What’s It Like Working With a Medical Residency Consultant?
- Feb 16, 2023
- Reviewed by: Amy Rontal
Graduating from medical school and all you have to show for it is a degree? Surely there’s more. After putting in grueling hours in order to honor clerkships, excel at STEP/COMLEX, and participate in various service and research projects, med students have an opportunity to boast their accomplishments in the form of the ERAS application to residency. But the residency application process is no cakewalk, and you may just find yourself needing some additional guidance. This is where a medical residency consultant can be one of your greatest assets.
Read on to learn more about the experience of working with a medical residency consultant. Additionally, be sure to check our “Should You Consider Residency Counseling?” Quiz!
Why Do Students Seek Out Residency Counseling?
Not only is applying to a residency program a crucial milestone in your career, but the process has recently become more complex. This is due in part to an increased number of applicants, more multi-specialty applications, and the implementation of virtual interviews.
Some make it through this process on their own but it’s common for medical students to ask for a little extra help with improving their application. Specialized residency counseling services may benefit some students who want an extra leg up on the competition.
For example, working with a trained and experienced residency consultant can strengthen your overall application, help to refine your personal statement, sharpen your interview skills, and greatly improve your chances of obtaining residency…especially during a busy MS-4 year. Moreover, many students also have extenuating circumstances that might make them an ideal candidate for some additional, professional residency counseling.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how these services can benefit students in different situations.
How Can A Medical Residency Consultant Assist Different Students? 4 Examples
Student #1 – A very relatable classmate
We’ll start off with a kind of student applicant that you’re probably familiar with. Maybe you have friends that match these basic characteristics, or maybe you even see yourself in this blueprint:
– Desired specialty: Pediatrics
– Career timeline: September of MS3
– Clerkships: Mix of passes and highpasses
– STEP 2 CK: 233
– Research: Minimal
– Leadership, service, volunteer experience: Average
– Application progress: 0%
This is your typical classmate, a friendly person with a standard application and decent scores. They are applying for a specialty of average competitiveness and have a fairly good chance at matching.
Something notable is the timeline for this student—they have not even opened ERAS to fill out the basics. This needs to begin immediately. The applicant is also late with letters of recommendation. Please note that it may take the letter writers weeks or months to upload your letter (after all, they write more than just yours).
Benefits of Counseling for Student #1
This student would find value in my services (ie: the services of a residency consultant) through:
– An expedited application progress, including review and edits of their personal statement as well as an optimized ERAS application CV. We’d work to highlight what research the applicant has as well as leverage the other extracurriculars to increase the overall attractiveness of the applicant.
– Mock interviews, including preparation for each particular program, virtual interviewing etiquette, insider tips, and FAQs, as well as actionable feedback to improve interviewing skills.
– Asking for letters of recommendation, including advice on which attendings to ask and whose letters to use.
Though this student has a chance of matching on their own, ultimately they would benefit from our services for optimizing the application, training for the interview process, and sharpening program selection in order to match at a top Peds program of choice. The fact that it is late in the application season is concerning. Meet with me or don’t, but start on the application now!
Student #2 – The anxious all-star
Now let’s consider a student who has gone above and beyond in their studies and application prep, but is still fretting over the competitive ERAS application process:
– Desired specialty: Orthopedic Surgery
– Career timeline: Start of MS2 Summer
– Clerkships: Majority honors
– COMLEX 2 CE score: 685
– Research: Various first authorships and conference presentations
– Leadership, service, volunteer experience: Extensive
– Application progress: CV updated, PS rough drafts (3)
This applicant is nearly ready before ERAS even opens. Clearly, they are a strong candidate for any program, even in a competitive specialty such as Ortho. This student does not need my services, but feels nervous and lacks confidence in their ability to match at an academic program.
Benefits of Counseling for Student #2
They would benefit from my services with:
– Having an experienced set of eyes review the CV and all 3 drafts of the personal statement, ultimately settling on one to submit.
– Review and filter programs to apply to that meet their needs (consider the blog post “How to Choose a Residency Program“).
– Mock interviews, tips, and practice to build confidence in interviewing skills.
– Optimize ERAS CV to incorporate all of this student’s accomplishments to polish this already stellar application and help it shine even brighter.
