Mid-Season 2017: Common Case Scenarios, Questions, and Answers
It is now late October, and there are a variety of questions residency candidates may have at this time of the residency application season. Candidate circumstances are across the board with where they stand and the progress they have made. There are those who have a number of residency interviews, those who have few or none, and even those who have not applied yet.
Below are some of the common case scenarios, questions, answers, and suggestions for the mid-season of the residency application process.
Residency candidates who have received interview invitations
If you have +10 interviews, congratulations! You are in a strong position to Match into a residency program. Just remember to give each interview your all with proper preparation and nailing the interview day. Then, follow up directly after each interview with Thank You Letters and/or Letters of Intent in January.
With regards to post-interview communication, if there is an appropriate moment, ask the program coordinator how the program director feels about receiving additional communication. Some program directors like it, some are open to it, and others can be annoyed by it.
Residency candidates wondering if they have enough interviews
If you have 4-9 interviews, you are still in a good place to Match into a residency program, but there is always room for improvement. Like those with +10 interviews, you should still strive to do your best during your interviews with careful preparation and approach the interview day confidently. You should also consider sending Thank You Letters (see note above) and/or Letters of Intent when ranking rolls around in January.
If you have 1-3 interviews, you are in an ok place, but there is more room for improvement. It only takes one interview to Match, but the more interviews you have, the better your chances. See the list below for more suggestions on what to do to stay proactive in your season.
Residency candidates with no interviews
If you are still waiting to hear from programs, try not to worry or panic too much. While there are interview invitations being extended, that does not mean the residency application season is over. There is still plenty of time for interviews as residency interviews can be held all the way until the Rank Order List deadline in late February.
But, there are several suggestions for you to stay proactive:
- Follow up with programs you have not heard from. Try to resist following up too early or too often
- Apply to more programs, especially if there are any you were hesitating on applying to or if you did not apply to enough program initially
- Obtain more work, research or volunteer experiences
- Get new, stronger Letters of Recommendation uploaded and consider adding them to your applications in that specialty if you have not used your fourth Letter of Recommendation slot
- Update your Personal Statement to include any new experiences you have done
- If there is a significant change or update to your application such as an added USMLE exam score, new Letter of Recommendation or change to your Personal Statement, consider sending a brief email to programs letting them know about the change
Residency candidates who have not applied
For those candidates who have been holding off on applying for their own reasons, now is truly the time to decide if you are going to be applying during this application season or not. Applying later than early November may begin to limit the programs available to apply to (programs that have not passed their application deadlines).
If you decide to apply, you can follow these steps:
- Finish your ERAS Application as soon as you can (while trying not to jeopardize the quality of your supporting documents such as your Personal Statement).
- Research and apply to residency programs. Pay close attention to program application deadlines.
- Follow up with programs you applied to in a few weeks.
Other Questions Residency Candidates May Be Asking
Should I take my USMLE Step 3 exam? While the USMLE Step 3 is a benefit to have completed (especially if you are considering the H1-B visa), you should only take the Step 3 if you are absolutely confident you will pass. The Step 3 is not an exam to be taken lightly
Is it too late to apply? Not yet. However, the more time you wait, the less your chances will be.
Are there any residency programs still giving out interview invites? Absolutely. Remember, programs can run interviews until late February and large programs will need to interview a lot of applicants. But, it can take time for programs to work through the many applications they have received.
This time in the season, residency candidates can be prone to feeling uneasy or anxious, but there is still a lot more of the season to go. In the meantime, try to stay calm and be proactive to continue working towards a successful match.