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Steps to a Successful Residency Match

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Home  >  Specialty  >  Anesthesiology

Step 1: Explore the Specialty

Before you pursue a career in Anesthesiology, it's important to be well informed about the specialty. We've put together a great collection of articles and resources which are essential reading for the aspiring anesthesiologist.


These articles will give you a better idea of the pros and cons of a career in the field, trends in the specialty, and hot-topic issues for trainees. 


Hot Topics, Concerns, and Future Directions in Anesthesiology

Step 2: Review Anesthesiology Match Data

U.S. allopathic seniors fared well in the 2018 NRMP Match. Only 3.6% failed to match. As with other competitive specialties, U.S. allopathic medical students fare better in the Match than osteopathic and international medical graduates. That said, 2018 was a good year overall for osteopathic applicants. Only 8.9% of osteopathic applicants failed to secure positions in allopathic anesthesiology residency programs. International medical graduates had greater difficulty matching into anesthesiology. In 2018, 33% of U.S. international medical graduates and 37% of non-U.S. international medical graduates failed to match. 

Anesthesiology-Charting Outcomes in the Match for U.S. MD 2018

Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. All

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Allopathic Seniors, 2018. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2018.

Anesthesiology-Charting Outcomes in the Match for U.S. DO 2018

Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Osteopathic Seniors

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Osteopathic Seniors, 2018. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2018.

Anesthesiology-Charting Outcomes in the Match for IMGs 2018

Charting Outcomes in the Match: Internat

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match for International Medical Graduates, 2018. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2018.

Step 3: Understand Residency Selection Criteria

"Anesthesiology is 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:


Anesthesiology-2018 NRMP Program Director Survey

Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Directo

National Resident Matching Program, Data Release and Research Committee: Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Director Survey. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC. 2018.

Check out these other recommended resources

Step 4: Develop your Strategy for Success

As competition for positions in the anesthesiology residency match intensifies, it's more important than ever to have in place the "right" strategy for success. To develop the optimal strategy, use our book, The Successful Match. It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American 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 more powerful information, sign up for our weekly update.

Step 5: Make the Most of your Preclinical Years

"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.

Step 6: Apply for Scholarships and Awards

After Rupa Prasad, a medical student at the Miller School of Medicine and aspiring anesthesiologist, was selected out of a group of 250 applicants to attend the “Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety: The Telluride Experience," her medical school had this to say about her accomplishment. “At a time when patient safety is at the forefront of medical advancement, we are proud that Rupa will be representing the Miller School of Medicine at this prestigious meeting,” said Rick Melnyck, Assistant Vice President for Medical Affairs. “We anticipate that she will utilize this experience to continue to be a catalyst for change when she returns.”


Winning medical school scholarships and awards can provide a major boost to your residency application, and set you apart from your peers. Awards can be placed in the application, MSPE (Dean's Letter), letters of recommendation, and CV. We have found that interviewers often ask about awards during residency interviews.

Step 7: Assess your USMLE Step 1 Score or COMLEX 1 Score

Your USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX 1 exam scores are 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 2018, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 232 and the mean COMLEX 1 score among matched osteopathic students was 571.

Step 8: Strive for Success During Clerkships, Observerships, and Externships

Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to anesthesiology residency programs. In a survey of anesthesiology residency programs, 84% cited "grades in required clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. Anesthesiology rotations are also of obvious importance to international medical graduates seeking positions in the field. 

Step 9: Prepare a Powerful Residency Application

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."

In 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.

Step 10: Develop a Powerful Personal Statement

In a survey of anesthesiology residency programs, 79% cited the personal statement as a factor in selecting applicants to interview.

Step 11: Deliver an Impressive Interview Performance

An invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you're 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. 

 What if I didn't match?

If you were unsuccessful during your initial match cycle, you'll need to sit down with your dean or advisor to review your match strategy. In planning your reapplication, each of the steps above becomes even more important.


For those who seek additional expert assistance, we can provide that. Dr. Desai has had significant experience in helping re-applicants match successfully. 


This is provided via a Strategy for Success Session. 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.

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