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Crafting the Perfect CV

To help you set goals, identify weaknesses, and formulate strategies for improvement, we are excited to offer curriculum vitae coaching sessions. These sessions are specifically tailored towards first, second, and third year medical students in order to develop strategies for achieving a competitive residency application. The earlier you are in your medical school education, the more time you have to craft the perfect CV.

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In these sessions, you will meet with one of our team members who will have already extensively reviewed your CV. You will first have a conversation to clarify what your goals are for the remainder of your time in medical school, residency, and as a future physician. Next, your coach will share with you what they have identified as strengths and weaknesses on your CV based on that discussion. Finally, the two of you will work together to set manageable goals to mitigate the weaknesses on your application and bolster your strengths.

Why is this important?

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a serious conversation like this early in medical school. Too many of my friends and colleagues discovered deficiencies in their CV late into their third year of medical school or early in their fourth year of medical school. If they would have had these discussions earlier, they would have had ample time to improve their application. While many of them still matched, they matched at programs further down on their rank list than they desired. Others did not match, entered the SOAP process, or were forced to take research years and reapply for residency.

Objectives

The objectives of these sessions include:

  • Discussing your career goals
  • Critical review of your curriculum vitae
  • Identifying weaknesses on your CV
  • Acknowledging and continuing your strengths
  • Developing strategies for improvement to reach your goals

Before your coaching session, be sure to prepare by reading through our advice on compiling a curriculum vitae. If you don’t have a CV yet (even as a first or second year medical student), now is the time to start working on it.

Curriculum Vitae Coaching Session

This is a one-time non-refundable curriculum vitae coaching session for medical students. The session includes a 20 minute discussion with one of our team members. In this session, you will discuss goals, identify weaknesses, learn your strengths, and gain actionable strategies for improvement. Upon purchase, please complete the questionnaire below so that we can pair you with the most appropriate member of our team.

$29.99

To provide you with the best CV coaching experience, please complete this questionnaire.

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Interested in creating your edge? Check out these great resources.

Strategy
  • Set personal goals
  • Assess your strengths
  • Mitigate your weaknesses
  • Find your edge
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Dr. Carter J. Boyd, Founder, Med Student Edge
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To help every medical student achieve the success he or she desires.

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Personal Statement Editing

ERAS applications are due right around the corner. One of the most difficult pieces of the application is the personal statement. Your personal statement should tell a narrative that convinces programs to invite you for an interview.

Struggling getting started? Have an outline, but need some inspiration for fitting it together? Need edits on a completed draft? Have a finalized product, but want to get input from an unbiased opinion?

For all these scenarios, we provide an individualized and thorough review of the content, grammar, and flow of your personal statement. Your reviewer will have the opportunity to discuss the edits and recommendations with you so that you can maximize your benefit. Gain the advantage of an outside, unbiased perspective. Get honest feedback and advice so that you can have your best personal statement for your residency applications.

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Personal Statement Editing

This is a one-time non-refundable purchase to have your personal statement reviewed, edited, and get feedback with one of our team members. Email carterjosephboyd@gmail.com your personal statement and a screenshot of your receipt of payment.

29.99 $

Click here for more resources for applying to residency.

Welcome Interns!

We are excited to announce and introduce our two interns, Calais Nobuhara and Theo Sperber. We are so thankful to have them working with us this winter to help make Med Student Edge more user friendly and accessible to you. Read about them below, and be sure to check out our social media pages. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram (@MedStudentEdge), and Twitter (@MedStudentEdge).

Intern

Hi! My name is Calais Nobuhara, and I am a current senior at the University of Notre Dame, where I am majoring in Marketing and minoring in Korean. I am originally from Honolulu, HI, where I am enjoying the beaches before I head back to the Indiana snow. I am overjoyed to be working as a Med Student Edge intern over my winter break. I am especially excited to spread awareness about the company to the medical students who could benefit most from its services. My sister is currently a third year medical student, and through her journey, I have seen how complicated the path to medical school and residency can be. I hope to partner my marketing skills with Med Student Edge’s invaluable resources to reach an audience of students across the country!

Follow Us on Social Media

Intern

My name is Theo Sperber and I’m a freshman at Notre Dame planning on majoring in Economics. I’m from Westchester, New York and I’m interested in social media marketing, specifically how to attract potential customers with the power of social media. I’m excited to help expose Med Student Edge to a larger audience and in turn attract more customers to our product. Look forward to working with you all.

