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Radiology (Diagnostic & Interventional)

Highlights

  • Take Diagnostic Radiology (RADL 540) during third-year elective or in July/August of 4th year. If interested in Interventional Radiology, take Vascular and IR elective (RADL 551) as well.
  • If you are interested in a second radiology elective, take Thoracic Radiology (RADL 541)
  • Meet with Dr. Pugatch as soon as you know you're going to apply for radiology.Other good radiology application mentors are Dr. Vandermeer (Director of Medical Student Education in Radiology) and Dr. Resnik (Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program Director). If you are interested in applying for Interventional Radiology, you should also meet with Dr. Lowe (Vascular Interventional Radiology Residency Program Director).
  • Make it a priority to get to know faculty and residents (especially R1s-R2s and chiefs)
  • Submit 30-40 radiology applications on Sept 15, not a day later!
  • Submit another 15-20 prelim/TY applications
  • Aim to interview at 10-15 radiology programs + 8-10 intern year programs
  • Schedule CK based on how you did on Step 1
  • Follow the forums on Aunt Minnie or SDN for interview dates (use caution) - keep in mind many programs release a first wave of interview dates only to students from their own institution, and almost all programs send out multiple waves of interview invitations. There is an applicant-created public google spreadsheet with radiology application status and interview dates actively entered by applicants for 2017-2018 (use with caution as the data is applicant-generated) Google spreadsheet
  • Write a thank you e-mail to the program director after each interview, and if you really like the program consider sending them to each interviewer (these should not be generic - scribble a few notes after each interview so you can bring up something unique to your interaction when you write the e-mail)

Introduction

Q: Radiology? What’s that?
A: A: Radiology involves the diagnosis and treatment of diseases through the use of medical imaging, including x-ray, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, fluoroscopy, PET, nuclear medicine, and more! In addition to interpreting images, radiologists serve as consultants to referring physicians and integral members of interdisciplinary conferences (e.g. breast tumor board, interstitial lung disease conference) and conduct minimally invasive procedures (including biopsies, thoracentesis, paracentesis, catheter/drain placements, fiducial marker placements, TIPS, joint injections, etc.). The field of radiology is increasingly evolving with medical innovation and technology (including artificial intelligence), reliance on imaging technology for diagnostic and precision medicine, and healthcare system changes focusing on quality (value-based radiology). Basically, this is an exciting place to be!

Q:What is diagnostic radiology versus interventional radiology?
A:Interventional radiology (IR) is traditionally considered a subspecialty of diagnostic radiology (DR). However, as IR continues to expand, it has become increasingly distinct from DR, including the ways in which trainees may pursue IR certification. Currently, there are three pathways to IR:

  1. Integrated DR/IR Residency: Starting with the 2016-2017 ERAS application cycle, applicants may apply directly to interventional radiology residency programs as fourth year medical students via integrated DR/IR programs. This involves a one-year prelim/TY followed by a 5-year IR residency (1+5). The five-year curriculum includes traditional DR training for the first three years (PGY2-4) followed by two years of IR training (PGY5-6). Completion of this curriculum results in certification in both DR and IR, without having to apply to and complete the IR fellowship after residency.
  2. ESIR (Early Specialization in IR): ESIR is completed within a DR residency, and is an option for DR residents who identify early on in their training a desire to pursue IR. Trainees must be at a DR residency program approved for ESIR (something to ask about at interviews). Once a DR resident has been approved by his/her Program Director to pursue ESIR, he/she is essentially switched into the independent IR residency pathway (see below).
  3. Independent IR Residency: This pathway can be seven or six years. The seven-year pathway involves the traditional four-year DR residency followed by a two-year IR fellowship which you would separately apply for during R3 year (1-4-2). The six-year pathway involves completion of an ESIR pathway followed by one year of IR training at the same institution (1-4-1). The main differences between ESIR and the independent pathway are: (1) entry into ESIR occurs during the DR residency, (2) ESIR results in one less year of training, and (3) availability of ESIR slots may depend on an individual program’s flexibility and number of available IR spots.

Integrated DR/IR residency spots are extremely competitive, which means that most applicants who are interested in IR apply to both DR and integrated DR/IR residency programs. If you pursue this path, please be prepared to spend significantly more money and time as you must apply broadly, pay separate DR and IR application fees for the same institutions, and spend twice as long on interview days than DR applicants since you must also interview with IR faculty.

