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A Guide to the Subspecialty Fellowship Application Process VCU Internal Medicine Residency Program J. Christian Barrett, MD Division of Hematology/Oncology Virginia Commonwealth University Roadmap Selecting a subspecialty Scholarship during residency – important or not?

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a guide to the subspecialty fellowship application process

A Guide to the Subspecialty Fellowship Application Process

VCU Internal Medicine Residency Program

J. Christian Barrett, MD

Division of Hematology/Oncology

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Selecting a subspecialty
  • Scholarship during residency – important or not?
  • What are fellowship directors looking for?
  • The application process
  • Resources
  • Questions
selecting the right specialty for you
Selecting the right specialty for you
  • Experience in the field – rotations
  • Discussion with specialists
    • Private practice AND academic
    • Faculty, fellows at own institution
  • Discussion with academic advisors
    • Faculty, program directors
    • Mentors
  • Questions that guide choices …
selecting the right specialty questions to answer
Selecting the right specialty – questions to answer
  • Do you want to focus on
    • specific organ system (cardiology or GI)
    • multi-systemic (ID or oncology)?
  • Do you derive more satisfaction from dealing with
    • acutely ill patients
    • long-term management of disease
  • Do you enjoy
    • focusing on a specific disease or set of problems (such as a cardiology consultant)
    • the care of the entire patient (for example, serving as a comprehensive provider to renal dialysis patients who require long-term care from their specialist)?
selecting the right specialty questions to answer5
Selecting the right specialty – questions to answer
  • Do you prefer to have a
    • prominent inpatient component
    • an outpatient focus?
  • What kind of patient mix do you prefer (age, gender, problems, setting)?
  • What are the “hot areas” for scholarship in the discipline under consideration … if interested in academics, how do you see yourself focusing in the future?
  • Are you interested in procedures?
  • Where geographically do you hope to settle and what is the job market in that region?
other issues to consider
Other issues to consider
  • Competitiveness of specialty
    • Stats available on positions filled through match – www.nrmp.org
    • Home institution faculty and fellowship director
    • Program director – honest appraisal of candidacy
  • Importance of “scholarship” and personal commitment to pursuing during residency
    • Particularly pertinent to cardiology and GI
  • Visa issues, including time limitations
self appraisal
  • Personal reflection (HONESTY!!!)
    • Personal value system
      • Rank order priorities in life
      • Compare with the work specific priorities
      • Reconcile incongruity
    • Personal aptitude
      • Assess your competitiveness
      • Assess your specialties competitiveness
      • Reconcile (or at least recognize) potential incongruity
a word on scholarship and its role in the selection process for fellowship
A word on scholarship and its role in the selection process for fellowship
  • Prominent for most of the competitive fellowships and programs
    • Programs may be measured on ability to produce funded research scholars
    • Training grants may be focus of success and may be primary funding for positions in programs
    • RRC requirement for accreditation of fellowships
    • Reflective of “spirit of inquiry”
a word on scholarship and its role in the selection process for fellowship9
A word on scholarship and its role in the selection process for fellowship
  • Pursuing scholarly activity
    • Identify research mentor early in training (PGY1 year essential for Cardiology/GI)
    • Rare for residents to develop their own research questions
    • Most will join ongoing project
      • Try to carve out a piece that can be yours
    • Hypothesis-based research more valued than descriptive projects or case reports
a word on scholarship and its role in the selection process for fellowship10
A word on scholarship and its role in the selection process for fellowship
  • In absence of scholarly productivity …
    • Develop an understanding of academic values and scientific inquiry
    • Be prepared to explain what scholarship means to you
    • Remain open to becoming excited about opportunities for scholarly activity … emphasize what you are attracted to with regards to scientific inquiry
2002 survey by cooke et al
2002 Survey by Cooke et al…
  • Surveyed FPDs in cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and rheumatology
  • 330 responses
  • Three selection criteria – most important
    • Clinical performance (PD letter)
    • Interview evaluation
    • Interpersonal skills
  • Residency reputation frequently assessed
  • Research and chief medical residency important to procedure-oriented programs
gayed survey of cardiology programs
Gayed Survey of Cardiology Programs
  • Surveyed cardiology fellowship directors
  • Important factors (most to least important)
    • Negative comments or hints of problems in IM PD letter
    • Personal comments from IM PD
    • Personal aspect of interview
    • Letter of recommendation from cardiologist known by the fellowship director
gayed survey of cardiology programs continued
Gayed Survey of Cardiology Programs (continued)