Interested in becoming an intern for Med Student Edge and joining a young, growing company that has reached over 6,000 unique individuals in the past 6 months? Contact us today.

My 2021 New Year’s Resolutions

It is now 2021. The year we have all been waiting for. 2020 was one of the collectively hardest years in memory, but we can all take so much away. Let’s take the lessons of the past 365 days to make the next 365 full of progress, happiness, and success. Here are a few of my New Year’s Resolutions that I have made for both professional and personal growth. They are applicable to all medical students as well. Join me, and let’s make 2021 OUR YEAR!

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Personal Quiet Time

This year I will be taking a dedicated 5-10 minutes daily for some personal quiet time. For me, this will most likely be in the form of prayer with my early morning coffee. Personal quiet time can be used for visualization of the day, reflection, meditation, or prayer. All are excellent ways to refresh the mind, settle the nerves, and refocus your energy. There is even science1 to back this up2.

Improve Self-Directed Learning

Be on the lookout for a full post on this subject coming soon. Self-directed learning is an imperative skill in medicine. It looks different for everyone and requires creativity to sustain. My resolution for 2021 is to take 5 minutes each day to read on a topic and write down (or type in my phone) something I learned. I have a list already going in my notes app of what I’ve learned from each day. By keeping the reading to 5 minutes, the learning is digestible. I won’t overwhelm myself and hate it so much I quit the practice one month in. If anything, I’ve already found the short periods are heightening my curiosity. Other methods of self-directed learning include medical podcasts (I love listening to case-discussions while driving), discussions with colleagues, textbooks, YouTube, etc. The key is to find a sustainable way to gain knowledge each day that feels easy and nonintrusive on your already hectic life.

Maintain Professional Relationships

Keeping in touch with professional contacts is something I am quite bad at. There are so many professors, attendings, colleagues, etc. that have been immensely helpful to me. But I have done so little to keep open lines of communication with them. It is difficult to have a mentor if you don’t communicate with any. My resolution for 2021 is to maintain better communication with these individuals. It takes little effort to send an email containing life or career questions/updates, an article you think they’d find interesting, or an invitation to a cup of (virtual) coffee. Communication is key to any relationship; professional relationships are no exception.

Knock Off One To-Do List Item Each Day

When you are working your tail off each day, whether it is studying for exams, Step 1, clerkships, or sub-I, getting home to relax and unwind is a major milestone each day. And some days, that is all that can be done, which is just fine. But my resolution for 2021 is to whittle away at my ever-growing “To-Do” list by completing one small task when I get home. For 3 straight weeks my wife watched me snooze the same 8pm daily alarm to remind me to finally complete one particular 15 minute task I was dreading. I don’t want that in 2021. Rather than immediately sinking into the couch, I will work on that article, clean that toilet, bathe the dog, reply to those emails, organize those bills. I’m not out here trying to be some kind of busy-body who never relaxes. My goal is simply to take a few extra minutes each day to do one more productive thing. I found in 2020 that my days off were far less enjoyable when I spent them catching up on everything I pushed off during the week. In 2021, I will finish more of those things during the week. This will increase my life efficiency and allow for more restorative and enjoyable days off.

Take some time to write down your resolutions for 2021. Join me and the rest of the team at Med Student Edge in a great year ahead!

Back to more resources on creating your edge.

References for Further Reading:

  1. Sampaio CV, Lima MG, Ladeia AM. Meditation, Health and Scientific Investigations: Review of the Literature. J Relig Health. 2017 Apr;56(2):411-427. doi: 10.1007/s10943-016-0211-1. PMID: 26915053.
  2. Anderson JW, Nunnelley PA. Private prayer associations with depression, anxiety and other health conditions: an analytical review of clinical studies. Postgrad Med. 2016 Sep;128(7):635-41. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2016.1209962. Epub 2016 Jul 22. PMID: 27452045.

How to make a rank list?

Now that you’re nearing the end of interviews, you are probably wondering how to make a rank list. Before you make a rank list, there are a couple things you should do first.

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Know How the Match Works

Every year there are students who think that there is a strategy to outsmart the Match, beat out other applicants, and game the system by crafting your rank list. This is false. The Match is an algorithm that favors the applicants’ preferences. In fact, this algorithm is so efficient and equitable that it’s developers won a Nobel Prize.

The first step is to educate yourself on the Match. Review the official NRMP’s guidelines and instructions. Be sure to watch this video from the NRMP that walks you through exactly how the Match algorithm works.

