What is the Process for Applying for Residency?

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

The process of applying for a residency program in the US is a long one. It begins with the preparation of your application, followed by its submission, and culminates in interviewing at the programs that may offer you an invitation to interview there. For many students it will begin as early as fall of the third year of medical school – which could be more than a year before interviews will then take place.

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What is contained in the residency application?

A residency application is made up of various different materials which together demonstrate your suitability for the program in question, and suitability for further medical training in general. The components are as follows:
– a copy of your CV
– letters of recommendation
– personal statement
– transcripts from your time at medical school
– your MSPE (Medical Student Performance Evaluation)
– your licensing exam transcript (the USMLE Step 1)

You must put together the first three parts of the application yourself (your CV, your letters of recommendation, and your personal statement). The three other parts will be provided from your medical school – this will either be through you being given them to upload, or through the medical school itself uploading them to your application on your behalf. Check with your school, although this should be made clear.

Many students will begin to prepare parts of their residency application before they’ve actually decided on their choice of specialty or the programs to which they hope to apply. The AMA in fact recommends that you begin to prepare the first three elements of your application before the residency application services are open to you – as early as the end of your third year. The very latest that you might complete the application and submit it is the beginning of fall of your final year. Remember that it is not uncommon for programs to operate a first come, first served policy – meaning that those who apply first are more likely to receive interviews.

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Interviews for Residency Programs

Interviews will begin in the fall and continue into the winter of your last year of medical school. Interviews are vital for a final decision, and are the best chance both for the program to decide on your suitability, and for you to decide on whether the program itself fits with your aspirations and desires in terms of further medical training. You should leave the interview confident that the program is the right choice for you, and the program in turn should have the same thoughts regarding you! Only after you have interviewed will you be able to fill in the finalised version of your list of preferred programs – the rank order list – for the match process. The interview process is time consuming and highly stressful, so ensure that you are well-prepared for it and that you make the most of each chance that you get.

Applying for Medical Residency as an International Student

International students are encouraged to submit applications to at least 25 programs in order to maximise their chances of matching. The first step is to register with the NRMP (National Resident Matching Program), although some programs will also require applicants to apply through ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service). You can find more information through the AMA.

You should begin the application process as early as possible to ensure that you produce a strong, well-written series of documents. You must focus on unique qualifications or experiences that you are able to offer that might make you stand out from others. Be aware of whether you are registered for the Match or not, and thus whether you have an NRMP number. You should be ready to face questions on your immigration status or visa status if you are not a US Citizen.

You MUST gain experience in a healthcare facility in the US prior to applying, and this should lead to a letter of recommendation from a US healthcare facility as well. Check with individual programs for their demands in terms of how long you should have spent in a hands-on clinical environment in the US – Yale demands two months, for example.

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