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Match Application Blog

Network with Residency Programs for a Successful Match

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Networking with residency programs has become increasingly popular with each application cycle becoming more and more competitive for all specialties across the board. Through networking, you can gain valuable insight regarding residency programs which can help tailor your application process, establish personal connections, secure letters of recommendation, and opportunities for research and away rotations. Networking is key in obtaining opportunities, especially if you are an IMG or come from a school that does not have a department of your desired specialty.

In this blog, we will equip you with a set of invaluable tips and tricks to enhance your networking skills. These strategies are designed to give you a competitive edge, increase your chances of successfully matching into your desired residency program, and ultimately help you realize your dream of becoming a practicing physician.

What is the Overall Timeline for Networking with Residency Programs?

The timing of when to reach out to programs depends on what stage of medical training you are at and why you want to connect with that program. Are you wanting to connect with them because of a research project? away rotation? residency interview?

Networking For RESEARCH PROJECTS

  • The best time to reach out to such programs for Research Projects is the summer before your M2 year. If your medical school has dedicated research time allotted for you, make sure to start networking at least 6 months before that time period.
  • If you are IMG and have finished medical school, there is no specific timing that applies, however, there are several research internships offered through medical institutions that have specific application deadlines so stay on the lookout for that!
  • You can email the faculty that have active projects expressing your interest. Attach your CV to the email and describe how your skills align with their goals.
  • With application cycles becoming more competitive with each year, research is becoming an increasingly important factor when it comes to a successful match! You can read our blog on how to find research opportunities as a medical student HERE.
If you are looking for a comprehensive guide on how to reach out to research mentors, email and CV templates, who is the best mentor, and what is the best research position, check out our course on how to find research positions in the U.S.

Networking for AWAY ROTATIONS

  • The best time to apply for Away Rotations is the winter of your M3 year or at least 6 months before the start of that rotation. These rotations can be through VSLO but many programs have rotation applications on their website so be aware of those deadlines as well!
  • If you are applying through VSLO, be sure to check for the number of away rotations slots available per rotation. Financially, it is better to apply to programs that have 3+ spots per rotation compared to 1-2.
  • If you have not heard a rejection or acceptance offer 4-6 weeks prior to the start date of the rotation, reach out to the rotation coordinator via the methods outlined below!
  • If you are an IMG and your school does not participate in the VSLO, you can check our guide on electives without VSLO HERE.
  • Check out our blogs on the Best Electives in the U.S. and How to Find U.S. Clinical Experience for FREE.

Are you an IMG trying to find USCE with no luck? Check the list of our experienced doctors offering USCE to IMGs!

Networking for RESIDENCY INTERVIEWS

  • The best time to reach out to such programs for Residency Interviews is 2-3 weeks into the ERAS application cycle.
  • It is always better to reach out to someone you know within the program who can reach out to the program director compared to you reaching out to a program director that you do not know.
  • We don’t recommend waiting too long before you reach out to your connections within the program or the program directly as some programs start sending interview invites 2-3 weeks after the ERAS application season opens (the date from which programs are able to see the applicants’ applications).
  • Have a realistic goal for the number of interviews you wish to obtain for a successful match and continue to work towards that goal through the tips outlined in this blog!
  • Check out our blog on how to write letters of interest to residency programs HERE.
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How To Reach Out to Programs

Email

It is generally recommended to send the email to the research/rotation/ program coordinator’s or director’s email address. Keep the email under 500 words and be as concise and direct as possible.

  • Be sure to mention specific reasons why you are interested in the program. This is also the time to mention whether you have any special connections to the program or the area. Always end your emails by thanking them for taking the time to review your email.
  • If you are emailing a specific research faculty, their email can generally be found online. It is helpful to know what kind of research they are working on currently to see if you can get involved in the work!
  • As mentioned above, it is always helpful to highlight how your current skills and experience make you a suitable candidate for the project as well as how the faculty can help your professional growth.
  • For away rotations, it is helpful to propose multiple dates of the offered rotation to maximize your chances of getting that rotation!
  • End every email with your signature which should include your name, medical school name and year as well as your AAMC ID if you have one.
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Social Media

Most programs and physicians now have a social media presence, whether that be Instagram or X, and this can be another way to learn more about the program and its unique features. Many times, they will do Q&A sessions and that is a good time to attempt to learn more about the program.