In short, you should rank programs in the order you want to attend residency at them. There is no gaming the system. The system is set up to favor you and your preferences.

Rank Your Priorities First

Rank your priorities before making a rank list. This may not make sense at first, but it is a useful way to begin. If location of a program, for example, is super important to you then that should guide how you stratify and tier programs on your rank list.

Some factors that many students consider include:

  • Significant other/family considerations
  • Location
  • Program rank
  • Required research/academic years
  • Length of program
  • Time off
  • Anything else that you value personally or in a program

Ranking your priorities guides the rest of your search for a residency program. With these priorities in mind, you can then move forward and begin to rank the programs that you interviewed at.

This is just the first of many posts on devising a rank list. Stay tuned for more useful info, tips, and opinions on how to make a rank list.

What questions do you have about making a rank list? Contact us directly or leave a comment below.

Back to more resources on applying to residency.

The COVID-19 Impact on Medical School Admissions

Several of our Med Student Edge team members contributed to the national discussion of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the medical school admissions process. In their article, Dr. Gambril and colleagues outline several of the key obstacles that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced for undergraduate students interested in applying for medical school.

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Their perspective includes the difficulties of battling already high burnout rates amidst pre-medical students coupled with the challenges of remote learning. Closure of testing sites for national medical school admission examinations also introduced wide-scale problems. These issues are all augmented by pre-existing disparities of opportunity for students of different backgrounds.

Be sure to check out their article. Interested in joining the discussion? Let us know your thoughts or comment below.

Interested in applying to medical school? Stay tuned to our website on ways you can maximize your opportunities on getting accepted to medical school even in these unprecedented times.

Back to more resources on Med Student Edge.

Continual Self Improvement

As we look to turn the leaf to 2021, the new year beckons us with a natural reminder to strive towards continual self improvement. While it is commonplace for many to make personal resolutions, be sure to set academic and professional goals for yourself.

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Set a goal to learn something new each day. Read a primary research article weekly. Allot time for reviewing chest x-rays. Select a textbook and commit to reading five pages a day throughout the course of the year. Pick a task or set a manageable goal for you. Taylor it to your interests. It’s an added bonus if it also helps you in discerning the specialty to which you will apply or helps prepare you for your future field.

Perform a critical review of your CV and look for areas needing improvement. Strive to address those areas of deficiency, whether they be academic in nature, a paucity of leadership experience, or involvement in research activity.

We wish you success in the New Year. Let us know how we can continue to serve you. Our Med Student Edge team will be right here with you every step of the way.

What are your goals for 2021? What areas are you looking to improve in?

Back to more resources on excelling in medical school.

Making the Most of Each Interview

Congratulations! You made it to the interview phase of residency applications. After combing through thousands of applicants, someone thought you might make a good fit for their program! But still, they are interviewing a couple hundred applicants that are very qualified—just like you. In fact, your interviewer alone will probably talk to 20-30 people throughout the application cycle. So how do you get noticed?

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What the interview will be like

Your interviewer will presumably read your application. They might want to find out more about you and some of the extracurriculars you participated in, but mostly they want to see how you would fit in with the other residents and attendings. What do you like to do? Can you carry on a conversation with them? Of course, there will be the standard interview questions “why do you want to do this specialty,” “what makes you stand apart from other applicants?” and occasionally some more intimidating questions such as “teach me something” or “describe your favorite surgery/procedure you learned during medical school”. However, the majority of interviews I experienced, as well as my peers, were more conversational. Make the most of the conversation and talk about things you’re passionate about—you will be remembered for discussing things you’re interested in.

Remember to ask questions

Another way to stand out is to ask the interviewer questions at the end. What made them choose their specialty? What do they like most about working with the residents at this program? What do they like most about the institution they work at? If you’re sent your interviewers names ahead of time, look them up and see what they do—what’s their subspecialty and where did they train. Find something you have in common with them to ask them about. Just like in dates, people leave a conversation feeling more positively about it if they have the opportunity to talk about themselves.

After the interview

After every interview I quickly jotted down in a note on my phone, or a physical piece of paper, the name of my interviewer and a few key words to remind me what we discussed. You may have anywhere from 3-15 interviews in one day and it’s easy for them to all run together. Use these notes when you send a follow up email/letter. You want the interviewer to remember your interview when reading your follow up too. Whether you choose to do a handwritten physical letter or an email depends on how you felt about the interview day and your personal preference. An email is more likely to get a response, but a physical letter stands out. I personally wrote a thank you letter to program directors and department chairs, but emails to my individual interviewers during the day. Regardless of what you choose, follow up emails don’t directly influence the rank list—but a reminder of you in a sea of applicants is helpful when making a rank list.

