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Top Myths about Residency Interviews

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

Here we break down some of the most common misconceptions about residency interviews.

Myth: USMLE scores are not the single most important factor for securing an interview

This is false – in fact USMLE scores are the most important factor for getting an interview, but are not for securing a spot after having been interviewed. 94% of program directors rated USMLE scores as important, with an average importance rating of 4.1 / 5.

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Myth: Each school is looking for a specific type of applicant

In fact, schools don’t have a particular ‘type’ of applicant that they are looking for. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true – schools are more likely to be looking for residents from different races, religions, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. These physicians will go on to specialise in a variety of different areas.

Myth: Connections are important

This is not the case. In fact your application will be ranked fairly looking at your performance throughout the interview process and your overall application.

Myth: Top programs prioritise top schools

You might assume that to get into a program like Harvard’s, for example, you’ll need to have gone to a school with this level of prestige. However, this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, according to Yale, ‘we want residents who will bring fresh ideas, diverse experiences, and new ways to do our work.’

Myth: Schools expect to match with applicants perfectly, and expect those that interview to be perfect

This is completely untrue – schools understand that the Match isn’t perfect, and that they’ll have a range of different applicants – which is what they want, of course.

Myth: You won’t get resident interviews if you’ve taken a USMLE exam too many times

This is fale – in reality a lot of programs aren’t concerned by the number of times that you have taken exams.

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Myth: The Most Important Factor at Interview is Feedback from Residents

This is not true. The single most important factor, as selected by program directors, was interactions with faculty during the interview and overall visit – this was cited as being important by 96%, and given an importance score of 4.8/5. Meanwhile interpersonal scores were cited as being important by 95% of program directors, with a score of 4.9, and interactions with housestaff seen as important by 91%. Feedback from current residents was seen as important by only 86% of program directors, just ahead of the USMLE Step 1 Score (rated as important by 78% by program directors) and having a letter of recommendation in the specialty (rated as important by 72% of program directors).

Myth: Only the Interview Itself is Important Whilst Attending the Program’s Interview Day

This is entirely false – you must consider the entire time spent with the program and its applicants to be of the utmost importance. This will include both the time spent at the social gathering / dinner the night before, and time spent throughout the day looking around. You must be ready to demonstrate that you are a good fit for the program at each stage, and ensure that you leave a positive impression on each person that you come into contact with.

Myth: DOs will stand out from MDs

This is something that graduates from osteopathic schools might often worry about. However, there’s no need to be concerned. Interns will appear as one group to the attendings, not two distinct groups of MD vs DO. You have secured a spot on the program, and you will now have to face the challenges of the residency as anyone else will, whether they are an MD or a DO. As DO students have pointed out, the only time that you might feel that you stand out as a DO is when you are able to demonstrate your superior knowledge of the spine, or when your holistic approach is welcomed!

Myth: The number of Residency Places is less than than the Number of Applicants

In fact, the number of residency places is greater than the number of medical graduates. Per the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of medical graduates is currently less than the number of spaces available to them for residency, although the difference is becoming less each year. The same report found that even by 2024 the number of US medical graduates will be 4500 less than the number of Residency spots, after looking at projected future enrollment and the projected change in residency program positions.

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