Improve your Residency Application with These Three Top Tips Straight from Program Directors

November 24, 2020


Residency application season is open and medical students and graduates nationwide are vying for and always limited number of positions that may be moreso this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the stakes are perhaps higher than ever, making it imperative that your application stands out from your competition. To that end, here are Three top tips straight from medical residency program directors.

  1. Get personal: While every portion of the full application package is important, it’s your personal statement that affords you the best opportunity to show who you really are and create a connection of sorts with a program director or screener. Unfortunatley, many come off as simply paragraph versions of CVs. That’s not at all what you should aim for. Instead, your personal statement should be just that – personal. Top priority is to explain “why”. Show why you’re pursuing your chosen specialty, why you’ll be great in that specialty and why the program should choose you over your competition. Open with a powerful or poignant story that led you to your choice, then bring your persuasive game.
  2. Don’t skip the hardships: If you experience a rough period in your studies – a less-than-stellar exam score, a flunked class that you had to retake, a gap in your education that’s unexplained on your CV – your reviewers will know it. So, rather than attempting to dodge the issue, embrace it as an opportunity to prove your resilience. Briefly explain the situation, then illustrate how you overcame the challenge, what it taught you and how your medical practice ultimately will benefit.
  3. Be authentic: Residency program directors and reviewers have seen hundreds of application packages, so you can bet that they can spot inauthenticity in seconds. In an effort to submit an impressive CV and a powerful personal statement, students often can be tempted to stretch or embellish the truth just a bit, particularly if they feel they must cover a percieved deficiency. Don’t! Be enthusiastic but honest and know that reviewers don’t see prospective residents as the sum total of a few documents. Rather, they see them as whole people with strengths, weaknesses, challenges and personalities. They’re not looking for perfection. They’re simply looking for the best fit.

Of course, you’ll also want to triple check for typos, gramatical and puncutation errors, etc. Seek out an experienced writer, editor or proofreader to look over your application pieces to assure they’re in top form. And request input from faculty who know the specialties you’re applying for.  

To further boost your chances for success throughout your medical studies and career, consider enrolling at WOLFPACC. You’ll get one-on-one tutoring, customized online training and reviews designed to help you ace your USMLE and COMLEX exams on the first try. Call 904-204-3140 to talk with an enrollment specialist today.

Photo credit: Neranjana Manoharan