As you begin the interview process, make sure to practice, review the typical interview questions, and smile—see our other blog posts for more tips. Keep the end goal in mind, finding a program that you fit in well at and that wants to focus on training you. Be yourself and trust the process.

Back to more interview tips.

Remember to Say Thank You

However you may be spending the Thanksgiving holiday this year, the day serves as a good reminder to us in the interview and application process. In interviews, it is very easy to get focused on selling ourselves to programs and perfecting our pitch. In doing so, we can lose sight of some of the small things that are reflective of a mature and insightful individual who would be an excellent resident.

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Take a few seconds out of each interview that you have to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration of your application. This does not have to be over the top or extravagant. Be sincere and genuine. You would be surprised how many people forget to say thank you, whether it be due to anxiety, focusing on answering questions, interview fatigue, or simply just oversight. By thanking the interviewer, you will stand out.

I ended each individual interview with a simple line. “Thank you for the opportunity to interview at this program and for considering my application.” Others might choose to do this at the beginning of the interview during the introductions which is also completely appropriate. At some point in the interview, be sure to say thank you.

Many people may send thank you notes or thank you letters after the interview to people they interviewed with or the program director. We will discuss the pros, cons, and how to do it in a subsequent article. Still, the best way to show your appreciation and enthusiasm is by sincerely thanking the individuals that you interview with on interview day.

Back to more interview prep resources.

Sign up for a mock virtual interview session.

Interview Fatigue

As we continue to progress deeper into interview season, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone of the importance of self-care and personal rejuvenation. After completing just one interview, you readily realize how completely exhausting residency interviews are. Compound this effect with virtual meet and greets and subsequent interviews, you can very quickly become mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. It is vitally important that you find time to recharge and refresh so that you can continually perform at the highest level.

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Interviews are grueling. You always have to be ‘on’ and are asked countless challenging questions. After a even just a few interviews, you may not consciously recognize it but your mind and body quickly become fatigued from this process. Unfortunately, this fatigue will slowly creep in and hinder your performance. This fatigue manifests itself in different ways for different people. Your answers may become more brief. You may start slouching or forget to maintain eye contact. You may not speak with the same enthusiasm you did at your first interview.

As difficult as it is, we have to quell the tendencies and effects of interview fatigue. The best way to avoid interview fatigue is to be proactive. Take time to refresh, recharge, and rejuvenate. Get plenty of rest and spend time doing activities that you enjoy. Allot time in your schedule to completely unplug from thinking about “Where you see yourself in 10 years?” or “What is your biggest weakness?”.

“We have to quell the tendencies and effects of interview fatigue.”

Dr. Carter J. Boyd, Founder, Med Student Edge

Here are just some ways you can take a break and clear your mind from the stress and focus of residency interviews.

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Stretch
  • Meditate
  • Hobbies
  • Call a friend or family member
  • New TV show
  • Movie
  • Cooking

Interview season is difficult and a unique season of the pathway to becoming a physician. You have spent the past several years of your medical school training to get to this point. Stay strong and power through these tough and grueling days. Be yourself and show them how great and capable you are. If we can be of service or assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Back to more interview prep resources.

Sign up for a virtual mock interview with one of our experts.

The Psychology of Interviewing

Part 2: During the Interview

In my last article, I touched on science-backed ways to help prepare yourself for an interview from what clothes to wear, how to prime yourself to feel powerful, and what research to do in order to make the interview seem more conversational. From a psychological perspective, much of an interview takes place on a subconscious level. Many people are hired or match not because of what they say in an interview, but instead, how they make the interviewer feel. While it is important to say the right things, body language, posture, and the manner in which you say things are just as important as the words themselves. In this article, I will reveal some research proven methods of elevating your interview style, making you a more likable, polished, and composed applicant.

Use the Interviewer’s Name

Remember all the research you just did on the person about to interview you? Time to put it to use; the first step is to use their name upon meeting them, during the interview, and when it is time to conclude. Stating someone’s name makes them feel closer and more connected with you, thus repeating it at least twice gives you a friendly first impression.

