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Getting Into Residency in the United States

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By Riddhi Patel, MD | Image Рvgstudio/Shutterstock.com |

With medical specialties getting more and more competitive, getting in may seem like a daunting task but there are several things that medical students can do to increase their chances.

  1. Narrow it down

Have a general idea of what your interests are when starting medical school. It’s hard to know what specialty is right for you before starting clinical rotations but if you narrow it down to a few options you can work hard to get more experience in those areas. You can join interest groups in medical school and do preceptorships in those fields. Residencies want to be convinced that you are interested and dedicated to the field you’re applying for.

  1. Research

If you’re applying for a more competitive field such as ophthalmology, plastic surgery, or ENT, doing research is essential. These competitive fields rely on innovation and research and expect their incoming residents to contribute to academics. So try and find a research topic and a faculty member to guide you along the way. Getting published is ideal but even doing poster presentations is a great way to help with residency.

  1. Make connections

Find some good mentors during medical school that can get to know you as both a student and an individual and can write you a spectacular letter of recommendation when the time comes. Residencies usually require two letters from doctors in the field you’re applying to.

  1. Study!

The USMLE step 1, step 2 CK, and step 2 CS are required to start residency and programs rely on scores heavily for the admissions process. If you have a year off or want to help your application, taking step 3 before starting may be a good idea as well.

  1. Act fast

Submit your residency application as soon as possible. The earliest you submit, the greater your chance of getting interviews. Once the interview  start rolling in, schedule all of them. If by the end you have gotten more than 10 interviews and feel like you have a good chance you can start cancelling some to save time and money.

Applying for residency and going for interviews is expensive. Chances are you’ll spend several thousands on USMLE exams, applications, flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. So start saving now!

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