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5 key tips to get into the right residency program

Learn about the residency interview process from a program director’s perspective: Here’s advice from educator and AOA 2015-16 President John W. Becher, DO.


When preparing to interview for a residency program, demonstrate your commitment by researching not only the program but also the greater health institution, because that will be your professional home, AOA 2015-16 President John W. Becher, DO, told medical students Friday during the AOA’s Mentor Cafe.

The mentoring event, held during the House of Delegates meeting, connected students with DOs and facilitated discussions on residency training, advocating for the profession, focusing on osteopathic principles and running a successful practice, among other topics.

Dr. Becher, who, as a residency director, trained more than 150 emergency medicine physicians, spoke with a group of students about preparing to apply and interview for residencies. He offered these tips:

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  • Think about where you want to practice. While it might sound nice to practice in a warmer climate, spend some time there in the summer to make sure you can withstand the heat. Being uncomfortable in a new climate could impact your training.
  • If you do not know anyone associated with the program, don’t be afraid to call residents and faculty at random to see if they can answer your questions.
  • Ideally have at least one reference from a practicing physician in the specialty you want to pursue who knows you and your intention for practicing in the specialty.
  • Sell yourself by focusing on your top qualities. “Think about what you are most proud of. If you won an award, what did you do to get it?” Dr. Becher says.
  • At the end of the interview, be sure to ask the residency director questions. Dr. Becher suggests asking how long directors have been there and how long they plan to stay. That intel can give candidates an idea if the director will still be there when the program begins.

For Mark Lahtinen, OMS II, getting Dr. Becher’s insights will help him when the time comes to apply for residencies.

“It was valuable to learn how Dr. Becher would interpret situations during an interview and be able to see things from a residency director’s perspective,” says Lahtinen, who attends Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker, Colorado.

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