Applying for Audition Rotations

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An audition rotation is a 2-4 week rotation that is completed in the first part of 4th year with a residency program you want to apply to.  Think of it is an extended interview because they give students an opportunity to get to know a residency program and for the program to get to know them.  Audition rotations are a funny thing because for some programs they are so important they are required and for others they don't even offer them.  Each specialty and program is going to be different.  

To make it easy we will break the process down into a few steps:

  • Identifying how many rotations your student can do
  • Researching how to apply for rotations
  • Applying for rotations
  • Scheduling rotations

I recommend starting to this process in the Fall/Winter of 3rd year.  For some specialties this may be very early but for others it won't be.  For example, the earliest my wife submitted an application was January and her entire audition rotation schedule set by March but we have friends who didn't even start applying for auditions until March.  

How many rotations should we plan for?
Before your student starts applying for audition rotations, they will want to figure out how many auditions they can do.  Each school sets their own limits on how many audition rotations a student can do.  Their rotation schedule will also play a factor.  Most audition rotations take place from July-October of 4th year but some students start a little bit earlier and end a little bit later.  Make sure your student is completing their audition rotation before the program holds interviews – rotating after interviews would kinda be pointless!  You will also have to figure out how many rotations fit in your budget.  For away rotations you have to factor in travel costs, short term housing, food, etc. 

Where should we do rotations?
After you figure out how many auditions your student can do, the next step is to start narrowing down the list of residency programs they want to rotate at and begin researching how to set up an audition. 

When looking for information you need to find:
1.     How to apply for a rotation
2.     When the application opens
3.     When it is due (and if it is first come first serve)

 The best place to look for this information is their website.  Some of the hospital websites are a bit challenging to navigate so be patient and creative when searching!  The best luck we have is searching "graduate medical education" or sometimes it is listed on the bottom of the webpage.  Either way once you find it – bookmark it! Some programs will have all of the details about how to set up an audition rotation right on their website (gold star for them!) but sometimes your student will need to email the program coordinator for more information.  Some programs use a an electronic system called Visiting Student Application Service (or VSAS).  

Time saving tip:  Draft an email you can copy and paste to send anytime you need it.  

Applying for Rotations
Now that you have done your research, it is time to start actually applying!  Some applications will be very simple with just some basic contact information, board scores, and dates they want to rotate.  Others will be a lot more work and include personal statements, a CV, essays, and/or letters of recommendation.  This is a big reason to start researching early! 

If they require additional application documents make sure these are well edited and professional.  This is the first opportunity your student has to show off to the program and they always want to put their best foot forward. 

Note on essays:  Many programs have similar essay questions which makes it very tempting to use the same essay over and over again.  I do not recommend doing that but using the same examples or themes sometimes works.  Make sure that each essay is tailored to the program’s unique qualities (found on their website) and uses the correct program name.  Can you imagine submitting an essay to program X talking about how much you love program Y… not a great first impression. 

Scheduling Rotations
After your student submits their audition rotation applications, they will want to check their email very regularly.  Programs will communicate via email and sometimes will only give them a day or two to commit to the spot before they move on to the next student. 

I recommend applying to more places than your student has room for.  They can always turn down a rotation but if they find out they aren’t selected for an audition later other programs may already be full.  If they have to turn down an audition, make sure they communicate that as soon as possible.  It is not fair to the program or the other students waiting for a spot.  Plus even though they aren’t rotating they still might apply so it’s important to maintain a professional relationship!  Also, don't be afraid to (respectfully and professionally) request a different time frame.  Most program coordinators are more than willing to work with your student. 

Please remember that information above is based solely on our family's experience.  Your experience may vary based on a lot of different factors like which match your student is participating in, if they are a DO or MD student, if they have a home hospital with a residency program, etc.

Best of luck with applying for audition rotations!

Do you have any questions about applying to audition rotations?  What do you want to hear about next?  Let me know below and we can continue the conversation!

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