Ted O’Connell, MD
As you progress through residency interviews, compiling your thoughts and observations can help you stay organized and begin to formulate your rank list. As I detailed in another blog post called “Preparing for Residency Interviews,” prior to interviewing you will utilize resources such as residency websites to begin your preparation. After a residency interview day, you will have a considerable amount of information about the program and can begin to collate that information to be used to compare the various programs with whom you have interviewed.
In order to compile this information, students often find it helpful to use a logical tool such as a modified decision table to help organize information and even quantify the pros and cons for each program. Victoria Ho from the University of Toledo was kind enough to share a Google doc that she created and that can be found here. This document can be modified and questions can be added to deleted to suit your desires and to be specific to whichever specialty you are applying.
Decision tables give students a systematic way of assessing and comparing programs by the factors that are most important to them. One potentially useful tool is the Match Program Rating and Interview Scheduling Manager (PRISM®) app, which is available from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). This app can help you keep track of your interview schedule, take notes, and rate programs based on your own input.
Ted O’Connell, MD
The topic of thank you notes following residency interviews gets a fair amount of attention, so I thought I would weigh in and offer some advice. The questions, as well as some key information that selection committees tend to talk about, fall into just a few categories.
When should you write thank you notes after an interview?
This one is pretty straightforward. Thank you notes should be written as soon as possible after your interview day while your thoughts are fresh in your mind and so you stay on top of the process. You will visit a lot of residency programs during interview season, and you don’t want to fall behind or start to mix up details from different programs. Getting the thank you notes out in a timely fashion will also send the message that you are professional, organized, and efficient, all qualities that you want residency programs to associate with your application.
To whom should you write thank you notes?
Set a goal
As the saying goes, “begin with the end in mind.” Before you begin preparing for the USMLE Step 1, you should consider where you are with your knowledge base and your score, as well as what your goal is. To determine where you are, you should take a practice test. Online prediction calculators use your scores on question banks and the USMLE practice test to estimate how you will do on the actual Step 1 exam.
When setting a goal, consider that 194 is currently the minimum passing score for USMLE Step 1, and 229 was the national average in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available).