Q: Do radiology residents have it easy?
A: That depends. Indeed, radiology residents generally have shorter average work weeks than their medicine and surgical counterparts. However, with all that free time, a resident must have the discipline to put in a significantly greater amount of independent study in order to establish and maintain the wide breadth of knowledge demanded by the field. In addition, you must pass a two-day computerized board exam (replaced oral and physics boards) during your R3 year (PGY4). Furthermore there is another written board that is taken 15 months after completion of residency.

Q: What happens when I finish residency?
A: Upon completion of residency, most radiologists choose to subspecialize by completing a year of fellowship in a variety of fields (i.e. body imaging, pediatrics, mammography and women’s imaging, thoracic, musculoskeletal, interventional radiology, neuro, etc). Typically, residents apply for fellowship around the end of R2/beginning of R3 year. The fellowship application process varies between match and non-match, although most are moving towards a match. A fellowship is a must for a career in academics, and can make a radiologist more marketable for the private sector. Most fellowships (except neuro, IR) are one year-long; they are surprisingly not terribly competitive, however as the healthcare climate changes this could very well change. If asked about your specific interests during the residency interview it is advisable to respond that you are open-minded about which fellowship you would like to pursue. Citing a specific interest (say, MSK or neuro) at this point is often seen as close-minded and makes you a less attractive candidate. Remember, programs understand that you have likely only had 1-2 months of exposure to radiology during medical school. If do you choose to claim an interest, be prepared to explain why.Additionally, if you have a specific interest, pay attention during the interview day as to when you will have exposure to that subspecialty during R1 and R2 year as that may affect your fellowship application decision (e.g. residents may not rotate through mammography until R2 year, which may be late if one decides to apply to mammography and women’s imaging fellowship).

Q: Academics versus private practice, what’s the difference?
A: There are some key differences between a career in academics vs. private practice. Arguably, the most definitive is the salary. Whereas an academic radiologist will make anywhere from $150K to $300K annually, their counterpart in private practice will make two to four times that amount. Radiologists in private practice do not have it totally easy though – they generally work longer hours (8am – 6pm without a lunch break is normal) and must be able to read large numbers of studies very quickly. Though the money is tempting, being in an academic setting provides a number of advantages: a stable 8-hour day; opportunities to teach residents and students; interaction with colleagues both within your field and from other fields; chances to contribute to your field through research; much more likely to attend professional conferences. At risk of oversimplification: academics = less pay, more intellectually fruitful; private practice = more pay, but sacrifice stimulating setting, risk falling behind in field.

What To Do Now

Q: What should I do to assure an interview at a top program?
A: In an ideal world you would have a solid string of ‘honors’ on your transcript, get elected to AOA, publish an original research article, perhaps present research at the Radiological Society of North America’s (RSNA’s) annual meeting, and have glowing letters of recommendation from world-renowned radiologists. That being said, you do not need all of the above; in fact very few applicants are perfect across the board. But most applicants who are granted interviews at highly prestigious academic institutions (i.e. MGH, UCSF, Hopkins, etc.) have a combination of MOST of the above factors (i.e. lots of research can sometimes make up for not being AOA, while being AOA may help offset a slightly lower Step 1 score, etc.) Keep in mind, however, that these big name programs may not be the best fit for you and there are plenty of different types of programs, some of which may better provide what you are looking for in a training program. You need to determine what a “top” program means to you – academic vs. community, large vs. small, opposed vs unopposed, location, etc. You can be a strong radiology candidate at many programs without having all (or even any) of the above credentials.

Regarding research: research experiences are a much bigger deal to programs that have a large emphasis on residents doing research (usually large academic programs); however, at community programs, not having much research background may not be a disadvantage. In fact, some community programs might not interview an applicant with lots of research under the assumption that the applicant clearly has interest in research and would be unlikely to come to their community program which wouldn’t offer many research opportunities. Additionally, don’t be worried if your research is not in the field of radiology. Many programs just like to see that you are interested in doing research, and have a general sense of how to go about it. Just be ready to explain what you’ve done in a clear manner as many programs will ask you, purely out of general interest.

