The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

The High-Stakes Competition to Land a US Residency

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Bryan Carmody, a pediatric nephrologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School. They discuss the value of standardized test scores, the ultra-competitive nature of the residency admissions process, and the benefits of having an open mind in your journey to medicine. 

  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [01:37] Who is Dr. Bryan Carmody
  • [02:54] The Benefits of Having an Open Mind in Your Journey to Medicine
  • [05:52] All You Need to Know About the USMLE Selection Process
  • [07:50] Why Residency Matching is Becoming More Competitive
  • [11:01] Residency Match Explained
  • [13:59] Addressing the Pediatric Subspecialty Shortage
  • [16:15] What Dr. Carmody Would Change About Healthcare
  • [18:34] Parting Thoughts

Pivoting Specialties: Your Pediatrician’s Tale

You probably already know this, but your medical journey is not linear. You might end up pursuing a career different from what you thought you’d do. Dr. Carmody made an unexpected shift from internal medicine to pediatrics. He emphasizes the importance of staying open-minded during rotations and allowing yourself to discover new passions. As an aspiring physician, you must be open to the fact that your journey can take unexpected but fulfilling turns. So, approach rotation with a mind of curiosity.

Addressing Pediatric Subspecialty Shortages

Dr. Carmody discusses the shortages in certain fields like pediatric nephrology. He shares concerns about the workforce not keeping pace with retirements, raising questions about future care models. The recent shortages underline why we need to inspire the next generation to pursue these critical specialties. The conversation becomes a call to action, emphasizing the urgency of addressing shortages in pediatric subspecialties. Dr. Carmody discusses potential solutions, including inspiring and supporting you to choose these specialties and adapting care models to ensure continued excellence in pediatric care.

Why Residency Matching is Becoming More Competitive

The residency matching process is becoming more competitive by the year. The USMLE has undergone what Dr. Carmody refers to as “scope creep.” This term highlights the expansion and intensification of exam expectations over the years. In the early 1990s, the USMLE mean score stood at 200. Fast forward to the present day, and the median score has surged to approximately 250. This substantial increase of 50 points is not something to be ignored.

To put this into perspective, the worst test-takers in today’s environment outperform the average test-taker from the 1990s. Even the very best test-takers from that era are average in today’s ultra-competitive landscape. So what is driving this upward trend, and is this trend good or bad? Despite the perception of increased competitiveness, the number of available residency positions relative to the number of graduating US MD students is more favorable than in recent memory. In the most recent cycle, there were approximately 1.9 residency positions available for every graduating US MD student. When factoring in US DO students, this number remains favorable at 1.38 residency positions per student. This proves that the match process is not all doom and gloom after all. You still have a more than favorable chance to get into the program of your dreams. 

You can reach Dr. Carmody on YouTube, Twitter, and his Website for more details about her work. Check out the six-part series on residency matching here – YouTube

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Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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