Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation:
Steps to a Successful Residency Match
Step 1: Explore the Specialty
Before you pursue a career in physical medicine and rehabilitation, 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 physiatrist. 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.
Step 2: Review Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Match Data
Physical medicine & rehabilitation is a moderately competitive specialty. In the 2018 NRMP Match, 11.9% of U.S. seniors failed to match.
In the 2018 NRMP Match, approximately 43.4% of independent applicants (osteopathic and international medical graduates) went unmatched.
Osteopathic students may apply to both allopathic and osteopathic pediatrics residency programs. There are six osteopathic residency programs.
Step 3: Understand Residency Selection Criteria
"Overall PM&R is a very competitive residency," writes the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Medicine at Indiana University. "There is a growing interest in the field at this time and it is becoming increasingly more competitive. Acceptance into the best residency programs is quite competitive."
To maximize your chances of matching with your first-choice residency program in PM&R, 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:
Step 4: Develop Your Strategy For Success
As competition for positions in the physical medicine & rehabilitation 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 below.
Step 6: Apply For Scholarships & Awards
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. Read more
Step 7: Assess Your USMLE Step 1 Score or COMLEX 1 Score
Your USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX 1 exam score is a major factor used by physical medicine & rehabilitation residency programs in the selection process. In 2018, the mean USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX 1 scores among matched students were 225 and 535, respectively. Among unmatched U.S. seniors and osteopathic students, the mean scores were 215 and 486, respectively. Read more
Step 8: Strive For Success During Clerkships
Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to physical medicine & rehabilitation residency programs. In a NRMP survey of PM&R residency programs, 70% cited "grades in required clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview." PM&R rotations are also of obvious importance to international medical graduates seeking positions in the field. Read more
Step 9: Prepare A Powerful Residency Application
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. Read more
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. Read more
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.