Q: I’m a third-year, and none of the above sounds like me; now what?
A: No sweat; here are some suggestions:

  1. Make sure you are scheduled to do the general radiology elective (RADL 540)in 3rd year or during July or August of 4th year. In past years some students have elected to take a subspecialty radiology course before or instead of the general radiology elective; however, for those interested in applying to radiology residencies it is recommended to take the general course because it allows you to experience many different aspects of medical imaging and introduces you to several members of the interview and admissions committee. This will enable you to a) decide if you really want to do radiology early enough so that it won’t hurt you if you decide otherwise, b) give the faculty ample time to get to know you and write a letter of recommendation before ERAS opens, c) enable your evaluation for your rotation to make it into your Dean’s letter, d) prepare you for doing an away rotation in Radiology if that is something you would like to do.
  2. Talk with Dr. Pugatch and Dr. Resnik (Residency Program Director) ASAP and let them know you’re interested in radiology. Be warned that Dr. Pugatch won’t necessarily leave you feeling warm and fuzzy about your chances of a getting a residency spot. What is important is that he knows your face and has an idea of what you’re about. Towards the end of your radiology rotation, ask him (in person, not via email) if he would be able to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. He expects to write letters for the students applying to radiology. Remember, Dr. Pugatch’s advice is usually very helpful, but it is not gospel. If he tells you something that doesn’t quite sound right, look into it. Try to have multiple sources of information (not just Dr. Pugatch’s opinion), such as residents input, other radiologists’ advice, and yes, there is SOME useful information on websites like auntminnie.com forums. However, you need to be cautious about just how much of that information you trust (i.e. people sometimes rant on there because they have an agenda, what they say is often biased.) Also, make yourself known to the residents (especially the chiefs), but try your best not to be too annoying. Maryland places a lot of emphasis on how well they picture you fitting into the culture of the program (basically if they can stand to sit in a room with you all day). You will encounter all kinds of personalities among the residents and faculty, and if you look hard enough you will definitely find numerous mentors to get advice from and bond with.
  3. The diagnostic radiology rotation now has specific lectures for medical students (twice/day), and students are expected to give a presentation on an interesting topic at the end of the rotation. The radiology rotation is a relatively easy one, but it is important to put your best foot forward. While many of your classmates who are going into other specialties may show less of an interest and put forth the bare minimum, it is in your best interest to arrive each day at 7:30a.m. and plan to leave at 5:00p.m. Dr. Pugatch is always aware of students who are notoriously late/absent. DO NOT BE LATE TO CONFERENCES. They tell you if you are going to be late, do not come. Not even 5 minutes late. You will be surprised by how much Dr. Pugatch knows. Remember, this is what you want to do for a living, so have some integrity.
  4. During your rotation make sure to spend some time in different areas (remember, make yourself visible to as many faculty as possible). Without a doubt, spend time in chest (Pugatch/White/Jeudy), body (Vandermeer), peds (Shet), neuro (Morales/Ashruf), MSK (Resnik). If you had a good experience with one of the faculty, think about asking them to write a letter of recommendation for you. You can also try to get an interesting case published in CaseInPoint – they are simple and pay money.
  5. If you are interested in a specific program or location, think about doing an away rotation during July, August, September, or October. Start scheduling these away rotations NOW (Jan-Mar), because at some big name places they fill up fast. Be realistic about where you could reasonably match; if you have a below average application, doing an away rotation at a top program is probably not going to help your chances of getting an interview there. Try to schedule away rotations at a realistic/”slightly reach” programs. When on your away rotations, obviously do as good of a job as you can. Read, be social, and try to be as helpful/knowledgeable as possible without being annoying. Schedule a meeting with the Program Director to discuss your interest in the program, and get advice for residency applications (depending on how early your rotation is). Bring a suit with you as you may have an opportunity to formally interview during your away rotation. If you have a great experience on your away rotation, and you do the rotation early enough, try to get a letter of recommendation from someone who worked with you at that program. If you want to stay at UMMS, do a second month; possibly in a specialty that has piqued your interest.
  6. Get one letter of recommendation from radiology, no more than two, they DO NOT want to see all letters from radiology. Get others from other clinical fields, and attendings who know you well and can speak to your talents. START THINKING ABOUT LETTERS NOW (i.e. spring of MS3)! It is recommended to have at least one letter from a standard “core” rotation such as medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, or peds. Remember, these letters can also be submitted to your prelim (medicine/surgery/transitional) programs. You don’t have to ask now, but have an idea; plan to start asking at the end of 3rd year. It is ideal to beat the “rush” that happens in August so that you can be assured you are giving your letter writer plenty of time. If you have significant research, most programs will want to see a 4th letter from your research PI. If you do a Sub-I before the beginning of October, it might be good to get a LOR from the attending you worked with.

