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Thats in Kansas, Right?

A UMKC Students Guide To the Match


A Collaboration of Our Experience by: Steven Couch Patrick DSouza Jay Shah Annie Winkler June 14, 2006

Table of Contents
ERAS TimelinePage 3 San Francisco Match Timeline.Page 6 Out of Town ElectivesPage 9 Curriculum Vitae (CV)Page 11 Personal StatementPage 14 Letters of Recommendation (LOR)..Page 18 Researching Residency Programs..Page 20 Pre-Interview Day Events..Page 24 Interview Day...Page 28 Post-Interview Follow-Up...Page 34 Appendix I: MyERAS 2007 Application Worksheet Appendix II: Request for Letter of Recommendation/Cover Sheet

ERAS Timeline
Year 5
August December o Apply for AOA if qualified o Think about profession and assess its competitiveness Competitive fields include : Dermatology, Neurosurgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Radiology, and Urology In the past few years, there has been an increasing number of qualified applicants in Anesthesiology and General Surgery o If choosing a competitive field, think about ways to strengthen the weaknesses in your potential application such as research experience, extracurricular activities, involvement in professional organizations, and community service January May o Explore career choice Plan out of town electives (earlier rather than later) Many institutions have March due dates for visiting students applications. Look into requirements in January and February Institutions give preference to their own students and may not notify you about availability until May. You may want to think about applying to multiple places giving yourself more options; you can always decline a position if you give adequate notice.

Year 6
May June o Finalize out of town electives o Start organizing CV o Begin personal statement o Think about potential letters of recommendation o Start researching residency programs

July o ERAS web site opens July 1 and you may begin to complete profile and application You can register as soon as you receive your ERAS token from Marilyn McGuyre and Frances Nelson Registration is complete in a matter of minutes o Finish first draft of personal statement o Update CV o Begin to ask for letters of recommendation from people with whom you have worked o Continue to research residency programs o Submit application for USMLE Step 2 CK and CS, keeping in mind Your application must be approved and sent through UMKC It takes time to process your application and receive your orange scheduling permit by mail USMLE Step 2 CS does not send a permit; you will receive an e-mail to schedule your appointment Time slots especially for Step 2 CS fill quickly. Popular months include October through mid January If you feel that your Step 2 CK score would strengthen your academic credentials, plan to take it by the end of September August o Complete ERAS application o Finalize personal statement o Check status of letters with Frances o Make a tentative list of programs to which to apply o Take your picture in the photography department of the Office of Educational Resources on the 2nd floor Call 235-1836 or extension 1837 to schedule your appointment o Organize your schedule in a planner or other centralized source o In mid August, registration with the NRMP begins September o Submit application as soon as it is finalized ERAS opens for submission September 1 o When you receive invitations to interview, respond promptly as dates fill quickly o Continue to follow-up on your letters of recommendation

October o Shop for interview attire o Purchase portfolio to hold program information o Arrange mock interview o Continue to schedule interviews as they are offered Look into transportation to and within interview cities If residency program does not provide housing, plan for places to stay November December o November 1, MSPE (Deans letter) released o Continue to interview o Write thank you notes after each interview o Military Match results released o December 1 is the deadline to register with the NRMP January o Finish interviewing o Consider second looks o Follow-up with programs o Urology Match results released February o Take second looks early in the month if you have not already done so o Follow-up with your top programs o Rank lists are typically due towards the end of the month. Visit for deadline. March o MATCH DAY! April May o Pass along advice to younger students

San Francisco Match Timeline

Year 5
January May o Decide career. If applicable (Ophthalmology, Child Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Plastic Surgery), plan to enter the San Francisco Match o Plan out of town electives o Establish research in chosen occupation May June o Start compiling CV and looking at the Application o Register for the SF Match o Begin Personal Statement o Start asking for Letters of Recommendation (as for both CAS and ERAS) o Look at individual programs and start thinking about programs to which to apply Write down each individual program deadline June July o Get letters of recommendation (Sealed and Signed across seal) o Start looking at ERAS application (register beginning July 1) o Finish CAS application o Research each program and keep a calendar of all of the interview dates for each program to which you applied You will need this later when you start receiving invitations to interview and will want to be able to respond shortly after receiving them August o Send in the CAS application early in the first month (the first week of August) Allow 4-5 weeks for processing Make sure to allow time for deadlines. Send in approximately 5 weeks prior to the first deadline of individual programs o Check on the status of letters for ERAS with Marilyn and Frances

Year 6

September o September 6, 2007 is the recommended time for CAS submission o Toward the end of the month expect to start hearing from programs; check your e-mail several times per day o Respond to each invitation you receive o Get a calendar that you write all of the invitation dates in. Be ready when you are contacted by the programs to know which date works best within a few minutes o CAS provides bios on all of the programs that you should look at and be familiar with the dates that they offer interviews o Submit ERAS application October o Shop for interview attire o Understand that interviews can occur as early as the end of October o Arrange mock interview o Keep all information regarding The Match in one central place o Start making an interview folder to have at each interview if needed, which includes picture (name on back), CV, personal statement, copies of publications, copies of USMLE score reports, and copy of transcript o Most of your interview invitations will come during this time. The key is prompt response to the invite (spots go quickly!) o You must be nice to all of the coordinators. They can make or break you! o Mark on your calendar each interview for which you sign up. Dont be afraid to overbook days because you can always cancel later o Know what days you want to interview at certain places. Have a plan already established so that you are not just haphazardly arranging o Once you set a date, it may be difficult to change o Look at transportation to all of the interviews o Early hotel and transportation planning is key November o Interview o You may still be hearing about program invitations during the first several weeks of the month o Write thank you notes after each interview o November 1, the Deans letter is released o Ask Marilyn or Frances for a copy of the letter and read it over to assess for any errors of difficult sections to understand o Put a copy of your Deans letter in your interview folder

