Tips for Applying for a Fellowship

When you decide to go into a fellowship program, you need to make sure that you are applying a year before you finish your residency.  It is a very competitive and you want to gain the edge early.  Most importantly, you want to have enough time to perfectly complete your documents that you need to provide to fellowship programs.

Dr. Ole-Petter R. Hamnvik, MD composed the article: Applying for Fellowship:  What you Need to Know in the NEJM Resident 360.  He hosted a discussion with a panel of experts on preparing for fellowship to explore many of the steps to follow when applying for a fellowship program.  In his article, he shares personal tips and useful advice that I would like to share with you!

You need to choose your subspecialty.  If you’re not sure yet, here are some tips.  Block ambulatory time during your elective period.  You can also do inpatients rotations in specialties that are of interest to you.  Discuss your choices with your Residency Director or a Mentor. They may have some suggestions that they feel you would be a great fit since they have been observing you.

Once you have chosen your subspecialty, make sure you round in that chosen specialty.  This will allow a faculty member to really watch you and see your strengths and weaknesses.  This faculty member/members can provide you with a letter of recommendation.  In addition, consider taking part in research projects to enhance your application.

If you are still undecided, take time out of the training path.  Many Residents are interested in taking a year of to work on a research project, work as a Hospitalist or Chief Administrator.  But know that in some cases this can be good for your application and maybe not so good in others.  Just be prepared to explain your decision and what you learned from it.

As the application time come upon you, (6 months before due date) be prepared to familiarize yourself with the application component.  Write your personal statement and CV and know that you will need four letters of recommendation.  Getting the letters of recommendation will take you the longest to get.  Make sure you get a letter from your Residency Director and Clinicians you have worked with in your chosen specialty.  It’s best to ask for the letters when you are working with them.  They will pay closer attention to the detail of your work. Don’t be afraid to ask for the letters.  The faculty are used to writing them all the time. Provide those you choose with your updated CV and highlight anything you would like for them to address in their letter.

When writing your personal statement answer the following questions:

  • What experiences make you a strong candidate for the program?
  • What parts of the application suggest that you will have a successful career?
  • How can you draw the reader’s focus on your unique achievement’s?
  • Relevant information like unexplained absences from clinical work or failed exams.

After you have completed your application, CV, Personal Statement and have you four letters of recommendation, as always have someone review everything you have written to make sure that there are no typos! Once you feel everything is ready, submit it!  Best of luck to you!