I will be finishing my categorical surgery intern year. I have decided to reapply this year for radiology, with a strong interest in IR. I am aware of the competitiveness of IR and DR in general. I am leaving in good standing, had good scores, am AOA. My radiology mentors in my hospital have encouraged me and feel I am competitive. I don’t have any published research but I am working on projects. In terms of trying to gauge my competitiveness, and have realistic goals in mind how may I improve my application before September 2017?
Get To Know The Radiology Program Director
In the past several years, a couple of surgical interns have transferred over to our department. Both of the residents came to speak to me about their interest while they were surgical residents (one was a SOAP match candidate and the other stopped during the year to ask about interviews). I think the mere act of speaking to the program directors increased their chances of getting into our program. It shows initiative! So, if I was in your shoes, one of the first things I would do would be to get to know the program director for radiology if there is a radiology training program in your hospital.
Also, sometimes spots can open up prior to the year beginning and it can’t hurt to show interest in the radiology program. Therefore, it would make a lot of sense to talk to the program director about applications for this year. The biggest problem in your situation: you probably will have to wait an additional year to secure a spot in a radiology residency program since applications are not for 2018-2019 but rather 2019-2020. But you never know, a position can open up for the 2018-2019 R1 year.
Finally, it would allow you to get a feel for the quality of your application at your own institution. The program directors will usually have insight about your chances of admission.
Get on The Radiology Bandwagon Now
If you have the fortitude to go through another surgical year and wait for a 2019-2020 spot after interviewing this year in the regular match, that would be the most likely way you would secure a radiology spot. As you said, if you are a categorical surgical resident, you will likely be a competitive applicant for a radiology residency (even though the specialties of radiology and DR/IR have been getting slightly more competitive over the past year or two) Nevertheless, I would certainly get on the application bandwagon now because if you wait another year, you are less likely to be able to get the government funding for a radiology resident spot. You snooze, you lose!!!
Is No Research An Issue?
In terms of research, it certainly can’t hurt to have completed a project or two. If you are interested in academic radiology, that will definitely add to your application. In a clinical program, it probably doesn’t matter as much. That being said, it is not a requirement at most residency programs prior to entering. But, it does confirm interest in our specialty. Regardless of whether you have completed a research project, I think most program directors (especially IR/DR PDs) like to take surgical residents that have performed well at their institution and who demonstrate an interest in radiology. Surgical residents that perform well can definitely handle stress!!!
Make Sure to Apply To The Correct Programs
Also, since you are interested in IR, I would send out applications to residencies that are DR programs with an ESIR program and also the new DR/IR program. Applying to both sorts of programs maximizes the probabilities of getting into a residency that gives you the capability to complete IR without having to do a 2-year independent fellowship.
Let me know if you have any other questions…