Finding your fit

Audition rotations: Tips for planning them

From preparing application materials to timing your auditions, there’s a lot to consider. These tips can help streamline the process of planning audition rotations.


It’s audition rotation season! Audition rotations are basically a soft interview/acting internship to see if you’d fit into the hospital more permanently as an intern and/or resident. As a newly minted OMS IV myself, here are some things I would suggest thinking about when it comes to auditions.

What to consider regarding location

Start thinking about your priorities and preferences. Do you want to be in a community hospital or a large academic center? What’s the culture at the hospital like? Do you have family ties to a specific region? What is the weather like there?

These are some of the questions to think about when you consider auditions and where you’d prefer to spend this experience. You will want to make sure that your auditions are at a site that you would actually want to work/rank. Talking to current and past residents, attending Q&A sessions and reaching out to admin can help you learn more about the programs and their pros and cons.

For a quick way to look at residency spots, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) FREIDA is a helpful resource. The site will help you research over 13,000 programs by specialty, all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and it allows you to personalize your search using more than 35 filters. It even has information about visa sponsorship for international students.

Preparing to apply

Getting all your materials ready is an important and time-consuming part of the application process. The list may include (but is not limited to): headshots, up-to-date immunizations, COMLEX Level 1 P/F report, transcripts, drug screens, proof of current health insurance, HIPAA/OSHA training and ACLS/BLS certification.

The requirements may be program-specific as well—some programs request personal statements, while others might want recommendation letters.

You will need to start thinking about program-specific letters of support like IM SEL or SLOE for emergency medicine and OB/GYN. These are areas I would recommend working on throughout your third year so you can avoid any hiccups closer to application season. Starting early will give you plenty of time to prepare so you won’t feel like you’re rushing at the last minute.

Important dates to pay attention to

There are different schools of thought here—some people tend to pile their auditions toward the beginning of the school year to get them out of the way. The idea is that the earlier you rotate, the more interested you appear to be in those programs.

However, another approach is to pile your auditions in October through December as a way to “stay fresh” in a program’s memory right before rank lists are due.

Talk to your mentors and come up with a good game plan during your third year to best figure out which angle is the best fit for you.

Extra tip: Make sure you are aware of your program’s timelines and deadlines—they may vary based on the specialty.

How do I apply?

Start narrowing down on specific programs around January and February of your third year, making a list of the ones you’d like to audition for. Check out their websites and create an excel sheet about when applications open so you don’t miss any deadlines. I personally found that a lot of sites seem to use the VSLO or Clinician Nexus application systems, but there are plenty that will want direct applications. Some of these application sites charge a fee as well, so be prepared for that. Working on these applications in advance will help you stay on top of everything you need.

Making your pre-audition season easier

Following these tips can make the pre-audition season a little more streamlined. Remember to talk to your school advisors and plan your fourth-year schedule according to your priorities. If you’re interested in learning tips for a successful audition rotation as well, check out this article by Samuel Zarbock, DO.

They’re called acting internships­—so break a leg, y’all!

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

Finding fit and flow: How to choose a residency path

Learning about residency programs through virtual open houses

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy