True or False?: How to Apply for a Medical Residency

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

From scheduling interviews to the excitement and terror of Match Day, applying for your medical residency can be a daunting process. How ready are you?

You should schedule interviews with the programs you want to attend as soon as possible.

While you don't want to seem desperate, don't put off your interviews. Schedule early, because the grueling interview process can be a mess if you don't plan carefully.

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Send your transcript and copies of your letters of recommendation to each hospital you choose.

Once you've uploaded your documents to ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service), ERAS handles the rest, sending required documents to the programs to which you're applying.

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You might interview at a dozen or more hospitals.

While some students restrict their residency search geographically, the competitive match process means it's in your best interest to cast a wide net.

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Some residency programs will pay for your travel expenses to and from the interview.

Many schools pay for travel, but there are some that don't. It's not uncommon to take out additional student loans to pay for interview travel and relocation.

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Everyone is matched on Match Day, even if it's not to their top choice program.

A certain percentage (which varies from year to year) of students aren't matched at all. They're forced to try and find a residency through the "scramble," or try again next year.

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The computerized matching system has been in place since 1952.

Although the algorithm used to determine matches has changed a few times over the decades, the basic system has been in place since 1952.

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You have to take both the USMLE and COMLEX exams.

Check the requirements of the hospitals where you plan on applying. Many of them only require the USMLE, but if any of them specialize in osteopathic medicine, you may also need to take the COMLEX.

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Medical students who went to school outside the U.S. can't participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

Foreign-schooled students will need to obtain additional certification, and they have a lesser chance of getting matched, but they can participate in NRMP.

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You should schedule interviews at the hospitals you're most interested first.

Interview at a few schools that are lower on your list first, to give you some practice at interviewing.

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There is only one residency matching program in the U.S.

There are matching programs for osteopathic medicine and for military hospitals as well as the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

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If you're not a U.S. citizen, a residency program you are matched with will arrange a working visa for you.

You must be eligible to work in the U.S. to apply to most U.S. residency programs.

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Once you've been matched to a hospital, you are obligated to attend their residency program.

You can't change your mind once you've been matched.

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Once a residency program has been matched to you, they have to accept you as a resident.

The obligation goes both ways.

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Residency interviews are like quizzes on various medical topics related to your specialty.

Programs assess your basic competency based on your test scores and curriculum vitae. Most interviews are designed to evaluate you as a person and see how you hold up under pressure.

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You'll be interviewed by one person.

Different officials of the program will interview you. Make sure you know who's who, and take notes. There's also usually an informal dinner -- it's still part of the interview, though.

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Starting in 2012, "the scramble" was organized to be run through ERAS.

The old scramble, in which unmatched students made a lot of phone calls to programs with unfilled positions, may be a thing of the past.

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Recent regulations have cut the allowed number of hours residents can work per week and in a single shift.

You should still expect grueling hours and severe sleep deprivation. While the changes have helped, hospitals also get around them by doing things like making residents do paperwork at home.

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The first thing you should ask at your interview is, "What's the salary?"

That's an important question, but better left for later in the interview.

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You should put some "safety programs" on your list -- ones where you don't really want to be a resident, but at least you won't end up unmatched.

You don't want to be too picky, but if you really can't see yourself being comfortable at a certain program (maybe you hate the city, the work expectations are too high, or the person you'd be working with gives you the creeps), don't rank that program. If you're matched to them, you'll be stuck.

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A visiting elective during the clinical part of medical school is a good way to get a feel for a hospital and decide if you want to be a resident there.

A few months at a hospital will not only give you an inside look at the program, you'll have connections which might make it easier to have a succesful interview and get matched there.

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