Researching Residency Programs

The first part of the fourth year of medical school will be consumed by getting ready for residency.  There are a few steps to this process:  
1) Research Residency Programs
2) Schedule Audition Rotations
3) Audition Rotations
4) Apply for Residency Programs
5) Interview

We will go over each of these steps in-depth.  Today's topic is researching residency programs.  I recommend starting this process in the Fall of third year to ensure plenty of time to research programs.
 First, if your student is an osteopathic medical student, they will need to decide if they will participate in the AOA residency match or the ACGME residency match.  The AOA match is for osteopathic residency programs and the ACGME match is for MD residency programs.  These matches are in the process of merging together but for now you will need to pick.  DO students can apply for both/either match while MD students can only apply for the ACGME match.  

After they have decided which match to participate in, they need to do some research.  You can research AOA programs at AOA Opportunities and ACGME programs at FREIDA Online (log in required). 

Each person is going to look for different things when looking at potential residency programs.  You want to find a list of programs that are a good fit for you, your family, and your situation.  For example, some people may value a program close to family so geographic location will take precedence.  Your student may want a program that has an emphasis in research or has fellowship opportunities at the same location.  Sit down and talk with your student about what is important to your family.  Some specialties  will have a lot of residency programs to pick from so you can be more selective, other specialties  only have a few residency programs or are very competitive so you will want to be less selective in your decision process.

Some things to consider from the beginning of your research:
  • Cost of Living:  Residents do not make a lot of money (national average is around $50,000/year) so consider that when you are looking at locations.
  • Audition Rotation Requirement:  Do the programs your student is interested in require an audition rotation?  If so, they will need schedule the audition in advance.  
  • Competitiveness:  Does the residency program have academic or test scores requirements?  Does your student fit those requirements?   
While it is important to consider these factors, it is also important to note that the match can very competitive.  I suggest that you and your student have realistic expectations about the speciality and programs they plan on applying to.  This doesn't mean they can't apply to more competitive programs but never put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to competitiveness or even location with the match.  It is better to start with a bigger list and then narrow it down later than be too picky right now and regret it later. 

Tip:  Do yourself a HUGE favor and start a spreadsheet to manage residency programs you look at.  Your spreadsheet may include information like hospital name, location, contact information, website URL, minimum test scores, number of residency spots each year, or other information you find important.  If you are on the AOA Opportunities site you can copy and paste your search results directly into a spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet will evolve over time as your student starts start applying for auditions and residency programs and it will be a great resource/time saver each step of the way.  

Next up on our agenda - audition rotations.  

Do you have questions about researching residency programs?  Leave a comment below and we will continue our conversation!  

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