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How to Get Into A Medical Residency - Three Important Steps
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Jeffrey_Anderson, _M.D.]Jeffrey Anderson, M.D.

Whether you are currently a medical student or a prospective medical student, you must be made aware that attaining a residency in the United States is not as easy as it once was. Over the last twenty years, there have been more positions available that there were residency applicants, ensuring that even those with poor USMLE scores were assured a spot in primary care specialties (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics). Today, unfortunately, there are two times more applicants than there are positions available, making the road to residency not only grueling and demanding, but completely uncertain.

With these startling new statistics, what can really be done to make sure you are one of the chosen few who will actually get a residency position after medical school? Focus on the following three criteria, as they are the most important factors that will help get your foot in the door for an interview and ultimately land a residency position.

#1 - The USMLE Step 1 exam
#2 - The USMLE Step 2 exam
#3 - Your clinical grades and letters of recommendation

Allow me to detail why each is important and how you can maximize each.

#1 - The USMLE Step 1 exam

This is your first major board licensing exam and arguably the most important factor determining your career success. This exam is a demonstration of your basic science knowledge, and while it is not an indicator of the quality of doctor you will one day be, it is an important step in attaining a residency. With almost twice as many medical students aggressively pursuing a coveted residency spot, it is essential that you attain an average to above average score on this exam, and especially important to do so on your first attempt. Today, an average Step 1 score is approximately 217, and if you get a score close to this you will likely be safe.

#2 - The USMLE Step 2 exam

The Step 2 exam is a demonstration of your clinical knowledge, and while it makes sense that this exam will better signify how competent you will be as a physician, it is not as important in getting residency interviews as the Step 1 exam. The key to ensuring this exam doesn't hurt your chances is to attain a similar score that you did on the Step 1 exam. In order to score well on Step 2, work hard in your clinical rotations and be sure to study relatively hard as you go through each individual rotation.

#3 - Your clinical grades and letters of recommendation

Get excellent clinical grades by working hard on the wards, being visible to your attendings, and participating in the conversation. Many, if not most medical students will fall to the back of the pack, and silently get through their rotations without doing much work, but at the end they may end up with average grades, which can hurt their overall chances for residency. Your hard work in your clinical rotations will also be of benefit when you ask your attendings for letters of recommendation, which are an extremely important component of your overall residency application. Your LOR's will demonstrate your personality, your work ethic, your competency, and other factors that will help a residency program select you for an interview. Be sure to work extra hard in all rotations that you plan on applying to for residency.

The most important thing to realize these days is that you can't just assume that getting through medical school will result in a residency, and ultimately a career as a clinical physician. Pay attention to these important steps and you will increase your chances of success down the road.

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