Considering a Residency Swap? Here are 5 Tips to Make a Smooth Transition

Considering a Residency Swap? Here are 5 Tips to Make a Smooth Transition

May 11, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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The National Resident Matching program has made it easier for medical students to get into residency training programs with participating U.S hospitals. If you find that you’re contemplating switching to a different specialty, a residency swap could be an ideal solution. But keep in mind that residency swaps provide a different experience compared with the ‘Match’.

The transition may pose some challenges on your end. But with careful considerations, a residency swap could be a solution to choosing a specialty program you truly love.

1. Be sure about your decision to transfer

Residency can prove to be a tough experience for most medical students. Burnouts and feelings of regret may creep in during the initial program. It is important that you made a clear-headed decision when you decide to transfer.

Talking with your program director is a good start. You might be able to glean valuable insights and stick through with the program. However, if this is something you truly want, planning your residency swap with your program director will allow time to find a replacement residency. It will also alert them that you will have periods of travel of scheduled interviews for programs you’ve applied for.

This decision does come with a price, so you must be prepared for it. There will be instances where your peers may question your effort in finishing the allotted year. It could also be emotionally stressful for you throughout this transition, hence the need to be intentional and focused on doing the best you can throughout the remaining period before transitioning.

2. Finding a residency swap is not as easy as the Match

Expect tons of paperwork, interview, research, and travel. Transitioning to a residency swap will entail diligent planning along with your current residency.

Applying for another Match could be one way to resolve this. However, this will take time and will depend on certain periods of the year.

You can do your own research and look through official websites such as the American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, or AOA. You can check independent sites such as the MedResidency programs that offer residency swap opportunities.

Cold-calling program directors of your desired specialty are one way to know for available slots. It would be wise to connect and network with colleagues in hospitals and ask for any available residency swaps.

3. Juggling work and job hunting

As mentioned, when you’re transitioning to a residency swap, you are still expected to fulfill your duty to your current program.

If you’re not planning to switch location but want to change specialties, you can look into programs that could be available in the institution you’re training in. You can have a smoother transition to a different department without having to relocate. This way, you cut down on relocation and other travel expenses.

Although this transition may be easy, it can have tremendous pressure on the vacant residency. Since training programs are paid by the hospital, residency directors need to meet the expected productivity output of their programs. Any switches to a longer residency are considered added costs on the hospital’s expense.

4. Take your residency swap seriously

Unlike a typical job, you don’t give out a two-week notice in case you didn’t like it. Part of any residency program is longevity. Transferring residencies are also crucial to your credibility and will take the meticulous investigation from the receiving program director’s end.

All paperwork, including your performance data, from your previous residency are sent and reviewed by the specialty’s program director. If you have spoken and planned your residency swap with your current program director, it’ll be easier for the receiving director to assess your credibility when they communicate about your application. Any recommendations and notable remarks made by your current program director will be considered by the receiving director.

5. Advance standing matters

Advanced standing is highly regarded by program directors as well as specialty colleges. Your new program director will be the one to determine the amount of credit allocated to your program when you get into a specialty college.

Credits are given on a case-to-case basis and will vary, depending on the program director’s assessment. There is a tendency that you will be given only a few months’ credits for a two-year program completed with a different specialty.

There is a chance where you may also have to repeat a whole year of residency just to earn enough credits to complete the program. If this doesn’t faze you and this is something you truly want, it will be worth it in the end.