must have done it by simply communicating with the Program Coordinator. You can search for that information sometimes by just googling it, of course, but also on https://services.aamc.org/eras/erasstats/par/, ERAS (https://apps.aamc.org/myeras-web/#/landing … but your school must give you your application token to utilize this site), NMS (https://www.natmatch.com/aoairp/instdirp/aboutproglist.html) and http://opportunities.osteopathic.org/search/search.cfm.
CIVILIAN ONLINE APPLICATION: I applied to 34 allopathic residencies via ERAS, and eventually I also submitted an application for the osteopathic residencies via NMS, even though I applied for only 2 programs. Applying to so many programs cost me a lot of money, probably about $500 total. But I had no idea how many interviews I would get, and I wanted to have at least 10, with 3 of them being my top choice programs. I started with fewer and gradually added some programs to my list as I did further research, and many of the programs in which I submitted very late applications, like all of the University of Pennsylvania ones that I randomly decided I wanted to apply to, never got interviews at, and they had like 3 different sites to which I applied. I perhaps wouldn’t have applied for so many if I had done further research, and you can use sites like Doximity or the program’s website if often a good resource, but then again some programs have very limited info online, and sometimes you really have to go there and meet the people to understand what it’s like. I submitted my finalized applications for both systems rather late – but I think did receive offers for a lot of interviews – 16 total, including all but 1 of my top tier programs! So there is a tip for you – make sure you are aware of the soonest date you can submit your application so you can be first in line to get interview spots. Although I will note that it kind of worked out for me, because by submitting my application later, I got the later interview spots which I was able to later cancel because after December 7th, I had my military match results, and knew I got Fort Belvoir. Within about 2 weeks after submitting, I wrote emails to the programs that were among the top half in my list in which I didn’t get interviews, and this worked about 50%. Just a note saying hey, I’m applying and really interested in your program, a couple tidbits about why that program specifically. I know that one of the programs (University of Maryland) has a very allopathic-only type attitude, at least their faculty/residency selection would attest to this, also they don’t allow osteopathic students to audition, so this was a big clue to me to not bother applying, but I had to give it a try.
Some random tips –
- Always write your thank you notes! I also wrote some personalized follow up notes after the military match day, just saying that I’m so sorry to be withdrawing my ERAS application, and how much I enjoyed the program-just of course to my favorite programs/programs I really got close with like Georgetown and Grant Medical Center.
- Always go to the dinner/meal with the residents that are often included with the interview. Unless you really cannot make it, in which case write them a nice email explaining why you are declining.
- Communicate with your school/home program because they may be assuming you’re planning to interview/apply there – I had an awkward encounter because I communicated in a rather delayed manor, but in my defense it wasn’t intentional and I was taking my time in getting my application/list of programs finalized… anyway it was frowned upon.
Some things I didn’t know until going into the interview season –
- You can’t rank a program that you didn’t interview with
- You can add programs to your ERAS application after you’ve submitted your first finalized version
So anyway, hopefully this helps a few medical students out there! Please post questions, I’d be glad to help you out!