All Questions Welcome!

Hi Readers,

I opened up this section of the site to answer any questions medical students/pre-meds may have about school, studying, best methods, exams, the residency process, etc. Feel free to ask me anything and I’ll do my best to answer. *Non-medical questions only please.

If you provide an Email you will receive a message, once your Question is Answered.

I am an FMG, currently a medical student finishing in July, and very interested to pursue psychiatry. I have step1 of 212, step 2 of 211 and have passed my cs, all first attempts. I have 2 LOR’s from psychiatry and 1 non psych lor. I have 3 months of clinical experience in the U.S in psych and non psych.I am going to apply this year but my score worries me a lot. What should I do to make my application stronger? The Match - 10. July 2016

Hey there! Thanks for writing. It seems like all medical students regardless of their scores worry about them not being high enough. Along with your step scores I think getting good LORs from your psychiatry attendings and whomever know you well are real important. Focus on your personal statement and getting involved in extracurriculars that can boost your resume. Research is great on a resume but may be difficult to start and finish to put on it — case reports and poster presentations at your local ACP or other conferences are easier to manage, so would recommend that. Finally, once you get those interviews make sure you learn about each program, present yourself professionally, and take some time to reflect over why it is you wanted to go into psychiatry. That’s all it takes! Best of luck!

I am an IMG but a US citizen who graduated in 2007. I have decent scores, Step 1: 227, Step 2:226, have 4 LORs from US hospital, already received one interview in my state of residence? What can I do after I already submitted the ERAS application to more than 200 programs in three specialties? Should I send a hand written note? An email to nudge the programs director to have a look at my application? My biggest fear is that if my application is filtered by the their criteria, they won’t even look at the application. 4. October 2015

Congrats on having an application in and already receiving an interview!

Applicants usually wonder about the same thing after submitting their apps- I did as well- what more can I do to gain interviews? Sending emails to program directors sharing your interest in their program is advice that’s been passed along year after year, it’s something I did as well. Unfortunately your success with gaining interviews isn’t guaranteed; I’ve had colleagues who this really worked for and others whom it didn’t. Definitely no harm in sending a paragraph out to a program talking about why you specifically are interested and hope you can hear back . Just make sure to be genuine and professional! There’s a lot of examples on the internet you can find on the topic as well! Best of luck, hope this helps!

Does failing courses in basic sciences have a major impact on getting residency? The Match - 22. August 2015

Thanks for writing!

Academic performance is one of the ways programs assess a candidates ability to be a lifelong learner and keep up with high volume of new information residency throws at you. Unfortunately failing courses in basic sciences doesn’t look great on a candidate’s transcript, and some programs may fault you for that, but it is not the end of the world. Show improvement in your education. Do well on Step examinations. Be involved in your community. Do well in clinical sciences. Improve. That’s how you can overcome some failed courses. Classes in basic sciences, though important, are just a speck in your career as a physician. Move forward and succeed in other areas. Programs will see that and take notice. That’s the answer to your question… “it doesn’t have to be” if you take the steps to improve your overall application. Hope this helps. Good luck!

Hi! I’m applying for IM this fall and one of my LOR will be from a FM doctor. The other 3 will be IM. Do you think that will show an inconsistency in my application? Thank you! The Match - 29. June 2015

Thanks for writing!

Congratulations on having three letters to support your candidacy into Internal Medicine! It’s true that you want letters from within your specialty to show interest–having three succeeds in that regard from where I’m sitting. I also had a letter from a family medicine attending when I applied to IM and it was never brought up as a negative. Further, family medicine has a lot more in common to IM than say having psychiatry LORs for surgery (that would be a no-no.)

Short answer: Based on my personal experience and listening to others, having 3 letters from within your speciality is fantastic. If the fourth letter supports you strongly then by all means upload it.

Tip: Having letters that support you on a personal level (from attendings that know you) is just as important as letters from within your speciality (excluding specialties that are on opposite ends of the spectrum..peds & neurosurgery, etc.) 

Good luck this year!


Hi! How important is it to apply on Sept 15th? Say for various reasons we apply a week late, how will it affect our chances? Or what if we apply on time, but decide to add more programs later on, how will that affect our application? Thanks so much and good luck to you! The Match - 23. June 2015

Thanks for writing!

The goal of every applicant should be to apply the second ERAS opens up.  Some of these programs have a predetermined # of spots to fill after which they no longer accept applications. For some busy programs that can happen within the first day and for others shortly after.

Do whatever it takes to apply on time (gather letters, finish your PS, research programs). I can sit here and tell you that I’ve had friends that have applied a couple days to a week late and walked away fine but why take the risk? Also if you want to add programs, do it after you’ve already sent out applications to the programs you are sure about. Your #1 goal is to be ready by that date.

People seem to have varying views on this on twitter, all of which I think contain some truth. Some specialties look at apps a little bit later, others look at it earlier, and applying a week later won’t affect you as much as applying a month later.

I just want the take home message to be “apply as soon as possible” because this can only help you.

Hope that helped! Good luck this year 🙂

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