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Transitioning to Residency

Explore the AMA Career Planning Resource for comprehensive information on the transition from medical school to residency and beyond. Find information on everything you didn’t learn in medical school—from writing a CV and understanding employment contracts to managing your finances and deciding on a practice setting.

Recommendations From Physician Leaders

Physician leaders of the AMA Minority Affairs Section offer their advice and personal recommendations to minority medical students transitioning into residency programs.


Get Involved

“Most communities have at least 1 established minority-sponsored organization for health professionals.  Those who join such groups benefit from ample opportunities to make new friends and, possibly, build a referral base for the future.  Entities such as the National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association and the Association of American Indian Physicians offer excellent educational venues and impact the health care system via political vehicles.

“Also, join the AMA Resident and Fellow Section, and get in touch with your local county and state medical associations, most of which also support resident and young physicians sections.  Involvement in professional organizations often provides a vehicle for your spouse or significant other to develop new relationships as well. Moreover, consider allying with members of your Greek letter organization, religious affiliates and other groups of interest in your new town.”

Shelia Roundtree, MD
Internal medicine
Former AMA-MAS Governing Council member

Get to Know Your Peers

“As a minority candidate, you may not see many other minorities in a given program. By teaming up with another minority student who is interviewing in places similar to you, and therefore has as good a chance of matching there as you do, you increase your chances of not being the only minority resident in your class.

“Additionally, if you have the opportunity to meet with minority residents already in the program on your interview day, ask them some of the more difficult questions about race or ethnicity and the community, patient population and program. Do minority residents graduate at the same rate of other residents? What are the demographics of the patient population with respect to minority patients? Is the community in which I plan to live hostile to minority individuals? How many minority faculty and residents are represented in the program? You still need to use caution in “being real” with minority residents and faculty during the interview process, as they typically will give a report on your interaction with them. So use discretion; but get your questions answered.”
William A. McDade, MD, PhD
Professor, department of anesthesiology and critical care
Deputy provost for research and minority Issues
The University of Chicago
Past chair, AMA Minority Affairs Committee


Bring a New Perspective

“As a minority physician, you can bring a different perspective into the practice of a specialty of medicine that is dependent on an understanding of the patient as an individual with social and cultural circumstances, as well as physical heredity. When choosing where you will be spending the next 4 years, do not undervalue the importance of diversity in your education as a resident.”

Mariana Mendez-Tadel, MD

Find Support

“If you attend a majority medical school, you might find the beginnings of a support system within the office of minority/ multicultural affairs. The administrators themselves could be part of your support group. Additionally, by visiting this office from time to time, you’ll probably meet and make friends with other minority students. Some medical schools have a mentoring program for its minority students sponsored by the office of minority/multicultural affairs in which upper-class minority students provide academic advice to 1st year students.  In addition, these upperclassmen sometimes give or lend books and old exams.  The office of minority/multicultural affairs staff might also provide you with the names of faculty or practicing physicians in the community who could be your potential mentors and could give you advice about choosing a specialty and residency program. If you attend a predominately minority medical school, you might get this same type of help in the office of student affairs. 

“Another way to meet people who could potentially provide support is to join one of your school's minority student organizations like the SNMA, LMSA, ANAMS, or SOMA. Such extracurricular activities are good ways to make new acquaintances, friends and study partners.”

Karen Hamilton, PhD
Former Assistant Dean for Diversity and Community Outreach
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania