An Anesthesia Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with an anesthesia resident from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania.
Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty. See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.
- How competitive is the Anesthesiology match?
The anesthesia match is moderately difficult. However, the answer to this question really depends on how you look on paper and in person. Our match is not as difficult as plastic surgery, but there are always a few people in the country who do not match. You should speak with one of the deans of your medical school if you have concerns.
- What are residencies looking for in an Anesthesiology applicant?
The most important factors initially are a student's performance in anesthesia rotations and letters of recommendation. Board scores do matter, but need not be sky high. Mostly, anesthesiologists are laid back and are looking for someone they can work easily with. You also need to show initiative and be able to make decisions quickly and respond to crises effectively. I am not sure exactly how one portrays these qualities, but the interview certainly can help. Have answers in your mind to questions that you will almost certainly get asked (examples: Why have you chosen anesthesia?,Can you tell me an example in your life of problem solving?, Where do you think the specialty is going in next 10-25 years?, etc.).
- What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?
I did not have much exposure to FREIDA. I would recommend researching program statistics on FREIDA prior to applying, you will learn some interesting things about programs and may even choose not to apply to one and to apply to a different program. Also, the ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists) annual meeting is in October (right before interview season) and there are a number of medical student specific programs that include an opportunity to meet and talk with many program directors (this event occurs on the weekend portion of the meeting). I would try to attend if it is at all financially possible to do so.
- What should students be looking for in an Anesthesia residency program?
Use FREIDA and your other tools to determine what size program you want to be part of. Large and small programs each have their positives and negatives. Look for residencies that fit into the program size and 'level of prestige' that fits what you're looking for in the work/life balance and where you want to go with your future career. You will also find that more prestigious schools at big research universities also have positives and negatives.
- What other advice do you have for students applying to Anesthesiology residency?
Start early and get everything submitted ASAP, most programs filter through the applicant pool once and then fill all interview spots. Furthermore, spots fill quickly, so have your email forwarded to your phone/pager and don't be afraid to excuse yourself from your rotation to set up an interview; 4 hours later may be too late. It is not uncommon for programs to send out more invites than they have interview spots.
Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .