Matching to a residency program through the NRMP® (National Resident Matching Program) is a competitive endeavor. Even strong candidates – especially IMGs (international medical graduates) – can have difficulty getting PGY-1 (post graduate year one) positions in many specialties. Those that do match may not get their first or second choices, leaving them in suboptimal locations or programs. Consequently, professional residency admissions’ consulting has become increasingly important in optimizing residency applications and ensuring that candidates get into the programs they desire.
Residency admissions consulting companies come in a variety of forms. Some are larger companies that focus on admissions to several types of graduate programs – not just medicine. Others are smaller companies that provide a medical focus, but have a pool of consultants of varying quality. Finally, elite companies offer both the medical focus and a highly experienced consultant who works one-on-one with clients. These professionals are ex-admissions officers from respected medical institutions. They have the inside knowledge of how residency admissions work, providing personalized guidance to optimize candidates’ residency personal statements, ERAS® and interview skills.
Because applicants can unknowingly undermine their chances of success with poorly compiled materials, underdeveloped residency application personal statements and inadequate interview skills, a qualified, personalized residency admissions consultant provides a great advantage.
An expert consultant can offer a variety of services to improve a residency application:
- ERAS® (or alternative application) editing. The Electronic Residency Application Service is a centralized program that transmits applications and other supporting credentials from the applicant to program directors using the Internet. Most residency programs now use ERAS®; a few have individual applications. ERAS® and other applications include a section for describing all of an applicant’s accomplishments. Ensuring that a candidate’s activity descriptions are optimally-worded is essential for showcasing the applicant’s accomplishments to residency admissions officers.
- Personal statement for residency application. The ERAS® essay allows the applicant to demonstrate his or her distinctiveness as a candidate. Excellent organization, format, syntax, grammar and spelling are essential.
- Curriculum vitae (C.V.). The C.V. is a standardized medical resume that is offered to faculty to improve candidates’ letters of recommendation (LORs), highly important factors in the residency application process. The C.V. can also be used for the rest of the applicant’s professional career.
- Mock interviews. Few people would take the Boards without practicing first. But many applicants mistakenly arrive at their residency interviews unprepared. Being coached by an experienced professional makes an enormous difference in an applicant’s confidence and presentation to program directors and residency admissions committees.
When choosing a residency admissions consulting company, an applicant should verify the company’s references and research its consultants. Elite companies that offer both the medical focus and a highly experienced consultant who works one-on-one with clients offer a large advantage for residency applicants, especially during these competitive times.