Pinpointing the best family medicine residency programs can be difficult for a multitude of reasons. Determining what is the “best” is rather subjective and varies from person to person, especially when it comes to making the right decision for your future as a doctor. Residency programs are more attractive or unattractive based on their location, proximity to family, training environment, resources available, and how much they value the chosen specialty of the applicant.
This article provides a number of well-developed family medicine residency programs that can lead to exceptional careers. We also cover some tips for how to get matched for family medicine specifically and how you can benefit from professional residency help.
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Best Family Residency Programs
Family medicine remains one of the most popular specialties, meaning that it is not one of the most competitive residencies to get into. There are multiple options available for a medical school graduate wanting to pursue a career in family medicine. There is no way to truly determine which programs are the absolute best, as there are values and attributes of each program that may appeal to different students. Nevertheless, here are some of the best family residency programs to kickstart your search, as well as others that include a high number of applicants or spots compared to other institutions:
List of the Best Family Residency Programs in the United States
1. Family Medicine Residency Program at the ECU Brody School of Medicine
The Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, North Carolina, offers 12 positions in its standard family medicine residency program, with an additional 4 spots for its rural program applicants. Each member of the 32 physicians within its faculty has a distinct area of clinical focus. The ECU Health Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in the United States, and it serves the coastal plain of Eastern North Carolina, including from underserved regions in the area such as Ahoskie and Duplin. Those looking for experience in rural locations may be enticed by this program.
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2. Portland Family Medicine Residency Program at Oregon Health & Science University
Considered one of the top medical schools for primary care education, OHSU prepares its residents for the challenges of the family medicine practice through a comprehensive, integrated, diverse residency program. A large focus of their family medicine program is wellness to reduce burnout and distress. Their wellness measures include four wellness days per year, a resident wellness retreat, mentorship programs, and access to the Resident and Faculty Wellness Center. These amenities will be appealing to medical students who have similar values while they continue their education.
3. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC)
This school has many affiliated family medicine residency programs in multiple locations such as Lubbock, Amarillo, or the Permian Basin. Students can apply to the Family Medicine Accelerated Track (FMAT) in their first year of medical school, which leads to a standard three-year family medicine residency. Those looking for a medical school program that links directly to their residency will be interested in this opportunity.
4. Family Medicine & Community Health Residency Program at the KU School of Medicine
This residency program at the KU School of Medicine highly values community medicine endeavours, such as school-based clinics, HIV care, and the county public health department. Their facility has a focus on integrating behavioral health services with psychology and social work, which would be beneficial for students interested in these topics in relation to medicine. The University of Kansas hospital also has an entire floor dedicated to family physicians when most academic medical centers do not have a separate unit for family medicine.
5. Family Medicine Residency Programs at the University of Minnesota Medical School
One of the largest medical schools in the United States, the University of Minnesota has 7 family medicine programs – 5 in the Twin Cities and two in Greater Minnesota – each with their own curriculum highlights. This might be the place for you if you are intrigued by having many program options to choose from. They also accept 5–8 residents per program, creating more match opportunities for many future residents. The ultimate goal of all UMN programs is to deliver the most exceptional education possible as they train the next generation of family doctors.
6. Family Medicine Residency Program at the University of Nevada – Reno School of Medicine
The University of Nevada – Reno School of Medicine has recently made some educational changes to add family medicine faculty with specific interests, such as obstetrics, sports medicine, and wilderness medicine. In addition, this residency program allows for practicing in many settings, from urban and rural residency programs and traditional family medicine to hospitals or emergency departments.
7. Family and Community Medicine Residency Program at the UNM School of Medicine
The University of New Mexico School of Medicine includes a curriculum in which residents can explore the science and art that forms the basis of health care system leadership. The foundation you receive in their family medicine residency program will help you succeed, regardless of your path after graduation. While their curriculum is structured to be a tailored or flexible experience, UNM offers in-depth training in women’s health, addiction medicine, and population health/advocacy, with a focus on underserved communities.
