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What I Learned During My Residency Journey

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It’s here. January 25: Match Day. All the time I’ve put into my CV, asking for letters of recommendation, going on interviews, and ranking the programs all comes down to this. Nervously, I click on the email from National Match Service. “Congratulations! You have been matched to…” Suddenly, that nervousness turns into an overwhelming joy. Getting into residency is a great accomplishment. It takes a lot of hard work and months of staying dedicating to the journey. Here are a few things I learned throughout my process:

Get organized early. Try to finish your CV and personal statement early in the spring of the year you apply. It’s hard to summarize four years of dental school into one page. Have your peers review it, since they have shared the experience with you. Almost everyone I asked for a letter of recommendation wanted a copy of these materials to help them. The biggest delay in my application process was waiting on these letters from my busy faculty members, so be sure you can provide them with your important documents EARLY!

Traveling to interviews. Most interviews start by 8am and flying in that same morning can be very hectic. The best thing you can do is arrive the night before and get familiar with parking or any possible public transit to the interview site. Pack yourself some breakfast so you are not stuck looking for a coffee shop in an unfamiliar city. It is a stressful time already, so avoid the additional pressure. On your plane ride, brush up about the program’s faculty members and their backgrounds. Take some time to prepare your questions for the interview.

During the interview. First impressions are key! Remember, you are expected to be professional with everyone, including the staff. Some of the most useful information I got about the program came from the dental staff, some of whom have been working there for more than 10 years. Don’t be intimated to talk to current residents in the programs. After all, they are your best source of information. Get the names and emails for the residents as contacts for any future questions. A good tip for a successful interview: be yourself! They are interested in seeing who YOU are so don’t deviate from your awesome personality.

Thank you cards/email. Write thank you emails or cards to the program directors, chairman, program coordinator, and the faculty who interviewed you. Send them immediately after the interview as well as 1-2 weeks before the rank deadline.