Saturday, February 5, 2011

Join a committee

One great way to strengthen your candidacy for residency is to join a medical school committee. Typically, there are a variety of committees chaired by a dean or faculty member that meet regularly to discuss campus issues, such as ways to improve the curriculum, improve student life, adjudicate legal matters, or prepare for an upcoming re-accreditation process.

There are strong potential benefits to joining a campus committee. You'll learn a lot about how your medical school works, making you better informed and more well-rounded during your interviews. Also, many residency directors assess both the short-term and long-term benefits of your ERAS application. Short term, of course they want to know that you have the knowledge base and patient skills to be a great resident. But long-term, they might hope that you would stay at the hospital after your training and help guide the next version of the residency curriculum. Your committee experience could be an important factor in the residency director's decision.

Committee involvement could help your application in other ways. Your dean would include it in your MSPE, hopefully praising you for your dedication to the medical school community. Additionally, the chair of the committee could be the source of a strong letter of recommendation, especially if you two also worked together in a clinical or research capacity.

However, your academic transcript and USMLE scores need to be a priority! Don't join a committee if you can't balance your life. Many student committee members join in the pre-clerkship years, and leave when they start clinical rotations, and that might be the right plan for you too. There are also certain committees that would greatly benefit from the perspective of a third-year or fourth-year student. So if you're interested in getting more involved, talk to your dean at any time about opportunities.

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