10 Steps to a Successful Anesthesiology Residency Match
the 2011-2012 recruitment season, the Department of Anesthesiology
received 1027 ERAS applications from American and International Medical
Graduates," writes the Northwestern University Department of Anesthesiology. "From these applications, the Resident Recruitment Committee
interviewed 147 medical students for 21 positions."
Follow our 10-Step Plan for Success Below
Read Getting into Anesthesiology FAQ
Anesthesiology can be considered a low to moderately competitive specialty. In recent years, there has been over 1,600 available residency positions per year. Although few U.S. allopathic medical school applicants fail to match, it can be very difficult to match into coveted programs. As with other specialties, U.S. allopathic medical students fare better
in the Match than osteopathic and international medical graduates. The NRMP classifies osteopathic and IMG applicants as independent applicants. In 2011, nearly 50% of independent applicants failed to match. In
the 2013 NRMP Match, 175 osteopathic applicants and 179 IMGs matched
into allopathic residency programs. In fact, these two groups of
applicants make up over 20% of total residents training in anesthesiology residency programs. Osteopathic applicants may also apply to a dozen AOA-approved anesthesiology residency programs.
Step 2: Understand the Selection Criteria Which Matter to Anesthesiology Residency Program Directors
not the most competitive field, but it has become a lot more
competitive in recent years," writes the Ohio State University
Department of Anesthesiology. To maximize your chances of matching with
your first-choice residency program in anesthesiology, you must become
well informed as early as possible. In particular, you need to know the
criteria residency programs use to select residents. We recommend
beginning with the following
resources: •2012 NRMP Program Director Survey •Selection Criteria for Residency: Results of a National Program Directors Survey by Dr. Marianne Green
interviewed Dr. Marianne Green, lead author of the above study, in an
article written for the Student Doctor Network. You'll find this Q & A very informative.
To develop a strategy for success, use our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match.
It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association
of American Medical Colleges, America Medical Women's Association, and
numerous allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. AMSA wrote the book "provides the medical student reader with detailed preparation for the matching process."
"For starters, I would recommend using a book as a guide. I liked The Successful Match by Desai...It will give you tips on writing the dreaded personal statement, help you prepare for interviews, and ensure you complete all the necessary steps on the interview trail, including how to follow up with thank you letters to programs after the interview."
American Society of Anesthesiologists Medical Student Newlsletter (Lakshmi Geddam)
preclinical years are important for students
considering a career in anesthesiology. Although clerkship grades are more highly valued than preclinical grades, your
preclinical performance can make a
difference. "Matching in a competitive anesthesiology residency program such as the one at Mayo requires careful and dedicated preparation throughout medical school," writes the Mayo Clinic Department of Anesthesiology.
so many highly qualified applicants to choose among, anesthesiology
residency programs also look for involvement in extracurricular
activities, community service, and research. The preclinical years are an excellent time to build these credentials. In our book, Success in Medical School: Insider Advice for the Preclinical Years, we
provide you with a detailed blueprint on how to stand out in these areas
as it relates to the specialty of anesthesiology. We
also discuss in detail how to initiate and cultivate a relationship
with a mentor who can serve as a strong advocate in the future.
Step 5: Evaluate Your Chances for Match Success After Taking the USMLE Step 1 Exam
Your USMLE Step 1 exam score is a major factor used by anesthesiology residency programs in the selection process. "Although we consider each
application in its entirety, USMLE scores are often one of the earliest
components of your application that we receive," writes the Mayo Clinic
Department of Anesthesiology.
In 2011, 15% of U.S. medical school seniors with USMLE Step 1 scores of less than 210 failed to match. Applicants
with lower USMLE scores need to strengthen their credentials in as many
areas as possible, and work closely with an advisor to develop a
strategy for match success.
We also recommend that you consider our E-document, The Successful Match: Anesthesiology Supplement, which provides information on how programs use the USMLE in their decision-making process. Inside, you will find the answers to the following questions:
•What is considered a low USMLE or COMLEX score? •When should you take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam? •Should osteopathic applicants take the USMLE?
