Are you wondering if you could use the services of a residency application consultant? You're not alone. No two applicants are the same, and not all students need a residency application consultant, but working with one can definitely improve your chances of acing the complicated residency application process, landing an interview, and matching to one of the programs on your list. This is especially true for non-traditional applicants such as IMGs or those who aren't sure how to improve residency applications after going unmatched. In this blog, we'll discuss residency application consultants - what exactly they do and how they can help students - so that you can decide if you need one to land that dream match in 2023.
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Why are residency applications challenging?
When it is time to prepare for residency applications, students tend to get nervous. Understandably so. Not only is your residency one of the most important steps of your journey to becoming a physician, but the residency matching process is also quite daunting. There are two main reasons for the challenging nature of residency applications. Let's explore them:
The level of competition:
The annual residency match is notoriously competitive. Whether you are navigating ERAS applications in the hopes of becoming a resident doctor in the United States or CaRMS - the Canadian equivalent, the residency programs you're applying to have very few spots available, yet they receive thousands of applications. This suggests that many candidates do not match to their program of choice, and the numbers confirm it. For instance, in the US, only about 46% of MD seniors matched to their first choice of residency program. In other words, if you want to successfully match into your program of choice, you need to craft and submit an application that stands out.
Want to know how to avoid residency application red flags? Watch this video:
In order to participate in the match, you need to prepare and submit a number of different application components in addition to your licensing test scores and MSPR or MSPE. The application components include but are not limited to the following:
Preparing these documents requires a lot of introspection, strong communication skills, a good understanding of the ERAS or CaRMS process, and strategic planning. In other words, it can be quite tricky. Not only do you have to figure out how many residency programs to apply to, but you often have to prepare different variations of the same component for the different programs or specialties that you are applying to. Often, students think that their ERAS or CaRMS timeline starts when the portal is open, but the reality is that the more time you have to prepare, the better your written application components will be. This is where residency application consultants come in. Not only can they help you come up with the ideal ERAS or CaRMS timeline, but they can also help you prepare the different application components.
How do Residency Application Consultants Help Students?
The process of preparing for residency applications and post-doctorate training starts in medical school for most applicants. When you are trying to choose medical school electives and ace the hardest rotations in medical school, it is partly so that you can be a competitive applicant when it is time to apply for residency. Residency application consultants are admissions professionals who are not only very familiar with the CaRMS and ERAS process, but they also have access to tons of student data, allowing them to provide expert advice and guide students while they are still in this planning stage.
In addition to being knowledgeable about the matching process, a good residency application consultant will also take the time to get to know you. This means that they can consider your goals, interests, skills, and overall profile and use that information to help you choose a medical specialty. They can also advise you on the work and volunteer opportunities that are best for that specialty and more likely to make your CaRMS or ERAS experience section stand out.
Ultimately, a residency application consultant would use their knowledge and knowledge to help you strengthen your residency candidacy and create the ideal rank order list for you in order to maximize your chances of getting the right match during the first iteration. Working with a residency application consultant or an IMG residency consultant is especially recommended if you happen to be an International Medical Graduate because your chances of matching are even more competitive. A residency application consultant can also provide you with general guidance to ensure that you are a competitive applicant.
For example, they can help you find more opportunities to get electives and clinical experience as an IMG in the US or Canada. They can also help you figure out the IMG-friendly residency programs that you have a higher chance of matching to, or help you improve your profile in order to give you a better chance of getting the more competitive programs.
Still unsure on what to include on your residency personal statement? Read this out:
Preparing application components
As mentioned earlier, residency applications include a few tricky components that require strategic planning and time to get right. One of the benefits of working with a residency application consultant is that they do not just provide a few general tips to help you prepare or simply prepare the application components for you. Instead, they actually teach students different techniques and strategies to help them prepare stronger application components.
For example, you might be a good writer, but you've been asked to write your own letter of recommendation, and you're struggling because you don't know how to write about yourself. A residency application consultant wouldn't simply take over and write the reference for you. On the other hand, they would work on it with you. They would teach you how to brainstorm, structure, and write a reference letter —resulting in a better letter of recommendation for your residency application while giving you new skills that you will likely use again in the future.
Furthermore, in addition to teaching you about the different application components, a residency application consultant can identify the various strengths and weaknesses in your profile and teach you how to use them to strengthen your application. Students often find it difficult to tackle the strengths and weaknesses interview question because you have to find the balance between highlighting your strengths without sounding overconfident and talking about your weaknesses without making yourself sound like a weaker candidate. This is what you must do in your written application components, such as a residency letter of intent, and that is precisely one of the many things that a residency application consultant can teach you.
Residency interview prep
The residency interview is one of the most challenging and most important steps of the residency matching process. National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) reports show that for 98% of residency programs, your communication skills are very important and for 94% of programs, so are interactions with staff and faculty members on interview day. This means that what you say, how you say it and your overall behavior during your residency interview can determine if and where you and on a residency program's rank order list.
The issue is that most applicants actually don't know if they lack interview skills. These are skills that are developed over time with experience, and more often than not, the only chance that people get to put those skills to the test is during interviews. However, considering how crucial your residency interview is on your journey to becoming a physician, we do not recommend risking it. It would be best to practice using mock residency interviews and familiarizing yourself with various common ERAS or CaRMS interview questions.