Again, this student does not need me. They may understand the unfortunate trend in competitive specialties in this age of virtual interviews and choose my services as a result, a sensible decision.
Perhaps this applicant simply wants practice and feedback with interviews or perhaps they want my help in submitting a polished application prior to applying to Ortho. Either way, our meetings would be a few, short sessions simply to get their ducks in a row.
Student #3 – Mr. International
What about an international medical graduate (IMG) student that’s a bit all over the place and needs assistance in a lot of areas? For example, this might be someone in the following situation:
– Desired specialty: Internal Medicine
– Career timeline: Prior hospitalist in his home country
– Clerkships: One-month rotation of US clinical experience (USCE)
– STEP 2 score: none
– Research: Minimal
– Leadership, service, volunteer experience: Minimal
– Application progress: 0%
As the name “Mr. International” implies, this student’s materials are truly all over the map—and not in a good way. This applicant would greatly benefit from guidance in navigating the overall application process, especially as an IMG.
Benefits of Counseling for Student #3
In particular, this student would find value in my services by getting assistance with:
– Guidance and education with the IMG process to match into U.S. residency including ECFMG certification, resources and advice for USMLE, ERAS token, NRMP registration, and VISA status (J-1 vs H-1B).
– Increase access to applicable USCE.
– Review and edit their personal statement, particularly as English is not their native language.
– Review and filter for IMG-friendly programs.
– Leverage prior experience as a practicing hospitalist in his home country.
From explanations of interviews to residency program selection to the match and post-match process, this student would likely be advised on every part of the application lifecycle. This is truly where the expertise of a medical residency consultant comes out in full force to assist students in crisis.
Student #4 – The one who needs “the talk”
Finally, let’s turn our attention to another student in a particularly tough spot due to their chosen medical specialty and their academic/extracurricular performance:
– Desired specialty: Urology
– Career timeline: Spring of MS2 year
– Clerkships: One failed clerkship, repeated and passed on a second attempt. The remainder is a mix of high passes and passes
– STEP 2 score: 226
– Research: Moderate
– Leadership, service, volunteer experience: Moderate
– Application progress: 0%
This is a talk the applicant should have with the school’s dean. Maybe they already had it and need to hear it again. Urology is highly competitive and this application will likely be filtered out from most programs by USMLE score alone, not to mention this applicant has the red flag of a failed clerkship.
Benefits of Counseling for Student #4
This applicant would benefit from a long meeting with their medical school dean. In talking with me, they would find value in discussing alternative specialties and paths as well as advice on establishing network connections to provide the best chance for urology as well as other specialties.
If the applicant feels obligated to apply to urology, despite the extremely low likelihood of successfully matching, we could discuss the prospect of a dual application. They would benefit greatly from an understanding of that process.
Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out for Help!
There you have it—what medical residency consultants (such as myself) do in order to help students with various backgrounds. Though the students above are hypothetical, the scenarios and advice are very much real.
If you find yourself in a similar position where you need additional support with your residency application, don’t worry! You may consider a free consultation with a medical residency consultant who can help you set your application apart and ensure you maximize your chances of matching at a residency program of your choice.
About the Author
Mike is a driven tutor and supportive advisor. He received his MD from Baylor College of Medicine and then stayed for residency. He has recently taken a faculty position at Baylor because of his love for teaching. Mike’s philosophy is to elevate his students to their full potential with excellent exam scores, and successful interviews at top-tier programs. He holds the belief that you learn best from those close to you in training. Dr. Ren is passionate about his role as a mentor and has taught for much of his life – as an SAT tutor in high school, then as an MCAT instructor for the Princeton Review. At Baylor, he has held review courses for the FM shelf and board exams as Chief Resident. For years, Dr. Ren has worked closely with the office of student affairs and has experience as an admissions advisor. He has mentored numerous students entering medical and residency and keeps in touch with many of them today as they embark on their road to aspiring physicians. His supportiveness and approachability put his students at ease and provide a safe learning environment where questions and conversation flow. For exam prep, Mike will help you develop critical reasoning skills and as an advisor he will hone your interview skills with insider knowledge to commonly asked admissions questions.