December o Interview o Write thank you notes after each interview o Plan interviews for ERAS later in the month so that they do not conflict with our CAS interviews o Follow-up with your favorite programs o Consider second looks January o January 10, 2007 12:00 pm PST, RANK LISTS are DUE o January 18, 2007, MATCH DAY! o January 19, 2007, May call CAS if you still dont know where you are going o January 24, 2007, Scramble begins o Finish interviewing for ERAS spot February o Submit ERAS rank list March o ERAS MATCH DAY!

Out-of-Town Electives
Are they necessary? o Not absolutely. The most common reason to go to a certain institution is to learn more about the place, see it for yourself, and to give your application a little more weight at the programs through which you rotate. It certainly helps to get your foot in the door at a competitive place or in a competitive field. Working at big-name places or with the well-known people of the field will add prestige to your application. Also, there may be a perception of people on either coast that Midwesterners will not leave the Midwest; doing rotations on the coasts can help to show those people that you do not fit their stereotype. When to do them? o The ideal time to do out-of-town electives is July-September. It is possible to do them in October, November, or even December but realize that doing them at that time will not help you get interviews. Those months are for the same reason the busiest time for out-of-town electives, so it is best to get the applications in early. How many to do? o This is dependent upon your schedule, financial resources, and competitiveness of the specialty. Because of DORO, Humanities, Step 2, and other requirements we have as part of our curriculum, it may be difficult to find 2-3 months during July-October in which to do the rotations. Most programs require only a nominal monetary application fee, but housing may be extremely expensive, depending upon where you go. It follows that if you are applying to a competitive specialty, it would be advantageous to do more away electives to increase your chances of matching. Where to go? o This is entirely up to you, the applicant. Perhaps by this time you have researched programs and have a tentative list of programs to which you may apply. From this list, choose from your top choices. Apply to more schools than you have available time, as it may take the school a long time to respond. Some do not respond until 30 days before the rotation begins; this makes it difficult to make housing and travel arrangements.

How to apply? o Applications for away rotations are handled through the medical schools that are affiliated with the hospitals. o The website of the medical school is the first place to look, though the application is usually buried in the website and difficult to find in the event that you cannot find the application, call the school and ask for the person in charge of the visiting students. They will be able to e-mail you the link for the application. o Many schools will require the application, a fee, immunization history, a transcript, and proof of good standing as a medical student. Some schools require a CV, personal statement, and/or a letter of recommendation. o Most schools have a deadline for away rotations in July-October, which is usually in April or May. Other Helpful Ideas o Once you are accepted, finding housing is the next major problem. If you have a friend in the area, and you are going somewhere you can take a car, then this would be the best, cheapest, and easiest option. If you have to try and arrange housing, first check with the hospital and medical school; sometimes they provide housing at a large discount, or perhaps for free. If you must get an apartment, be aware that it will be very expensive. is the first place to check for a sublet. Corporate housing (short-term apartment living) may be another option. If you are in a city that has a Step 2CS testing center, it would be very convenient to take the exam before you leave at the end of the rotation.


The Curriculum Vitae

CV for Letter Writers You will need to create a CV to give to letter writers Keep in mind that the basic purpose of a CV is to summarize your education, work, and life experiences Include enough to allow the writer to support your candidacy and convey a sense of who you are Be concise. You should never exceed two pages (no one will read through more than this) There are many ways to format a CV and you should do what represents you the best o Your format should reflect your own style but retain a professional appearance o Always start with your contact information at the top o If you decide to include a picture, be professionally dressed against a solid background o Your first category should always be education. After this, the order of categories is up to you Common categories include Work experience Research Publications Honors Awards Affiliations Community service Hobbies & interests Skills Traditionally, the last category is references. It is standard to write "Available upon request." o Title categories according to what presents you in the best light o You do not have to use categories off of a standard form o Combine categories if necessary in order to have more than one or two items per category o Organize each category chronologically when possible.

ERAS CV ERAS will automatically generate a CV for you. However, the format is set. You cannot change headings, order, font size, style, spacing, etc. This is the CV that programs will see and download (and often have in front of them when you are interviewing). Your ERAS CV is compiled from the application information you enter. While there are twelve sections to the application, there are really only three which are more than background information (sections 5, 6, and 12) o Section 5 is entitled Experience. You must classify each experience as work, volunteer, or research. If you don't know how to classify something ask yourself if it was research related. If the answer is yes, then you must list it as research. If the answer is no, then ask yourself if you received monetary compensation. If yes, then list it as work. If no, then list it as a volunteer experience You must also enter: Organization name Your position Supervisor name Description of duties Reason for leaving Dates of experience o Section 6 is entitled Publications. You must enter: Title of publication Authors/presenters Publication/organization Month and year of publication Volume number and pages o Section 12 is entitled Miscellaneous. You are first asked two questions: if you have any limiting aspects and if your medical education was interrupted or extended for any reason. Any affirmative response requires you to enter an explanation or description in 510 characters or less (including spaces). This section also has separate text boxes to enter: Languages in which you are fluent Can you conduct an interview in this language? Hobbies and interests Medical school awards Other awards and accomplishments Membership in honorary/ professional societies


