A residency selection committee chairman offers advice on residency interviews.
When the calendar rolls around to September 1, medical students everywhere begin taking the plunge into the next phase of their medical career: matching with the best residency program. This is the date when applications begin to fly into the ERAS database and out to accredited residency programs across the country, and the contest for coveted residency spots officially begins.
With an eye to September 1 and the medical residency Match process, MomMD consulted an expert on what makes a residency application strong. We reached out to the Chairman of the Radiology Residency Selection Committee at Thomas Jefferson University, Sandeep Deshmukh, M.D., to see what advice he could share with MomMD members about the residency interview process and matching with the best medical training programs.
Read more: An Assistant Dean for Career Counseling at Washington University in St. Louis' School of Medicine offers medical residency application advice
“I cannot stress enough the importance of good judgment,” begins Dr. Deshmukh, who is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology. “Remember, you are applying for a job (not at the local Starbucks). All of your interactions should be professional, likely every person you see and/or talk to may be evaluating you. Any negative comment can hurt your application, no matter whom it is from. The majority of your interactions will be with the program coordinator, so be polite and pleasant. My program coordinator has been doing this for years, and I trust her judgment more that the one paragraph letter of recommendation you got from Dr. Roentgen.”
Dr. Deshmukh warns about off-the-cuff remarks made during the interview – even those spoken to other applicants. Just one askew comment, if overheard by the wrong person, could torpedo your entire application.
What else does he advise?
Bring your A-game: “Get a good night's rest before the interview. Falling asleep is a quick way to get thrown off the rank list.”
Ask questions: “Remember that the interview is also your opportunity to vet the program. Many applicants roll their eyes when asked if they have any questions, but regardless of how many times you have heard the answer to your question, you never know when you will get a different perspective.
“In my eyes, it is bad judgment for you not to ask questions, in half a day, or a full day, there is no way you could possibly know everything about our residency,” Dr. Deshmukh says. “Ask intelligent questions; it definitely gets noticed. This means you may need to do some homework on the program in advance. Check out their website and see what you can find out online.”
Record what you learn: “Take notes after each interview day,” Dr. Deshmukh suggests. “Likely when you go back to make your rank list, many programs will blend together. Looking at your notes will help refresh your memory.”
Know thyself: “Your goal should be to find the residency program which will be the best fit for you,” he says. “Forget about the program rank/reputation. If you know yourself, likely you will know which programs you will learn the most and excel in.”
Be polite: “Don't forget to send thank you notes,” Dr. Deshmukh reminds. “It may seem like a pain, but many people do it. You don't want to be the one who doesn't.”
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