Residency applications are submitted electronically. A curriculum vitae (resume), personal statement, letters of recommendation from the dean and others, medical school transcripts, USMLE and/or COMLEX scores, and other credentials are included in the application.
Most allopathic and osteopathic medical residency programs use the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) to process residency applications. ERAS® is a service that transmits applications to residency programs over the Internet. Candidates participate in ERAS® through their deans' offices.
The deadline dates change from year to year, but the template for successful pursuit of residency training in pediatrics is relatively stable. Check the ERAS® website for yearly deadlines.
Prepare a program list that has breadth and depth of programs in terms of experiences and competitiveness and apply to all programs in which you are interested.
Important Note About the Military Match
If you are a military scholarship student, you are encouraged to communicate with your branch to find out when applications are due and to check in early with your student affairs office to ensure that all requirements are met on time. The military match begins and ends sooner than the ERAS®/NRMP® Match, and the results are released in mid-December. For information on military residency programs, the AAP Section on Uniform Services annually updates the Guide to Military Pediatric Residencies.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters are an important part of the residency application and give program directors the opportunity to see how you are regarded by faculty members that have worked with you. Try to request your letters from core faculty members who have observed your direct clinical work with patients. Most pediatric residency training programs require three letters of recommendation from faculty members. At least one letter should be from a pediatric faculty; other letters may come from pediatric faculty members or faculty from any other clinical departments. For students who have done additional community work or research, a fourth letter documenting those activities enhances the application.
Asking for a Letter
It may feel intimidating to request letters from faculty. Here are a few suggestions when asking for a letter:
- Compile a list of potential letter writers 3-4 months in advance.
- When possible, make the request in person and at least 3 months ahead of the deadline to allow authors enough time to draft the letter.
- It is important to ask the faculty member if they can write you a strong letter based on your clinical skills. If the faculty member says that he or she can only write a somewhat strong letter, ask someone else. Of course, if that is still your best evaluation, stay with that person.
- You must provide your letter writer with all the necessary information, e.g. ERAS® face sheet (which has an alphanumeric code that must be used to upload your letter to ERAS®), your CV, and your personal statement, even if they are still in draft form.
- Plan for some faculty members to want to sit down with you to learn about your interests, short- and long-term goals.
- The ERAS® "face sheet" has a selection marked "waived" or "did not waive" the right to read the letter before submission. Persons reading that letter who see that a candidate did not waive access may put less faith in the letter. Some faculty members may share a copy or discuss the details even if you have waived access.
The Personal Statement
A well written personal statement takes time. Start writing yours at least 3-4 months ahead of the deadline. It should present a clear, honest, and concise summary of your innate qualities and lend insight into your personality, experiences, and passions. Your statement enables you to add a new dimension to the application, persuade those who read it that you will be a desirable house officer and an asset to the program, and distinguishes you from your peers. Ask for honest feedback from friends, advisors, and at least one person who has strong editing skills.
To save time and improve the quality of the piece, consider starting with an outline. The statement should flow well and be organized -- with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Typically, if possible, try to limit your statement to one page. This article, written by Turi McNamee, MD, provides insight into drafting an original personal statement.
A few suggestions to be considered while compiling your personal statement:
- Include interests outside of medicine that lend insight into your personality
- Highlight experiences that demonstrate distinguishing traits that you bring to the field of pediatrics (e.g. motivation, leadership, reliability, integrity)
- Detail narratives relating experiences or attitudinal shifts that reflect personal growth during medical school
- Focus on why you are interested in the field of pediatrics, especially if you had a unique experience in medical school (or in pediatrics) that cemented your desire to pursue the field
- Mention your professional plans after residency
- Concentrate on information that cannot be attained from your CV
Additional Resources and Articles on Preparing for the Application Process
- AAP Career Center – Career Learning Center
- Pediatric Residency Application Process FAQ (member login required to access)
- Timeline & Tips for Medical Students Applying to Pediatrics (member login required to access)
- AAP Mentorship Program – PedsConnect Resources (member login and mentorship profile required to access)
Start early, stay on track with deadlines, work closely and consistently with your advisors, seek out constructive criticism about your applications and personal statements, and prepare for interviews. You’ll do well in the Match.
American Academy of Pediatrics