Monday, October 27, 2014

Guru on the Go®

Last admissions season I rolled out a series of under-one-minute, stop-motion-animation videos for applicants. I've had several thousand views, and I even got a shout-out from the NRMP® itself. (They tweeted, saying they agreed with the advice in the clip, "NRMP® Ranking to Avoid a Spanking.")

For those of you who'd like to take a look at the videos, check out (and subscribe to) my Youtube channel or look at my website here. Timely ones are "Dine Don't Whine," "Stars are Made Not Born," and "No Ring, No Thing."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Being the Squeaky Wheel

Several years ago I helped a strong applicant who had been rejected by a top medical school. He thought he was a very good fit for this particular institution, so he called the school to make his case. Surprisingly, after the applicant's phone call, the school granted him an interview, reversing their original rejection.

It was at this time when I met the applicant; we conducted a mock interview, so he would be well-prepared.

Ultimately, after being initially rejected, this applicant was admitted to that top school.

Of course, this is an exceedingly rare occurrence. (Just to clarify: In seven and a half years as a professional coach, I've only seen this happen once!) But to me, the moral of this story is that it is worth being assertive (not aggressive) in the medical school and residency admissions processes: Send an update letter, call institutions (politely) to inquire about your status (if they do not expressly prohibit phone calls), and be proactive during your interviews.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Do You Want to Be a [...]?

Whether applying to medical school, residency, fellowship, or dental school, applicants seem to get tripped up on questions about their reasons for pursuing their career goals. How can you make your answer distinctive from all of the others'? The key is to use your accomplishments to a) distinguish yourself and b) prove your point. You want to be a doctor because you like to think analytically about scientific problems? Showcase your research. You want to be an anesthesiologist because you like pharmacology? Detail how you tutored the subject to first-years.By using evidence of your accomplishments, you'll convince your interviewer and remind her of your worthiness.

Monday, October 6, 2014

2014 NRMP Program Director Survey is Now Available

Every two years the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP) publishes a current program director (PD) survey which focuses on two main questions: 1) What factors do PDs use in deciding whom to interview? 2) What factors do PDs use in deciding whom to rank? Results of the 2014 Program Director Survey is available here.

So, as you approach interviews, if you're wondering what PDs want, here are your answers.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Being Reclusive

I'm giving a shout out to those of you who are avoiding Internet sites with posts from medical school and residency applicants. Good for you!

Even the most competitive candidates get nervous when they see others boasting about their plethora of interview invites. Who knows if those posts are true? And even if some are, how does reading them change your strategy?

I'd recommend staying offline to keep your nerves under control.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Medical School and Residency Interview Help

A few people have asked me for reading material to help them before their medical school and residency interviews. For something quick but thorough, take a look at my part 1 and part 2 pieces of "How to Prepare for Your Med School Admissions Interview."

And regarding interviews...having someone examine your head in the interview setting can actually be fun if you've prepared well :). Please plan your mock interview(s) with me as soon as you get your first invitation, as I'm scheduling 1-2 week in advance.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New NRMP Data Available

As I've mentioned before, the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) provides copious statistics regarding the Match. Recently, the NRMP published Results and Data: 2014 Main Residency Match, which is filled with information that can help you approach this year's application cycle strategically. For example, the report includes a chart called, "Positions Offered and Number Filled by U.S. Seniors and All Applicants, 2010 - 2014," which gives you a pretty clear idea of how competitive different fields are. Here is the newly published report.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Schools are people too....and they want to be liked.

Below is an excerpt of a piece I wrote on how to make the best impression during your medical school and residency interviews. Knowing the institution you're at makes a big difference during the interview process.

When I was at Harvard, we had a residency applicant about whom I was very enthusiastic, but when we sat down to talk about the candidate’s credentials, one of my colleagues put a kibosh on the applicant’s prospects. As it turned out, the candidate had made it clear that he did not want to leave California. “If he’s not interested in us, why should we be interested in him?” my colleague asked.

Although you hope that schools will like you, keep in mind that institutions want to see that you are serious about them as well. There is a psychological principle: People tend to like those who like them. Apply this idea to schools when you interview. Be so familiar with the institution that you convey to the interviewer that you are excited and sincere about spending the next four years there. Know details about the school’s curriculum, extracurricular opportunities, location, associated hospitals, and students. Have very specific questions to ask your interviewer that demonstrate your intimate knowledge of the school and your belief that you could be a contributing member of the class.