Choosing a residency program to spend years in can be a tedious task. To make the process a little easier, we’ve put together a list of steps to take when choosing a residency program. This way, you have an idea of where to start in your search. Luckily, finding and applying to a residency program can be pretty similar to applying for a job.

How to Choose a Residency Program

Set Goals and Gather Information
The first step to reaching any milestone or endpoint is setting a goal. You may not always recognize it, but you set small goals every day! Think of it like this – that to-do list you write every morning when you get to the office is a list of goals you want to achieve, whether that’s by the end of the day or by the end of the week. Starting a residency program is no different! When trying to find the right fit, it’s important to know what you want to achieve within your program.

After you’ve set your goals for whichever residency program you choose at the end of the process, you should begin to gather information about each program. Knowing what you should expect within the programs you’re looking at is helpful in making a final decision. Whether you’re looking for a particular location, a certain doctor to mentee, or you’re focused on what work-life balance looks like, having those expectations already in your head will help keep the process moving forward.

Build Your Program List and Apply
After you’ve made a list of what you want in the residency program you land yourself in, you should begin putting together a list. This is similar to looking for a job when you’re in high school, or even when you’re in college. Most of the time, you don’t just send out an abundance of applications – you typically have an idea of where you want to work. The same goes for applying for a residency program. You begin this step by creating the list of residency programs you’ve probably dreamed about being part of based on the information you gathered in the previous step.

After you’ve created your list of dream residency programs, you start applying. Everyone will have their own list of requirements, and you can find a list of those requirements on the website of each residency program that you apply to.

Prepare to Interview and Rank the Programs
The last step, and arguably the most difficult, is to proceed with interviews. This step, although the last (in this part of the process, anyway) is the most important of all. Interviews are all about first impressions, and it is important that you are well-dressed, you have a good attitude, and you go into your interviews with confidence. You have answers to all of their questions, and if you didn’t, they wouldn’t have asked you in for an interview.

When you have finished with your interviews and everyone has asked all of their questions (their questions about you and yours about the program), you then rank the programs in order of preference. If you get an offer from somewhere, where do you want it to be from? And what about your second choice? Third choice?

Congratulations! You’ve begun the steps to jumpstart your career.