Medical residency interviews and match - A Chief resident's perspective.
by Kevin Flinn, MD
The importance of the chiefs within the recruitment process was pleasantly surprising to me. For a good 4-5 months, a large part of every single workday involved interviewing, touring, presentations, and applicant dinners. My co-chiefs and I all happily (albeit somewhat exhausted near the end, to be perfectly honest) tried to interact with all of the applicants. We all saw recruitment as an essential part of the job and we could provide feedback based on informed recommendations. However, I would caution against over-estimating the importance of a Chief Resident in securing an interview or in the rank-list process.
Remember, chiefs usually are, by definition, transient workers. This is why they are effective (being so close to House staff having just finished training while still having a foot in the administrative world) but the real authority of the program usually still vests within permanent positions, especially the Program Director (and assistant PDs, naturally). It is extremely over simplistic, but in my experience, a Chief cannot guarantee you a residency position—but (s) he could sure hurt your chances.
As to IMGs specifically, any word of advice would be very similar to a domestic graduate regarding the interview and rank process. There is not any new ground to cover, or any “secret”. You’ve undoubtedly heard most of it before--it isn’t rocket surgery, folks: be confident, be yourself, represent well but honestly, and engage as much as possible in the interview day. I cannot stress the last point enough—before your interview, you are only a paper candidate. My program, and any other one worth a damn I should certainly hope, pays very close attention to the intangibles that can only surface over the course of the interview process. The applicants that stood out in my mind were talkative (but not pushy), confidently interesting (but not showing off), and inquisitive (without pandering).
In addition, do not drink too much at dinner!
Importantly, there should be a massive caveat to all of the above: I have been involved in an administrative-sense with precisely one match at precisely one program. Even if I wanted to, I could not generalize—this is only my personal experience.
Kevin is a PGY-5 in Med-Peds.
He is also the 2011-12 Chief Resident, Internal Medicine