Hello friends and welcome to Road to Residency Thursdays! This is going to be a new series here on the blog and Instagram where I talk about my tips and tricks to organize yourself and land a residency. The series will have several parts and thus each post will explaining a crucial step of the process. First part will focus on preparing for the whole process. It is geared more towards third year medical students (check out my third year essentials). So, without more rambling, let’s start with step 1: make your list.
I don’t know about you, but I am an organization and list making freak. Having to do lists and getting information, when possible, on every decision I will make is very important to me. I had lists for medical school, for my wedding, for classes, and everything in between. So for residency it was only natural that I do the same. I began this process after step 1 and early on in third year when I needed an escape from studying for shelfs and OSCE’s. There are many resources out there, but I will focus on general and Ob/Gyn ones.
FREIDA is basically a database for residency programs designed by the American Medical Association. Before, you had to be a member to be able to sign in and use it. I am not 100% sure if this is still true. Once you log in you can find your Dashboard which will likely be empty. At the middle of the screen there is a grey bar that has the option to go to a search screen and comparison screen. In the search area you can look by specialty, area, and other specifiers like visas and program code.
Once you do your search you can see the programs based on your search criteria. Select the program you want to see. A new screen will open up which will show you the basic information on the programs. Beside the Basic Information tab, you will see other tabs with valuable information. Important, right under the tabs area, you will see a caption that reads “Last Updated:”. This will let you know when the information was last revised. From my experience though, it is not always up to date, so check multiple sources. Here you can also add the program to your dashboard or to the comparison tab.
From the information here I created an excel document with the name of the programs that I was interested in. I sat down with my husband and we decided on which states we could see ourselves living in. From there I started getting information on EVERY program in that state. Later on, I would refine this list based on other criteria, more on this on a future post. Once I had the names, I decided which information was important to me. I narrowed it down to: positions, research options, academic/community/combined, and USMLE requirements.
In the end, FREIDA was a GREAT place to start looking into programs, areas, requirements and other things that would come in handy later when deciding where to apply. The best part is that it is easy to navigate, and you don’t need to expend much time. Careful with saving too many programs to your dashboard. It will slow down the loading process and freeze the page. Hopefully they’ve fixed this (let me know in the comments below)!
The Doximity Navigator, like FREIDA, is another valuable tool. You DO NOT need to create an account to use it. But if you would like more specific information about a program, they do require you sign in. Their site is a little easier to navigate than FREIDA and has very different information. When doing the original search, their database allows you to see programs based in specific criteria like research, reputation, subspecialty percent, etc.
If you are going into a competitive specialty, you are convinced you want to subspecialize, or want to focus on research, then Doximity Navigator is a great tool for your arsenal. Their information comes from many sources including US News Rankings and CV and achievements of program graduates. I found their information incredibly beneficial when deciding which programs to apply and when doing y Rank List.
Using the data from Doximity, I was able to expand and refine my excel list. For example, research is something that is very important to me. As such, when deciding programs to apply, I kept programs that had good/decent research output and rankings. Since I want to keep my options open in terms of subspecialty, I also valued their information on subspecialty training. I focused more on programs that had good general Ob/Gyn training versus super subspecialty training programs.
Finally, another thing I really liked about Doximity was their information on where you will spend your time during residency as well as their Board Passing rates. This is very valuable information when deciding where you want to train.
If you are interested in the field of women’s health and considering Obstetrics and Gynecology, then APGO Residency Directory is a gold mine. Like the resources above they have a search option where you include certain criteria to narrow down your search. Some of the best ones are the USMLE Score, number of positions offered, and fellowship opportunities.
Once you go into a program page, you have a lot of information from each program. Aside from the usual basic information you can get from the resources above, they have more detailed information of program schedule, hours, and even minimum requirements for interview. This last one can be found at the end of each page, and tells you how many interviews they offer, USMLE scores, and number of residents who did an away rotation there. They also give numerical information on average USMLE scores of current residents.
Like with FREIDA I found that even though many programs had recently updated their information, some of it was still not accurate in comparison with other sources. So, to balance this out I would use the information from all 3 resources and check the program website. I would also correlate with NRMP documents and then make a decision on which programs I had a real chance at, and that met my requirements/expectations.
Phewww, that was long. I hope you are still with me here. There you have my dissection of the resources that I used to prepare the preliminary list of programs I was interested in checking out further. This list was incredibly beneficial when I was deciding where to apply for VSAS and where to apply for my final ERAS list. I believe this list was very important and helped to keep me organized during my road to residency applications.
The best part is that YOUR list will be nothing like mine because you will choose what criteria to include. Focus on what things are important to you and what your CV looks like to have a better idea on what to look for in a program. Also, having this list ready to go by the time I was working on ERAS was a godsend. It made the process go very easily when adding programs to ERAS.
Well this FINALLY concludes Part 1 of my Road To Residency series! It was a long one so I apologize, but I hope it is of benefit to you reading this. On part 2 I will dwell into the very confusing and annoying world of VSAS.
Thanks for reading!