Helpful Hints Don't feel compelled to list everything you have ever done. This can be distracting, especially if done in a laundry list fashion. Your CV should reflect themes. Coming from UMKC, you will be viewed as a focused, goal oriented candidate. Use this to your advantage. Show that you have pursued interests and not just randomly partaken in activities Use short descriptions under items. This can generate interest, tie experiences together, and help shape the way the item is viewed. Do not describe selfexplanatory items. Remember brevity is the key to wit. (No more than a few sentences!) The CV should not explain everything, but rather spark interest in you. A short description is especially useful for job duties with work experiences and community service type activities. Try consolidating various activities under the organization name (i.e. Make-a-Wish) instead of listing each time you volunteered. Then in the description mention that you organized or helped with A, B, and C activities Use common sense; be cautious about listing an interest group, professional society, or experience in a field other than your own. If you do this, be able to both explain how this changed your career choice and show that you have explored your career choice more than the other field Be able to have a conversation, preferably a good one, about anything listed on your CV. Listing a more unique hobby can be a great conversation piece at interviews. Listing several may alienate a program director. If it is listed, it will come up somewhere on the interview trail. (So don't list things you didn't do in an attempt to make your application look better!) If you have time, try to be able to list at least one or two things in each major area. Programs understand that you have had less time than most other applicants. As such, deficiencies in areas such as research or community service will be looked more favorably upon if you have at least explored the area. It is even better if you can tie these activities into themes in your application. For example, research in your field or a service activity related to an interest or hobby. It is better to list research as 'in progress' or 'submitted for review' than to not list it at all. You can always provide a program with an updated CV when you interview (and you should if you have significant changes). On the ERAS CV don't be confined by the space! You have some leeway to be interactive or creative. Prior students have written things such as, "Ask me about..." This can set your application apart and create interest in inviting you out for an interview.


The Personal Statement

What is it? o The personal statement is a critical part of your residency application for many reasons: It is the only portion of your application not based upon scholastic achievement or a letter writers perspective of you It is something over which you have complete control The personal statement gives a residency program a better idea of who you are as a person Are you who they are looking for in a resident? Do your career goals fit with the mission of the program? It may be used as a part of their selection process The personal statement is a way to distinguish yourself from other applicants with similar academic achievement You will often hear the phrase, it can make or break you During your interview, it can be used as conversation and most likely will be brought up at some point during your interview day o The personal statement will be one of the most time-consuming and frustrating components of your application, but never discredit its importance o It should only be one page When entering your personal statement, ERAS recommends typing directly into the space of pasting from a TEXT file (.txt). They have their own format and font. Print out your personal statement from ERAS to ensure it only occupies one page. On average, a residency program director reads the personal statement in 3 minutes. In that time, you want them to know who you are as a person What is it not? o The personal statement is not equivalent to your CV. Do not list your accomplishments. It should be a reflection of your personal and professional growth and you may include those experiences or accomplishments from your CV that are relevant o It is not a place to discuss why you wanted to become a doctor. That was the purpose of your medical school admissions essay; write about your specialty instead o The personal statement is not something to procrastinate. Get started early!


What should I include? o Why (fill in your specialty)? Include in your personal statement: What got you interested? o Personal connection or experience o Patient encounter o Specific aspect of your specialty What experience in that field have you had? o Rotations o Research o Publications How did you make your choice? This will be a question you are consistently asked during each interview. If you develop this portion of your personal statement, you will be prepared for your interviews o What makes you unique? Strengths Motivation o What are you looking for in a residency program? You should be developing a list of things that are important to you and may want to include these in your personal statement o What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? A hot topic is if you see yourself in academics versus private practice after residency o You dont have to commit, but may want to think about it This is a question you are guaranteed to be asked during an interview What will you contribute to your field? o There are no rules or instructions to writing a personal statement. The above questions are only suggestions but should be incorporated into your PS in some way Where to begin? o Draft 1 What do you want a program to know about you? Write your answers to the questions above o Draft 2 Add supporting facts and begin to consolidate your thoughts


o Draft 3 Connect your thoughts Use a personal story, quote, patient encounter, or a combination of these o Once you have a solid draft, begin to show your personal statement Show it to the people who know you the best friends and family They will give you honest feedback and make suggestions Share it with someone who has a background in English to ensure it is grammatically correct You may even want a program director and/or program coordinator to critique your personal statement They see hundreds of essays and would know how to compare yours to other applicants o Most importantly, begin your personal statement before reading others whether they be your friends or examples online Once you see them, it will be difficult for you to be open-minded and be creative with your own personal statement Other Helpful Tips : o Be creative! Have a theme or something to organize your thoughts Use a quote o For example, Albert Einstein wrote Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning. Organize your paragraphs with: learn from yesterday to speak about your experience in medical school live for today to refer to what you have done in your given specialty hope for tomorrow to discuss your career goals Personal experience or story o You may want to incorporate why you chose a career in medicine especially if there is continuity into your specialty o Accomplishment in medical school or your specialty Patient encounter o Be careful not to reveal to many identifiers as HIPAA also applies

o Leave an open-ended thought in your personal statement. For example, Patient diagnosis in which you had a critical role Outcome of a personal experience These may be used as conversation during your interview o Be concise. The personal statement should not be longer than one page o Avoid grammatical errors or spelling mistakes Proof read and have others critique your personal statement o Some people suggest addressing your potential weaknesses in your personal statement; however, this is controversial. If you choose to include a weakness, discuss it in the middle of your personal statement. Be sure to start strong and finish strong o If you find that your Personal Statement is not working, start over o Be Patient! o Start early, dont procrastinate! o Ask for help if you need it. There is a College of Arts and Science Writing Center on UMKCs main campus Visit their web page or call (816) 235-1146 for more information