If you are working with a residency application consultant, they can help you with this by providing residency interview coaching. This means that they will teach you how to answer some of the more common residency interview questions like "tell me about yourself" or "how will you contribute to our program? ", and teach you strategies for answering the less common questions, even those that are specific to your chosen specialty. For example, they could help you review psychiatry residency interview questions specifically and help you structure your answers in advance.
Additionally, good residency application consultants will also teach you proper residency interview etiquette. You will recall that almost all the residency programs in the NRMP report mentioned that your interactions with the faculty on interview day would play a significant role in their decision. This means you need to know what type of behavior they expect. Sometimes, nerves can affect behavior, as can cultural differences or simply lack of information. A residency application can ensure that you are prepared and calmer on interview day, thus giving you a better chance of acing your residency interview.
How to Find the Best Residency Application Consultant
If you decide that you want to maximize your chances of matching by working with a residency application consultant, then you need to ensure that you find a qualified professional who'll provide the best value for your investment. There are many consultants out there, and the best one for you will depend on a variety of factors, such as your budget, location, and the stage of the planning or application process that you're on. However, there are a few key elements that we recommend you pay special attention to as you search for someone to help you navigate your residency application.
Qualifications and credentials
You are going to be spending your hard-earned money on this person and trusting them to help you with one of the most important steps on your career journey. It is, therefore, imperative that they be qualified enough to actually help you improve your chances of matching.
You should look for someone who knows the residency application process inside and out - having worked through it themselves or because they've worked on the other side of things as admissions officers, interviewers, or evaluators. Make sure you take the time to check out their website to learn about the consultant in question or the consulting company's team members. Do they have the expertise to be considered an admissions expert? Do they work for a company that puts them through rigorous training to ensure they are skilled and knowledgeable?
This information should be readily available, but if it is not, then do not hesitate to reach out to them and ask. They should have no issue telling you what qualifies them to assist you in this process. Here at BeMo, for example, we are very transparent about the qualifications of our expert consultants. If you are curious and want to know if BeMo Academic Consulting is worth it, we encourage you to peruse our blog and other web pages. You will find all the information you need to decide.
Previous students' experience
People like to share good experiences, especially when it comes to specialized services like those of a residency application consultant. So, look for independent reviews on reputable websites like Trustpilot , for example. This is also a great way to find out how much experience they have and the quality of their services. If they have worked with over 10 000 applicants and only half of them got into a residency program, then that is not a consultant you want to work with. So make sure you also check their website to see their success rate and if they have any success stories.
Cost and payment options
Services cost money! There is no way around that, but you shouldn't have to break the bank to get some help with your residency application. After paying expensive medical school tuition, exam fees, and so much more, you want to make sure you're investing in a consultant who will be worth it.
Many consultants offer payment plans or guarantees, so look for those consultants who give you different payment options. Good residency application consultants are transparent about money. If they are being secretive or dishonest about their fees, then you have to wonder what else they are not being honest about! Furthermore, if they are being hesitant to talk about costs from the very beginning, it is usually a sign that you will have to deal with hidden fees down the line.
Still have questions about the residency matching process? This video can help:
The residency matching process can be lengthy, complex and often overwhelming - especially if you are an IMG. Working with a residency application consultant can go a very long way toward maximizing your chances of matching to your chosen residency programs. Not only can they help you plan well in advance, but they also work with you during the application process to ensure you submit the most competitive application possible. So, whether you want to give yourself the best chance of success your first time applying or you're hoping to improve your chances of matching after going unmatched the first time, the services of a residency application consultant are well worth the investment as they can make a huge difference.
1. How long does it take to prepare residency applications?
The amount of time you will need depends on each student, but generally speaking, residency application prep can be lengthy. Ideally, you want to start planning for this process when you start medical school and actively prepare your application components during your final year of med school.
2. How can I make my residency application stand out?
You can make your residency application stand out by giving yourself enough time to research and perfect your application components, such as your personal statement, CV, references, MSPE, etc. You should also find clinical work in the specialty that you are pursuing. This experience should be incorporated into your components when you apply.
3. Who is considered an IMG?
IMG stands for International Medical Graduate. In the US, this can be American citizens who completed their medical school education outside of the US and non-US citizens who completed their medical school education in one of the US or Canadian medical schools that accept international students. In Canada, an IMG is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who went to medical school outside the country.
4. What is the most competitive residency specialty?
Some of the most competitive specialties include emergency medicine, dermatology, and plastic surgery.
5. What exactly do residency application consultants do?
Essentially, they help students plan for and navigate the residency application process. That means helping them choose extracurriculars and residency programs, study for licensing exams, and prepare the various application components.
6. Are residency application consultants expensive?
They can be, but that depends on the consultant that you work with. There are some that are quite expensive and many that are affordable. So, look for one that fits your budget or will give you the best value for your money.
7. How do I know I've found a good residency application consultant?
A good consultant will be experienced and come highly recommended through independent review. They should be qualified, offer one-on-one sessions and provide personalized feedback.
8. What happens if I go unmatched?
While very unlikely, it is possible to follow all of your consultant's advice and go unmatched. That is why we suggest looking for a consultant that offers a guarantee. For example, here at BeMo, we offer a money-back guarantee that you can find out more about by booking a free initial consultation.
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