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Boosting Interview Count for Couples

In the month or two that follow the transmission of your application to the programs, you will get the majority of your interview calls. They’ll pour in fast, and then they will slow down. All the programs which were keen on interviewing you on the basis of your application have responded. The programs which are left may be waiting for further exam results. But, they may not notice when your scores come in. Or, they may have just cast a casual glance at your papers and moved on without realizing your credentials. Programs get thousands of applications. They cannot read every single thing which you have mentioned. You may be on their waiting list and they forgot to let you know. Hence, it is absolutely essential to make an active effort to secure interview spots. If you sit passively, you will miss out. I know a person who had been rejected by a program, invited later on due to persistent enthusiasm and then offered a prematch by the same program on the day of the interview. So, do not expect everything to fall in your plate.

Make a list of all the program secretary’s names, phone numbers and email addresses. Then, contact them at every possible excuse. Continue to do so until you are definitely rejected. I would usually stop bothering a program when they rejected me, unless I had good reason to (e.g. my spouse had received an interview call from her corresponding program). Give them phone calls, write them emails! If you have not received a definite response, contact them weekly to find out about the status of your application. If you are on the waiting list, express your most sincere enthusiasm. Request that your application is reconsidered. When your Step 2 CK or CS result is dispatched, let them know. When you actually get your score, contact them enthusiastically to have them learn of the good news. Receipt of a score is a great reason to contact the program director, instead of going through the secretary. Tell the PD that you are happy to let him/her know that you have scored well in Step 2 CK, or, that you are now eligible for ECFMG certification. Then, offer a recap on your achievements (I would mention my medical school, my complete USMLE history and my ranking). Express your enthusiasm in the program. Request the consideration of your application now that you are the best thing since sliced bread….When you feel that the secretary of a program is not paying any attention to your application, write to the program director anyway. What have you to lose? As long as you don’t sound too irritating, every email you send shows your interest. And it works. I did get invites this way.

If a program tells you that you are on their waiting list, life becomes difficult. Waiting lists are very long, sometimes running in the hundreds. You may be anywhere on the list. Furthermore, only the person right at the top of that list will be called for an interview if someone cancels. Another thing. The people on the top of the list are usually not there due to merit alone. If someone had a perfect application with a missing Step 2 CK score, they may be placed at the top of the list when the result comes in (if equally perfect). In my experience, however, being a part of a couple makes this happen more times than anything else. If your spouse gets an interview call from their department, your department is manifold more likely to invite you too (especially if your spouse’s program is comparable or better than yours). It becomes a diplomacy issue, I suppose, because your spouse can request her program secretary to talk to your program secretary. Consequently, you get the penthouse of the waiting list. Once, my spouse was rejected by a program, and I was invited at a later date. I contacted my program secretary, I contacted her program secretary, and I asked my program secretary to contact hers. Within hours, she moved from a rejection to a “We would be happy to have you come for an interview” (by the way, the bold letters have not been added by me… the program did that). When we interviewed there, my spouse got extremely positive vibes. So, a rejection is not always a rejection, especially if you are part of a couple. Most programs are couple friendly. The tone of the secretary changes completely from a nasty “you are scum” to a pleasant “I’ll make sure I give it another look and pass your file on to the program director.” If your spouse gets an interview call, have him/her do what I did above. They pay more attention to an interviewee rather than any random applicant. Have the spouse emphasize that they would love to be at this program, but, alas, cannot because you have not been invited. It works.

Another tip regarding couple matching. If you are to interview at a hospital that will not invite your spouse, however, your spouse has an interview call from some other hospital in the vicinity, make sure you inform the program of this. Otherwise, thinking that your spouse has not interviewed at their program, they will just not rank you, even if they like you.

Note: This article has been derived from "Roadmap to Residency" authored by AKU graduates, with permission from few of the authors. Name of the original author, has purposely not been mentioned on request of one of the authors, for privacy reasons. If you are the original author of this article and want your name to be mentioned or wish this article to be modified/ removed from this website, please contact us and we would be more than happy to entertain your request. We fully respect your privacy, acknowledge your efforts put in authoring this article and appreciate your hard work involved in it.

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