When fourth-year medical students face interview season, they are also gearing up for audition rotations and electives.
Residency interviews and audition rotation performance are both incredibly important, but they occur within the same time period. Students must learn how to manage both to prosper during this stage of the journey.
Put down the stress ball. Joanne Baker, DO, an internal medicine program director at Western Michigan University School of Medicine, offers key advice on how to be successful in residency interviews while completing audition rotations.
- Plan ahead and keep the big picture in mind.
Plan an ideal timeframe for interviews early in this process, Dr. Baker recommends.
“Ideally, you’ll really know the residency program that you’re applying to and the timeframes when interviews are typically held for that specialty, so you’ll know whether or not you’ll be available,” she says. “Keep the big picture in mind when planning. It’s worth it to spend the extra money when necessary. It’s an investment in your future.”
- Space out your residency interview times.
“If you can’t take a block of time off for interviews, and need to be gone on audition rotations, then don’t be gone for too long for interviews,” Dr. Baker says. She suggests students space out their interviews when possible and take advantage of weekends.
“Try to limit how many interviews on the rotation you go to as you are on that rotation for a reason,” she says. “It’s best to offer to make time up on the weekends.”
- In the midst of this process, do not limit the number of residencies you apply for.
Keep your options open throughout the entire process by applying for many residency programs, keeping in mind that interview slots fill fast, says Dr. Baker, who suggests students have a backup plan in place if they’re pursuing a competitive specialty or program.
“It’s far better to cancel interviews than to wait a month into the process, then realize you have to throw another net out there to find that those slots are already filled up,” she says. “It is also best to give programs as much notice as possible when canceling interviews, as this ties up a slot that a fellow student could be taking.”
- Seek professional advice.
A career counselor who knows your academic performance can provide invaluable advice on your strategic planning, Dr. Baker says.
“It is so important for students to take this advice to heart,” she notes.
- Have clear communication with your host program and know that it’s all doable.
“Be upfront with the program you’re in,” Dr. Baker says. “They will expect you to have interviews, and remember that it is perfectly fine to do interviews while completing rotations. Just don’t be gone so much that you hurt your chances at that program.”