Your DrH is in his 4th year of medical school and is thinking ahead to the next step – residency. He has spent hours putting together his residency applications and they are officially submitted. Finally.

Soon enough the interview offers will start coming in and he will be off to check out the different residency locations. Residency interview season is an exciting time, full of future possibility and promise. I mean your husband is going to be a flippin’ doctor!

But it can also be stressful and overwhelming for the both you and your DrH. How are you supposed to keep track of all of the information? How are you going to pay for all of these flights? Should you go with him on the interview trail? And how on earth are you going to make decisions and put these places into a rank list?!

Here are some tips for the residency interview season that worked great for our family. No, these are not tips on how to successfully interview. There are millions of articles out there on how to actually master an interview and I figured my two cents on that would just get lost in the crowd.

These are tips to help you and your husband successfully navigate the interview trail and come out with some fantastic information on your residency locations. This will help the two of you in the not-so-distant future as you start to put together our rank list.

I’m excited you are at this point in his medical training! Let’s dig in and find out how you two can make the most of the residency interview season.

residency interview

1. Apply for a Credit Card To Use For Travel Expenses

First off, the ugly truth is traveling for residency interviews gets expensive fast. You will be spending a lot of money on airline tickets and hotels. If you are going to be spending that kind of money anyway you might as well get some perks while you’re at it.

There are tons of credit cards that reward you for travel, either in cash or with miles. My husband and I personally applied for the Southwest Credit Card since that is the airline we travel with the most. We got tons of miles that can now be used for free flights which is fantastic to have in residency. We’ve already used some during residency to visit family and our flights didn’t cost us a dime.

So research some credit cards and pick one that you’ll use to pay for all of your residency travel expenses. The rewards are worth it!

2. Have Your DrH Ask The Right Questions

Interviews aren’t just about residency programs asking your DrH questions. He needs to ask them questions too to find out as much as he can about the program. Programs are trying to figure out if he is a good fit for them, and  you should also  be finding out if the program is a good fit for the two of you and your family.

Almost every program will give your DrH a folder with basic information about the program, so some of his questions will be answered there. But if they aren’t, you DrH shouldn’t be nervous to ask during the interview.

Questions for the program director:

  • What is the salary?
  • What are the insurance benefits?
  • What is the cost of living like in this area?
  • What are the average hours worked per week?
  • How many vacations weeks do residents get each year?
  • Characteristics of Residents – What percentage of each class are single, married, have kids? How many residents in each class?
  • Are meals paid for during call shifts?
  • What is the call schedule like?
  • Are there moonlighting opportunities available?
  • Are there fellowship programs here? Which ones?
  • Where do rotations take place?

Questions for the Residents:

  • How long has the program director been with the program?
  • Where do most residents live? Is there usually a commute to the hospital?
  • What is the cost of living like in this area?
  • What are the strengths of this program? What are the weaknesses?
  • If you were applying again would you consider this program?
  • How well do the residents get along here?
  • What are the schools like?
  • What are some fun activities to do in this area?
  • Is there a spouse support group for resident spouses?

3. Go to the Resident Dinners

Most residency programs have a resident dinner either the night before the interview or the night following the interview. These are dinners that are paid by the program and spouses are sometimes invited. They are not mandatory, just optional. However, I highly recommend your DrH go to as many as he can! First off, free food. Second, this is a great opportunity because residents from the program will be there and you can get to know them, get to know their personality, and ask them questions about the program.

Yes, he will have probably already asked the resident he interviewed with some questions. But he should ask the residents at the dinner these questions as well. He will get different kinds of answers that are often more honest than the ones that he got during this interview.

My DrH had interviewed at a program that he thought might be a good fit for him, but after going to the resident dinner he realized he would probably be putting the program low on his match list. The residents didn’t seem happy at all. They seemed overworked and not the type of people my husband wanted to be around for the next 4 years. He even had some residents tell him that they wish they would’ve ranked their current program much lower so they could’ve matched somewhere else.

Like I said, you get honesty at these resident dinners that you might not get during the interviews. So go!! The information you can get from these dinners is so valuable.

4. Take NOTES

I cannot stress this one enough!! Your husband will be interviewing at a lot of locations and, eventually, all of the programs will start to sound the same. He will forget thoughts and impressions he had about each program. When it comes time for putting together his match list, you will both want to remember details and specifics about each location.

So encourage him to take notes! He might think that he will remember everything but I promise he won’t. My DrH had a small notepad he kept in his pocket that he would pull out and jot notes on right after his interviews while the details were still fresh. Not only would he write down things about the program, he would also write down his thoughts and initial impressions so he would remember.

Then, when he got back to the hotel, he would move all of these notes onto a big spreadsheet he had made on his computer. (Business major, so spreadsheets are his thing). That spreadsheet was like gold come match-list time. It helped us so much in making our decisions.

So come up with some way for him to take notes and for you guys to organize those notes – it is so important!

5. Tag Along on Interview Locations

A lot of people ask me if they should go with their DrH to interviews. My answer is yes!! Go to as many as you are able to. For me, I wasn’t able to go to very many locations because of my work schedule and our finances. If you can only go to a few, go to the ones that you think will be your top choices and that you are most interested in.

I went to our top three choices with him and I’m so glad I did. The one that we thought would be our first choice ended up being moved to number 3 on our rank list after visiting. I’m glad I went to the location and the resident dinner because I was able to see the same things my DrH did that made us reconsider if that was really the best place for us.

You are going to live there too, so it doesn’t hurt to check out the area and see if it’s somewhere you would want to move your family to. My husband LOVED a program he interviewed at but I really, really did NOT like the location after visiting. My DrH took that into account and ranked that one lower on his match list.

Also, it’s just fun to travel with your hubby and go on an adventure together. So find someone to watch the kiddos and get on the interview trail with him! It really is so much fun and a great way to spend time together.

6. Schedule Interviews According to His Personality

This one sounds weird, but hear me out. Your DrH will be scheduling interviews and there are two ways to go about it. Some people get all of their interviews lined up back to back and go to them over a period of 2 weeks or something. Other people space them out – go to an interview or two, come back and go on some more the next week.

Of course, lining them up and going back to back (especially if they are across the country) might be more cost-effective. It will probably save you money. But in my opinion, choose to schedule his interviews according to his personality.

Is he the type of person that just wants to get in there and get it done? And that each interview will give him more momentum, more steam, and more excitement? Then schedule them back-to-back and hammer those interviews out!

Is your DrH someone who would get burned out doing that many at once? Would he do worse and worse at each interview because he needs a break? Then you should probably space them out more.

My husband is definitely the type that got burned out quickly on interviews so we spaced them out. He would do a few, then come home and be with us for a bit before heading out again. Yes it probably cost more money, but it was better for him and his personality. In the end it was worth it to us.

7. Be Involved in the Decision-making Process

As your DrH is interviewing he will start to make decisions in his mind of what program he likes better than others. He will start to kind of rank the programs in preparation for making his match list.

Don’t be afraid to be involved in this decision-making process! Yes, he is the one who is doing residency and this is the next step in his training. He is the one who will be working at the hospital. But this decision will also affect you for the next 3-7 years! It’s huge. It’s where your family will live, where you will raise your kids, where you will get your next job. This affects you too so be involved. Share your opinions, listen to his, and make decisions together. You are a team, remember? So act like one – decide together.

Again, I’m excited that you are at this point! Interviewing for residency is wonderful and stressful at the same time. Good luck! Match day will be here before you know it!

***Image from Pixabay