Help! How do I avoid NOT matching?

Tips from the AAMC Careers in Medicine Conference, 2013

Strategy depends on WHY a student is at risk of not matching. Below are the most common reasons why students DO NOT match into residency programs:

Competitiveness issues include academic / professionalism problems — COMLEX / USMLE scores, lack of research, and / or pursuing a more competitive specialty, i.e. Anesthesia, Dermatology, Orthopedic Surgery, etc.

  • Apply to more programs (you will be advised during residency counseling about how many programs you should apply to — please pay close attention to the advice you’re given!)
  • Apply to a back-up specialty or ‘Plan B’ specialty.
  • Craft a well-written personal statement — make sure you have it reviewed prior to submitting! Jessica Chavez, MiM is available to assist you. Please email her for assistance. *Please allow 3-5 working days for review.
  • Enhance your credentials, ex. take COMLEX 2 / USMLE 2 early, if possible.
  • Participate in research prior to year four.
  • Continue to do well in fourth year…on ALL rotations!
  • Schedule away electives that will help you reach your goal.

Attitudinal/interpersonal issues: poor interviewing skills, ambivalent about medicine or specialty (this includes applying for two different specialties at the same location!)

  • Attend the Residency Interviewing Skills Workshop with Dr. David A. Stone (July / August of year four.)
  • Schedule a 1:1 coaching session with Dr. Stone PRIOR to your residency interviews.
  • Take electives to better define your specialty choice and decide what’s best for you.

Geographical issues

  • Apply to more than one specialty — but apply (preferably) at different hospitals / universities.
  • Do electives and / or research in your targeted area for more hands-on experience.

Failure to Obtain PGY-1 Position…What Are the Top Reasons?

  • COMLEX / USMLE scores
  • Not competitive for first choice specialty (this will be discussed during individual residency counseling)
  • Did not rank enough programs
  • Poor interviewing and / or interpersonal skills
  • Overly aggressive rank order list (list limited to more competitive specialties or more competitive programs…in other words…unrealistic expectations!)
  • Unrealistic choice of specialty / unrealistic ambitions despite residency counseling!

This page was last modified on February 26, 2015