There are numerous ways to take your residency application from good to great. StudentDoc consulted experts with years of experience in reading residency applicants’ best efforts to find out what makes an application for their medical training programs stand out from the pack.
Below is the advice of Washington University School of Medicine‘s Assistant Dean for Career Counseling, Dr. Kathryn M. Diemer. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine as well as Clinical Director of the Bone Health Program.
Read more: Hear what a Thomas Jefferson University Chairman of the Residency Selection Committee advises to residency applicants.
“The more competitive specialties will require many more applications,” begins Dr. Diemer. “And an open mind in terms of where to apply helps. Often students only want to look in big cities and go to the ‘most prestigious’ programs,’ when there are really great programs that just don’t have the national exposure. So, I tell students to keep an open mind.”
When it comes to the personal statement, Dr. Diemer offers two watchwords: preparation and proofreading.
“I tell every student to have at least two other people read their personal statements carefully. If you have careless grammatical mistakes or spelling errors on your personal statement, it suggests you might not be careful with your patients’ care. Also, this is not the time to become terribly creative. Physicians are fairly conservative, and they don’t want to see Haiku’s or a twelve-page diatribe.”
But what about creative writing? Where do you draw the line between too much and just enough?
“I will tell my students with a creative writing background they can try it, because a well-written personal statement that’s a little different can help make your application more memorable,” Dr. Diemer says. However, she cautions, “You want to be remembered for the right things.”
What other quick advice can we glean?
- Be timely in sending your applications. “There probably is a slight advantage to having your application in early.”
- Be professional and polite. And this goes for everyone you meet on the interview trail — including when you’re on the phone with schedulers and receptionists. “Programs will remember those who are rude or pushy. Remember, if you got the interview, you’ve made the cut academically. Now they are looking at what you would be like to work with. So be on time. Be nice!”