Monday, December 22, 2014

David and Goliath

Here's a short, fun piece by an emergency medicine program director positing that being from a humble background might provide an advantage to those medical students and residents who choose emergency medicine.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What is a letter of intent?

A letter of intent (LOI) is a supplemental note applicants write to medical schools, residencies, and other medical programs to let faculty know of their interest in an institution and the distinctiveness of their candidacies. Letters of intent can be written early in an effort to obtain an interview, after the interview to show enthusiasm and remind the faculty of the candidate's worthiness, or after a wait list notification (for medical and dental students who don't participate in the Match).

The letter should be written in a timely fashion. In other words, there's no reason for a residency applicant to write a letter of intent in late February. The letter should avoid restating the strengths of the institution. Instead the applicant should express his/her interest and then move onto his/her strengths. An LOI should be a page or less.

For help writing a professional, expert LOI, contact me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dine But Don't Whine

Many residency programs and medical schools are now offering applicants an opportunity to get to know their institutions through social events before the interview day - dinners or optional happy hours, for example. While I would recommend attending these events to score social points and familiarize yourself with the programs, please do remember that what you say can be repeated. Be discrete about your plans and preferences.

Take a look at this quick Guru on the Go® video for more information.

Monday, December 1, 2014

"All-In" Policy

I recently received an email from an applicant who was offered a slot outside the Match. Although there are situations in which this type of overture is legitimate, please make sure you understand the NRMP's All-In Policy to ensure that any offers you receive are valid.

Monday, November 24, 2014

You Never Get a Second Chance to Blow a First Impression

I have received a lot of questions about interview attire; I have two rules to guide applicants:

1. Do not be noticed for your clothes. You want to be remembered for your accomplishments, not your attire. Years later, I still remember the applicant who arrived in a Bugs Bunny tie. I also recall the applicant who arrived in jeans. (He packed his interview clothes, checked his luggage, his bags were lost, and he had nothing else to wear for his early morning interview. Keep your clothes with you - carry-on.)

2. Be comfortable. No heels that are so high you are in too much pain to take the tour. No coat so light - but stylish! - that you can't walk out of the building.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Illegal Interview Questions

The interview - whether for med school, residency, or fellowship - is subject to basic legal rules. Admissions officers/faculty members should refrain from asking questions that are irrelevant to the position the interviewee is seeking. Questions about race, religion, and marital/family status are no-nos.

When I was interviewing for residency, I was asked about my dating status... If you think these missteps are old news, a lovely client last year told me she was asked about her family planning. Very awkward.

If you are asked these types of questions, you can simply answer (if it's not distasteful to you) or respond by addressing the intent of the question without revealing personal information. ("I think you're asking whether I'd come to your institution if accepted. I can assure you no family issues will keep me from attending.") You can also refuse to answer the question; of course, this last tactic might cost you the position you are seeking - as unfair as that is.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Residency Rankings

I have some real qualms about ranking institutions, but I'm offering this Doximity and U. S. News & World Report "2014 Top Medical Residency Programs" navigator with the understanding that my readers will use their best judgment in utilizing it. Caveat emptor.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thank You Notes - So Easy for You to Do

I've gotten a lot of questions recently about thank you notes. Remember that thank you notes are low-hanging fruit in the admissions process. They are easy to write and can make a big impression.

Make sure to write handwritten notes; email thank you notes can look a bit lazy and can be easily deleted.