Interviewing Tips for Emergency Medicine Residency Positions

Via Flickr – Creative Commons

Andrew W. Phillips, MD MEd
Gregory Wanner, DO PA-C

This is not peer reviewed … This is not evidence based … This is based on nothing more than our own meandering experiences that we thought may be helpful at this time of year. We invite comments below the post from everyone — students, residents, and attendings. Share your recommendations and experiences.

1) Research the program ahead of time.
Not just for 10-15 minutes, but for 2-3 hours. Know the programs leadership by their faces. Know the faculty you would seek as mentors based on their posted biographies. When you receive your interview schedule upon arrival, try to step aside during down time and look up information about your interviewers. Most interviewers know what is on their program’s website — so should you.

2) Contact medical school alumni who went into emergency medicine.
Get to know them if you don’t already. You never know what a good word from the inside can do when trying to get an interview or on the wait list. They can also give you a candid perspective on programs and their experiences.

3) Contact programs high on your preliminary list if you don’t receive an invitation to interview.
Applying to residency in emergency medicine is different from medical school. It’s a close-knit group, so program directors are more open to personal communication. If there is a program you genuinely have high on your list but to which you were not invited for an interview, contact the program director (by mid-November) with specifics about why you are so interested in the program. (See point #1.) This is NOT for every program or every applicant, but you may select one or two.

4) Observe the emergency department of EVERY program you are seriously considering, such as the top 5 or 6.
One author’s list changed significantly after visiting a department. Every program will say they foster a great environment, but environments and personalities vary. It’s worth the two hour investment up front to ensure a good match for the next 3-4 years.

5) Observe the emergency department BEFORE your interview day.
Visiting the department before the social event and interview has multiple benefits. It’s financially better than flying back out for a revisit, not to mention less cumbersome and potentially awkward when contacting the coordinator, finding a day that works, and potentially looking like a student who is doing the revisit just to look good. Further, it allows you to meet more people prior to the interview so you have more to discuss.

6) Write an email thank you note.
Many programs make decisions very soon after the interviews, even the same day. Don’t let the time required for snail mail pass you by. Why write a thank you note? It’s good manners, period.

7) Your Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) experience is not a good indicator of the true program atmosphere.
Popularity is already waning in emergency medicine for the MMI, but if you interview at a program using it, focus on the other experiences there to get a feel for the program. See this article for more information:

We invite your experiences and thoughts below. (Remember to refrain from mentioning specific programs and people.) In the end we’re all looking for the best fit for applicants and programs. These are some simple ways to facilitate the process.