Careers in Medicine

Advice from previous 4th year students:​

General Guidelines:

  • In general, 4th year students took 6 to 8 weeks off to interview with the range being from 4 weeks to 8 weeks. Their scheduled time off most often fell from mid November to mid January. 2.
  • Some programs start interviewing in October while a few hold interviews in the beginning of February. The most competitive specialties tend to do their interviewing in December and January.
  • The more competitive the specialty, the more important it is to take two months off. You require greater flexibility as there may be no negotiation on your interview date.
  • There's no good way to perfectly schedule interviews so flexibility in rotations is important. Many 4th years recommended taking electives during this time slot as they tend to be more flexible than clerkships, with out of town clerkships being slightly more flexible than those in town.
  •  It is possible to schedule a day or two off during clerkships. Some 4th years found that manageable, others found it more stressful.
  • You may need less time off if all your programs are in one geographical area and will probably need more time off if you are planning to interview all over the country.
  • Anyone who has to interview for both a categorical residency (like derm) and a prelim/transitional program are going to have to do more interviews, sometimes almost twice as many, so enough time off becomes critical.
  • Very few people who responded took time off to do their applications. The general consensus is that 4th year is less intense than 3rd year and you can do the application on less busy rotations and on weekends. The only part that takes time is the personal statement. Having said this, one or two responders did take some time off.
  • Get your residency applications in early.
  • The more competitive the specialty, the more interviews you should do.
  • January is the month when people cancel their interviews so sometimes, if you are wait-listed, a slot may open up.

Program-specific recommendations:

You have to interview for both anesthesiology and prelim positions so count on doing more interviews. The 4th year responder going into anesthesiology took off November 20 to January 17.

Survey responders took 6 to 8 weeks off. Derm interviews are later than other specialties and a lot of them are scheduled in January and even February so don’t worry when your classmates are already getting interview offers and you haven't heard yet! Remember that you will have to interview for a prelim position as well. One responder recommended that if you get an offer to interview in December or February, take that date as January fills up very quickly and you may have to decline interviews due to conflicting dates.

Emergency Medicine:
Emergency Medicine interviews last year ran from November through the first part of January. Both survey responders took off the last week of November, all of December and the first half of January.

Family Medicine:
One responder took off 8 weeks from November 20 through January 17. She found that she didn't need that much time off in January but there was no way for her to know this when she put her schedule together.

Internal Medicine:
The responders recommended about 6 to 8 weeks off, from the end of November through December. Or add two weeks in January if you are concerned about weaknesses in your application.

The majority of interviews occur mid November through late December with some in October and January (maybe 1 to 2). For example, one person took off the last two weeks in November through the first two weeks in January. Another took off from November 7 until December 16.

Ortho is competitive and doesn't offer flexibility in interview slots. Take off time in December and January. If you only take off six weeks (December through mid January) schedule an elective that you can miss days of as the interviews go up to the end of January.

Survey responders interviewed at between 10 and 15 places, with those who were more competitive interviewing at the lower range. If you anticipate interviewing at 15 programs because you are concerned about your competitiveness, take off two weeks in January as well as 6 weeks in November-December. December gets filled up first. One responder said that it was enough for her to take off November 20 to December 17. Interviews go out early so get your applications in on time.

Rehab Medicine
This past year, interviews were heavily scheduled in November and December. Often there was only one interview day per week or less. December is the most critical month to be off. You also have to interview for prelim and transitional positions. Plan on being bunched in with categorical applicants and expect to stay the whole day on these interviews. One responder had 8 rehab interviews and 7 prelim interviews. Plan on flying across the country as many programs are in the midwest and on the east coast. The survey responder recommended having a fairly long block of time off, to allow for the flexibility necessary to fit into the rehab interview dates.

The best time to take off is December and January.