Applying

The application process for Radiology can be a lengthy one. There are several factors to consider when applying for Radiology:

Q: When should I submit my ERAS application?
A: September 15th (or the first day it’s available). This is the most important piece of advice in this whole document! Many programs have a rolling interview process. You should never miss out on an interview because you could not get your applications together in time. Be very neurotic about having everything done on time, this includes letters, transcripts, papers for honors grades, etc. This is a deadline that shouldn’t be missed if at all possible. If there is a very good reason to delay submitting your application (i.e. you’ll get a decision on a submitted publication, or something equally important), it is possible to delay submitting your ERAS by a week or so, but only do so in such a situation. As a general rule, the more competitive programs in more desirable locations wait until later in the season before handing out interviews, and many now wait until after October 1st when MSPE's are uploaded to ERAS; however, many programs will offer rolling interviews early in the process (a couple weeks into September).DON’T DELAY SUBMITTING YOUR ERAS APPLICATION FOR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION! LORs can be uploaded to ERAS at any time before Nov 1st, and many programs will give out interviews before all of your letters get uploaded, so don’t hold up your application for a late letter.

Q: How many programs should I apply to?
A: There is no simple answer to this question except to say that you need to apply to enough programs. The average # of applications per applicant has been increasing over the past several years. On average, an applicant will apply to approx. 35-45 programs. However, depending on the competitiveness of your application you may need to apply to either more or less, although applying to less than 30 is not recommended even for the strongest candidate. The process of who is given interviews is extremely random. Many programs get >500 qualified applicants for 100 or so interview spots, so no matter how strong your application, you will get rejections at places that you thought you were competitive due to the large number of talented applicants in this field. It is wise to apply to too many programs, rather than not enough. Most people end up doing about 10-15 interviews. Keep in mind that you will also have to interview at prelim/TY programs, probably 8-10 interviews in addition to your 10-15 radiology interviews. Needless to say, this process is tiring, expensive, cumbersome – especially compared to your friends who are going into specialties where intern year is part of their categorical residency program. Remember to pace yourself, and if possible schedule interviews at backup or less desirable programs first to practice for more desirable, competitive places down the road. 

Q: Where should I apply?
A: Again, this is not a simple answer, but applications should be approached similar to those for medical school and college. That is to say that you should apply to a diversity of programs. There are two main distinctions in program type-academic and community based programs. Often times, community-based programs are viewed as “backups”, however, these slots are also highly competitive. As with every specialty certain programs are more difficult than others to match into (e.g. Harvard, Hopkins, Duke, etc.), so it is wise to apply to a variety of academic and community programs. Dr. Pugatch can help you figure out a good list of programs, just keep in mind that if you really want a shot at a “reach program” and Dr. Pugatch says you have no shot, you should still spend the small amount of money to apply there. Aim high in this process; it can never hurt. Try Matchapplicants.com for reviews of programs by interviewees and google “AMA FREIDA” to find programs that match your search criteria.Doximity is also a good source to assess residency “rankings” based on resident and alumni surveys.

Q: How does geography affect a program’s competitiveness?
A: Geography has a strong effect on a program’s competitiveness. For example, all of the programs on the West Coast are notoriously difficult to match into due to high demand. Similarly, programs in NYC and Boston tend to be more difficult to match into as well and prefer candidates close to their state. Approx. ¾ of the unfilled positions at the end of this year’s match were in the Midwest.

