How to Land a Residency

  Proper Conduct for Good Impressions When Trying to Land a Residency

  • If You’re Early – You’re on Time.
    If You’re on Time – You’re Late.
    If You’re Late – You Missed the Bus.

  • Be Early and Prepared. Help set up the OR room without being asked, anticipate necessary dressings, get supplies, without being overly aggressive.

  • First Impressions Matter Most. You can’t change who you are or what you look like, but you can make the best of what you were dealt. Proper dress attire should always be utilized. Typically, one should present in standard business fashion with lab coat. Hair should be neatly groomed.

  • Learn the Names of the residents, staff and program director prior to rotation.

  • Be Prepared Before You Appear. In other words, read articles that the attendings may have written, have a good understanding of the cases that the program is known for, and always be available. It is helpful to have a thorough understanding of the type of cases that are being performed. Often attendings and residents will quiz you on the case and factual information pertaining to the case as a way of ranking among those rotating through the program. It is not uncommon for a question to be asked repeatedly as new students rotate through the program. Therefore when asking colleagues about a program ask them to help you with the type of questions that they may have been asked so that you can do the proper research and deliver the correct answer before it is asked. This will not only make you look intelligent but may help you land the program.

  • Show Interest in the Program. Ask the residents how to prepare for the first day, look up the surgeries for the next day and learn about them, etc.

  • Spend Time at the Program, working hard while there with the current residents as they will give the most important feedback. Be willing to spend long hours and be prepared academically. Make sure to meet several of the attendings as well. Be confident, but not cocky, and show a desire to learn and a willingness to work hard. Be professional and friendly. Be where you should be, on time ready to go to work and stay till the work is done.

  • Speak When Spoken To is a popular phrase used when trying to impress the director. Many students have lost their chances of landing a solid program by talking too much or offering too much information. It’s okay to engage in a case discussion if the resident or attending asks the questions to the students. However, it is probably best to keep quiet while the attending is addressing the residents. Although your opinion may be valuable, most attendings and residents don’t like an overly aggressive student trying to impress them with their superior knowledge. You will have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate this when the time is right.

  • Always Be Available. A good rule of thumb is it’s your job to make the life of a resident easier. Do whatever you can do to help out (charting, bandaging, etc.). This will demonstrate your motivation and eagerness to learn. Residents often play a major role in selecting incoming residents. Remember, they want someone they can work with for the next two to three years.

  • Show Up Early and be the last to leave.

  • Always Get Back to the Attendings/Residents with answers to questions they asked you. Within a day or two is best.

  • Never Talk Politics. Always be professional with your comments, even if the residents/attendings don't follow this guideline.

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