Your heart has to be in it
As cliché as this sounds when it comes down to it you must follow your heart. This means you’ve got to listen to that weird nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach or the whisper in the back of your head that draws you towards a specific place. Perhaps you have a nagging feeling about a program that hits 4 out of your 5 requirements but violates that 1 non-negotiable? Listen to your heart, don’t do it!
Do not rank a program that you know you do not want to go to
It surprises me how many people don’t know that you do not have to rank every single residency program you interviewed with. Right before you hit submit you ought to glance over your list again and make sure you would be OK if you were to end up at any of the programs listed. There are bound to be interviews that just don’t sit right with you, residents you just don’t see yourself hanging out with, vibes you simply aren’t feeling. That’s OK! You simply do not have to ran them! Bottom line: if you do not want to be trapped in that program or city then leave them off your list.
Location matters even when you think it doesn’t
Do yourself a favor and actually make sure you actually like the city/state before you sign your life away. I mean like really, look into how far it is from home, how much a direct flight home or to your best friend’s city costs, how easy/hard it is to travel, and what the seasons are like. Consider traffic in the city, distance between work and home, and public transportation/parking. Seriously, browse Zillow or Apartment Finder before settling on a program.
Do not make your rank list based on how you think they ranked you
Nope, not how it works. Believe it or not the rank process is made to your advantage. I am certainly not going to get into the algorithm behind it all, but just trust me. If your #1 program is known to be super competitive AND you got an interview there AND you enjoyed it AND it felt like a good fit DO NOT second guess yourself or let imposter syndrome kick in. RANK YOUR FAVORITE PROGRAM NUMBER ONE.
This term gets thrown around a lot during this season, and I know it sucks. Here is the formula I used to determine fit:
- FEEL (70%) – How did I feel on interview day and at the social? How easy was it to talk to the residents and faculty?
- LOCATION (20%) – How cool is the city? Will I be able to have fun there? How easily can I get on a flight back home and to my dream vacation destination? What will I be able to do when I am outside of the hospital? Will this location support my other interests/hobbies?
- SALARY/COST OF LIVING (5%) – How much does the program pay per year and how much does it increase as you advance in training? What kind of apartment can I afford in that city?
- DIVERSITY EQUITY INCLUSION (5%) – This also plays a role in FEEL, but it was super important to me so I made it its own category. Are there residents who look like me with similar interests? Are there residents who do not look like me and who have different (but cool) interests? Does this residency program support, hire, and promote Black physicians/faculty? Do Black residents excel? Am I serving a diverse patient population with varying clinical presentations and a wide breadth of pathology?