Your residency application is your first chance to show a potential program director what you can really offer as a physician and an individual, so it’s important to make sure it’s absolutely everything that it ought to be. This includes identifying all of the red flags that program directors are trained to look for. Make sure that your application is devoid of all the following mistakes.
Not Following Directions
It’s not going to make a very good impression on your potential residency director if you can’t even manage to include required information. Make sure that all relevant fields are filled in and that you have followed proper protocol in regards to attachments and submission. Often, it pays to double check just one last time before you send your application in to make sure you haven’t missed anything important. Just one mistake could completely eliminate you from serious consideration.
Counter-Productive Letters of Recommendation
Every application for residency should come in alongside at least one solid letter of recommendation. However, not everyone takes the time to make sure that they’ve gained letters from the right people. A letter of recommendation should come from a faculty member who can vouch for you on a professional level, a physician that you’ve worked with closely during your elective rotation or clerkship, a chairman, or an individual who is nationally renowned when it comes to your specialty.
Don’t turn in letters from friends, politicians, parents, clergymen, or anyone else who isn’t related in any way to both the medical field and your personal value in regards to your specialty. People have definitely done this in the past and it hurts their application and eliminates them from being considered.
Red Flags in Personal Statements
You also will want to make sure that your personal statement paints you in a good light. Don’t be boastful, for instance. It’s one thing to list your honors and achievements, but quite another to brag about them. Talk about such things from a place of humility instead. You can express pride in what you’ve accomplished without being arrogant.
You also don’t want to come across as too much of a yes-man. While target institutions definitely like for applicants to fit well into their plan for the future, they see it as a red flag when people kiss up too much or agree with the institution’s approach to things to the point of sounding trite. Definitely point out why you feel you fit in there both as an individual and a professional, but be honest and forthcoming in the way that you do it.
Lack of Research
A major red flag is an application that clearly shows that the applicant didn’t do their research in regards to the target institution. Applications that come across as canned or poorly constructed in this way make an applicant come across as complacent and dispassionate about what they’re doing. Such an applicant risks losing out to someone else who took the initiative to do a more thorough job.