Preparing for Residency

The top questions to ask before you submit your residency application

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

AMA News Wire

The top questions to ask before you submit your residency application

Sep 19, 2023

The window to submit residency applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) opens in early September. As you finalize your applicant portfolio, what should you be focusing on? 

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These questions are among the ones you want to ponder before you start putting in your final applications.

  1. Do you have all the information?

    1. Before you finalize your applications, ask yourself this: Have you checked FREIDA™, the AMA Residency & Fellowship Database®? This comprehensive database captures more than 13,000 programs, all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
    2. One major benefit of FREIDA is that it includes a personalized search experience, with more than 35 filters that allow users to sort programs by location (either list or map view), program type, application information, demographics, benefits, Osteopathic Recognition, special tracks and more. Access unlimited program views, save custom searches and nickname your favorites to re-use with a free AMA account. AMA members can do even more—save programs, take notes, rate and download programs with an easy -to use dashboard. You can compare and analyze program attributes with a side-by-side tool. Also, you can calculate and prepare for residency-application expenses with FREIDA’s Residency Calculator.
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  2. Do you know your standing?

    1. Depending on the physician specialty being pursued there might be several hundred programs to which a future physician can submit an application. Narrowing those options takes time and research. Doing so effectively also takes an awareness of where you stand as an applicant and your own career goals. How should those factors impact one’s application strategy?
  3. Is your application packet well-rounded?

    1. Your application packet is the first impression you make on a residency program. What goes in it? How can you make yours stand out? A medical school dean gave advice on those questions during an episode of the “AMA Making the Rounds” podcast.
  4. Do your letters of recommendation sparkle?

    1. Letters of recommendation are a much-discussed application step because of the weight they carry. Programs may set academic cut-off points to screen applications, but the letters, along with interviews and personal statements, help programs distinguish between viable candidates. The first step is finding the most qualified letter writers.
  5. Are you in the loop on new application features?

    1. New and refined features in the MyERAS application for the 2024 ERAS application-recruitment season aim to allow applicants to share additional personal information and help programs conduct a more holistic review of their pool of potential residents. Those features include questions related to a student’s experiences, program signaling and geographic preferences.
  6. Are you applying to more than one specialty?

    1. When it comes to your future, it pays to be practical. In terms of applying to residency programs, that may mean diversifying your search to include more than one specialty. How common is the practice and which type of applicants are more likely to apply to multiple specialties? Check out this advice from a recent dual applicant.
    2. Related Coverage

      5 things to do if you aren’t getting enough residency interviews
  7. How can you nail the virtual interview?

    1. Even as learning has returned to in-person, interviews remain largely virtual, and it looks like that will remain the case for the foreseeable future. An episode of the AMA Making the Rounds podcast offered some do’s and don’ts of virtual interviews from a physician faculty member who has been conducting residency interviews for more than a decade.
  8. How do most medical students pick programs?

    1. What factors do medical students consider most—and least—when choosing residency programs? Recent data released by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) sheds some light on that question.

In preparation for the residency-selection process, the AMA Road to Residency series provides medical students, international medical graduates and others with guidance on preparing for residency applications, acing your residency interview, putting together your rank-order list and more.