Recently I visited r/MedicalSchool, a community of medical students on reddit, to answer questions about the ERAS® application process. I strongly encourage you to read the entire Q & A session, but here are the top 5 most upvoted questions by the community along with my answers.
Having trouble completing your 2014 ERAS® Application?
Not sure how to address specific questions in your personal statement?
It’s already July. Medical school students/ graduates like you seek out opinions, ask for feedback and hope for the best before they send off their ERAS® Applications and personal statements.
Stop: Before you ask for help, ask yourself if your classmate, program advisor or generic editing service is intrinsically focused on the extremely specialized ERAS® process.
But friendly advice, résumé edits and uninformed advice from a non-specialized editing service won’t help you address specific reviewer-focused needs and requirements.
Why? I’m Donald Morrish, MD. I’ll tell you why generic edits don’t cut it.
As a former Associate Program Director of a highly competitive residency program, I know applications must be strong throughout. You need to interest reviewers, fast. Plus you must keep their attention—especially with your personal statement and letters of recommendation.
Insider’s Tip: Your typical editor or service that employs residents’ who have gone through the process once isn’t going to know how to appeal to a busy Program Director who has specific needs. I’m an insider. I know what PDs want. You also run the risk of ERAS® application-personal statement, a surefire fatal flaw!
I also understand what Program Directors want to see in 2014. I’m here to help you get the residency you want. How? Through one-on-one mentoring and editing services, mock interviews and strategic planning.
Want to match for 2014? Get advice from a board certified practicing physician with extensive residency program experience and Program Director schooling.
How will you stand out in 2014? Call (888) 549-8111. Residency Pro! Where smart national residency match applicants’ gain the competitive edge!
Donald T. Morrish, MD
The benefits of mock interviews for your residency application process
After all the hard work of medical school, you want to get into a great residency program. You do plenty of research to help you make your top choices, and you put a lot of time and effort into preparing and polishing your application and personal statement until they shine—but how much work have you done to prep for the actual interviews? If the answer is little to none, you’re overlooking a critical step toward success.
When it comes to residency programs, the interview is arguably the most essential part of the application process. You may look great on paper, but if you can’t impress the interviewer and make a connection, you won’t get in.
Mock interviews—practice sessions where a professional pretends to interview you for a residency program—are an excellent way to prepare for this all-important step.
Facing challenges: What mock interviews help you handle
Residency interviews are about more than just your skills. Your resume has already summed up what you can do. An interviewer is looking to find out more about you as a person, and whether you’re a good fit for the program.
During a practice interview, you can find out whether your answers are enhancing your personal image, or if they’re just rehashing the information on your resume. You’ll have the opportunity to uncover and expand on details that will help you stand out from the other applicants, increasing your chances of acceptance.
Some of the benefits of mock interviews include:
- Reduced anxiety through greater familiarity with the interview process
- Enhanced confidence that allows you to focus on your strengths
- The ability to pinpoint weaknesses in your interviewing strategy and address them prior to the real interview
- An opportunity to take advantage of professional, constructive feedback
Making the most of a mock interview
While mock interviews have tremendous potential to boost your success with residency programs, you won’t get much out of the process if you don’t take it seriously.
Treat a practice interview as if you were showing up for the real thing. This not only helps you improve your interviewing skills, but also lets the mock interviewer offer more constructive feedback on every aspect of the process.
Here are some tips on making mock interviews work for you:
- Dress for success. Make sure your choice of attire projects a professional image.
- Arrive on time. If you can’t be prompt for a practice session, chances are you’ll have the same problem when it really counts.
- Be prepared. Do the same groundwork for a mock interview as you would for an actual interview. Prepare answers to some common questions, and think of your own intelligent questions to ask the interviewer.
Finally, make sure you schedule your mock interview with a professional who understands the residency application process. Rehearsing interviews with friends or fellow students may help with your confidence, but aren’t likely to assist you in finding your weak spots.
A good mock interview will help you conquer the crucial residency interview and increase the odds of landing a spot in the program you want. Don’t miss out on this priceless opportunity to prepare!
I also understand what Program Directors want to see in 2013. I’m here to help you get the residency you want. How? Through one-on-one mentoring and editing services, mock interviews and strategic planning.
Want to match for 2013? Get advice from a board certified practicing physician with extensive residency program experience and Program Director schooling.
How will you stand out in 2013? Call (888) 549-8111.
Donald T. Morrish, MD
Phone: (888) 549-8111
Mistakes That Can Cost You
The common pitfalls of a residency application
Applying for a residency is a nerve-wracking process for a doctor in the making. Of course, you want to land a great residency position that’s within your field of study. But with all the competition out there today, med students aren’t even guaranteed a residency placement at all—much less their program of choice.
You can improve your chances of matching into a good residency by avoiding these common mistakes in your residency application.
Turning in less than letter-perfect material
Although you’re not applying for a position in a college English department, spelling and grammar still count. Attention to detail is an important quality for your future demanding career, and sending out a sloppy application suggests to residency program directors that you don’t sweat the small stuff as much as you should.
If grammar and spelling aren’t among your strengths, consider getting a professional review of your application packet before sending it out. One note here: Avoid hiring a ghostwriter. Program directors can tell the difference, and they’re not interested in candidates who don’t do their own work.
Using letters of recommendation that recycle your CV
When it comes to recommendations from people you know or have worked with, the last thing a residency program director wants to see is a summary of your good grades or accomplishments. This adds nothing new to your application. Letters of recommendation should include personal opinions and observations of you, from professional and experienced people.
If your letters sound distant or stilted, consider asking the person recommending you to rework the contents—or solicit recommendations from other sources.
Not making your personal statement personal
Many residency program directors consider the personal statement to be one of the most important documents in your application. Like your letters of recommendation, the statement should complement, rather than rehash, your application.
Don’t talk about how great or prestigious your medical school was, or how your grades are in the top 1 percent of your class. Your transcripts will reflect that information. Also, avoid saying things like, “My mother was a doctor, so I decided to become a doctor, too.” By now, you should be familiar with your own reasons for pursuing this career path—your personal reasons. Outside inspiration can be viewed as pressure, rather than a true desire to enter medicine.
Failing to prepare for interviews
Going into a residency interview cold is like sitting down in front of a piano at Carnegie Hall without having ever played a single note before. Okay, it might not be that extreme, but it’s still a bad idea.
Professional mock interviews can mean the difference between sounding like a confident professional who’s ready to enter the challenging world of medicine, or a soft-spoken bundle of nerves who just might faint under pressure. The first time you try anything is likely to be a rough experience—so save the most important interviews for at least the second time around.
Need help? At Residency Pro, we offer comprehensive services to make sure your residency applications are in the best possible shape, and that you’re ready to take on the challenging of residency matching. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!
Donald T. Morrish, MD
888 549 8111