Develop a Firm Handshake

While most of us probably won’t be shaking hands this interview season, developing a firm and repeatable handshake is a must when interacting with people on a daily basis. A firm handshake does a few things. First, it is usually the first interaction with the interviewer, and on a subconscious level, the interviewer is drawing a lot of assumptions from this first encounter. This means a good handshake can elevate us in someone’s mind before we even begin to speak, while a bad one can immediately put us at a disadvantage. Next, a firm handshake has been shown to be associated with positive attributes such as strength, social acuity, and openness. And finally, a recent study out of the University of Iowa found that, “applicants with firm handshakes had stronger ‘hire’ recommendations.” A firm handshake is an easy way to start and finish the interview strong; practice it and make it a part of your everyday routine.

The Chameleon Effect

The “chameleon effect” is a psychological phenomenon that describes how people tend to like each other more when they’re exhibiting similar body language. In essence, we like other people who seem like us. This has been one of my favorite tactics to use over the years, and it is rather simple once you get the hang of it. By observing the interviewer’s posture and body language, start to mirror what they are doing. By mirroring their body language and movements, they subconsciously feel more connected to you and like you better all because you are reflecting what they are doing. Here are a few examples:

  1. Make solid eye contact when you first meet the interviewer, then adjust your amount of eye contact to match theirs. Some people like a lot of eye contact, while others shy away from it. Gauge this at the begging of the interview so you can make the interviewer feel comfortable with the right amount of eye contact.
  2. If interviewer crosses his legs, you can then cross your legs as well. Take caution though – in some more professional interviews, I would avoid crossing my legs. However, if it is a more relaxed one, feel free to cross your legs and copy the interviewer’s body language.
  3. Gauge the type of hand movements the interviewer makes and try to mimic and incorporate some of them into your routine. If you are unsure what to do with your hands, hold your palms open or steeple your hands. Showing your palms generally indicates sincerity, while pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple indicates confidence. On the other hand, you don’t want to hold your palms downward, which is a sign of dominance. You’ll also want to avoid concealing your hands, which looks like you have something to hide; tapping your fingers, which shows impatience; folding your arms, which indicates disappointment; and overusing hand gestures, which can be distracting.

Gather your Thoughts

Many people make the mistake of trying to rapidly answer questions. However, for trickier questions it is much better to pause for 5-10 seconds before answering the question in order to make sure you give a clear, concise, and thoughtful answer. One trick you can use to buy a little time is to simply say, “Dr. Johnson, that’s a really good question, let me take a few seconds to think about it.” This allows you to gather your thoughts and avoid an awkward silence. In addition, it shows that you are composed, while preventing you from giving a rushed and unthoughtful answer that you may regret later.

“Go into every interview with the mindset of ‘this is where I am going to match next year’ and your performance will be elevated to reflect that belief.”

Dr. Patrick Young, Contributor, Med Student Edge

Make Every School you Interview at your Number One Choice

Making each interviewer believe that they are your number one choice is one of the most difficult things to do, and it is something I have certainly dropped the ball on before. However, in today’s very competitive environment, it is essential that we put our best foot forward in every interview regardless of whether or not it is at the top of our list. Remember, if you act like you don’t want to be there, you most likely will not get the position. Selling each school as your number one choice goes back to the extensive research you did before the interview and then using that knowledge to explain how you fit in and can thrive at that particular school.

If you are asked about another school you have applied to or interviewed at, try to deflect the question and talk about what you like about the place you are at. For Example:

  • Interviewer: “I saw you also interviewed at UNC, how was your experience there?”
  • You: “I enjoyed visiting UNC, but I have really loved UAB so far. The students and faculty really make me feel at home.”

The truth of the matter is that we do not have complete control over where we match. However, we do have control of our attitude, how we conduct ourselves, and the work we put in to prepare for the interview. Go into every interview with the mindset of “this is where I am going to match next year” and your performance will be elevated to reflect that belief.

I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of The Psychology of Interviewing. It is my hope that you can use a few of these tactics in your upcoming interviews. While we are in unusual times with the presence of COVID-19, many of these tips hold true for virtual interviews as well. Just remember, body language, posture, and how you conduct yourself all play a huge role in the subconsciousness of the person interviewing you. Be poised and confident and you will be well on your way to matching at the top program of your choice.

What have you done during an interview that you believe helped you or hurt you during the interview process? Comment below or contact us directly.

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Practice your interviewing skills with a mock virtual interview.