4 tricks to a successful residency program search


Finding a residency program is a priority for medical students no matter your level of training. But how do you search for a program that best fits your needs and specialty interests? That’s where FREIDA Online®—the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database--can help. Follow these hacks to keep track of your program options and conduct an effective search for residency.

FREIDA is an online database of over 9,800 medical residency and fellowship programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. It also includes over 100 combined specialty programs.

Students using FREIDA can find information about training programs, key application deadlines, and specialty training statistics, which provide a helpful overview of residency programs based on trends across all programs in a specialty.

The online database, which has helped students find future training opportunities since the late 1990’s, recently received upgrades aimed at helping you make the most of your search for residency. Try these tips as you navigate FREIDA for program listings:

Use FREIDA’s keyword search functionality

FREIDA now offers recommended keywords to simplify searches of its thousands of listings. Once you’ve logged in, you can find these keywords by clicking on the small purple “keywords help” link beneath the keyword search bar on the main navigation screen, which will generate a list of 30 keywords (log in) for you to search in the database.

The list also provides keyword definitions you can review before beginning your search so you know the best terms to use. Students can narrow their search to residency programs that use J-1 visas, Electronic Residency Application Service, National Residency Matching Program or even find programs that accommodate certain lifestyle preferences under terms such as “on-site child care” and “parking.”

However, while keywords can focus your search, be sure not to overuse them. Loading your search bar with many connectors and terms can significantly limit your results. Starting out, try limiting your searches using one or two terms.  

Use Boolean search

Use Boolean operators—such as “AND,” “OR” and “NOT”—with keyword terms to make sure you receive the search results you really want.

But be careful. As with all Boolean searches, know which connectors you’d like to use based on the search results you wish to achieve because each connector-keyword combination will generate different search listings. For a quick brush-up on Boolean searches, review these keyword tips from FREIDA (log in).  

Check “expanded listings” for additional clues

Carefully read the details under a program’s expanded listing to gain insights you really need as you plan for residency. Expanded listings feature the programs’ application deadlines, interview dates, NRMP codes, program sizes, numbers of faculty and even breakdowns of the characteristics of trainees in those particular programs.  

Programs with an expanded listing are identified in the search results with an asterisk. You can view an expanded listing by clicking on the program name in your general search results.

Save and compare your results

When you find a program you like, be sure to select the option in the top right corner to “save” the program listing or “compare” it to another program.

If you’re an AMA member, you can save your comparisons for future use and add programs of special interest to your dashboard, a personalized section of the database that allows you to add custom notes, and your own ratings and opinions about programs. Saving residency searches on your dashboard also allows you to easily print program listings at a later time or return to your searches with one easy click.

If you’re not an AMA member, join today for access to this feature and other resources.

For more FREIDA-friendly tips, register for FREIDA Online and review the database’s FAQs.