A Successful EM Match

Every step of medical school is an opportunity to prepare for your future career. Emergency Medicine has become one of the most competitive specialties in the nation. As the competition for those few coveted spots have increased so too has the necessity to properly prepare yourself.  There is no one size fits all formula for a successful match. This is not a comprehensive list of what it takes but does highlight important things to focus on.

  1. Do well on Step I/Level I and show improvement on Step II/Level II
    1. Your goal should be > national average.
    2. Level 1 Goal: Above 550 COMLEX, Above 220 USMLE
    3. Level 2 Goal: Above 600 COMLEX, Above 240 USMLE
    4. If your score doesn’t turn out how you wanted remember the most important thing is the show improvement from Step 1 to Step 2.
    5. Avoid Failures! Reschedule if you need to, but don’t take the exam if your sick, a family emergency occurred, or some other event that will risk your chance of passing these exams.
  2. Plan to take COMLEX and USMLE
    1. The single accreditation is here.
    2. Don’t sell yourself short by not taking USMLE.
    3. Most programs want to see that you can pass at least one of the USMLE exams (Step 1 or Step 2); however, some programs require Step 1 for applications for rotations through VSAS.
  3. Personal Statement
    1. Residency programs do not want to read the same stories over and over. Everyone wants to “help people”. Talk about something original, make the piece creative, and don’t tell a program what emergency medicine is. They live there. They know.
    2. Spell check and grammar check – Multiple times!
    3. Here are some questions to think about while writing your personal statement:
      1. What brought you to this profession?
      2. Outside of what’s on your application what have you done to prepare to enter this profession?
      3. What will you bring to this profession and/or your residency?
    4. National Organizations: Be a member, follow them on social media, and participate in their events. Use those experiences in your statement.
      1. RSO: Resident Student Organization of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians – http://acoep.org/main/resident-student-organization/
      2. EMRA: Emergency Medicine Resident Organization (an affiliate of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Medicine) – https://www.emra.org/
      3. AAEM: American Academy of Emergency Medicine – https://www.aaem.org/
      4. SAEM: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine- http://www.saem.org/
  4. Rotations:
    1. Schedule 2-3 EM rotations before interview season
      1. Two should be at academic institutions that you can obtain a SLOE from
      2. Most programs use VSAS for applications. A few programs have individual applications, these are more cumbersome, but the non-VSAS schools tend to have less applicants. Newer programs may also get less applicants, and can be a great opportunity.
    2. Other 4th year rotations should be outside of Emergency Medicine – learn skills you will need: Ophthalmology, Radiology/Ultrasound, Toxicology, Anesthesia, ICU, Dermatology, etc.
  5. SLOE:
    1. #1 most important part of your residency application is arguably your SLOE (Standard Letter of Evaluation).
      1. Here is a great link about SLOEs: http://emadvisor.blogspot.com/p/applying-letters-of-recommendation.html
        1. Most programs require 2 SLOEs to consider you for an interview
      2. These are standardized letters of evaluation specific to EM applicants.
    2. Plan to have rotations done early in 4th year so that you can submit SLOEs early in the application cycle.
  6. The Application

    1. DATES:
      1. July 1: ERAS Electronic Residency Application Service Opens
      2. Sept 15: Applicants can apply to ACGME programs
      3. Oct 1: Dean’s letter sent to residency programs
  7. Stay up to date on the basics and FOAMed:

    1. Podcasts:
      1. EM:RAP – free with EMRA membership and has its own app.
      2. EM: Basic – basics in EM care. Great resource to prepare for rotations/auditions in the ED.
      3. EM: Crit – Critical Care and Airway medicine.
      4. EM Overeasy – a fun podcast on the outlying aspects of life as an EM doctor/resident/student.
    2. Blogs:
      1. LTFL: Life in the Fastlane
      2. Taming the SRU
      3. ALiEM: Academic Life in EM
  8. Interviews and Auditions:
    1. Be humble (especially if you have previous experience in the ED). Never try to outshine a resident or attending. RULE: Do not make the resident look bad.
    2. Be interested and engaged, but not annoying.
    3. 15 mins early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.
    4. Be genuine, kind, and look for any opportunity to be an asset to the team (get a patient water, do chest compressions, help out a nurse, etc).
    5. Don’t forget about the follow up. If you see something interesting or new read up on it and talk to your attending about it the next day. Follow up on interesting cases you saw from the day before and see how they are doing whether in person or through the EHR.
  9. Standardized Video Interview:
    1. All EM applicants will be required to submit a standardized video interview (SVI) with their application.
    2. Please prepare for the AAMC SVI with official interview questions written by the interview developers at the AAMC as provided online.
    3. The SVI is open from early June to July 16, 2019, and can be taken from any device with internet access.
    4. For more information about the SVI, visit the official source here.

For a more detailed outline that takes a year by year approach to preparing for a successful match, click here. Read our Fast Track article on how to prepare for a successful match, here