8. University of South Dakota – Sanford School of Medicine
Sanford offers 3 family medicine residency program options. The Sioux Falls Family Medicine Residency is a top choice for family medicine using both allopathic and osteopathic approaches to patient care. Those interested in both fields could benefit from this program specifically. Moreover, the Pierre Rural Family Medicine Residency accepts 2 residents per year and prioritizes underserved communities. The Rapid City Family Medicine Residency offers extensive post-graduation training and is particularly known for its obstetrics experience.
9. BronxCare Family Medicine Residency Program
If you are an international medical graduate, what is the “best” for you may differ from domestic applicants. You will want to strategically apply to programs that have fewer conditions for accepting IMG applications. For instance, the BronxCare Health System’s Family Medicine Residency Program is one of the largest in the country and is very open to applicants from all over the world. In addition to being in one of the most IMG friendly states, this program has a low exam score threshold that can account for many different types of applicants. It could be a feasible option for applicants from outside of the United States who may face tougher restrictions elsewhere.
List of the Best Family Medicine Programs in Canada
Canada has a smaller number of medical schools and family medicine residency programs overall. This is a snapshot of what to expect when looking for these types of programs in Canada. Here are some of the most impressive opportunities to become a resident in family medicine in Canada:
1. Family Medicine Residency Program at McGill Medical School
Many primary health care professionals, researchers, students, and support staff call the McGill Family Medicine Department home. Their mission is to contribute to the health of the Québec population as well as in other parts of Canada and internationally by training medical students and residents. Their curriculum focuses on developing research, international health activities, and innovation in practice. For future residents attracted by an institution with a top ranking and positive reputation, McGill may be the right option.
2. Family Medicine Residency Program at Queen’s University School of Medicine
The award-winning family medicine residency program from Queen’s is two years’ long, flexible, and fully accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. It is offered at 4 different training sites: Kingston and 1000 Islands, Belleville-Quinte, Peterborough-Kawartha, and Queen’s-Bowmanville-Oshawa-Lakeridge. While the specific curriculum is unique to each site, all residents who complete the program are meant to leave as capable and competent physicians with the skills to practice family medicine.
3. Family Medicine Residency Program at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine
The University of Alberta Department of Family Medicine is a leader in medical education preparing you for practice in any location. Residents can customize their schedules based on individual interests and career goals, making the program very flexible as a whole. This program also values collaborative learning between staff and residents in both urban and rural training environments.
4. Family Medicine Residency Program at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
UBC’s family medicine program is rather well developed, including 20 potential training programs that provide a solid foundation for your knowledge and clinical skills as a physician. Taught and modelled by excellent and award-winning family doctors, their residency programs offer opportunities to gain experience in particular areas. These can include Northern and Rural Family Medicine, Indigenous, Regional, and Urban Family Medicine.
5. Department of Family Medicine at the University Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
The Department of Family Medicine is the largest within the Faculty of Medicine and offers unparalleled experiences in the classroom and clinical settings in both official languages of Canada. Their ultimate goal is for those in the program to become skilled and confident family doctors by focusing on quality patient-centered care, advocating for accessible treatment, and advancing the delivery of evidence-based medical education.
6. Department of Family and Community Medicine Residency Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
The family medicine program at U of T is composed of three streams. The GTA stream reflects the diversity of the Greater Toronto Area in family practice to serve patients from many cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic demographics. The Barrie or Newmarket stream centers on training in one of two large community hospitals in towns outside of Toronto. Finally, the integrated communities’ stream will allow residents to receive training in one of four mid-Ontario communities in their second year.
Tips for Improving Your Chances of Matching to Family Medicine
If you are in the process of figuring out how to prepare your residency application, you may realize that appealing to program directors for a particular discipline such as family medicine takes some extra work. Each specialty requires qualities and experience that are the most suitable for a career in that field.
- Write a stellar personal statement. To fully explain your candidacy for residency in your own words, perfecting your family medicine residency personal statement can make you stand out from the crowd. Stick to the word limit, follow whatever instructions are listed, and relay what sparks your interest in family medicine in a creative way without simply listing your accomplishments like your residency CV might do. Seek help, if necessary, especially when it comes to proofreading and editing your document. You may not be able to notice room for improvement yourself. Residency match services are available to review your personal statement and provide individualized feedback.