  • Important factors continued (most to least important)
    • Performance during an elective at fellowship site
    • Rank order in the residency class
    • Genuine interest in research
    • Being a graduate of a US medical school
    • LOR from nationally known cardiologist
    • Resident at institution with well-known cardiology division
    • Participation in research
    • Assessment of medical knowledge during interview
    • Publications prior to fellowship
    • Performance on ABIM certifying exam if avail.
    • US citizenship
    • USMLE scores
2004 survey of fpds and impd by mikhail and bernstein
2004 Survey of FPDs and IMPD by Mikhail and Bernstein
  • Surveyed
    • 562 responding FPDs (of 1,088 sent)
    • 81.3% of responders were university-based
  • 18 items to rank order
2004 survey of fpds and impd by mikhail and bernstein16
2004 Survey of FPDs and IMPD by Mikhail and Bernstein
  • Top 8 items in order…
    • Fellowship interview***
    • LOR from known specialists***
    • LOR from IMPD***
    • University-based residency
    • Interest in research***
    • No H1-B visa
    • Elective at the fellowship site***
    • USLME exam scores
2004 survey of fpds and impd by mikhail and bernstein17
2004 Survey of FPDs and IMPD by Mikhail and Bernstein
  • The next 10 items …
    • Publications
    • US Medical School
    • US Citizen
    • Research experience
    • Chief residency
    • Phone call from IMPD
    • Well-written personal statement
    • LOR from attendings outside of specialty
    • Applying during residency
    • Extracurricular activities
2004 survey of fpds and impd by mikhail and bernstein18
2004 Survey of FPDs and IMPD by Mikhail and Bernstein
  • Cardiology and Gastroenterology vs others
    • Rated considerably higher…
      • Publications
      • Research experience
    • Rated considerably lower…
      • Elective at the fellowship site
2004 survey of fpds and impd by mikhail and bernstein19
2004 Survey of FPDs and IMPD by Mikhail and Bernstein
  • University vs. Community-based fellowship programs…
    • Rated higher by university programs…
      • University-based residency
      • US medical school graduate
      • No H-1 visa
    • Rated higher by community programs…
      • Elective at the fellowship site
      • Personal communication from the IMPD
the match 2011 appointments
The Match—2011 Appointments
  • 1090 certified programs participated
    • 965 filled (89%)
    • 125 unfilled (11%)
  • 3177 certified positions available
    • 3002 positions filled (94%)
    • 175 positions unfilled (6%)
  • 4454 applicants enrolled and certified
    • 3002 matched (67%)
      • US allopath graduates 87% matched
      • Osteopath graduates 59% matched
      • Foreign graduates 56% matched
the match 2011 appointments21
The Match—2011 Appointments
  • Gastroenterology
    • 383 positions/157 programs
      • 1.67:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 95% filled (69% with US grads & 19% non-US)
  • Cardiology
    • 729 positions/168 programs
      • 1.5:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 99% filled (59% with US grads & 28% non-US)
  • Hematology/Oncology
    • 458 positions/124 programs
      • 1.7:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 98% filled (53% with US grads & 32% non-US)
the match 2011 appointments22
The Match—2011 Appointments
  • Pulmonary/Critical Care
    • 417 positions/122 programs
      • 1.35:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 97% filled (47% with US grads & 32% non-US)
  • Rheumatology
    • 184 positions/102 programs
      • 1.2:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 89% filled (49% with US grads & 33% non-US)
  • Infectious Disease
    • 314 positions/128 programs
      • 1:1.1 applicant to position ratio
      • 85% filled (46% with US grads & 36% non-US)
the match 2011 appointments23
The Match—2011 Appointments
  • Endocrinology
    • 233 positions/115 programs
      • 1.46:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 92% filled (47% with US grads & 37% non-US)
  • Nephrology
    • 380 positions/146 programs
      • 1.26:1 applicant to position ratio
      • 91% filled (27% with US grads & 56% non-US)
the application process
The Application Process
  • Select programs to which to apply
    • See individual program application process
      • ERAS and NRMP participating?
      • Program specific deadlines
    • You must ensure you meet all of the program prerequisites and institutional policies regarding eligibility for appointment
  • Things to consider in selecting programs…
    • Career and academic goals
    • Geography
    • Your talents, abilities and competitiveness
    • Size of program and applicant pool
  • ERAS Fellowships Applicant Site
    • http://www.aamc.org/students/erasfellow/start.htm
    • Specific program information
    • Process information
    • Form downloads
    • Resources
    • Addresses for letters
  • Cost (check/money order, VISA, MasterCard)
    • $100 for 1st 10 programs
    • $10/programs 11-20
    • $15/programs 21-30
    • $25/programs 31 and more
eras how it works
ERAS – how it works
  • Contact the ERAS Fellowships Document Office (EFDO) to obtain “electronic token” to access the ERAS system
    • EFDO is the “deans office, central processing office” for fellowship applicants
    • (215) 966-3040
    • https://www.erasfellowshipdocuments.org
    • support@erasfellowshipdocuments.org
eras how it works27
ERAS – how it works

