Test scores (including your United States Medical Licensing Examination steps), medical school grades, awards and certificates, and residency in-training exam scores are very important pieces to include on your resume. Keep in mind that scoring is important for program directors to learn and anticipate your ability to pass the board exam, in addition to passing the boards in their field, which will reflect the fellowship program success. Don’t forget that academic performance will not necessarily hold you back from getting into the specialty you like, so don’t let this discourage you.
Find a mentor who provides you with expert insight, supports you in exploring and understanding research options, helps you with your writing, and encourages you to learn from your mistakes.
Publishing scholarly activities is very important to show sincere interest in your specialty of choice. Moreover, presenting abstracts at meetings will give you the insight and experience needed to engage and connect with other physicians in the field.
Whether it be abstracts, case reports, case series, retrospective or prospective research, systematic review, or meta-analysis, it is important to incorporate scholarly activity in your application. Additionally, presenting at regional or national conferences and writing for journals or other online publications are also types of scholarly activities that are included in the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) application.
4. Letters of Recommendation (LOR)—Program director letter and faculty letters
A letter from the director of your residency program is essential in the process of selecting and securing a position. During the application process, up to four LOR are accepted. Consider uploading as much as possible, with no less than three letters, and at least two letters from the specialty that you are applying for, including one from the department head. It might sound basic but it is very important to reach out for LOR’s from supervisors who were directly involved in your clinical work, as well as supervisors and mentors who engaged directly in your scholarly activity.
Keep in mind that it is necessary to ask for more LOR than is required to be prepared and uploaded in the ERAS® ahead of time. It normally takes a few to several days for the letters to be available for use after upload, and you want to be sure that you’re not short on letters when the application season starts.
Exceeding expectations, interest in the field, teamwork, clinical knowledge, and quality patient care are all aspects that could potentially be reflected in your LOR and are highly valued during the fellowship selection process.
5. Teaching Opportunities
Teaching medical students will improve your resume (and could also be acknowledged in your letters of recommendation). Some programs might even recognize residents with impressive teaching capabilities through awards, which is very important to be mentioned in your resume to reflect academic performance.
If the program allows outside electives, you should use that opportunity to showcase your genuine interests and true potential in your resume. Make sure to note how your interests relate to the elective that you wish to take. In the last fellowship season, many residents couldn’t participate in outside electives as the COVID-19 pandemic halted the process. I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity if you’re able to.
7. Things That Could Give Your Resume an Extra Boost
- Become a chief resident either in your last year of residency or by doing an extra year after graduation.
- Take part in clinical trials and scholarly activities whenever possible.
- Participate for a year or two in a training program, for example: non-ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) accredited fellowships.