It is my final year of optometry school and I’m a few short weeks away from graduation- pretty exciting! Many of my classmates are now thinking, “What comes next?” For me, the next step will be completing a residency. I am happy to say that I matched in a residency specializing in ocular disease, low vision rehabilitation, and traumatic brain injury. I can’t wait to start! Looking back, though, the application process was definitely a bit nerve-wracking. I, for sure, learned a few things along the way.
Don’t apply to too many programs.
In optometry, most residency programs are likely to offer an interview because they find it important to meet you in-person. Applying to too many programs can make it difficult to interview at all of them, especially if you are planning to travel. Do your research ahead of time and really only consider applying to locations where you can successfully plan to interview.
Only rank programs you would attend.
Many students don’t realize that matching is a binding process. It is not like applying to optometry school where you get to choose whether or not to attend once you know they want you there. Even if you only rank a couple of locations, keep in mind that ranking any program gives you the potential of ending up there.
E-mail the directors the week before the match.
If you are really interested in a program, it couldn’t hurt to e-mail the director the week before the match to express your continued interest. At that point, they will know that you have finished visiting all of your potential options.
Do your research before your interview.
Find out what makes the program unique. Also, be prepared to possibly answer clinical case questions. Many programs will ask you about diagnosis and treatment on your interview day to see your thought process.
Consider an externship with a program that you are interested in.
This is not a must, but it is always helpful if you rotate as a student with the program you are interested in. This gives you a great chance to make sure you would enjoy working there during your residency. It is also a good chance to get to know the attendings there. It may help you make your final decision!
All and all, even though the process can be a bit stressful, I definitely recommend considering a residency. Yes, you will start making less than your peers who don’t pursue one, but the knowledge you will gain and the opportunities that will open for you will be countless!