Monday, November 23, 2015

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I found this article to be a sensitively-written piece by Dr. Thomas Cook, an emergency medicine program director. We spend so much effort trying to match into a good residency that we sometimes forget to consider the personal toll training takes.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Crossing your "t"s and Dotting your "i"s

Make sure you double and triple check that your application materials are complete. A residency applicant I know only realized that his USMLE scores were not "assigned" when he contacted a residency coordinator asking the program to consider him for an interview. Residencies and medical schools will, of course, not invite you to interview if they don't have your completed application.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Inside a Residency Director's Mind

If you were a program director (PD), you'd be trying to avoid two big headaches, as you assessed a residency candidate:

1) Will this person be competent and collegial? A PD does not want to get complaints from patients, faculty, or other services about his/her residents.

2) Will this person leave the program prematurely? A PD does not want to scurry around to fill an open call schedule or residency slot.

As you approach you interviews, consider how you can demonstrate your competence and collegiality (academic success, strong evaluations, extracurriculars that demonstrate teamwork) and commitment to the field and residency program (research projects in the specialty, knowledge about the program and city). Ensuring the PD knows you are not going to cause him/her headaches is half the battle.

Monday, October 26, 2015


I was recently speaking to an applicant who was asking about the Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter that IMGs must submit when applying to California residencies. The process is quite confusing. A few years back, my friend Dr. Daniel Louvet drafted a guest blog on my site regarding the PTAL process. Here it is:

As a native California resident and a recent IMG from Ross University School of Medicine, I have often been asked by my fellow colleagues about the process of becoming a licensed physician in the state of California. The simple answer is as follows:

(A) First, the international medical school MUST be recognized by the state of California and MUST be listed on their website 
( PRIOR to starting medical school, NO EXCEPTIONS.

(B) Second, the clinical rotations in the United States MUST fulfill these requirements:
1) A total of 70 weeks of ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) clinical rotations MUST be completed by the time of submitting the application for licensure in California.

2) Of the 70 weeks of ACGME clinical rotations, 40 weeks of the 70 weeks MUST come from CORE rotations with the minimum number of weeks for each of the respective CORE rotations are as follows:
Internal medicine - 8 weeks
General surgery - 8 weeks
Ob/Gyn - 6 weeks
Pediatrics - 6 weeks
Family medicine - 4 weeks
Psychiatry - 4 weeks

Note: While these CORE rotations only add up to a total of 36 weeks, an additional 4 weeks to complete the total of 40 weeks MUST come from any of the listed CORE rotations listed.
3) Of the 70 weeks of ACGME clinical rotations, 30 weeks of the 70 weeks MUST come from ELECTIVE rotations.

4) At the end of each ACGME clinical rotation, an L6 form must be filled out PER clinical rotation as part of the application process for California licensure. the L6 form can be found here:

Note: In the event that some of the requirements are not fulfilled by the time of graduation at your medical school, it is highly recommended to complete these rotations after graduation and prior to starting residency, which may be setup by your medical school. If you happen to do a residency outside of California and have yet to fulfill all the requirements, it is possible to count the respective rotations done while in residency towards obtaining California licensure through a petition by contacting the California medical boards at (916) 263-2382. For instance, if you had a non-approved/non-ACGME Family Medicine rotation during medical school and you matched into a Family Medicine residency, it is possible to count the Family Medicine rotation completed during residency to obtaining California licensure in the future.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Do You Have a Personality?

"Tell me about a good book you've read recently."

There are a group of questions that interviewers use that are sometimes misconstrued by the applicant. The "good book" question is one of those. In a case like this the faculty member is trying to get a sense of your outside interests. It's a chance for the interviewer to see you as an engaged and interesting person. Misguided responses might be, "I'm reading a neuroscience textbook" to prove your intellectualism or "I don't have a chance to read for pleasure because I work so hard." Remember that having a compelling and kind demeanor is a large part of being a good physician.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Early-Career Science Writer Fellowship

Looking for a way to get science writing experience with a mentor's guidance? The Open Notebook/Burroughs Wellcome Fund Fellowship is a part-time, remote, paid experience that offers a great opportunity to write features and conduct interviews related to science. The deadline for applications is October 21. Here is the application information.

Monday, October 5, 2015

NRMP Applicant Survey Is Out

The National Resident Matching Program® does an excellent job of amassing and publishing relevant data regarding the Match. Their most useful information is found in the NRMP Program Director Survey and Charting Outcomes of the Match. The organization recently published Results of the 2015 NRMP Applicant Survey. While the information is less strategic for candidates making application decisions, it's still pretty interesting to see what factors students use in deciding where to apply (geography is more important than reputation in general) and where to rank. It's worth a look.