Applying to Residency During a Pandemic?

Applying to Residency in 2020 seems like playing Diablo III on Torment IX difficulty.

This year medical students need all the help they can get. Although the annual AAFP Conference is less than the usual cost – and virtual – it’s still $130. Realizing that’s a LOT of groceries, we wanted to put up all the resources you may not know about.

AAFP Website

The American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP*) is an amazing and FREE resource for medical students. If you’ve somehow made it all the way to fourth year without a membership be sure to join ASAP. Here’s a breakdown of some of what they have ready and waiting for you:

Finding Programs: AAFP

  • The AAFP FMR Directory is searchable by state, “community setting” and type of residency program, number of residents, and then whether or not the program offers osteopathic recognition, has other residencies (ie: opposed or not) and if it’s a four year program (holy heck, why on earth would you want another year of residency? I have no idea)
    • Lists total positions per year, salary, vacation per year, international rotations, rural rotations
    • Will list “minorities” and number of women in program, to give you a feel for diversity/inclusiveness
    • Lists info about the hospital and whether you’ll be at an FQHC


The AAFP Mobile App has a “For Students” section. It includes:

  • Find a Residency tool with almost all the options listed on their website, but conveniently on your phone and integrated with their built-in tool for keeping track of and ranking programs
  • The Ranking tool lets you mark programs as favorites and give them scores based on some pre-set factors, and custom ones you can add in
  • a Match task list with important deadlines
  • Strolling Through the Match guide
  • Interview Questions with general faculty questions, suggested options by topic

Finding Programs: AMA

The FRIEDA database – Similar to AAFP’s database, with a LOT more data for applicants. Maybe too much, so here’s what you need to know:

  • Benefits include sorting by whether USMLE or COMLEX are required, special tracks (ie: rural track) .

Individual program pages have information on what YOU need to know as an applicant to avoid wasting your time, especially under the “Program & Faculty” tab:

  • How many LORs they require
  • What the minimum USMLE or COMLEX score is, as well as average step scores of the program (FYI if they have a low # of DOs they may not publish the average for COMLEX).
  • Visa information – do they sponor J1 only? Or also H1-B, F-1?
  • Breakdown of existing residents by USMD, IMG, DO, M/F binary on a “3 year averages”
  • I wouldn’t give too much credence to the work and call schedules listed on here. For one, COVID happened. For two, the programs I know about have the info totally wrong in there. Same goes for the “educational and work environment” tab, definitely not up to date for the programs I am knowledgeable on.

Your School

If your medical school is Family Medicine positive it should have resources beyond the student-run FMIG.

  • If there’s an FM department reach out to the faculty who are part of it, setup a meeting and have a Zoom chat about your future. It’s scary to ask, but the worst they can say is no.
  • If there’s not, reach out to a past family medicine preceptor.
  • If you’ve had no FM rotations then it’s time to move beyond your school…

Local Resources

Each state has it’s own AAFP chapter, each having variable levels of involvement and activity in the community. They may not be able to help, but again the worst that happens is you get a no. It never hurts to ask if there is a local FM doctor they can connect you with to discuss your plan.

  • The California AFP sponsors events for students and residents in normal years, and you can reach out if you’re in CA or planning to return there for residency. They’re quite active on Facebook and have a well maintained web site.
  • Versus the AZ AFP which has a simpler website, but still does events for physicans and residents, and has in the past been involved with FMIGs.

Other resources

Good luck. You’ll be great.

Pixie written in signature style

*Disclaimer: Why, yes, in 2005 the ABFM did officially change their name to the American Board of Family Medicine, and, no for some reason the AAFP did not follow suit. I personally hear nails on a chalk board when someone refers to me as an FP, and that’s why this website is called, not FP. But tradition, copyrights, laziness, whatever, it’s AAFP.


Pixie is happiest reading with a cup of tea in hand. She enjoys women’s health, adolescent medicine, painting and polymer clay. For more info, see her much longer bio on the author page.

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