A residency match is an important event for any medical student. It’s time to find out where you will be going and what specialty you will specialize in! But before that, there are a few things you can do to improve your odds of matching up with your dream program.
A residency is a doctor’s first job. For most, it is their professional home for the duration of their career in clinical medicine.
Therefore, deciding on a residency requires careful consideration and research about which specialty interests you and where you can grow as a person and physician before choosing your final list of programs to rank.
To help make this process easier for medical students during K-Match season (the time when Match Day occurs), we have compiled four tips that will increase the odds of matching with your dream residency:
Get Early Advice About Specialties from Mentors and Advisors
Early advice about specialties from mentors and advisors: Talk with your mentors, professors, or advisors early and often throughout medical school to get their advice about what topics you should focus on, which class sizes are best suited for your personality type, etc.
They can also point out red flags that might indicate certain specialties not being right for you based on factors such as lifestyle (e.g., residency programs that require a lot of calls), geographic location, working hours per week/year, among other things. Likewise, they may know if certain specialties are not in demand or where the match rate is low.
When preparing for interviews, it is important to relax and be confident. This will help you sell yourself in front of the residency director and demonstrate a level of maturity that doesn’t seem too tense or nervous.
Spend Time on Elective Rotations at Different Hospitals & Specialties
One strategy is to spend time on elective rotations at different hospitals and specialties to get a feel for what you like. Talk with various mentors about the pros/cons of different programs, which ones are most competitive etc., so that by senior year, when it comes time to apply for residency, you have your list narrowed down from all the choices out there.
Find Research Opportunities and Apply for Fellowships or Grants
One way to improve your odds of matching is by finding research opportunities and applying for fellowships or grants. To get ahead, you may wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree in the field that you are ultimately interested in going into as a resident.
Make the Most of Your Time-on-Rotations
It’s not always easy to get time on a rotation, but you must make the most of your opportunity when you do. Talk with various mentors about what they enjoy best and dislike least about their job so that if you know this is where you want to work after residency, there will be no surprises or unpleasant surprises later on in your career.
Lastly, when writing your personal statement (PS), there are many different strategies for doing so. Some students choose to write about their own stories. In contrast, others may want to focus more on what they can offer towards specific needs of certain programs, such as being bilingual, which could better match some institutions over others. It’s ultimately up to each individual applicant. Still, whatever strategy one decides upon, they should make sure that the PS isn’t generic by including accomplishments and experiences relevant only to themselves.