•Should you do an away elective? •How are students evaluated during an away elective? •Whom should you target for letters of recommendation? •W
hat are the benefits of research? Is it necessary? •How can applicants who have done research stand out?
a thorough search of the literature with inside information from
anesthesiology residency program directors to give you powerful
information. This will help you make sound decisions in the year you have left before you apply. You will also avoid common mistakes made by unsuccessful applicants.
Some applicants are concerned about their chances of matching in the specialty or securing a position in highly competitive residency programs. If you have such concerns, consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai. Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation and school.
Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to anesthesiology residency programs. In
a survey of 88 anesthesiology residency programs, 82% cited grades in
required clerkships as a factor in selecting applicants to interview.
school grades, in particular during the 3rd year clinical rotations,
are an important part of the residency application to any residency
including Stanford Anesthesia," writes
Dr. Alex Macario, Program Director at Stanford University. "This is in
large part because what the student does on a clinical rotation is the
closest thing we have to what they will do as an anesthesia resident."
"The more grades of Honors and High Pass you have the more competitive
you will be," writes Dr. Constance Hill, Program Director of the
Anesthesiology Residency Program at SUNY Downstate.
We have developed a powerful resource to help you excel in core clerkships.
AMSA wrote that our book, Success on the Wards, "offers the
preclinical reader insight and an insider's view of what you will face
during your clinical years of medical school, and that will allow you to
really perform well. It focuses on the details, and those details will
be the ones that set you apart from other medical students." (AMSA
Review in The New Physician).
Residency programs require applicants to submit their completed
application through the Electronic Residency Application Service, also
known as ERAS.
A well-written application is crucial for match success. "Details matter
- grammar, spelling, etc.," writes Dr. Catherine Kuhn, Vice Chair for
Education and Program Director of the Duke University Anesthesiology
Residency Program. "Anesthesiology is a detail-oriented specialty and
small errors can be quite important."
my experience working with applicants, errors are common in the ERAS
Application. Although spelling and grammatical errors are frequently
seen, equally common and dangerous are the less well appreciated errors.
Chief among these errors is the use of language or words that makes an
applicant's experiences and accomplishments seem less impressive. The
words that you use in your description have a powerful impact on the
impression that you leave on an application reviewer.
These errors can prevent applicants from securing interviews. Even when
interviews are secured, errors in the ERAS Application can lead an
interviewer to downgrade an applicant's overall score. This can lower
your position on the program's rank list, and affect your chances of
have considerable experience reviewing ERAS Applications and can make
sure that your application is polished, professional, and powerful.
"The level of detail Dr. Desai goes through is fantastic. Before even working on my ERAS Application, he spent so much time getting to know me and the things that I had done. He then took this information, and really elevated my descriptions. Such a huge difference between the before and after"
"Unlike other services I researched, there was no limit on the # of revisions. We went back and forth until I was completely satisfied. Every step of the way, I felt well taken care of."
"After reading Dr. Desai's revisions of my ERAS descriptions, I didn't recognize myself! It was really a confidence booster to have him on my side."
"I had a few hiccups in medical school and was worried about my chances of getting anesthesia interviews. I'm convinced that what you did with the ERAS application was a big part of my success."
Step 8: Develop a Powerful and Compelling Personal Statement
a survey of 88 anesthesiology residency programs, 82% cited the
personal statement as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. In
our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, you'll find a detailed chapter on personal statement preparation.
For those applicants seeking even more
specific advice as it pertains to the specialty of anesthesiology, turn
to our E-document Anesthesiology Personal Statement: Evidence-Based Advice for the Residency Applicant. Here you'll find tips and quotes from program directors offering important advice. It
can be difficult to develop a unique and compelling personal statement.
For this reason, we show you the common features of anesthesiology
personal statements. This will help you create a statement that sets you apart from other applicants. How are these statements evaluated by programs? We provide you with this crucial information.
personal statement, program directors seek to understand why you have
chosen to pursue a career in anesthesiology. In our E-document Why Anesthesiology?, you'll
learn the top 20 reasons why anesthesiology residents chose the
specialty. You'll read about the 10 Best Things about Anesthesiology.
The document also features actual quotes from 40 academic and private
anesthesiologists about the reasons that led them to enter the field.
