Michael Schwartz MD and Colleagues Provide Guidance On Residency Application and Transfer Processes

Residency Training Director Michael Schwartz MD served as a member of a workgroup of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training which recently published a set of guidelines for the application process for general psychiatric residency and for transfers between residency training programs. The workgroup aimed to identify processes that provide the best opportunity for applicants to find programs that fit their interests and for residency programs to find the best qualified applicants.

The guidelines discuss the initial application process through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®). They advise applicants that programs are most likely to consider medical school performance, which is generally summarized in the Dean’s Letter, the applicant’s personal statement, letters of recommendation, USMLE scores and other activities such as research, community service and life experience.

A section on interviews advises that programs should confirm receipt of applications within a month, that applicants should make every effort to keep interview appointments and, if they need to cancel, to do so at least two weeks in advance. The section includes practical advice for interviewees about how to conduct themselves during the interview.

A section on the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) gives guidance about how applicants and programs should interact during and after the interview. Applicants and programs may express interest in each other, but they cannot establish a contract or expectation of a contract until the results of the match are published. Programs may choose to tell candidates how they will rank them, but may not ask applicants how they will rank their institutions.

Transfers between residency programs, including transfers into subspecialty programs, require communication between the current program director and the “receiving” director. Residents are advised to inform their current directors before beginning negotiations with another program, and program directors are advised to discuss the applicant with the current director and to check with the NRMP before offering a position.

The guidelines were published in the November-December issue of Academic Psychiatry in an article titled Guidelines for the General Psychiatry Application Process and for Inter-Residency Transitions.