Mistakes That Can Cost You

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

Residency Pro


888 549 8111