Letters of Recommendation (LOR)

How to ask? o Every program, in almost every field will require, but not limit the number of letters to three (A few require four). There is no limit, however, to the number of letters you may ask for, and remember that you can choose which letters go to which programs. o It is best to ask early and in an appropriate manner. For example, if you wish to ask your docent for a letter, it would be best to schedule an appointment to speak to him/her about it, instead of just stopping them in clinic. o Also, it is important to provide your letter-writers with three documents: a personal statement (this does not have to be your final draft, just something for them to read about you), a CV, and the official LOR forms from ERAS with your name and AAMC number filled in at the top (example attached). These forms should be given to the letter-writer in a stamped, addressed (to Frances Nelson) envelope. In addition, on the ERAS LOR form, make sure the box waiving your right to see your letter is checked. In the SF Match, the letter-writers will give the applicant the LOR in a sealed envelope that requires the letter-writers signature over the seal, instead of mailing it directly to UMKC. The LOR are then sent with the complete application to the SF match (the Central Application Service, or CAS, receives all correspondence for the SF match) by the applicant. o If you are not especially close with your letter-writer, and feel that they should get to know you a little better before they write your letter, schedule a session (or two) to speak with them about your short and long-term career goals, your thoughts about where you want to go, and any other information that you would want them to know about you. *Beware of the mediocre letter from a letter-writer who barely knows you but agrees to write the letter.* If that is a concern, ask the letter-writer directly, are you comfortable writing a letter of strong support for me for this program? Who to ask? o If you are applying for anything that relates to general medicine, like IM, Pediatrics, OB-GYN, ER, Neurology, Dermatology etc. then your docent and the local chairman or program director (though the director may have a conflict of interest if they really want you) of that particular field would be an appropriate choice, though it is by no means an absolute necessity to ask anyone.


If you know you are going to ask well ahead of time, ask as early as possible, because there is significant variability in how long it takes for letter-writers to turn in the LOR. A caveat to the above point wait until you have worked with the letter-writer to ask for the LOR. o If you are applying for surgical fields, then the decision is up to you. Use your judgment on deciding whether to have an IM doctor writing a letter for you ask people who have gone into that particular field. The only reason you might consider this is if you know your docent will write you a fantastic letter. Otherwise, it is best to have letters from people within your chosen field. If possible, get a letter from the chairman of the department at Truman, SLH, or KU. o If there is no such person in town, then you are probably applying to a very exclusive and competitive field, and you are likely doing out-of-town rotations in said field. If this is the case, a letter from the chairman of the department at an outside institution will be just as good, if not better than one from a person in town. Small fields are small worlds, and name recognition means more than in other fields, so look to work with and ask for letters from the notable people. Other helpful tips o Ask at least three people, and probably you should ask for more, as you can always throw the letter away if they are not useful. o You can have Frances and/or Marilyn read the letter and tell you if it is good, average, poor, etc., and based upon that, you can assign them to particular programs or throw them out. o If you rotate somewhere out-of-town, do not hesitate to get a letter from someone at the program, especially if you want to go there. In fact, if they really like you, you can ask them instead of a letter, to call/write the program director of that program only. Letters from the institution itself always mean more than outside letters, so if you really like the program (or if you are working with any notable names), go ahead and ask for a letter. o If you are applying for a procedure-oriented field (General/Orthopedic Surgery, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Urology, Anesthesiology) it may behoove you to keep a procedure log of the cases in which you participated with the attending physician whom you are asking for a LOR. o The best time to ask for a letter from an out-of-town source is in the third week (of a 4-week cycle) of the rotation; be sure to meet the physician in an office setting to ask in a more formal way, and provide him/her with a personal statement, CV, a cover letter written by the student, and the official ERAS forms in a stamped, addressed envelope. o After match, be sure to call and thank your letter-writers.

Researching Residency Programs

Keys to success when thinking about what residency programs to apply to : o Early research o Early Ranking of Programs o The Interview Calendar o Saving Information for Later Review Gathering Information o The first and most important step requires that you to figure out the criteria you will evaluate the programs with and what characteristics are important to you and your career goals. (i.e. continuity clinics, extensive surgical subspecialty departments, etc) o This takes a lot of work, so start early. o Many of you will be applying to a large number of programs (>40-50) so break them up. Assess what programs you want to consider before you start collecting the information o In addition to helping you establish your application list, this background information will help you decide what interviews you want to accept. o The information about each program should be organized in whatever way you choose (one notebook, separate manila folders) o You should review this information thoroughly and often o Start considering the Rank of your chosen programs before you apply o Clearly understand your Ranking when accepting your interviews Where Should I Get the Information? o Residency Programs Websites and FRIEDA provide contact information for each program Do not hesitate to email or write postcards to the programs requesting information. Most programs provide packets of information It would be a good idea to set up a database (such as MS Word MailMerge) to help you electronically label your written communication so that thank you notes can be easily addressed in the future. o Career Mentor You must discuss career goals within chosen field. The mentor must understand what information is important to you and they must have an accurate evaluation of your character. Provide subjective interpretation of reputation May provide contacts with programs to help gain more information

