Medical Student

International Medical Graduates

International Medical Graduates

International Medical Graduates

{loadposition hidden-adsense-block-intro}1: The Residency Interview: What Are They Looking For?

Most applicants for residency positions worry about interviews. How should I dress? Will the program director and residency staff like me? If I get the position, will I feel accepted by the other residents? Such questions are natural as each side — the residency program and the applicant — attempts to learn as much as possible in a short span of time.

{loadposition hidden-adsense-block-story}There have been a number of studies to uncover the key factors programs use to decide which applicants it will rank highly. Here is a synopsis of the results of these studies. The factors residency programs valued most in a prospective resident were as follows:

The compatibility of the applicant (how much they liked you).
The applicant’s ability to grow in knowledge (your learning skills).
The applicant’s maturity (how calm, realistic and confident you appeared).
The applicant’s commitment to hard work (did you seem eager and energetic).
The applicant’s fund of knowledge (your board scores, school rank, articulateness).

Please note that different studies ranked these factors differently, so the order in which they are listed does not imply that factor one is more important than factor five.

Why is My Step 1 Score So Important?

Many medical students wonder why residency programs look so carefully at the Step 1 scores of applicants when deciding who they will invite for interviews and in rank ordering them during the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) process. This is a good question and deserves a thoughtful answer.

The majority of residency programs in the US receive applications from far more people than they can possibly find time to interview. Residency interviewers are busy clinicians who must set aside time during the whole span of the program’s interviewing process. This effectively limits the number of interviewing slots at any given program. Residency program directors must therefore find ways to sort these applications and reduce the number of applications they recieve to match the number of slots available for interviews.

At this stage, the programs only have the information made available through the ERAS application system (application, personal statement, curriculum vita, transcripts, Dean’s letters and recommendation letters). The Step 1 score thus becomes a relatively easy to spot indicator of applicants’ relative competitiveness that can be used to reduce the number under consideration.

It is not true that all programs use a cut-off score below which an applicant is eliminated from further consideration. Some very competitive programs only consider applicants with scores above a certain number, but most programs make a genuine effort to look over all the information available about an applicant before deciding who they will invite for interviews. The bottom line is simply this — a higher score keeps more doors open and increases your chances of being asked to interview at programs you really want.

Step 2 scores also play a role, but may not be available for all applicants to a specific program since some students take Step 2 too late in their fourth year to have their scores reported before the interview season begins. Once you reach the interview, the focus shifts to less objective factors such as your goals, personal style, and the match between the type of training experience you are seeking and what that program has to offer.

3: Tips on Writing Your Curriculum Vita

The Curriculum Vita (CV) is an important component of your application for residency. As you draft this piece, keep the following tips in mind so program staff will find the document easy to read and follow.

CVs are very similar to job resumes, but use a slightly different format due to their intended academic audience. Typical CVs have subheadings, which allow you to list your formal schooling from college through medical school. Overall, entries are listed in reverse chronological order. This means that medical school comes before college, and that a research experience you had and a college senior comes before the research experience you had as a sophomore.

Individual entries under the various subheadings should all provide information in the same order. For example, entries under the Extracurricular Activities heading might read like this:

Fundraiser, George Washington University (GWU) Scholarship committee, 1998-99
Volunteer, Isaac Coggs Clinic, an inner-city free clinic, 1996-1999
Treasurer, GWU Applicant Host Program, 1997

The CV uses reverse chronology to make the reader’s job easier as it emphasizes the most recent entries. Making each entry consistent also makes it clear what role you played, where it took place, and when it occurred. After you draft your CV, show it to several people familiar with the CV format to get feedback and make sure it is clear and error free.

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