Congratulations, EM residency applicants! The toughest part of medical school is behind you. You've taken Step 1 (and most likely, Step 2), you've completed your pre-clinical and core clinical rotations, and by now you've probably spent a couple of months in the best place in the hospital, the ED. You've locked in your SLOEs and hit “submit” on ERAS, all that's left to do is wait for the interview offers to roll in. Simple, right? Assuming that you applied to an appropriate number of programs for which you're competitive, you should be well-positioned to get enough interviews to generate a rank list long enough to guarantee your training as an emergency physician.
There are a number of ways to prepare for interviews, but perhaps the most important step is to start with some genuine self-reflection about who you are, who you aspire to be, and what type of program is going to help get you there. Be able to discuss your upbringing and how it shaped your values. Be able to walk an interviewer through your academic accomplishments in an organized manner. Be ready to explain why you chose EM and why you think their program might be a good fit for you. Be prepared to discuss any red flags in your application and be able to transform a potential negative into a positive by explaining what you learned from the experience. Don't be so polished that you sound rehearsed, but don't get caught like a deer in headlights because you haven't done your homework.
At first, you'll be glad to interview anywhere and may avoid asking difficult questions of your interviewers; however, it's important for you to interview each program just as much as they are interviewing you. Where is the program heading? What would your interviewer like to change about the program if they could? Are the rumors about the program true? Most importantly, be yourself, have fun, and enjoy the last chapter of your journey as a medical student. The future is bright.
Published in EMRA's “What's Up in Emergency Medicine?” Newsletter, October 2014