Top 5 Common Mistakes During Residency and Fellowship Application

Top 5 Common Mistakes During Residency and Fellowship Application

Dec 06, 2019 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

Table of Contents

There are many things that should be done and considered when applying for fellowship or residency. The most important things such as academic performance, internship performance are just some of the items wherein most doctors tend to focus on and allocate more time with which leads to committing some mistakes during application. We’ve listed down the five most common mistakes that are overlooked during the application, check them out in the list below:

1. Rushed and Indecisive Decisions on where to Apply

Application for residency and fellowship can be life-changing decisions in a specific situation, this is why you need to think about it for a long time. Residency and fellowship are different stages in the medical field so you must consider many factors when deciding. This is discussed in great detail below:

  • Residency. For residency applications, you will have the time to try out other fields if you want to but it can be competitive especially with other residents who are already on the track to achieve their goal. If you’re unsure as to which specialty you want to go to, choose a residency program that offers various competent programs. Do not rush into making an indecisive decision if you do not have a specific goal in mind.
  • Fellowship. At this stage, you might have already decided on the specialty you’re going to tackle. So the challenge would be, where is the best program that can offer you a great fellowship experience? Choose a program that fits your lifestyle and if possible - one that does not affect your family, especially if you have kids.

In order to make a decision, take time to gather sufficient information about the programs and assess all possible scenarios that might occur if you get accepted.

2. Not Asking Your Current Standing or Eligibility

If you’re applying for a fellowship at the same facility where you’ve had a residency, then it would be better to ask what is your current standing with the current pool of applicants. Try to ask nicely and politely - you might sound arrogant if you exude too much confidence. You might ask why is it necessary to ask such a question. Here are some reasons:

  • It will let you know what needs to be improved. The purpose of asking your understanding is to assess what needs to be improved before actually applying for a fellowship, what are the strengths and weaknesses that are depicted with your current performance.
  • Open-up some options. Knowing your eligibility will also give an objective and honest assessment as to whether you should consider other programs that might be of a better fit for you.
  • Motivation. During your residency, it’s also best to ask about your performance or standing - this can motivate you to be on top of your game and continuously improve. Although most fellowships weigh on academic performance greatly, by knowing and reflecting on your standing - you should be able to show significant progress from studying to internship and residency. Avoid being affected by how others are performing instead focus on your improvement and growth!

3. Forgetting About Thinking Ahead

As a doctor, you are focused on achieving a goal and continuously growing. Some decisions regarding your career might affect your family or your lifestyle. This is why it’s important to think ahead when making such decisions. When professionals forget that there is still life even after a tough and long workday - they tend to lose track of the importance of living a life of a normal citizen. Even after many years of medical practice, one would need to rest at some point in his life and start to teach younger generations about medicine and ultimately, retire. In choosing a medical field to specialize in or in choosing a program, always consider if the path you’re attempting to take can support your personal goals. Mentally and financially, thinking ahead will lead you to a longer and a much more satisfying life together with your family and colleagues.

4. Being Closed-minded with other options

During internship and fellowship, most doctors would have been having the toughest experiences and lessons, and they will be onset and focused on proceeding into the next stage of their careers but only a few ever consider other options such as private medical practice. There is also a possibility of being too focused on a specific program that you end up not even considering other programs that are even more suitable for you. To avoid these, read as many medical journals related to your field and conduct research as to which programs offer the best experience for your field. And then make a comparison on the various programs - list down each program’s advantages and disadvantages and add in a percentage to each advantage or disadvantage. Although considering more options can be time-consuming and tedious - this can give you a better understanding as to what each program can offer to you. At the end of the day, when you decide to pursue a respective program, you would have already known that you’ve exhausted all efforts and selected the best choice for a program that you can grow in.

5. Not Considering your peer’s opinions

Having an honest peer that can conduct an assessment as to whether you are fit for a program can lead to many problems such as:

  • Not achieving your goal as a professional doctor.
  • Not reaching your full potential as resident or fellow.
  • No contribution to the residency or fellowship programs.
  • Limited growth as a professional.

As a peer and somebody who is in a similar situation as you, it is best to listen as to what their assessment are - what are your strengths and weaknesses and which areas do you need to improve on. Having a healthy relationship with your colleague will lead to a more productive and more competent version of yourself as a professional. Remember that even if you listen to other’s opinions regarding your decision, at the end of the day, it is still your decision and you will have to face its consequences, whatever it is that you decide on.