Q: How do I apply for Internship at the same time as Radiology?
A: ERAS makes this easy. To each Radiology program that you rank, you attach a supplemental rank list of internship programs. This supplemental list can be unique to each Radiology program (e.g. for geographical reasons), or the same for each Radiology program (e.g. if you are very impressed with one internship program in particular). The most common options for the intern year are Transitional or Preliminary Medicine programs. Transitional programs tend to provide more elective time, less call, and are generally regarded as more “cush” However, because of this, they are far more competitive than Preliminary Medicine slots. The advantage of Preliminary Medicine is that you are more likely to be able to do one in Baltimore (Mercy, Univ. of MD), thus requiring only one move. Preliminary Surgery is also an option, but not one that most people pursue, except some of those who are potentially interested in interventional radiology. If you ask most radiologists, they will tell you it doesn’t matter what type of year you do, you won’t learn anything that will help you in radiology so just pick the easiest one. Check out studentdoctor.net or auntminnie.com for lists of “cush” transitional year programs.

Q: Should everyone apply to Maryland?
A: Yes. You will notice as you interview that Maryland has an excellent Radiology residency program, excellent faculty, and an excellent group of residents. Furthermore, Maryland students have an advantage over others when it comes to matching at Maryland. All Maryland Medical students will be granted an interview here. It is good to get to know faculty who are members of the admissions committee (Dr. Shet - peds, Dr. Lowe - IR, Dr. Resnik - MSK, program director, Dr. Jeudy - chest, Dr. Vandermeer - body, associate program director) as well as the three current chief residents.

Q: How much do applications cost?
A: This depends on how many programs you apply to. A ballpark figure is approx. $550.00. This includes both Radiology and Internship programs. This figure represents approx. 35 Radiology, 10 preliminary programs, and 10 transitional year programs.

Q: Should I take Step 2 prior to applying?
A: Not necessarily. If you are confident with your Step 1 scores (>240ish), then it probably doesn’t benefit you. However, if you feel that you underperformed on Step 1, then you should take Step 2 early and DO WELL. It is also easier to do better on Step 2 if you take it earlier because all of that 3rd year material is still relatively fresh. There is also an option to withhold your score in ERAS, so if you don’t do as well as you had hoped you don’t have to disclose that right away. Otherwise, the PD’s might consider your exams together. You will also find the fall of senior year a very busy time. Again, Dr. Pugatch can help advise you on if you should take Step 2 early.

Interviewing

Interviewing for residency is an extremely important part of the match process. It is an opportunity for a program to make an impression about you as a person. They already have their minds made up about you as a student, but the interview gives you the opportunity to add something to your board scores/grades/letters, etc. This is the only time during the application process when you have total control of the situation and can literally influence whether or not a program will rank you. Additionally, this is your opportunity to get a “gut feel” of a program. It is important that you rank programs where you believe you would feel comfortable, and the interview process is the only time that you will have the chance to make this assessment. If a program grants you an interview, it typically means that they feel you are qualified enough to become a resident at their program, and they are looking for you to supply them with reasons for or against placing you on their rank list. A few hints: 1.) Look good on interview day. First impressions are everything. Have a good looking suit, be otherwise well dressed, brush your hair/teeth, and have a smile on. Behave appropriately and represent yourself well (do not slouch, use slang, and definitely DO NOT speak poorly of other programs, etc.) 2.) Research a program before showing up and have some specific questions related to their program as well as be able to point out why you would like to come that specific program. At almost every interview you will be asked, “So why this program?” Have a good answer to that. Another, obvious, question is “Why Radiology?” However, the most common question that you will hear ad nauseam is “Do you have any more questions?” It always helps to have 3-4 standard questions in your back pocket to fill up the time. Also, it is ok to ask the same question to multiple different interviewers if you run out of new ones to ask. 3.) You are going to be telling the same stories over and over and answering the same questions a million times on the interview trail, but try to sound spontaneous (not too canned), try to come off as genuine as possible, make eye contact and if you can work a little humor into your answers all the better. 4.) BE YOURSELF – most radiologists are laid back and want to see your personality

Q: When will I start hearing from programs?
A: If you submit your application on the first day ERAS opens, you can start hearing as early as that same day. With the exception of these early blips, interviews will likely start coming in October and continue steadily through mid-November and then start to slow down. The interview season officially goes from late October through mid-February, however, the bulk of the interviews are done November through January. Keep in mind that if you're applying to West Coast programs, and California in particular, they might not send out their first wave of interview invites until the very end of November or beginning of December and almost all of them interview in January - this is important information for scheduling electives/sub-Is.

