How these DO students matched to their top-choice residencies

Four recently matched DO students share their advice for incoming OMS IVs on how to set yourself up for Match success.

In 2020, the first year of the combined National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Match, more than 6,200 osteopathic medical students and past DO graduates matched into residency programs. 90.7% of DO students matched into residency programs in 38 specialties.

The DO spoke with four DO students who matched at their top-choice residencies about how they set themselves up for the best chance of Match Day success this year. Below, they offer their advice for future applicants.

Of course, with the novel coronavirus disease pandemic potentially throwing a wrench in the audition rotation schedule for incoming fourth-year students, the path to Match Day may look a little different for next year’s OMS IVs. The Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine has already published a statement advising students to prepare for possible changes to the audition rotation schedule.

Joanne Baker, DO, the internal medicine program director at Western Michigan University School of Medicine, said she expects the time span for this year’s rounds of audition rotations to be shortened, and thus more competitive.

“It’s unprecedented,” Dr. Baker said. “I would hope that specialty residency programs will recognize the challenges students are facing this year, and understand that it may not be plausible for students to do all of the auditions they want to.”

Students doubling up on typically one-candidate audition rotations in the coming year is a possibility, said Mark Rogers, DO, the program director for the primary care sports medicine fellowship at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“A lot is unknown, for everyone, so the biggest thing is staying in touch and communicating, over the phone or via email,” Dr. Rogers said. “Be prepared to adjust and accommodate, because a lot of these audition rotations may have to be scheduled somewhat last-minute by both programs and students.”

Here are the words of wisdom shared by four OMS IVs who just matched into their top-choice residencies.

If you could give one piece of advice to an incoming OMS IV, what would it be?

“Because pathology is more of a niche field, it’s important to identify mentors early on. If you have the opportunity to work with someone and you really like them and feel like you click with them, and you’d be interested in having them as a mentor, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try to get to know them, and form that relationship. It can make a really big difference in the long run.” —Madeleine Opsahl, OMS IV, at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCU-COM), who matched into pathology at UT-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“Not every applicant is going to have a particular program they want, but use your best judgment and all the resources that are available to judge how competitive you are for certain programs.” —Kyle Yuquimpo, OMS IV at KCU-COM, who matched into internal medicine at University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. 

What goes into a successful application?

“Don’t put off filling out the actual applications until it’s almost too late. When I was working on my personal statement, I was on the audition trail and my days were pretty busy. So coming home and working on that was always kind of a grind. I got it done, but it definitely was a stressor for me. Maybe in the summer after I took my Level 2 boards, that would’ve been a good time to work on that, before I started rotations.” —Andrew Bergloff, OMS IV, at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, who matched into OB-GYN at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

“Board scores, metrics and grades are always going to be important to get your foot in the door, but I really think it’s important to nail that self-reflection. Figuring out who you are and what your goals are for the next step in your life helps you shine.” —Jesse Calestine, OMS IV, at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, who matched into internal medicine at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania. 

Yuquimpo: “Strong letters are really helpful, especially when they’re from people who are in positions of leadership. I was lucky enough to have spent time with those faculty members—not by choice, on accident—but if I didn’t have that opportunity I probably would’ve sought it out and asked if there were opportunities to work with someone who is involved in the recruitment process for that particular program. During interviews, I kept getting told my letters were very strong.”

How should students approach their audition rotations?

Opsahl: “I did four audition rotations, each in a different subspecialty in pathology, including one where I ended up matching. That’s a lot in pathology, but I thought it was worthwhile to visit other types of programs and see what they were like.”

Bergloff: “I started looking at programs I thought I’d be interested in, and then just applying really broadly for auditions. OB-GYN is a very small field, so they really stress being a good fit more than other programs do. They emphasize fit over board scores, too. At the beginning of my fourth year, I spent a lot of time rotating to show programs I would be a good fit.”

Yuquimpo: “If there’s a place you want to go, and you didn’t go there during your third year, I’d try to make it the second or third rotation you do during your fourth year. It’s still before application season so you can get a letter. But you should use that first month to do that first audition rotation or a sub-internship at your home institution, or at another place where you don’t feel like the pressure is so high. Do a practice run for a month and then give a full effort after you’ve warmed up.”

Calestine: “At the end of the day, we’re all working toward quality patient care, which I think sometimes gets lost in the audition because you’re so overwhelmed doing didactics and following up on labs and notes. You need to be able to put the patient’s needs first.”

How did you foster connections while you were on those rotations?

Opsahl: “I think being a pretty enthusiastic person who was excited to be there and open to meeting people and learning things, that made a difference. Two of the residents I worked with said they would reach out to the program director on my behalf and say they’d like to see me back. I don’t know how much influence that really has, but it was a nice thing for them to say.”

Bergloff: The fact that I spent a month [at Ascension] really did allow me to cultivate some great relationships. Not only with the residents, but with the attendings. When I had wrapped up the audition and went back for my interview, it was like going back and seeing old friends. When I’d walk into an interview and see an attending, they’d look at me as someone they knew and had spent time with. All of those things made a big impact on the interview process.

What sold you on your top choice?

Opsahl: “I clicked really well with the residents when I was there. And then academically, the program had all the things I was looking for in terms of research opportunities and fellowships they offered.”

Yuquimpo: “I was pretty impressed with their drive to take care of patients and their passion for teaching medical students. They also reinforced material by making the students teach in a reverse classroom-type setting. That was a good baseline for what I was hoping to get out of a residency program. I enjoyed teaching, so I wanted a place that would let me pursue that interest while also providing good training and mentors as well.”

Bergloff: “Lots of hospitals I visited were really strong in either obstetrics or gynecology, and maybe not as strong in the other one. So that’s one thing that stood out to me at Ascension the most. I saw that they had great labor volume, and they also had great surgeries going on, and a large amount.”

Related reading:

Pro tips for nailing your residency interviews and audition rotations

What can you do if you don’t match?

One comment

  1. Max A. Clark D.O., Col USAF MC FS Ret, Assoc Prof Emeritus

    From 1985-90 I was the Chairman of Ob.Gyn Department at USAF Medical Center Wright Patterson AFB with 16 assigned providers.. I sat on the USAF resident selection Board for Ob/Gyn for 6 consecutive years. Therefore I can speak a bit about resident selection from the other side of the desk.
    When Medical/Osteopathic students came to do a rotation either on an Air Force rotation or from Wright State University School of Medicine I always wanted to know how they fit in with the other residents. Did they come early and stay late. Did they read they read their assigned material. I have trained Medical/Osteopathic students who were 1 or2 in their class and trained students who were middle of their class. When a student comes is he/she there to only pass or do they go the extra mile. No one thing made the selection. for me in our residency

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