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Selecting and Applying to Programs

Establish Priorities

There are competing reasons for choosing a program, all of them legitimate.
Typical priorities are:

  1. Prestige of program.
  2. Quality of program - different from prestige; quality of teaching and support.
  3. Geographic location - near another person, family, etc.
  4. Ambiance - on-call schedule; social life, novelty of location, climate.
  5. Other

Don't Sell Yourself Short

Consider a broad spectrum of programs at all competitive levels similar to the strategy you used to apply to undergraduate college. Choose some high prestige programs (of course you should let them decide if they want you rather than saying no to yourself) some in your range, and some quality, but less competitive programs. You will have several opportunities to alter the options before the process is finalized.

Don't Get Left Unmatched

Students who go unmatched generally fall into these categories:

  1. Did not list enough programs on their final rank order list because they actually believed the director who promised they had a “lock” on the position.
  2. Confined their list to a narrow geographic area.
  3. Spent all their energy on a PGY-2 specialty (Orthopedics, Radiology) and neglected to rank a sufficient number of preliminary programs (PGY-1).
  4. Submitted an unrealistic rank list; shooting for all stars.

Since your final rank order list will be a paring down of an initial, broader group of programs, research a large number of programs initially in order to obtain more information. You can always discard some of them later. If you have applied to a specialty such as otolaryngology or ophthalmology that requires at least one year of internship preceding the specialty (i.e. preliminary medicine, preliminary surgery or transitional year), you will need to apply to your specialty and the one-year preliminary program.

Don't Get Left Behind in the Starting Block

Timeliness in residency planning and filing applications is CRITICAL! Some NRMP programs start offering interview slots in October. If you start too late you will not have the necessary paperwork completed by the time you are ready to go for interviews (your job interviews). This will cause you unnecessary stress, aggravation, and will create a poor impression. Avoid stress, plan well, start early, and stay organized. You will be pleased with the effort and a successful “match”. Study the Residency Planning Time Table carefully. If you have questions, contact the Office of Student Affairs.