"I reached out to Dr. Desai because I was struggling with my anesthesia statement. I wanted to draw the reader in but couldn't find a way to do it. By the time we were done, I had a great opening not to mention a strong middle and end."
"My advisor said my statement needed a lot of work but didn't offer me too much in the way of specifics. Needless to say I was frustrated. At a classmate's suggestion, I contacted Dr. Desai. After a long conversation during which he must have asked me a million questions, we agreed to take a different approach. The finished statement was amazing, and my advisor was impressed!"
"I was initially hesitant about the cost of the service but it was more than worth it. From the beginning, I could see how much Dr. Desai cared about me and my future. We spoke in detail about the Match process, and I was left feeling much better about what I had to do. I had signed up for the personal statement service but got so much more in terms of advice and guidance. And, yes, the personal statement was wonderful."
Step 9: Impress During Your Anesthesiology Residency Interview
invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you are
considered a competitive candidate for a residency position. However, your work is not done, and you need to be diligent in your interview preparation to maximize your chances of success. In
the most recent NRMP Program Director Survey of anesthesiology
residency programs, “interactions with faculty during interview” and
“interpersonal skills” were the second and third most important factors
for ranking applicants with mean importance ratings of 4.7 out of 5.0
(scale from 1 [not at all important] to 5 [very important]).
In our E-document The Successful Match: Anesthesiology Residency Interview,
you'll find tips and quotes from program directors offering important
advice. Learn about interview do's and don'ts directly from residency
program directors. What are qualities you should specifically highlight
during the anesthesiology residency interview? What is the "Blink Test"
and how is it used in the interview process? What has led an increasing
number of anesthesiology residency programs to use behavioral
interviews? How can you deliver winning responses to behavioral
In our E-document, we provide you with an insiders’ perspective on the anesthesiology residency interview process based on our own experiences advising applicants, conversations with program directors in the field, and a review of the literature. This is crucial information you must have.
Our experience has also shown that
applicants often sound the same in interviews. When this happens,
applicants miss out on an important opportunity to significantly improve
their rank order position. In our mock interview service with Dr. Samir Desai, we'll show you how to deliver winning responses that will set you apart from other applicants.
"As an osteopathic student, I knew it was going to be harder for me to match in anesthesia. Some of the students in the class above me had failed to match so I wanted to do everything possible to succeed. The mock interview with Dr. Desai was phenomenal. At the end of the interview, I really felt good about my chances of impressing."
"I was nervous about several interviews where programs would be asking behavioral questions. During my mock interview, we went over every behavioral interview question imaginable. You really helped me come up with great examples, and I left my interviews feeling like I nailed them!
"It was always my dream to end up at UPenn but it never worked out. I didn't get into college there or med school. So when I received the anesthesia interview invite, I was so happy. Not wanting to take any chances, I signed up for the mock interview with Dr. Desai. I was able to really improve my interview skills and answers, and went into my interview with confidence. I'll never forget how it felt when I matched there. Thank you so much!"
"The mock interview was thorough. The advice and recommendations were detailed, and I felt better about my plan moving forward. I made sure to follow everything you said, and it worked. I have a feeling you'll be hearing from me at fellowship time."
you have matched successfully into anesthesiology, let us
congratulate you. If your efforts were unsuccessful, all is not lost. We have had great results
helping re-applicants match successfully. Applicants who find
themselves in this position should consider consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai.
Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials,
assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific
plan to implement tailored to your unique situation.
For those of you who have secured positions, you will find the following
articles informative as you prepare for residency and make further
career decisions in the specialty:
Why do some anesthesiology residents struggle during residency? Dr. Robert Willenkin discusses cognitive and affective learning problems in residents.
Thinking About Fellowship Training
What does it actually take to secure a position in the
subspecialty and program of your choice?
In our book Resident's Guide to the Fellowship Match: Rules for Success, we answer this
Read the First Chapter
As with our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, we provide specific evidence-based advice to maximize your chances of success.
Includes a Chapter on Anesthesiology Subspecialties
We also provide consulting services to fellowship applicants. All applicants work directly with Dr. Samir Desai.