Q: How do I schedule all of these interviews?
A: Carefully. It can be difficult depending on your clinical rotations and the location of your interviews. The bottom line is try to group them geographically as best you can, but this can be difficult. Be prepared to do a lot of driving. Some programs will fill all their interview slots merely hours after sending out the invitation email. This speaks to how organized and eager your fellow applicants can be from around the country. I would recommend calling/emailing IMMEDIATELY after getting an invitation, even if you are unsure whether you will end up accepting the interview offer. It is better to lock in your slot for an interview and cancel the next day/week than lose your chance because you procrastinated. I would recommend using at least one of your 4-week vacation blocks to interview. If you end up having a scheduling conflict, call the program coordinator and ask if you can reschedule. They are typically very accommodating. Lastly, as soon as you know that you will be unable to make an interview, call the program coordinator immediately. You could be costing another deserving applicant a much-needed interview. Remember, its probably easier to take a few more days off from an elective than a Sub-I month, so try to interview on either elective months if you can’t fit all of the interviews into a free month.

Q: How much do interviews cost?
A: One word - Southwest. You can buy cheap fares to almost anywhere from BWI and have the flexibility of being able to cancel flights up to 24 hours before departure for Southwest credit. Overall, the costs depend mostly on how many you are invited to do. I would recommend doing as many as possible until you feel comfortable that you have done enough. There is no magic number here, it is a judgment call. For each interview you have to budget for gas or airfare, rental car, hotel, and food on the road. Most programs will provide a dinner, and a few will provide lodging, but not many. Radiology programs tend to be fairly stingy with their budgets. Some internship programs tend to provide the hotel and dinner. As a travel tip, try to use sites like AirBnB, Priceline/Hotwire (name your own price feature) for hotels and rental cars, as you can often save a lot of money here if you wait and book hotel/car a few days before you travel. The only downside to this type of website is that once reservations are made they are very hard to change or refund, so only book when you know your travel plans for sure (generally a few days before your interview). Costco (if a member) is also a great resource for booking rental cars. If you are interested in a particular city, it may be in your best interest to spend a little extra time enjoying the city (obviously, schedule dependent). Be sure to enjoy your traveling as much as possible.

Q: What can I do to look polished in an interview?
A: Several things. First, think about how you might answer some common interview questions (e.g. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Tell me about a negative patient experience.). You do not want to sound as though you have canned responses, but it is better to think strategically about how you will answer certain questions and what you want the interviewer to take away from the examples you provide, rather than get caught off guard on the spot. Definitely know the answer to “Why radiology?”! A good source of potential interview questions can be found in the AMSER Guide to Applying for Radiology or google AAMC resources. Practice answering certain questions with a friend, mentor, or someone in OSA. Practice makes perfect! Second, schedule some of your “back up” program interviews first so that you can use them as rehearsals. This will help in getting you accustomed to the interview process. Third, have questions ready to go. They get annoying to ask over and over, but it is important to have them on hand. Do your homework and read over the program’s website ahead of time. You may be able to rely on a presentation about the program on interview day, but you are not always guaranteed to have this presentation at the beginning of your interview day. Also, some questions are more appropriate to ask the PD’s/interviewers, and others should be reserved for the residents. These include but are not limited to:

    • Call Schedule? And how will it change with the new board format?
    • Research opportunities (Available? Required?)
    • Teaching opportunities
    • Resident satisfaction
    • AIRP ($ for tuition, $ for housing, when do the residents participate) – good follow-up ? is what is their plan if the AIRP does close (it has been slated to be cut from government funding)
    • Board Prep (Formal Physics, Formal Written, Mock Oral, changes since implementing new boards format)
    • Evaluations (In-service exams, etc.)
    • Moonlighting (allowed? in house?)
    • National Conferences (RSNA? Funded? Vacation provided?)
    • PACS (Most will have it, but not all PACS is created equal)
    • Away rotations (Are there off campus sites, or teleradiology sites)
    • Elective Time
    • Fellowship opportunities
    • Didactic Conference Schedule (1/day?, 2/day?, mandatory?)
    • Number of fellows (affect the ability to participate in any field?)
    • Protected time to study for oral boards (i.e. no call in last 6mos of 4th yr?)
    • Board performance (# pass, # conditioned, #failed)
    • Book fund
    • Does the program pay for boards/license fees? (not many places do)
    • Is there any housing stipend/subsidized housing/relocation bonus? (in more expensive cities)
    • How many studies does the typical resident read during a year?
    • What is the format of read-outs (e.g. in person)?
    • Number of rotation sites?

