Help! How do I avoid the “Scramble”?

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

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Competitiveness issues include academic / professionalism problems — COMLEX / USMLE scores, lack of research, and / or pursuing an ultra-competitive specialty (Dermatology, Neurosurgery,Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Urology).

  • 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! Visit Personal Statement Page

  • 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!)

Geographical issues

  • 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 April 7, 2017