Helps provide subjective opinions about program personalities, benefits and flaws Faculty Can be biased toward their own program May provide contacts with other programs Subjective opinions about programs Seek opinions from junior faculty who trained at other programs Residents A very good resource for inside information about their program Can be very good for other programs too, they applied only a few years prior Good to understand geographic information about programs A great resource while on away rotations Fellows from other institutions are a great resource too Contact information will be available through your docents and Student Affairs Office regarding current residents and faculty in your chosen field who have agreed to help out UMKC students Other Students (or Graduated Students) **Share information with each other** Give feedback about program encounters Discuss programs with other students you meet at away rotations and along the interview trail We have started a database of programs where the 2006 class interviewed that may shed light on the programs to which you want to apply Do not hesitate to contact UMKC graduates regarding residency programs FRIEDA (Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database) Produced by the AMA Very good resource regarding objective information about schedule and benefits Links to program websites Contact information for program Graduate Medical Education Directory (The Green Book) Print version of FRIEDA Annually updated catalogue of programs Can get in UMKC Health Science Library Can order from AMA


o Specialty Specific Program Directories Professional specialty organizations may provide list of accredited programs with contact information (e.g., American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) May rival information found in FRIEDA Attain through organization website o San Francisco Matching Program Directory Basic program information can be found without registering for SF Match Once registered, a comprehensive directory is accessible Comment section of directory provides additional information about the programs including dates of interviews o Online Student Doctor Forums Very subjective information about selected field Be careful about what you decide to post, program directors and faculty check this site to see what has been written May provide insight into other peoples experience with the match process Commonly exposes flaws of programs more than benefits Early Ranking of Programs o As you are processing the information you need to start thinking about which programs are your favorites. o Create list of not just top or middle tier programs but allow lower tier programs onto your list o Helps with application process o Helps you decide which interview offers to accept, and at which programs you actually interview On a side note, it is smart to accept many more interviews than you plan to attend; it is always possible to cancel Sometimes, two different programs offer interviews on the same day; in this event, only decline the less desired program after the more desired program has offered you an interview o Compare pre- and post-interview ranking, as it will help with eventual ranking at end of interviews Interview Calendar o Programs provide possible interview days on websites, FRIEDA, subspecialty pages (especially if only a small number of selected interview days are available)


o Create a calendar that keeps track of all of the possible interview days of the programs to which you applied o This is very important because you will be receiving interview offers that may preclude your ability to attend another programs interviews o Once again, do not plan on interviews that you have not already received; you can always cancel interviews later o Keep a copy of this calendar close when you are accepting interview invitations o Make sure to keep a copy of accepted interview dates (recommend a different color ink or highlighter on the same calendar) Saving Information for Later o Good organizational skills are important o Assess the information before the interview day o Assess again after the interview day for validity and accuracy of information o Assess the information again while establishing rank list o Assess the information again after the match to make sure you know what you have gotten yourself into


Pre-Interview Day Events

Scheduling Your Interviews o The KEYS to getting the interview day you want are: Review possible interview dates before interviews are offered You must know what dates you prefer quickly Consider preliminary planning of coordinated trips Speedy response to invitations To ensure your interview spot, you must speak with the coordinator or get response via email o Keep a calendar of all scheduled interviews o Do NOT be afraid to overbook your interviews Do not wait for another invitation to schedule an interview to which you are already invited!! If you get the interview you want, you can cancel others later o Courteous canceling of interviews: Cancel as early as possible Speak directly with the coordinator Ask about alternate dates or times that fit in your schedule, they may create special dates for you. o Keep a final schedule of your interview dates o If you are doing an out of town elective during interview season, do not be afraid to attempt to schedule interviews during your rotation. Realize, however, that missing rotation days even for legitimate reasons should be avoided if you are trying to obtain a LOR or strongly considering the program at which you are rotating. o Conventional wisdom explains that interviewing in the latter half of the interview season will help keep you fresh in the committee members minds when rank lists are created. The Mock Interview o It would be important to schedule a mock interview with someone whom you trust to give you good feedback and who has experience in residency interviews (especially in field of your choice). o Many times, your docent is a good resource for mock interviews o Perform in this interview just as you would like to execute in the actual interview.


Pre-interview communication o As stated above, respond early to interview invitations o Many programs will send you information regarding the selected interview day schedule. o You should review the information provided and plan trips accordingly. o Feel free to communicate with the interview coordinator about the interview day schedule o To keep a good rapport with the interview coordinator, try to keep any exceptions or changes to the interview schedule to a minimum. Interview Attire o Early shopping is key o Men: Differing opinions. However, a safe bet is a dark suit (blue, gray, black, brownblack is most common) with a white or blue shirt and a plain tie. Shoes should be comfortable, clean and polished. o Women: Even more differing in opinions than mens clothing. Consider dark skirt or pant suit (blue, gray, black, or brown). Consider a nice collared shirt underneath. Shoes should be comfortable (you walk a lot during tours) and polished. The key is to maintain professionalism and avoid being provocative. If in a surgical specialty, you may have to tour the OR in a bunny suit. This may entail the removal of your suit coat, and subsequent embarrassment if you have a flimsy or indecent blouse on underneath. o Having stated the above, a non-black/gray/blue-colored (but professional) suit will attract attention. At several interviews, the lone brave individual who dressed differently would receive comments (from faculty encountered on tours) such as, Out of all these people we should hire you. This can be helpful if you have an outgoing personality. However, if you shy away from the whole group turning toward you and awaiting your response, probably not for you. o A handful of anesthesia interviews will have you change into scrubs and spend time in the OR talking with a resident. Items such as a comb or shoe horn may come in handy when redressing. What to Bring to the Interview o Zippable notebook or briefcase (Professional) o Nice pen o Mints/gum/mouth spray