Q: How many interviews will I have to do at each program?
A: The # of interviews per program varies widely, so always be prepared to be there all day. Anywhere from 1-6 separate 20 min. interviews. Most are 3-4 interviews, 15-30 minutes each. But, be prepared for as few as 1 or 2, or as many as 6-8 (yes, 8!).

Q: How many people will interview with me?
A: You will find that this also varies widely from program to program. For example, you may go to an interview day at one program and you are the only candidate there, and then the next program’s interview day and find that they interview 30+ candidates at a time. Also, interviews may be done in differing formats including a panel format (several attendings and one of you [rare]) or a group format (several applicants interviewed at a time [also rare]) in addition to the standard one-on-one. The lesson here is to be flexible and adapt.

Q: Any travel tips?
A: Yes. Do not buy airline tickets until you are sure that you will be attending the interview. You may find that you want to cancel certain interviews and you don’t want to be stuck with the non-refundable ticket. Again, booking with Southwest gives you the flexibility to booking early for good deals, while still having the flexibility to cancel without any fees. Also, Priceline often has great deals on hotels. Lastly, if possible get the Northeast programs out of the way early because the weather can get bad in Jan/Feb.

Q: Should I always send a thank you note?
A: Yes, unless you know that you are not going to rank a particular program. You need not send thank you notes to everyone you interview with. One to the PD is sufficient, unless you REALLY liked a particular program. Also, a word of caution…do NOT tell a program that they are your “first choice” unless they really are. If you tell this to more than one program and they communicate with each other, then you may be on your way to the supplemental match.

Follow-up

When you decide on your 1st choice program it isn’t a bad idea to have Dr. Pugatch call on your behalf. He will tell you whether or not he thinks it will help and is typically happy to do so.

Ranking

Write notes immediately after each interview because you WILL forget. The NRMP has a helpful app called PRISM, which is useful for quickly referencing your interview dates and rating programs as you complete your interviews (i.e. a running rank list). There are many factors to consider when ranking programs. The biggest include: academic vs. community, location, strength of training and overall “gut feeling”. The bottom line however is simple. RANK PROGRAMS IN THE ORDER THAT YOU WANT TO GO TO THEM!!! The algorithm of the match works in favor of the applicant such that the computer will check your list, see your #1 choice, then check that program’s list to see if you are on it. If you are on the list, it will tentatively match you there. If not, it will go to your second choice. So, essentially, it gives the applicant their first choices over the program’s applicant rank list.

Matching

There are two important days for match day. The first is the Monday of Match week. You will get an email stating whether or not you matched. This year the email simply stated, “Congratulations, you have matched”. If you get this email you are golden, you only have to wait until Friday (Match Day) to find out where you will be going.

If you don’t match at all or only match into your internship, then you enter the “SOAP” (supplemental offer and acceptance program). At this point you will follow an explicit list of directions in order to submit a second rank list in the hopes of matching into one of the available slots.

Weblinks/Resources

Aunt Minnie (Radiology forum – This is a very helpful website, which I think all radiology applicants should keep an eye on during application season. People post on there when they got their interview invitations, so if there is a program you’re waiting to send out invites before you call them and beg them for one, this is the place to check out. There is a lot of good information from knowledgeable people (residents, and the Cleveland Clinic PD even answers questions frequently) **WARNING, like most discussion forums there are people who spread misinformation/rumors so just be careful with taking everything you read as fact. **
 National Residency Match Program
 Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)
 Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA)
 Case In Point– fun resource for learning a little bit about Radiology
AMSER Guide to Applying for Radiology Residency
Doximity Residency Navigator NRMP Match PRISM app

 

Last Revision: April 27, 2018