Obstetrics and Gynecology
Intro Heading link
This online repository houses relevant resources and contact information for students seeking career advice. We encourage you to review the career-related materials provided (e.g. Specialty Webinar, Interview Questions, Research, etc.) as you seek support in your journey through medical school.
If you have further questions that are not addressed on this page, please feel free to contact a Specialty Faculty Mentor for further guidance.
Match Preparation and Charting Outcomes Heading link
You are more than your Step Scores! Use the NRMP page to look at the qualifications of applicants who have successfully applied to your specialty.
Should applicants do away rotations?
- In recent years, OBGYN has seen a surge in applicants that complete at least one away experience, though it is still not a requirement. These can be particularly important if you are interested in a specific geographic region/program or for those with complex match factors (like couples match or weaknesses in the ERAS application). Most programs have an application process that screens in a similar fashion to residency applications which means you will often need to share your scores, write a small personal statement, and provide transcripts. This is because most programs want to be sure they are hosting students they would also consider for residency.
- One crucial factor in choosing an away elective is understanding that it can be a double-edged sword: You can increase your exposure to another program and highlight strengths not easily seen on your ERAS application but you need to bring your best genuine performance to the table at all times. While there is risk though, the reward can be high if you impress!
- Over the past several application cycles, it has become increasingly important to demonstrate participation in research activity. This can include abstracts, presentations, publications, book chapters, grant work, etc. On average, applicants have around 3-4 research experiences and matched applicants often have 5 or more scholarly works on their application. Though a program likes to see engagement in research in our field, often applicants have projects that may be in other medical disciplines which is not a detractor. The primary thing programs want to see is that you are an active participant in your reported scholarly involvement; there is nothing worse than an applicant that can’t speak eloquently about their stated work!
- Most programs in OBGYN also want to see other areas of academic and community involvement in your application, including advocacy, leadership roles in organizations, volunteerism/community support, and curricular work. While most applicants will not have all of these things, successful applicants have a collection of meaningful involvement in a number of areas.
Letters of Recommendation
- Number of letters recommended: At least 3, most programs accept/require 4
- Chair’s letter required? Not mandatory though is relatively standard and preferred (or an equivalent leadership letter – program director, clerkship director); many sites now do this in a Standardized Letter of Evaluation, or SLOE, format. A blank draft of the OBGYN SLOE is available on the APGO website.
Number of letters from within specialty? At least 2 (not including chair/leadership letter), can have 3 if you do not have a letter writer from another discipline to ask. It is nice to have one letter from outside the specialty as this shows your performance as outstanding in all your work, but it is not required.
- Number of letters from away rotations/institutions? 1-2 if applicable
The personal statement is your opportunity to describe the following to programs:
- -what makes you “you”
- -why you are pursuing a career in OBGYN
- -your short- and long-term goals
- -what assets you bring to your future program
- -what you are looking for in a program
A personal statement can also be a time to address weaknesses in your application, however, you should be considerate of if and how you do this. You are strongly advised to discuss this with one of the liaisons or an OBGYN attending advisor with familiarity with the interview process so you can determine if this is the right step for your specific concerns.
There are some common pitfalls in personal statement writing, which can include:
- -cliché stories: unless it is genuinely a core element to your path to OBGYN, avoid the “magical first delivery” story as this is incredibly common and may not help your personal statement stand out
- -being “too” unique: at the end of the day, your personal statement is just that – personal – and should reflect who you are; this said, while you are encouraged to be true self, you also want to be wary of difficult-to-read writing styles, too casual of tone, and hyperbole
- -grammar and spelling: the personal statement is also a reflection on your attention to detail; you have every opportunity to get it right before ERAS submission, so programs will notice when you are not careful which can lead to concerns that you could be quick to miss important things in less controlled situations (i.e., clinical work)
- -not seeking feedback: you should ask anyone you trust to read this, especially non-medical people as they often pick-up mistakes in grammar and spelling (see above!); it is also especially important to have at least one trusted OBGYN physician advisor (who has played a role in residency application cycles) review this as they can provide insights into pitfalls as noted above
- -restating the obvious: the personal statement is not a time to just rehash your CV/ERAS application; it is ok to mention something that carries great significance for you but don’t just list your medical school path chronologically to your reader
- -being too vague/generic: as OBGYN has grown more competitive, programs really look to the personal statement to understand why you align with their program’s values specifically and why you are a good fit for the evolving climate of OBGYN practice; it is imperative to avoid generic statements that can apply to any discipline of medicine
Other Application Components:
- Over the past many seasons, OBGYN residency programs are increasingly using the ALTUS suite assessments as a supplement to your ERAS submission as a way to improve the holistic review process. These are free to the applicant and not required by all programs, however, you will not be considered at any site using them if they are not completed. We generally recommend for all applicants to complete them so you do not face any unexpected barriers to certain sites later if the program decides to use them that cycle.
- OBGYN is now utilizing signaling. While this is a work in progress, it allows applicants to flag a higher level of interest in a limited number of programs at varying tiers (gold vs. silver). While this does not mean you will not be considered places you have not signaled, the goal is that it will allow for some better matching between programs and applicants along the process.
