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Residency Application Manual Introduction

One of the most important decisions of a physician's career is the selection of a graduate medical education program following medical school (residency, fellowship and/or research associate position). Whereas medical school provides you with basic training leading to the MD degree, postgraduate training tends to mold you into the kind of practicing physician you will be. Although the process and mechanics of choosing a particular specialty and residency program begin in the third year, it is never too early to be aware of what is coming and to plan appropriately along the way.

Residency positions in particular specialties (e.g.; ophthalmology, radiology, dermatology, surgical subspecialties and some others) have become extremely competitive. Even in less competitive fields, specific programs may be very difficult to obtain. Planning ahead, together with early career exploration, may improve your chances of obtaining the field and program that you desire. If you desire to pursue one of the more competitive specialties, it would be beneficial to speak early with advisors in that field to enhance your credentials.

In the first and second years of medical school, you should gain exposure to different specialties to develop an understanding of the nature of their work and the competitiveness and qualifications for matching. This exposure can be accomplished by joining interest groups, shadowing, talking to mentors, big sibs and other venues. The Association of American Medical Colleges also has a Careers in Medicine website devoted to helping students choose careers. Each of you has received a password to access the site through OSA (please call or come in if you have lost it). You may visit their site at https://services.aamc.org/careersinmedicine/. In addition, students are encouraged to meet with Dr. Joseph Martinez in our office for individual career counseling. Appointments may be made by calling 410-706-7476.

The formal process begins for most students in the third year. During the third year you will rotate through a number of specialties. The pressure to come to a branching point of selecting specialty options begins here, as you will be asked to select your senior rotations and electives. Although at this stage the process may seem overwhelming, there is much support around to help guide you at various stages. The Office of Student Affairs is available for meetings to discuss individual career and professional development plans. Department chairs and other faculty members, as well as upper-class students and residents, serve as excellent resources. Identifying a mentor in your field of interest as early as possible would be extremely helpful.

The following references are recommended for interested students:

  • Iserson, K.V. "Getting Into a Residency: - A Guide for Medical Students," Columbia, SC, Camden House.
  • Miller, L.T. and Donowitz, L.G. "Medical Student's Guide to Successful Residency Matching." Baltimore, Williams and Wilkins (1997)
  • Taylor, A.D. "How to Choose a Medical Specialty." Philadelphia, PA, WB Saunders Co. (1986)
  • Miller, G.D. "Where Do I Fit In?" The New Physician, July/August 1986. pp. 18-19