A couple of people have been asking me what exactly are you applying for right now? What does the process entail? Do you have any tips to help get through it a little smoother?
So, I’ve decided to write up a post for y’all about my CaRMS experience. Obviously these are just my own opinions, a combination of things that worked for me and things I wished I had realized sooner!
Firstly, CaRMS (Canadian Residency Matching Service) is a third party that facilitates applications to residency programs. They use a fancy algorithm to eventually “Match” the applicant to a program. More about that here. Secondly, you sign a contract with CaRMS agreeing to go wherever you’re matched. Hence, this is a very high stakes process that at times can be SUPER out of your hands.
Now for the tips!
1. Start making your CV now
Seriously, do yourself a favour and make your CV as you go. It’s SO easy to forget to add things when you’re scrambling to write a CV. PLUS when you went to spend your precious hours writing your personal letters or studying for your core rotations, it is SO helpful to not have to put as much thought into the CV since you’ve already done most of the work!
2. Write down your memorable patient encounters
You’re going to have those moments where certain patients strike a nerve or help you learn a valuable lesson. Write it down! These experiences are GREAT to pull from when writing your personal letters. They help illustrate WHY you want the specialty or even show off how awesome you’ll be as a resident! I definitely used my reflections from cores and electives to help shape my final letters!
3. Have people read your letters, but not too many!
I made the mistake of sending my letter to over 10 people. I got so overwhelmed with all of the different advice I had a total meltdown! My advice would be pick 2-3 people to read your letters. If they’re able, have them read the different versions as you edit your letter.
ALSO, one of the best things I did was send my letter to someone NOT in medicine. It was a great way to make sure that my message was clear AND they helped me refine my writing to add some flourish that is often absent from academic writing.
4. Make a “Tracker”
Once you know what you’re applying to, make a giant Excel spreadsheet to keep yourself organized. On my tracker I had information about requirements for each school (personal letter lengths, CV, # of recommendation letters required etc), pros/cons for each program, date of interviews, and which letters I was going to assign. When it came time to submit my applications, it made things much easier.
5. Find your thing that keeps you well – and DO it
It’s a hectic time of the year that is bound to get you down. I definitely was short with many of my loved ones, purely because I was stressed out. For me, I love to run, listen to/create music, and practice calligraphy. I tried to stick to a lighter running schedule and learned new songs on the piano. Whatever is your thing, find it and DO it.
6. Say Thank You
Say thank you to your friends and family. Yes, it’s a stressful time for you as an applicant, but it can be stressful for them too! They are the one’s reading your letters, dealing with your stressed out self, and providing you the emotional support you need to get through it!
And of course, you can’t forget to say thank you to your referees! I personally sent handwritten cards to each one after submission to thank them for supporting me on my journey!
Do you have any tips I missed? Let me know below or hit me up via Instagram or Twitter!
Best of luck to current and future applicants, you got this!