How to make residency application very strong and competent?

What are the Components of a strong residency application?

Get the possible scores in USMLE steps. If you are from outside U.S., try to finish step one and two in your home country with good scores. This is the most important step which decides your entire fate. Do not fail any step.

Finish all the steps by August of the year you are applying for match. NRMP application process starts in September. Step 3 is a must if you need H1B to work. I did not match first time as I did not finish step 3. 

Try to get very good U.S. Letter of recommendations. The easiest and the best way is to do voluntary research work for university professors. You can publish also if you work for famous professors. One very good U.S. LOR could get you the spot in residency. My boss where I did my research for 8 months during my MPH gave me an excellent LOR and they gave me pre-match in IM residency. 

Try to do observerships or externships if you could not do clerkship. Don’t choose the specialty. Do in whatever place or specialty you get the opportunity in. Keep trying everywhere you could. 

Do MPH or MBA if you are able to. They add value but are not a must. They take years to finish too. Preparing for USMLE steps while doing MPH or MBA is not easy. I did and did not find it funny at all. 

Develop connections with people. First meet current residents or hospitalists or any physician currently working in a particular hospital through any friend or family member. Then slowly reach out to others in those hospitals. Do not worry if you dont have connections. Majority get into residency without any connections.

Write a very good original personal statement. Read several samples online or by obtaining from previous applicants and get your own ideas to fill the personal statement. Program directors can easily find out if you copied from someone else. Remember that they read thousands of those ideas before from previous applicants. 

Collect a good list of hospitals which accept applicants like you. Every year, several commercial websites prepare lists of programs with their requirements. Buy one of them by sharing the cost with your friends and prepare a good list that takes applicants like you. 

Apply on the first day the applications are accepted by ERAS online. This means you have to really be ready with everything by August 15. Start working on online application from around that time and on September 1st or whatever the date they first accept the applications, click to apply to all the programs with which you prepared the list before.

Marry a doctor or a resident. They can help you boos your application really well as they know all the details already.

Try to get greencard through marriage if possible. Green card opens up a lot of opportunities.

Start thinking in English if your native language is not English. Improve your accent when you have time. Watch American movies or youtube videos if you have free time and listen to how they speak.

Interview preparation is a must. Get it from experienced people. You don’t need professional training if you can’t afford. Even any of your friends who has done this before can help. Nodding head to denote “Yes” is slightly different in US when compared to what we do e.g. in India.

Apply to most of the hospitals in New York City. There are a lot of hospitals there which take foreign medical graduates. As a back up, apply to a few hospitals as second specialty of your choice. 

Apply to J1 visa as it is easy to get residency on J1 visa than on H1b visa. You will get in university hospitals and you do not need step 3 results if you want to go for J1 visa. You can get fellowship easily on J1 visa than H1b visa.

Majority of applicants may not match in the first attempt. Try again in that case. I did and got it second time. Good luck to you all.