  • Many physicians are active on MedTwitter (now X) and LinkedIn, and this is a good way to connect with attendings and residents who have shared a similar journey to yours. There are many postings about research opportunities and even openings for residency spots that applicants can take advantage of.
  • You can follow specialty-specific accounts or programs that you are interested in.
  • If you know current residents who graduated from your medical school or are from the same country as you, you should reach out to them via these methods as well.
  • Overall, it is also a great tool for medical education as many physicians are active on these platforms and share their knowledge regularly. This is a very useful method of finding a mentor!

Conferences/Meetings

Many specialties will have annual meetings or conferences that have meet-and-greet sessions for future residents. This is a great way to get some direct face time with the program’s residents and leadership. Although this can be difficult for many IMGs due to visa or financial issues, you should try to attend if possible. Many conferences offer scholarships to students, especially if you present your research at the conference.

  • These meetings also have networking events for learners of all levels. This is yet another way to find mentors and opportunities for research and away rotations.

  • Examples of these meetings include:
    ○ American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting
    ○ Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Annual Meeting
    ○ American Society of Anesthesiology Meeting

  • This is an in-person activity so dress professionally, smile, introduce yourself, and shake their hand at the start and end of your conversation.

  • Ask them about themselves, what opportunities are available at their institution, and express your interest in those opportunities.

  • You can ask for their email address or contact number so you can continue to connect with them in the future!
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Phone Call

Typically, the last step in reaching out to programs after you have tried the other methods. You can attempt to give the program/research/rotation coordinator a phone call.

  • Be polite, respectful and sincere.
  • Ask them whether there are any updates regarding your application. It is beneficial to have already sent a letter (email) of interest prior to the call so you can ask them whether they’ve received it / had a chance to review it. You should always be prepared to answer why you are interested in the program. Don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to speak with you, especially during the busy application season.
  • This method has personally worked for me in getting both away rotations and residency interviews.
  • It is best to give them a call if you have not heard anything 2 weeks after sending an email for residency interviews and 3 weeks after sending an email for research or away rotations.

Overall Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO: Always address your emails to the “admission committee” for residency emails, using the specific Ms./Mr./Dr. Last Name for research and away rotation emails.
  • DO NOT: There have been several instances where students have addressed emails to “Sirs”. The medical community is comprised of male and female physicians and faculty.

  • DO: Always be as specific as possible as to why you are interested in the program. Research the website and look into specific rotations, program tracks, or certificate opportunities they may offer. Find out how they match for fellowships and if the residents from that program match into fellowships YOU are interested in.
  • DO NOT: Simply stating that they are strong clinically and have a diverse population is not a good reason for your interest in the program.

  • DO: Have a professional appearance on your social media accounts. It is perfectly acceptable to mention your interests and hobbies. In fact, this will help you even more with networking.
  • DO NOT: You should not be spamming programs or any associated faculty and residents with personal requests (UNLESS they specifically have offered to give advice to interested students).

  • DO: Be polite and respectful on the phone. Know the name of the person you are calling, introduce yourself, and offer to give them your AAMC ID for further identification over the phone for a residency interview. Ask them if this is a good time for them to talk and always thank them for taking the time to talk to you and taking an extra look at your application.
  • DO NOT: If you do end up speaking to someone from the program, make sure they know your name (this is a common mistake). If you had the chance to speak to someone, do not call them again. If not, you can leave a voicemail or try two times after that but not any more than that.

As we conclude our comprehensive guide on networking for residency programs, we hope these insights and strategies empower you in your journey towards securing a residency spot. Whether it’s through research projects, away rotations, or residency interviews, effective networking is a crucial skill. Remember, building meaningful relationships and showcasing your dedication and interest can significantly impact your success.

We’re committed to supporting your aspirations and encourage you to reach out for personalized guidance and assistance in your residency journey.

Our residency advising is risk-free (you get your money back if you are not satisfied) and our advisors will provide you with individualized guidance on how to optimize your chances of matching and tailored strategy on how to build a competitive CV. If you need a one-on-one consultation with one of our EXPERT advisors, you can sign up here.

We wish you the best of luck!

Shriya Tanti, MD

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