September 4th, 2015

Time Flies

Raktim Ghosh, MD, is a 2015-16 Chief Resident at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Raktim Ghosh, MD, is a 2015-16 Chief Resident at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, in Cleveland, Ohio.

We are approaching another September 15. This date is probably the second-most important in the U.S. residency application and selection season; the most important is obviously the match day. But, on September 15, residency applicants can start sending their applications to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited programs through Electronic Residency Application Service, and programs can also start downloading the applications. Nowadays, it is crucial to apply early to the programs. Some of them screen applicants on a rolling basis and start scheduling interviews as early as in mid-October.

time fliesFor me, this brings back memories of September 2012, when I applied for residency. Working on my ERAS residency profile started a month before. It included writing my personal statement, choosing appropriate programs, uploading my CV, and sending letters of recommendation to the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates. Like many other international graduates, I was also part of a USMLE residency forum on a popular social networking site. The forum members posted immediately as programs started sending interview requests. Then came those days when I refreshed my email every 30 minutes for any possible interview invitation. A 2013 survey by National Residency Matching Program showed that U.S. medical school seniors who successfully matched in residency usually attended a median 11 interviews. After interview confirmation, it was all about booking bus or flight tickets — finding the cheapest bus or plane fare and the closest reasonably priced hotel to the hospital. The entire process of interview travel was very grueling, exhausting, and expensive. I remember finalizing the answers of prototype residency interview questions while driving to the interview: Why internal medicine? Why our program? Why this city? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  

Now, being a chief resident, I am part of the core team that will select next years’ residents. I can see the enormous work our graduate medical education staff puts to streamline the recruitment process. It’s not easy to identify suitable interview candidates from a pool of close to 3000 applicants. Today, I’m on the other side of the table. Our interview selection is not based just on good USMLE steps scores but also on research and publication experience, good letters of recommendation, and prior U.S. clinical experience for international medical graduates. I, along with my two co-chiefs and the GME staff, are currently busy outlining program selection criteria, updating the residency website, making slides for presentations, and preparing on interview schedule. I close my eyes for a moment and can vividly remember my interview experience with the same program director and core faculty 3 years back: It was a mixed bag! It’s an extreme honor and responsibility to sit next to the same people who brought me into this program and to help them choose the best suited candidate for next year. This enormous administrative experience is probably the most enriching lesson of my chief residency year. 

I would like to send my best wishes to all the 2016 residency candidates. Good luck!

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