2. Register on the MyERAS website once obtain token

  • Complete common application form
  • Submit supporting materials (originals only) directly to EFDO
  • Select programs and assign supporting documents to specific programs

a. Allow a week for delivery

b. Be aware of program application deadlines with this delay in mind

ERAS receives notice of completed application and transmits documents to programs
  • Examining boards receive and process requests for score reports
  • Programs contact ERAS PostOffice daily to download application materials
the application components
The application components
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Automatically generated if ERAS
  • Letter from Program Director
  • Letters from faculty
  • Personal statement
  • Board scores (USMLE and COMLEX)
  • Medical school transcripts
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
letter from program director
Letter from Program Director
  • One of the most important components of the application
  • Emphasizes performance within the program
  • Articulates unique characteristics of the applicant, highlights scholarly activities
  • Important to comment on the candidate’s potential for scholarship and an academic career
  • Recommend requests submitted by October 15th
  • If ERAS, need ERAS cover letter and waiver
  • If non-ERAS, need envelopes/labels and stamps
letter from faculty
Letter from faculty
  • Recommend that letters come from faculty within discipline to which resident is applying
    • Research mentor OK even if not in the chosen subspecialty
  • Should articulate resident’s performance
  • Emphasize importance of scholarship potential
  • Avoid sending more letters than requested
  • May be value in requesting from “national expert” faculty
personal statement
Personal Statement
  • Brief is better – aim for one page or less
  • Do not just restate CV content
  • Communicate enthusiasm for discipline
  • Communicate spirit of inquiry
  • Opportunity to discuss projects in which participated – why enjoyed, how involved, etc
    • Findings of project less important than bringing out enthusiasm for scholarly pursuit
  • First do no harm is the “golden rule”…
personal statement33
Personal Statement
  • Avoid
    • Actual findings of a project unless it has yet to be published
    • Approaches in the PS that cast you in less favorable light
    • Poor grammar, awkward sentences
    • Hollow platitudes … “I am enthusiastic about the discipline/research”
      • Say something that supports these points
    • “interesting patient approach”
      • Use sparingly to springboard demonstration of other points
    • Closing doors in PS … not too focused, want to appear excited and attracted to multiplicity of possibilities offered by the discipline and program
the interview
The interview
  • Opportunity for applicant to project enthusiasm, uniqueness, inquisitiveness
  • Opportunity for program to critique residents on demeanor and content of answers
  • Candidate should …
the interview candidates should
The interview – candidates should…
  • Be confident but not arrogant
  • Prepare to ask one to two questions of each interviewer, avoiding topics addressed by brochures, websites or welcome sessions
    • Types of questions asked convey interest
  • Provide concise answers to questions
  • Maintain professional demeanor at all times; remain positive
    • Eye contact and firm handshake is important
    • Remember that interview process begins with first phone call/email interaction
  • Convey genuineness
post interview dialogue
Post-interview dialogue
  • May be one of most challenging aspects of the process for the candidate
  • Send follow-up note to each program
    • Thank and point out unique point
    • Email is usually acceptable
    • Avoid generic notes
    • Comments such as “near the top of my list” or “one of my top choices” tells fellowship that program is NOT top
post interview dialogue37
Post-interview dialogue
  • Not-in-match programs post-interview
    • May call residents soon after interview asking for relatively immediate decision
