You’ve worked hard for years to get into residency. Interviews, externships, exams. You were accepted into your top choice program. Six months later, you realize you are unhappy, unsettled and dissatisfied. What do you do?
Interview season still feels scary and exciting for me as a faculty member, just like when I was applying for residency in 2012. I’ve written before on how to handle illegal interview questions, which I hope you don’t encounter. May the following ideas either give you an edge or maybe help take the edge off.
This post is the first in a week-long series called Residency Week. All this week, we’ll share tips on getting into a residency. To see posts from previous years’ residency weeks, click here.
Some of us entered school knowing we wanted to specialize. Some discovered we enjoyed a particular specialty while in school. Many others still aren’t sure (see our post here on deciding whether to specialize). In either case, the competitiveness of specialty program admissions demands we push ourselves to excel. How many social events did you have to pass on to complete that research poster? How many times did you ask for understanding and forgiveness from loved ones who supported you in your goal? Working so hard to achieve a goal and missing the mark hurts. In my case, only my wife and a few friends were aware of the depths of my disappointment when I didn’t get into a perio program last fall.
If you are anything like me, the Dental Admission Test (DAT) brings back stressful memories of hours upon hours of studying. There were cubes and keyholes, phylums and double bonds, sine and cosine. They were all appearing to be an intellectual tangent to what we would actually need to know in dental school. Now that we have managed to suppress the memory of the DAT, it seems to be back with a vengeance, known as the Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT). So what is this Advanced DAT and how will it affect you? This brand new exam is meant for those applying to advanced dental education or residency programs. I have compiled a few simple facts to help you navigate this new test. (Deep breathe in… and out… Here we go!)
You’ve worked your tail off throughout dental school to make good grades and pass NBDE Parts I and II, but there’s one more thing so crucial to that residency application: recommendation letters. Programs can see on paper how well you have performed academically these past few years, but it’s the letters from those who know you best that really make your application stand out. After going through the process this past year, I have a few tips for getting the right recommendation letters and thanking those who supported you.
Nothing’s perfect. This holds true for your first dental assistant, your first practice, your first crown prep and even your first residency. Setting expectations and learning about yourself is the best wisdom you can take away from your residency. Here are some red flags to look for and tips to deal with common issues. First, aim for excellence, not perfection. Also, residency is one of the best experiences you can have. These red flags will simply prepare you for roadblocks you might face and how to fix it!
I’ve officially completed one month of oral and maxillofacial surgery residency at Georgia Regents University! Woo! That’s 2.08% of residency in the books. Looking back, here’s a list of things that helped make my life easier and my days run more smoothly. Although I didn’t have them all on day one, had I known earlier, it would have saved me some time (and stress) running around purchasing items while also adjusting to life as a resident.