o Interview Packet (The first two items are necessary to bring along. The other items can be helpful to have, especially for SF match interviews.) Picture to give to secretary (expected in interviews through SF match) Curriculum Vitae (if updated, bring a copy to leave with the program) Copies of any publications Personal Statement USMLE Score Report Transcript Medical Student Performance Evaluation (Deans Letter) Travel o Early preparation o Attempt to schedule multiple interviews with one trip. o Traveling inexpensively takes work, you can use any of the following: Drive! Fly: Online travel organizations (Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, Student Universe, etc) Take Amtrak/ train service Greyhound/ bus service AAMC saver programs (UMKC will let you know) Travel Agent I personally used Janet at Barry Travel Center (816.587.2100) which was very nice because she was the cheapest way I could find for travel. I called her up and told her where I wanted to go and when. She set up the entire trip for me. *Warning, once the plans are set with her and paid for they are difficult to refund or change!* o Always plan to leave early and arrive in the city early. Also plan to leave the interview city late. Do not press time during your interview dates. o Several organizations provide information regarding hotels to stay in during the interview (some may pay too!) If no information is provided, consider those online organizations (Priceline, Orbitz, etc). o In city traveling: Rental Cars Taxi cabs Airport shuttle o When flying, try to take everything as a carry-on. You do not want to have lost luggage when you arrive.


You can buy a roll-aboard suit carrier or durable garment bag Many airlines have a place in the front of the plane to hang garment bags o While traveling, make sure you get a copy of the daily newspaper. You will want to keep up on all of the recent news so that you can maintain conversation during the interview. Pre-Interview Social Event o Many programs will have the opportunity to meet with the residents in a social environment prior to the interview date (or sometimes after). o Keep in mind this is part of your interview. In several programs, the residents that you are interacting with have a say in your rank. o Most times, these are informal. However, occasionally attending physicians or program directors do show up to the gathering. Be prepared. o Alcohol is commonly provided during these events. Moderation is the key. Know your limits and make sure you can still act appropriately with the residents and potentially staff physicians. o Attire: dress casual (Men- slacks and collared shirt, Women-slacks/skirt). o Ask intelligent questions about program, city, residency life, etc. The Night Before the Big Day o Relax o Get a good nights sleep o Eat a good meal


Interview Day
Foreword o The following will take you through a list of typical events at a residency interview. Please keep in mind that this is only an example, and every program arranges their interviews in a different fashion. Also, different specialties have very different interview processes. The following was written by an internal medicine resident, and it will therefore apply to most of the larger specialties (Pediatrics, OB/Gyn, General Surgery). The section on interviewing itself, however, is applicable to any specialty. For the larger, more common and less competitive specialties, always bear in mind that they are selling the program to you as much as you are selling yourself to the program. This will serve to keep you in the appropriate attitude of combined skepticism and humility. Day Begins o Usually, the interview day begins at around 7-8 a.m. The residency coordinators most often a secretary or assistant are the people with whom you will have been corresponding, and are also the first people you will meet at the interview, as they will hand out packets of information regarding the program along with your personal schedule for the day. The first meeting is almost always headed by the program director, who is sometimes accompanied by the chairman. He/She will give an overview of the program, along with a schedule of the days events. Though you will have already done research about the program, this meeting often is fodder for creative and unique questions, as invariably the program director will mention some salient features about the program that you might not have elicited from your research. There may be time for Q&A at this point, but more often it is simply the first opportunity the Program Director has to sell you on the program. Morning Report/Rounds/Conference o At some point in the morning, most programs will have the candidates go on rounds with the residents or attend some type of prototypical morning conference. This is an opportunity for you to accurately judge the quality and attitudes of the residents, faculty, and staff. There were some programs in which the candidates were expected to participate, though this was not common. If you do get the opportunity to participate, remember that showing


off or trying too hard to impress people can often backfire and end up making the candidate look worse. Time with residents/lunch o Sometime during the day, you should be offered an opportunity to break bread with the residents, or spend some time simply asking them questions. Be wary of the program that does not allow any time with their residents. This is the perfect time to ask the little questions (Where to live, do I need a car, how expensive will it be, are you happy here, how easy is it to get involved in research, how open are the faculty, etc.). It is, in the writers opinion, poor interviewing to ask these types of questions in the interview itself. Interview Typical interview experience, setup, questions, demeanor. o Dress: Men Suits of dark color for most fields, with white or blue shirt, and a plain tie. Women Business suits of dark color and appropriate length. Shoes for either gender should not attract attention, and should be wellpolished. The point is to not detract attention from your words and personality with flashy clothing. Have your nails trimmed and hair (head and facial) well groomed. o Most interviews are one-on-one, 15-20 minutes, and it is common to have 2 interviews during the day, though smaller fields may have many more than two. It is conducted in a quiet room, and you may have to go the interviewers office. Almost always there are people to direct you to the door, but all medical centers are built like a maze, so the interviewers will not mind if you are late. o When you get your schedule in the morning, it will have the names of your interviewers, and it is a good idea to learn their names, so you can greet them with a FIRM handshake and a Hello, Dr. DSouza, nice to meet you. If you do not know how to say the name of your interviewer, ask some residents or faculty so you pronounce it correctly. In some of the smaller fields, you may know with whom you will be interviewing well before the interview day. If that is the case, be sure to look up everything you can find about that persons career. This will help you make more of an impression on the interviewer, by asking smart questions. For example, if you know your interviewer has done extensive research about new techniques in lacrimal duct stenosis, you can formulate a question such as, Dr. Couch, I know you have done some work in lacrimal duct stenosis, and I was wondering if you


