You can never forget Residency Match.

It’s very stressful, nerve-wrecking, and changes your life. And it feels like nobody gets it unless they have been through it.

Once it’s over, it’s very relieving.

And as if going through one Match per lifetime wasn’t enough, you hear your DrSpouse say to you:

“I’m thinking about doing more training….”

If this is where your medical journey is, don’t worry, you got this!

First Thing’s First

You gotta know this:


You have two different games and two different strategies to play.

Matching For Residency

When matching for residency, these are super important:

  • Where he went for med school
  • Med school grades
  • USMLE board scores (i.e. Step 1, 2, 3)

If your DrSpouse is still in medical school, rank residency programs high that have these:

  • University program
  • an in-house fellowship program
  • Offers an extra year as chief resident
  • Fairly large number of seats (at least 2+ is 👍🏻)

Matching For Fellowship

After residency is completed, then you can get into the good stuff you really wanted to do.

Unlike the Residency Match, grades are ignored and where he went for med school becomes less important. And board scores are still important, but they are mostly used for cutoff.

Instead, other factors became more important:

  • Where he trained for residency
  • Quality of research
  • Who he knows (or better yet, who knows him!)

7 Ways To Be A Stellar Fellowship Candidate

1. Do Strong Research

This is first because it is, by far, the most important thing he can do.

Quality prevails over quantity:

  • Big journals > Small journals
  • 1st author > 2nd or 3rd author
  • Full article > case review

To find high quality research, reach out and ask if anybody is working on something and offer to be helpful. Find projects that other graduating students or residents have left off. Be a fighter about it — and it will come.

2. Become a Chief Resident

Fellowship programs with 2+ spots usually reserve one spot at their program for somebody in-house. The chief typically gets dibs on that spot. You want that to be you.

3. Do a visiting rotation

A visiting rotation is a few weeks long and it’s where he gets exposure in the subspecialty he is interested in outside his home program. To get one, he typically would email Program Coordinators.

The hope is that he gets stellar letters of recommendations from his rotation. The other hope is that it increases his chances of getting an interview at that place.

While at the visiting rotation, be a rockstar. Arrive early and leave late. (If his mentor asks him to wash their car, do it! 😂)

Beware: It also works both ways. If he coasts through, he could get a bad reputation outside his home program.

4. Write an impeccable CV

If his CV is not in the right academic format, he will look amateur. Use the ones from prestigious training hospitals. You can Google them.

Don’t rely on what his med school taught him about CVs because they don’t prepare him how to add his new experiences. The wrong thing, as most do, is to jam them in somewhere.

5. Have His Program Director Go To Bat For Him

Have him ask his Program Director (PD) where they trained and where they know people. Apply to where his PD trained and where his PD’s closest colleagues (aka besties) are. That’s where his PD will have the most clout.

After that, have his PD call for him, praising him as if he can walk on water.

If his PD is known, well-regarded, and trusted, this could be the phone call that changes everything.

6. Apply Broadly And Smartly

If your pockets are bottomless, apply to all the programs. But if you are under a budget like most people, you have to apply smartly yet also broadly.

Here are some guidelines on where his chances are best:

  1. Fellowship at the same place as residency (if it exists).
  2. Where his PD has connections.
  3. The geographical places near you.
  4. If he is an IMG (international medical graduate) candidate with visa issues, community and rural programs or programs with alumni who are IMG.

In short, apply to as many as you can afford but also be wise about it.

7. Write A Story-Telling Personal Statement

All statements are going to be perfect in spelling and grammar. After all, they’re written by doctors who excel at details.

The issue is they ALL say, “I really enjoyed my rotation in that subspecialty and that’s when I found out I want to sub-specialize in it.”

Zzzzzzzzz… 😴

Instead, be a story teller and hold the reader’s attention on every word to the end. Now, that’s a specialized skill.

Have a writer experienced in areas like advertising, non-fiction, or copywriting review his statement for him.

Let’s Review

  1. Do quality research.
  2. Become chief resident.
  3. Do a visiting rotation.
  4. Write an impeccable CV.
  5. Have his Program Director and mentors go to bat for him.
  6. Apply broadly and smartly.
  7. Write a story-telling statement.

In Summary

If your DrSpouse knows what fellowship programs are looking for, he can focus on them to increase his chances of matching.

Best of luck to you and your DrSpouse on the journey to subspecializing!

I’m hugging and supporting you ❤️

To stronger medical families,

Your Turn

Did I miss anything else that helped your DrSpouse match into fellowship?