Scheduling Residency Interviews in 4th Year

It’s August, so it’s time to start scheduling residency interviews, if you’re a fourth year DO student. For the MD students it’s a little over a month away before the ACGME side opens. So bookmark this post for later.

Tips from Farrah for Scheduling Residency Interviews:

Try to group interviews in the same geographic location at around the same time.

If you’re only applying to programs located in one state or geographical region, disregard this, but if you’re applying all across the country…we’re poor. Try to save some money by minimizing multiple flights across the country. While I wouldn’t necessarily advise what I did (4 interviews in 3 states in 3 days), I did save a bunch of money, didn’t miss any of my interviews, and my #1 was nestled right in between that mess of an interview schedule, so it can be done!

Don’t interview at your first-choice program first.

Having some prior interviews with residency programs under your belt will help you to be more confident and also gives you a chance to fine-tune your responses by the time you get to your interview for your top choice.

Scheduling Residency InterviewsIf your interview travel plans happen to include planes…

  • Pack everything you’ll need into just a carry-on. You do not want to have to deal with lost luggage.
  • If one of your connecting flights gets delayed but there’s still a chance of making it, do your best to call your hotel ahead of time to let them know you’ll be late but will still be arriving. (You do not want to be loitering in their lobby at 2 a.m. because they gave your room away and all neighboring hotels happen to be full. Yes, this happened to me.)
  • If at all possible, schedule your interviews earlier in the season so you don’t have to deal with inclement weather and cancelled/delayed flights.

If you can attend the resident dinner or social activity, do it!

It’s a great chance to get to know the residents, usually without any of the faculty there. Try to get to know them and see if they’re people you can see yourself hanging out with and getting along with, because they’re the ones you’ll be spending the majority of your time with over the next 3 years.

Weather concerns.

Be mindful of possible inclement weather in the winter months, particularly if you have any interviews scheduled in the midwest or on the east coast.

Tips from Pixie for Scheduling Residency Interviews:

Fix Your Phone’s Email Settings

You’re gonna check your email every free moment you get. However, you should still update your email settings to make it easier to do so without unlocking your phone. In your iPhone email settings you’ll find something that says “Fetch New Data” below your various email accounts. You can either set it it to “Push” which will kill your battery, or “Fetch” and choose to check every 15 minutes. Do that. Then update your notifications so you can see emails on your lock screen. You don’t want to miss an email offering you an interview slot, because the earlier you respond the higher your odds of getting a date that works well for you.

Don’t Schedule Too Much In One Week

Plan for a maximum of three interviews per week if they’re within two hours driving distance, or two within a week if flights are involved. At the end of interview season I had four interviews within an eight day period, while also doing a busy ID rotation at a county hospital. It was incredibly exhausting and near the end I wanted to cry when faced with my last flight and possible weather delays keeping me trapped in Seattle’s airport. Do NOT do this. While it’s often recommended to schedule geographically keep in mind you need some down time to recover from travelling.

Sleep Somewhere Cheap and/or Free

This is going to be your most expensive year of medschool, so save money where you can. SwapAndSnooze is a site I reviewed last year and I still think it’s an awesome way to help other med students and yourself. It’s not open yet, so you should also consider services like Rotating Room and the sites that Farrah reviewed last year in her article on Finding Housing for Rotations.

Plan for Disaster

While I never lost baggage on my interview flights, I always prepared for it.  Use the carry-on rules to your advantage, and bring both a carry-on “suitcase” and a messenger bag as your ‘personal item’! You can pack all the essentials into your carry on, including your suit. If you have to get on a prop plane, and they require you to check your carry-on at the gate, it’s okay to look like a crazy person and pull your suit out and carry it. I did this twice, no one cared, and thus I didn’t have to worry I’d show up to an interview in the comfy clothes I prefer to fly in, which are basically pajamas.

Enjoy the Experience

Initially I dreaded the thought of all the travel required in fourth year. However, it became a really amazing experience. I listened to a ton of new music and discovered new podcasts. I made a point of calling home while driving, and got to talk with my family more in the first 6 months of fourth year than all of the prior three years combined. And I started to enjoy the travelling so much I’m considering locum tenens in the future. While there were times I couldn’t stand the thought of getting in my car, they were balanced out my meeting so many amazing people at my interviews.

Don’t be Afraid to Spend time With Other Interviewees!

This is Family Medicine, and while you’re all ‘competing’ technically, the reality is that almost all of you will match into one of your Top 3 choices. You’ve already had to juggle scheduling residency interviews, travelling and the stress of the interview itself. Allow yourself the chance to relax, make friends, exchange emails/numbers and hang out if you have the time! At all of my interviews I met amazing, funny, interesting people and enjoyed spending time with them during and post interview. In Portland I shared a cab with another student and we explored the downtown area, went to an amazing bookstore and grabbed dinner before I had to fly out of town. In Arizona I ran into someone I’d met at AAFP conference and a fellow Persian, and we all over-analyzed the pre-interview dinner and met for breakfast at our hotel the next morning. These are your people! 🙂

By Farrah & Pixie





Farrah has a background in exercise biology and music. Her passions include food, sports medicine, working with the under-served, blogging, food and cats. She’s a good cook, too.

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