could tell me if and when, as a resident, I might be able to get involved in such research. Never forget most peoples favorite subject is themselves and their work, so most interviewers will be more than happy to discuss their own work with you. o There are typical questions for an interview, such as, Tell me about yourself, Tell me about your greatest success/failure, Tell me about your research, Why would you like to come here? What are you looking for in a residency program? Books have been written on typical interview questions, and you can go to the standard ones like First Aid for the Match to find a more extensive list of the common ones. You should prepare, well in advance of your first interview, a set of answers to those common questions. You may be asked all, some, or none of them, but they are difficult questions to answer spontaneously, so have some idea of an answer prepared. In a related note, it is a good idea to keep yourself abreast if you do not already of the current events of the world during your interview season. The easiest way to do this is to pick up a copy of the New York Times provided free of charge in the lobby of the medical school on your way to the airport, so you can read it on the plane. Whatever your method, be aware of world events, as you may be asked about them, or you may want to use them as conversation starters with people you meet. East and West-coasters do tend to believe that most Midwesterners are uninformed, ignorant people; it is imperative to debunk their theory, and this is one of the ways to accomplish this. There will be more on this later. Many interviewers may start with an informal conversation on how your day has been going, how dinner the night before was, or even if youve gotten a chance to do anything in the city. Informal as it may seem (it may even be on the way back to his/her office), your responses reveal plenty about yourself. Are you an optimistic or pessimistic person? How did you handle the rain/snow, temperature, lost baggage, flight delay, etc.? Where did you go for dinner? With whom did you talk? (Its embarrassing if you cannot remember names.) Were you paying attention at the morning conference? How did the topic discussed relate to cases you have seen? How do you prepare for trips? Do you give yourself time to explore new places? How important is the location of the program to you? Often these questions are informally rolled into conversation, and reveal things that dont come across on a paper application. Dont over think your answers, just be cognizant that this part of the interview is as important as any other. The interviewer is still trying to sell the program to you

and wants to ensure you have been treated well and dont miss highlights of the program/city. o During your interview, simple things are key: Give a firm handshake and a smile when you introduce yourself, stand tall, sit straight, leave your hands in your lap (gestures that people use are usually unnecessary and often detract from their words), speak in a measured, calm voice, keep eye contact but do not stare, give cues that let your interviewer know you are listening, do not fidget, smile when appropriate, laugh when appropriate, and above all, listen. You should have a list of set questions you ask during your interview, but it is foolish to simply ask them one after another. Listen to the answer, and you will often find another question hidden in their answer. o Very tough questions can be common during interviews at competitive programs and in interviews in competitive fields. Many of the questions are simply to catch you off guard. The key to answering these questions is to simply: be honest, calm, collected and admit when you do not know the answer. It is not uncommon to be asked questions about controversial subjects such as family, abortion, euthanasia, or faith. Stay current with the news, as many times interviewers ask about your position or interpretation of the newsworthy situations (ex. immigration, creation vs. evolution, etc). Staying calm is the key to more strange questions, such as Well Dr. Shah, you went to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip, will you draw me a map of the country and all surrounding islands? You may or may not know the answer, but the key is to collect yourself and answer the question as thoroughly as possible and admit when you dont knowdo not make anything up. o A list of questions that you ask the interviewer should include some standard questions that you ask every interviewer along the trail and some that are tailored to the specific programs. The questions you ask should NOT waste time, or keep the interviewer talking. That is a waste of an interview. You have 15-20 minutes to show them something they cannot find in your application, and while there are some things on which you should elicit answers, the best interviews occur when the interviewee speaks for nearly the entire time. This can be difficult, because many interviewers will start the interview with, What questions do you have for me? This makes talking difficult, because you are limited to questions only, not answers; nevertheless, you can still speak extensively while asking the questions. The way to do this is to craft your questions in such a way that allows the interviewer to understand why you are asking the question. For example, you might ask, Dr. Winkler, I am especially interested in learning to teach during residency,

as I am considering staying in academic medicine. What teaching opportunities does the program offer? The point is to say something about yourself in every sentence you speak during the interview. Sometimes it is possible to create opportunities for good questions via your application. For example, an interesting pathology case woven into a personal statement will cause any interviewer to ask about that particular case, and will give you leave to speak about it and any related subjects. Or, you might suggest in your ERAS application that the interviewer ask you about particular hobbies/interests (though this must be done in an unassuming fashion). o How do we conquer the bias of being from a 6-year program in the Midwest? The best way to do this is to answer their questions on this subject without speaking about it; in other words, be mature. This can be achieved not only through body language, as stated above, but also through the manner and style of your conversation. Pay attention to the way you speak. If you tend to say like, uhh, I mean, Do you know what I mean? or any other nonsensical verbiage, get rid of it. State what you want to say in the most direct, clear, concise fashion as you look them in the eye, sit up, and hold your head high, and they will not question your youth. From the moment you walk through the door until the moment you walk out, you should exude maturity, calm, and confidence (but not arrogance). On a related note, if they should ask you if you regret anything about going to a 6-year program, you do not always have to give the party line, No, it was the best experience ever, there was nothing to regret, let me talk about all the clinical experience. It is OK to give some of the downsides of the program in a thoughtful, respectful way. The interviewers are people, and usually smart people. They realize that every program has downsides, and it is simply more realistic to tell the truth. o Some interviewers ask a similar question about other programs you have interviewed at to see if you can both recognize weaknesses and discuss them in a thoughtful, respectful way. Bad-mouthing places will only backfire. o How to impress the interviewer? This is the most difficult part of the process. They have your application, so you cannot impress them by numbers or resume. You have to make them like and remember you in 15-20 minutes. The only way to do this is to be professional, intelligent, thoughtful, witty, funny but not silly, confident but not arrogant, humble but not meek, and to actually win their respect, admiration, and affection.


