Maybe your peers have been receiving pools of residency interview invitations and this makes you nervously jealous because you are yet to receive one.
Or maybe you got one invitation and you’re worried about whether you will receive some more. Or maybe you had decent scores but still have a visa requirement looming over your head like a bad omen or as a hindrance, as was my case.
Whatever the case; fret not, I️ will share with you the one thing that I did that got me into the very same program I eventually matched into. Just keep reading.Another option could be that you are the FMG/IMG that has lined up a few interviews at desirable programs across the country.
For the FMG who has not gotten any interviews or wants more interviews:
- Treat this like every other job interview hustle. Contact the programs you have not heard from (i.e. those who have not yet sent you a rejection letter). The odds are that they have considered your application and maybe chose to interview other more competitive applicants first. Maybe they just have you on a waiting list for whatever reason. You can either send an email or like I did in 2012; just call them up. The residency coordinator typically has a number listed on the program’s website. Your call should be brief, polite and courteous. Express interest in hearing back from them and even greater interest in potentially training there. You don’t have to sound absolutely desperate, keep your tone professional, forthcoming and direct.
- Contact alumni from your school at said programs to ask a favor. You will need them to put in word for you so your application can be reviewed. This is only beneficial if you have good scores because that always serves as an appeal to any portfolio. It helps the program to know that you’re trusted by a current resident who is in good standing (ensure that your contact is in good standing). It will be sad if the “trouble maker” has to put in a word for you because that’ll certainly fall on deaf ears.
For the FMG who has already lined up interviews;
- Assuming you stood out on interview day now you need to remain in contact with the programs you prefer. As an IMG I️ “preferred” every single program I️ was invited to interview at. Essentially to me it was about who was willing to sponsor my J-1 visa. So my priorities were set based on that. It is okay if you prefer all of the places you interviewed at. You will feel confused at this time, you are not alone. It is safe to express your appreciation evenly to all the time programs you interviewed at. What you need to do is to send an email stating your gratitude for interviewing at the program. This is just simple etiquette. It is card season in America, so consider sending a card for the holidays. Your thank you email can also be replaced with a thank you card. Then follow with one for the holiday season. Tips to make your email stand out is to include issues you discussed personally with each interviewer. So the program directors thank you email should differ greatly from the email you send to the coordinator.
- If you are undecided about where you want to go, ask for a second look visit. Some people also use the second look visit to express interest to the program. We all understand it takes a lot for anyone to make a second trip to visit another person, so this request is usually interpreted in good faith.
- Sometime in January, once interview season comes to a close and you have done points 1 & 2, then you will know inside of you where you really want to go for residency training. Rank those programs high on your list but before you do, send one last piece of communication preferably via email to the programs on the top of your list to let them know you have them there. Use tact with drafting this email. The program cannot tell you where you will fall on the rank list so don’t expect a response.
Dr. Nina Lum is a motivational speaker, blogger and author. In 2015 she graduated from a Family Medicine residency where she served as the chief resident. Today she practices hospital medicine and is also a part time hospital administrator… and enjoys every bit of it. When not working, she is coaching other people on how to navigate the ups and downs of their medical career goals. Whether a foreign medical graduate, like she once was, or a millennial seeking coaching, she is here to help you achieve your personal aspirations.
Check out her website at: DrNinaLum.com