02 June 2017

Residency Update: Preparing for Fellowship

Years ago I wrote a post about prepping for a career in Sports Medicine, and I admitted in the post that it was likely too early to be writing a "how to" post considering that at the time DrH was only in his second year of med school. This post is it's sequel, and writing this is making me rethink my post titles. Instead of Part 1 being "How To Pursue a Career in Sports Medicine," a more apt title would be "Path from Medical School to Sports Medicine" or "How to Distinguish Yourself as a Sports Medicine Candidate in Medical School." Then Part 2 could be "Path from Residency to Sports Medicine Fellowship," with maybe a subtitle of "How to Speed Date at the Fellowship Fair." Anyone is welcome to submit other suggested titles for consideration.

I should say that the longer I've followed Scott on this journey and listened to the stories of others, the more I realize that our path has not been a standard one. In fact, I'm not sure that there is a standard path to sports medicine. It all depends on what direction or specialization you want for your career and how ambitious you are to get there if you don't have someone providing a schedule of opportunities for you.

That being said, I still feel like the Part 1 post is accurate and includes helpful links. If you or your DrH is interested in pursuing a Sports Medicine fellowship, the ticket is demonstrating early on that the student/resident is interested in a fellowship by participating in sideline experience, research, clubs, and electives.

AMSSM 2017 Fellowship Fair
Now that my DrH is ending his second year of residency, he finally got the chance to attend the annual conference of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. As a side note, I asked DrH if he wished he had gone to the conference and fair during his first year as a resident (PGY1) and he gave a resounding yes! It would have provided him with extra motivation and direction on how to approach applying for fellowship. It also would have meant more time to casually talk to a variety of fellowships long before he would have felt the need to have his opinions finalized for the approaching fellowship application period.

For six years now, the AMSSM annual conference has included a fellowship fair where programs from across the United States are invited to have a booth for a VERY LIMITED amount of time on one of the final days of the conference to answer questions about their program. At this fair in 2017 there were over 100 programs represented in a large hotel conference room. Each program manned a booth (seen to the left) for one hour in the morning, 30 minutes around lunch, and 30 minutes before the close of the day. Don't be fooled into thinking that those are misprinted times. Conference staff will shew anyone out of the room when the allotted time for program mingling is up. *My fingers are crossed for you that this changes in the future, and they instead give you a half day or full day to meet the programs.

To add to DrH's tight schedule of program speed-dating, he had signed up for the conference's student and resident specific workshop on "How to Apply, Interview and Match Well" which happened to be scheduled at the same time as the first hour of the fellowship fair. Seriously, conference organizers?! During the first entire half of the fair, many of the potential fellows were tied up in a different room getting advice on the impending application.

Still, DrH was determined to talk to all of his favorite programs. The night before the fair, he prioritized a list of program visits to maximize time in getting his face in front of those representatives. He got up early the day of the fair so he could try to catch programs before and after the application workshop (which he said was helpful, but nothing that was said was surprising), and tried to get into the fair early and stay late, when possible, for the shorter afternoon sessions.

All in all, he talked to 17 programs. SEVENTEEN! I honestly don't know how he did that. The night before I was thinking, "how many programs can you have a conversation with in one hours total time? Five to ten, maybe." I wasn't physically watching him, so I don't know if all 17 conversations were meaningful or seemed to leave a positive impression on the programs; but knowing DrH's personality I would imagine that they were fun, casual visits. Slow clap for DrH!

So now DrH is fine tuning his CV, writing his personal statement (several different versions, because apparently the workshop recommended to make it less of a letter of intent and use less cliche stories), and requesting letters of recommendation from AMSSM physicians that he has worked with during residency. He's also scheduling two-week visit rotations with two top fellowship programs for this fall. Fellowship applications open up in June but aren't submitted until July. Then after the application period closes in September he will (fingers crossed) start to receive many, many interview offers. The fellowship match (yep, another one of those algorithm love connections) happens in January 2018.

We'll keep you posted.