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Ask the Program Director: Applicant Qualities

What qualities do internal medicine residency programs seek to find in applicants? Of those qualities, which are most important? How important are extracurricular activities in ranking residency applicants?


Program Director 1 Response

This is a very broad question and is very dependent on the program. As far as extracurricular activities, they are much less important for residency than for application to medical school. I am less interested in a list of hobbies, but am interested in aspects of people's lives outside of medicine which help define them. Leadership positions are good to highlight. Activities which show one's ability to work in a team are an example of how an activity can be used to emphasize desirable skills and attributes. This is probably more important than the activity itself.

Program Director 2 Response

Passion. I find that I am unable to motivate or inspire residents who do not already have the passion to pursue their academic goals, mature their career interests, etc. Extracurricular activities can be examples of how a student matures their interests and can demonstrate passion. Rather than stating that they enjoy reading or tennis, it is more impressive if they write that they enjoy reading 19th century historical novels, or they play USTA level 3.0 tennis. Believe me, 3.0 is not particularly skillful, but it does show that a student is serious to the point of getting him/herself ranked and into a league.

Program Director 3 Response

The best answer for this one is for the student to do their homework. Every program is different, and even different tracks in the same program (Like a Research Pathway, and Med-Peds) may have different personalities and priorities. Read the web page information for the program you are interested in. Talk to current residents and your student counterparts at that institution.

Program Director 4 Response

Qualities that programs are looking for vary between programs. One factor that we look for is how people may "fit" into the program at our institution. Extracurricular activities are somewhat important in that they show a little about the personality of the person, especially if the activity was personally meaningful to the student. I think the absence of activities would be a slight negative.

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Ask the Program Director is a new feature that focuses on providing medical students practical advice to help them navigate the process of obtaining a residency position in internal medicine. Issues covered include: CV development, writing a personal statement, the Match process, residency program interviews, and more.

Back to March 2012 Issue of IMpact

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