- Acquire strong letters of recommendation. Your family medicine residency letter of recommendation will be highly influential in ensuring a great match. Support from faculty, mentors, or physicians in family medicine will be one of the strongest components of your application. Soliciting strong ERAS letters of recommendation through your clinical experience, for example, will make you stand out in a wide pool of applicants with similar backgrounds. Make sure your references are individuals you have worked with closely. These are the people in the best position to vouch for your specific qualities that are essential for family medicine, such as empathy, communication skills, and the ability to adapt. Aim for diversity among those you ask for letters, whether they be professors, attending physicians, or extracurricular supervisors, although at least one or two letters should be directly related to family medicine. This will further your appeal to program directors and raise your chances of acceptance.
- Consider your options. Research is a valuable tool for any future or current medical student to make use of when deciding on a residency program. Knowing what each program has to offer and what opportunities are available to you is crucial to making this difficult decision. If you are not even in medical school yet, looking at DO school rankings can be a good start. Osteopathic medical graduates often choose primary care, such as family medicine or internal medicine, as their specialty. If you are passionate about family medicine, an osteopathic medical degree can be what gets you where you want to be. In fact, certain DO schools are also some of the medical schools with the best match rates, so you can feel more confident about getting into your chosen program.
- Brush up on your interview skills. The interview is usually one of the final stages before getting officially accepted into a residency program, making it one of the most important steps in securing a match. Practice with family medicine interview questions and answers to learn what to expect on interview day. Having strategies to answer specific question types means you’ll be able to handle anything that is thrown at you. A residency mock interview or other simulation is one of the best ways to prepare for the real interview process. Receiving tailored feedback from residency interview preparation services to incorporate into your responses can make all the difference in how you perform.
When deciphering how to choose a medical specialty, family medicine is surely an appealing choice for any future resident. It is a universal and rewarding field of medicine with numerous related residency programs. There is a wide range of exemplary programs, such as those listed above, that represent this discipline and can appeal to a variety of interests among applicants. Each student comes into residency looking to get different things out of it, and the best residency for family medicine is the one that makes you into the kind of doctor you want to be.
It can be a big leap for a medical student to begin applying for residency, as this decision will officially begin your professional career after graduation. If you want to get into the best family medicine residency program for you but are nervous about not getting a match, partnering with the best residency prep company is a potential solution. Family medicine is a specialty that requires a sense of community and having that extra push from a helping hand to achieve your goals can be just what you need to find success.
1. What makes a family medicine residency program one of the best?
Naming any residency or medical school program the “best” is subjective because every individual applicant has different needs. The trick is figuring out what you want to achieve and selecting the institutions most suited for you to arrive at your desired destination. Some of the factors that influence whether a residency program is suited to you are its location, the program’s focus or timeline, tuition fees, and general reputation.
2. Is getting a match to a family medicine residency competitive?
Every residency program is relatively competitive, but family medicine and other primary care specialties are not considered the most competitive compared to other disciplines.
3. What are the main residency match services?
In the US, you will likely be using ERAS to help organize your applications for residency. For programs in Canada, CaRMS is the main residency match service.
4. What is a residency match rank order list?
Your residency rank order list will be the compilation of the programs you would like to match with the most. It should be ordered from your first choice until your last choice. Program directors also create the same type of list. When both parties rank each other highly, a match occurs.
5. Is family medicine a good specialty for international medical graduates?
Family medicine, along with other primary care specialties, such as internal medicine and pediatrics, are often listed as having the highest IMG match rates.
6. What should I do to prepare for my family medicine residency application?
The first step is always to organize yourself as early as possible. Decide what you are looking for and what you will need to prepare. You will likely need a personal statement or residency letter of intent. That is an application document you can get started on early. Achieving a great score on USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK licensing examinations will also help you get started on submitting a successful application.
7. Are situational judgment tests required for residency?
SJTs such as CASPer are becoming more prevalent in residency application requirements. Research the exact program requirements to verify them. Prepare yourself using CASPer sample questions to become familiar with what will be asked of you for this test.
8. Where do I go for help with my application?
Academic consulting companies and services offered by a residency application consultant are dedicated to your success. Seeking professional help can improve any part of your application, including written documents. Medical residency interview prep will provide you with tailored feedback and ultimately boost your chances of a match.
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