    • Challenge if interviews not yet complete
    • In competitive disciplines without a match, residents should try to schedule programs in which most interested first
  • Pre-match calls
    • OK to have PD or institutional rep call on behalf of applicant - ? impact
the application process eras
The application process – ERAS
  • ERAS – www.aamc.org/eras
    • For 2010
      • Allergy and Immunology
      • Cardiology
      • Critical Care Medicine
      • Endocrinology
      • Hematology and Oncology
      • Gastroenterology
      • Geriatrics (JULY cycle)
      • Hospice and Palliative Care
      • Infectious Diseases
      • Medical Genetics (JULY cycle)
      • Nephrology
      • Pulmonary Medicine
      • Rheumatology
the application process nrmp
The application process – NRMP
  • NRMP – www.nrmp.org
    • As of 2010
      • Allergy and Immunology**
      • Cardiology
      • Critical Care Medicine
      • Endocrinology
      • Gastroenterology
      • Hematology and Oncology
      • Infectious Diseases
      • Medical Genetics**
      • Nephrology
      • Primary Care Sports Medicine**
      • Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care
      • Rheumatology
the application process the dec cycle application timeline
The Application Process:The Dec Cycle Application Timeline
  • July 1, 2010 – Can obtain token and MyERAS site open to download and begin work on applications
    • May also apply to July cycle programs
  • July 1-Dec 1 to compile application through ERAS fellowships system
  • November 15, 2010 – Can begin to select programs and to transmit applications
  • December 1, 2010 – ERAS Post Office opens for programs to begin downloading applications
    • NOTE: individual programs set deadlines after which they will no longer accept applications
the application process the msmp match estimated timeline
The Application Process – The MSMP Match Estimated Timeline*
  • January 5, 2011 – Registration for NRMP opens
  • Jan-April 2011– Interviews
  • April 6, 2011 – ROL submission begins at noon
  • June 1, 2011 – ROL submission ends at 9PM
  • June 15th, 2009 – Match Scramble Day at noon
  • Subspecialties and programs not joining the match follow similar timeline but may have rolling admission process

Estimated dates based on prior year. Check NRMP for actual dates once posted.

match day
Match Day
    • Have copes of all documents ready to go
  • Watch emails from OEA as date approaches
  • Do not schedule vacation for that day
  • Come to office immediately if do not match for assistance
the application process timeline
The application process - timeline
  • Allergy and Immunology
    • Similar timeline with match in May
  • Pediatric subspecialties
    • Spring Match runs Jan-June
      • Cards, GI, Nephrology, and Pulm
    • Fall Match runs August-Dec
      • Critical Care, Rheum
    • Heme-Onc runs Nov-May
resources and important websites
Resources and Important Websites
  • www.nrmp.org – match information, match data from prior years, timelines
  • http://www.aamc.org/students/erasfellow/start.htm - AAMC ERAS site – ERAS application and supporting resources, timelines, program information
  • http://www.aamc.org/students/cim/ - AAMC careers in medicine website – resources for job applications, interviewing, specialty selection, etc
  • http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/2997.html - AMA Frieda website – program and specialty information, program statisitcs and career statistics
  • http://www.acponline.org/counseling/index.html - ACP career counseling website – includes tips on marketing self, tips for applying to fellowships, etc
  • Know your deadlines
    • Do not wait until last minute for letters
  • Focus on the consistently important things you can change…
    • Interview skills and preparation
    • LOR from specialist (particularly known)
    • LOR from IM Program Director
      • Fellowship begins day 1 of your intern year!!!
  • With regard to scholarship
    • Interest > Publications > Experience
  • Consider an on-site elective in the subspecialty field???