- After your ERAS submission is finalized, there are also now many programs that request supplemental application materials, including, but not limited to, short narrative questions, explanations on elements of your application, or behavioral-style questions to assess program alignment. It is imperative to be prepared for these requests in the early weeks of October as not completing a requested item can result in missing out on an interview offer.
- Many applicants these days have questions on how to navigate the timeframe after they submit, but before interviews are offered. There are a number of ways to go about this, including working with advisors or attendings that know you well to reach out on your behalf vs. contacting a program on your own. You are strongly advised to discuss this with your career advisor so your planning can be individualized.
OBGYN has become a more competitive specialty in recent years. For best success, we are hopeful for most applicants to have at least 8-10 interviews, and optimally 10-15, as the match statistics for the past several years reflect these numbers. Ways to improve success with your number of interview offers include:
- -being sure you do not apply to too few programs
- -flexibility with your geographic scope or program-type/competitiveness
- -reviewing your planned ERAS application list with at least one OBGYN physician advisor familiar with the recent application climate
Though the number of programs you interview at and ultimately rank is a factor in match success, you also should not apply to places you know you would never be happy to live or train as this can make for four very long years.
- Most residency programs in OBGYN use at least some behavioral interview questions. While you don’t want your answers to sound overly rehearsed, it is advisable to look at some possible examples prior to the start of interviews so that you can be prepared for this style of question. You are also recommended to take advantage of any mock interviews offered through the College of Medicine and your OBGYN physician advisor’s expertise in this area for practice.
- If the program offers a social event with the interview, you are highly encouraged to attend. Given that interviews in the post-COVID era are largely virtual, these events are similar. These gatherings give you an opportunity to see residents (and sometimes faculty) interact in an environment outside of the hospital setting and will often give you insight into the people you would be in community with for four years. It is important to remember that while this is usually a more casual setting, it should still be considered a part of the interview. This means you still should be professional.
- One last piece of advice that is imperative, is to be kind and courteous at all times to all people, including all support staff, co-applicants, coordinators, etc. There are no shortage of stories where an applicant wowed their interviewers but then didn’t help a co-applicant publicly with something simple or were incredibly rude or unresponsive to the program manager, which resulted in them being ranked much lower. We can all be on our best behavior with an interviewer but sometimes true colors shine in the moments least expected and they can have an impact.
- While a thank you email or letter is not required, it is always welcomed. It shows both your interest in their program and appreciation for the hard work a department has to put in to complete an interview date. It is important to understand that many programs have policies to not respond (or respond very generically) directly to these follow-up correspondences because of the strict ERAS rules. A number of programs may expressly tell you not to contact after interviews. This is not a trick, so you can feel free to follow this advice. Ultimately, listen carefully on interview dates for instructions or preferences from individual programs.
- You may make a choice to share with a program where you are planning to rank them or that you have a high level of interest. You do want to be very careful about how many programs you share this information with. You never know who knows someone else and you don’t want to be thought to have been disingenuous if you reach out to too many places stating they are high on your list since they can’t all be first. Save the “love letter” for only your top 1-2 MUST MATCH places.
- When available, some students may be interested in a “second look.” These are never required and should only be used for your personal benefit, however, if you choose to visit a site again, you need to be performing at your top level at all times as you will be being evaluated closely.
Should applicants do away rotations?
Away rotations are a major boost to your application. Particularly to optimize your matching success and get exposed to other institutes.
Research is encouraged.
Letters of Recommendation
- Number of letters recommended 3-4
- Chair’s letter required? Not mandatory but preferred
- Number of letters from within specialty? At least 2
- Number of letters from away rotations/institutions? 1-2
- Do you require the MSPE before offering interviews? Yes
Core reasons to applying for OBGYN How are you a worthy resident –what qualities do you have that make you deserve the spot?What can you offer the program? Skills, talents, hard work, etc…
- When do programs in your specialty generally begin reviewing applications? October 1st
- When do programs in your specialty begin offering interviews? October 8th-15th
Approximately 7 interviews would be ideal to optimize your chance at matching Apply broadly to both community based and university-based programs Embrace change and be comfortable with leaving your comfort zone.
We expect some kind of follow through –emails / personal letters are equivalent Specifying the rank of programs is not encouraged but not looked at negatively if it happens. A broad declaration of significant interest and high ranking is appropriate.
For further guidance, contact our specialty faculty liaison:
Rayan Elkattah, MD
Helpful Resources Heading link
- The NRMP publishes a survey of Applicants each year. This report presents the results of selected items from the 2022 NRMP Applicant Survey. The report documents factors that applicants weigh in selecting programs (1) at which to interview and (2) to rank in the Main Residency Match. It can be found HERE.
- The NRMP Publishes a survey of Residency Program Directors. This report examines the factors program directors use to select applicants to interview and rank. Data are reported for 22 specialties and the transitional year in the Main Residency Match. It can be found HERE.
- Looking for residency programs? The AAMC interactive, Careers in Medicine Website is where you should be! LINK
- Having difficulty deciphering this information? Contact your Student Affairs Career Advisor on your campus!!!
Below you will find resources to help you get started when applying for residency.