Tour o The tours are simple, boring, and another way to ask the little questions of the residents who are giving the tours. Concluding the Day o By the end of the day, you will be tired. Some programs will have a social hour with drinks and food, others an informal Q&A session. Whatever the case, be sure to thank all the people you met, especially the coordinator. If at all possible, if you have not spoken to the program director on an individual basis, make an effort to meet him/her at this time. Be sure to thank him/her for the opportunity, and let them know how much you enjoyed their program. Then get the heck out of there.


Post-Interview Follow-Up
Thank You Notes/ Immediate Feedback o Differing opinions. This is mostly a matter of style/personal preference, but whatever you choose make sure it appears neat and professional. Options include hand-written thank you notes, typed letters, typed letters with a handwritten addendum, attachments to emails, or emails. If you attach a document to an email, attach it as a pdf. This will ensure it appears the way you want it to. Consider including a picture. o Consider email thank you notes, program directors and other staff are more likely to respond to email. You may be able to infer their opinions of you through language and format used in the email. o Try to get thank you letters out as soon as possible. It is very easy to fall behind on these, and then much harder to get them done once you are behind. In addition programs will continue with their next set of interviewees, and some programs have periodic rank sessions. While some people get thank you notes out the same day or the next day, a good rule of thumb is within one week. o The first set of thank you notes takes the longest, but provides a basic template. Just be sure to tailor your notes to the specific program. o At the very least you should thank the program director. Try to be concise, but thank him or her for the opportunity to visit the program. Tell them that you enjoyed meeting the residents and staff, emphasizing the people with whom you interviewed. If you interviewed or met with the program director, include something from that interaction. Restate your strengths, how you are a good fit for the program, and your level of interest in the program. o Many people thank each interviewer as well. These notes can be shorter, but should still be personalized as to the conversation you had. It helps if you have jotted down a few notes after each interview. o Dont forget thank you letters are an opportunity to further sell yourself and your interest in the program. Dont waste the opportunity with something completely generic! Continuing the Courtship o Once you interview, it is up to you to maintain correspondence with the program. This should generally be with the program director, but can be beneficial with anyone on the selection committee. o Continuing correspondence is most efficiently done via email.


o If you interview early in the season, your correspondence period is that much longer. Some programs may believe your interest to be superficial if they only hear from you right after your interview and right before rank lists are due. o Past applicants have corresponded every few weeks, or even on a more frequent basis. (Some students have totaled 30-40 emails with a program over the course of the season.) While this may seem excessive to some, it leaves no doubt in committees mind as to your level of interest. Remember, out of sight is out of mind! Yet, there is a fine line before you become in sight and overbearing! o Feel free to ask about program features that come up on later interviews. It shows programs that you remain interested and are actively evaluating your options. o Be sure to write your top programs at the end of your interview trail. You should let them know that you are done looking at programs and you remain very interested in their program. o Consider second looks (see below). o Do not lie to the programs. Programs directors often talk to each other, and telling multiple programs that they are your top choice may be shooting yourself in the foot. o Avoid using numbers and consider wording such as you are in the top of my list over the more clichd I plan to rank you highly. However, if you have a clear top choice, tell the program as much. Second Looks o Consider second looks at your top choices only. o Second looks allow programs to see that you truly are interested, but more importantly allow you to reassess your top programs and how you want to rank them. o As most programs have their final ranking sessions in late January to mid February, it is best to take second looks in the latter half of January or the very beginning of February. o While some programs insist that second looks will not affect how they rank, in the opinion of this author this is only if your visit is after the ranking session. While the program may not say this applicant did or did not take a second look, the increased face time will help faculty to get to know you and reconvey your interest in the program. o Try to briefly meet or at least say hi to the program director on your second look.


Rank Lists o Rank programs in order of your preference. Do not take into consideration where the program is ranking you. The match is designed to favor applicant preferences. o Rank every program which you would be happy attending. o Do not rank a program if you would not be happy there. Anywhere you put on the list (regardless of where on the list), you may end up attending. o Seriously consider the order of your whole list! Hopefully, the order of the bottom of your list will not matter, but do not take chances as it is difficult to predict how competitive fields are on a year to year basis. o Make sure to certify a rank order list before the deadline. It is not hard to recertify your list if you decide to make changes prior to the deadline (in ERAS). However, in the SF Match changes to the rank list are difficult. Post-Match Follow-Up o Consider responding to the welcome email from the program with some sort of positive response (e.g. Im looking forward to the upcoming year, or Thank you for the opportunity to train at). o There will usually be some business to take care of in these first few emails as well. This may include a forwarding address, temporary license application, or scheduling/vacation requests. Return paperwork in a timely manner!! If the coordinating secretary has to hound you, itll be harder to catch any breaks in the upcoming year. o It is good form to thank your letter writers and let them know how the match turned out for you. o Celebrate! You have three months before you are an intern.