clinical medical physics

Tips for Landing Your Dream Residency Spot!

Tips for Landing Your Dream Residency Spot!

The Residency Fair:

You will be meeting quite a few residency directors as well as current residents at the fair this Wednesday. They will talking about what their program is like. This is the perfect opportunity for you to introduce yourself to potential interviewers to give yourself an idea of which programs you will want to apply to.

Some good starting points questions include:

  • Asking about the structure of the program,
  • Asking about the overall culture or feeling of the program
  • Asking what life is like outside of the residency in that geographic area.

Be yourself and let them get to know you and your personality! Remember that you will be working with each other on a day to day basis so it is important that your personalities mesh. The currents residents will be more than happy to help you if you have any questions while you are there! (Look for John Ready or Melissa Lamberto if you need them to point out residents to you!)

Factors to consider when you are choosing where to apply:

  1. Type of program (community vs. consulting group vs. university)
  2. Types of research and projects too!
  3. “Gut feeling”/personality fit
  4. Location
  5. Department size
  6. Opportunities for experience in specialized procedures
  7. Salary/benefits

Personal statement writing 101:

First impressions are formed from your personal statement! Be proud of your achievements and describe why you would be a great choice for the program. Use this time to show what makes you stand out, so identify any obstacles you’ve overcome and address any blanks in your job experience timeline. Also, include why the program is a good fit for you (your top choice) and why you want to go there. Most importantly, be concise and check your grammar. You want to be someone they can’t wait to meet!

If any programs require a photo, remember to keep it professional (think similar to an I.D. photo, no selfies please!).

Phone interview:

This is your pre-screening for an on-site interview invitation. Most phone interviews can be tough (some even ask you clinical questions to gauge your clinical knowledge) and address any questions that are more difficult to answer in person (like questions about gaps in your resume or comments/concerns they might have from your application). Study up, be confident and answer with poise. Also, be sure to remember to pause after you answer a question; do not continue to nervously talk to fill in the silence (this time is usually taken for the interviewers to take notes on your responses).

Preparing for the interview:

  1. Be prepared, be on time, and be yourself! Your application got you this far, and now employers need to know if they can work with you on a daily basis.
  2. Know your application packet. If you don’t know a lot about something, don’t put it on your resume/CV!
  3. Do your homework about the position and program you are interviewing for! What makes you interested other than the location (even though this is also important)?
  4. Often travel arrangements must be made with short notice. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to arrive to the interview location early to find your way around the campus.
  5. Stay involved in the interview process. Don’t look bored! Stay awake, alert and inquisitive.
  6. Dress appropriately and skip the coffee if you think it will give you the jitters.

What should you ask on your interview?

  1. What makes this program better than others, and how will this program allow me to accomplish specific goals I have set for myself.
  2. What changes are planned for the program/department for the upcoming year (only if this was not discussed in the program introduction)?
  3. Reflect on experiences and interactions that solidified your interest in this profession.
  4. What are the typical characteristics of a successful resident in your program? What are the previous graduates doing now?
  5. If there are multiple sites, ask about the physicist’s role in each of those sites, and any logistical issues tied to those sites (this shows you are really thinking about what they have to offer).
  6. Remember you are going to ask the current resident’s questions too. These are the people that will give you the best idea of what the program is like. Some example questions, “What is the morale of the program? Is your feedback valued and implemented?

Whatever you do, always ask a question after your interview. You should be able to come up with at least one!

Example of residency interviewee’s behavior that really impresses program directors:

The candidate who comes well prepared, knows:

  • Our program and our specialty
  • Asks appropriate questions
  • Allows time for me (the interviewer) to talk and pose questions to the candidate!

After you finish the interview, it isn’t necessarily over! Remember to show your gratitude for the opportunity to interview with a thank you email (notes are fine too, but an email will suffice). Try to find the email address of anyone you interviewed with, and address them directly.

Don’t forget to check out these excellent resources AAPM Career Services!


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