As August begins, rising fourth-year medical students at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are preparing to apply to the next step in their medical training – residency, a three-to-seven-year apprenticeship where students transform into independent practicing physicians. In fact, with applications due in September, many students have already been preparing for weeks, if not months. Amid various drafts of personal statements explaining why they want to go into this specific field of medicine, students are meeting with both their College Advisory Program (CAP) advisors and the school of medicine deans to polish their application. With peer and mentor guidance, students have been buffing and shining their CVs and smiling for headshots in the hopes that their dream residency will rank them highly.
But first things first, application materials need to be compiled. Applicants must recruit individuals in their chosen field willing to write stellar letters of recommendation, craft a genuine and compelling personal statement, and build a careful resume that shows both depth and direction. Altogether, they strive to tell a cohesive story that accurately represents the individuals and their ambitions to residency programs across the country, convincing said programs to invite them for an interview. For medical students, the ultimate outcome of this process determines where they will live and train for the next three to seven years of their lives.
So far for me, the process has been smooth. Interested medical students have had numerous opportunities to help organize their application preparations. Earlier in May, and again in June, the CAP advisors held a CV and personal statement workshop in order to give students feedback on their drafts. Soon after that, the dean’s meetings (required for all applicants) began.
Before I met with my dean, he requested that I send him my personal statement and CV, and that I fill out a dean’s meeting form. While the multi-essay form was daunting, it allowed for self-reflection, helping me to think more deeply about how I grew over the past several years, and in what direction I wanted to continue to grow.
Aside from asking what talents I would bring to my future field of medicine, the dean’s form required me to reflect on why I initially wanted to become a physician, and how I viewed my future career. The meeting itself was a surprisingly low-stress event, geared not only at drafting my medical student performance evaluation, a critical part of the residency application, but also at answering any questions I had about the application process. I left the Office of Student Affairs assured that I have support during what promises to be an exciting, but stressful, next several months until Match Day.