The memories of my match days come flooding back in my mind. This was back in January 2009. It started getting cold and dark here in the US. The forums and blogs started filling up with posts from people who interviewed at every possible IMG friendly programs. Candidates with high USMLE scores asked others (publicly) if they should accept the pre-match offered at this program or not.
I looked at my overused USMLE books thinking what am I supposed to do now. After a lot of hard work, I managed to get mediocre USMLE scores, interviewed at only a few places and had not been offered a prematch yet.
I thought to myself; should I just wait for the match day or should I be pro-active?
There are a few things you can do during this time to improve your chances to see the “congratulations, you have matched” email in your inbox from NRMP.
One of them is to remind the program how great a candidate you are. And the way to do it is the thank you letters.
Thank you letter act as a reminder to the program about you. We don’t want to be “out of sight, out of mind” when these program start ranking us before the match. That is the only purpose they serve. Not to reiterate your resume or ask more questions or send more documents. Just to jog their memory a little bit about the great interaction you had with them
Here are some ways to make these ‘love letters’ more effective and make you stand out.
– Write hand written notes. They stand out in a bunch of generic thank you emails that programs receive from candidates
– Write something that makes them remember a conversation you had during the interview. In one of my interviews, I talked with the program director about my recent trip to India. He told me that he was planning to travel to India with his family. In my ‘thank you note’, I told him the best time to visit that part of India and one specific thing his family would love there.
– Then you can say few specific things about the program that you loved
– Think outside the box. If you did not have a great conversation with the pd or an attending, you can send a letter to the chief resident or program coordinator. When we rank candidates, we meet in a conference room with all the residents, attending, coordinator and PD and get an opinion from everyone about who should be ranked. So a program coordinator or the resident who spoke with you can impact the PDs decision
– One candidate sent me a thank you/new year’s wishes note with his family pic (wife and kids). I thought that was well timed and thoughtful. I remembered him during match process!
– If the program says in their website not to send emails or notes after interview, then do not send them. Most of the programs, do not have a specific policy. For those programs, it cannot hurt to send a thank you letter
– Don’t expect a reply back from the program or don’t send them an email or call them to confirm if they received your note.
I would rather be proactive and do what I can if have fewer interviews than just be a ‘sitting duck’. I want to try everything I can to not waste one more year without residency and be an old IMG next year. If you have interviewed at this program, if you had a great conversation with someone there and if you felt happy when you interviewed there, then there is no reason not to remind them about how well you felt when you visited the program and thank them for the letting you interview with them. Its common courtesy… with a personal touch!
If you want me to help you personally with your ‘thank you notes’ or any part of your residency applications, contact me directly