Steps to a Successful Residency Match
Step 1: Explore the Specialty
Before you pursue a career in radiology, 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 radiologist. 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 Radiology Match Data
Although radiology is not as competitive as it was five years ago, it is very difficult to match into top tier programs.
The number of applicants has fallen from 1333 in 2007 to 1255 in 2011. However, there remain more applicants than positions, and some U.S. medical students do fail to match.
Osteopathic and international medical graduates find it difficult to match into radiology. Both groups are considered independent applicants. In 2018, 39% of independent applicants went unmatched. Of note, osteopathic applicants may apply to the 15 AOA-approved diagnostic radiology residency programs.
Step 3: Understand Residency Selection Criteria
"We typically receive over 700 applications for 12 residency positions," writes the Department of Radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
To maximize your chances of matching with your first-choice residency program in radiology, 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 radiology 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
When Yao Yu, a former medical student at UC Davis, was bestowed a research fellowship from the Radiological Society of North America's Research and Education Foundation, his mentor had the following to say about his achievement. "I am very pleased that Yao was awarded this prestigious research grant," said Allen Chen, assistant professor of radiation oncology and director of the residency and fellowship training program. "The fact that he won this award as a first-year student is unique. His research has the potential to impact the way we deliver radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, and I look forward to mentoring him in the future."
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 radiology residency programs in the selection process. In 2018, the mean USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX 1 scores among matched students were 240 and 613, respectively. Among unmatched U.S. seniors and osteopathic students, the mean scores were 223 and 540, respectively. Read more.
Step 8: Strive For Success During Clerkships
Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to radiology residency programs. In a survey of radiology residency programs, 84% cited "grades in required clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. “Selection criteria are subjective,” writes the Department of Radiology at UCSF. “Most important are evaluations and grades in clinical rotations, with special regard to performance in the core clerkships…” 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.