With the NRMP Match and SOAP starting in just a few minutes, my thoughts turn to the applicants out there who are about to get bad news, and how to help them when they reapply.
A friend recently shared this article about medical students not having the manual dexterity that they used to, which means that their surgical skills aren't as strong. It led me to think about the experiences people list on their residency applications. Of course, you should mention the basics: volunteering in the community, student leadership, externships and observerships, relevant jobs, research, and language skills. But beyond that, what are you demonstrating (or failing to demonstrate) with your choice of hobbies and activities?
If you're going to practice primary care, have you explored that through community involvement? If you're a future surgeon, are you extending your dexterity by playing piano, knitting, or even juggling? In other words, what do you have to offer beyond your rotations, grades, and USMLE scores? How can you set yourself apart from other applicants in order to get noticed by the people who make interview decisions?
In an early blog post, I described the value of joining a committee during your pre-clinical years. But since most of you reading this are at the end of medical school and possibly just after not matching, it's worth thinking about similar activities you can participate in at that level. For example, join a professional organization dedicated to your specialty. From the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to the American Psychiatric Association to the American Academy of Family Physicians, most of these associations welcome student/graduate members (although you should be aware that there are fees). Participating in their activities and conferences can be a great way to learn about your chosen field, and every year some of my clients get interviews due to connections they made through these groups.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to me for a free consultation. If you have trouble matching and need to reapply next year, please let me know if I can help.