Some of you are applying for radiology this year with a blemish. Maybe, it’s a course or two in medical school that you initially failed but later retook it and did fine. Or maybe, you had a tough time in one of your clinical rotations because of an errant resident or attending. Regardless, now is the time you need to deal with these issues. Why? Because radiology has become more competitive, many program directors toss aside many applications with a blemish since there are many without them. This problem can also be the case, even though you would be an excellent candidate for radiology. So, what can you do?
Own The Blemish
First of all, don’t disregard the facts. Own your blemish. Yes, you may get fewer interviews than others. But, if you play your cards right, you can increase your chances of acceptance at sites where you interview.
By owning the blemish, you need to have insight into what caused it in the first place and use it to make you stronger. Yes, it will affect you. But, you need to address the issue. The program director will ask you about it. So, explain in your personal statement. Show what you learned from your blemish and why it can be a strength rather than a weakness. No radiologist is perfect, Don’t go hiding it or sweeping it under the rug. Most programs will know or find out!
Complete Radiology Research
Radiology research is the grand equalizer. It shows that you are interested in radiology even while busy with an internship or senior-level courses. And, it allows you to succeed even though other parts of your application are subpar. It is not a cure-all, but it can compensate for some faults elsewhere. Heck, a paper of yours that gets into the New England Journal of Medicine will undoubtedly elevate your application to a much higher level!
Ace Your Internship/ Senior Level Courses
This statement goes without saying. However, many applicants concentrate so much on the blemish that they don’t get the grades in their most recent courses or internship that will give them that needed boost. Don’t forget that your current courses can count just as much as the blemish. If you don’t perform well on your current rotations, all may be lost!
Do Well On Your Remaining USMLE Exams
All is not lost if you did not ace Step I or even II. Yes, it will make it a bit harder since many programs screen those exams. But, whether it is step II or III USMLE that you need to take, they can still matter a lot if you do very well, especially while you are busy with other endeavors. It shows you can handle stress well and have the potential to pass the radiology core exam.
And remember, for those of you who have not yet graduated, USMLE step I is no longer going to be scored in the future. So, the Step I exam will become less of an issue (unless you fail, of course!)
Get To A Know A Radiology Residency Program
Finally, try to get to know the faculty in a radiology residency near you. Maybe, you are in medical school and have access to the folks in a residency program. Or you are amid an internship. In any case, attempt to get to know the staff in the local residency program. Ask to meet with the faculty or participate in projects. These connections can help get them to know you as a person and not just as an application with a blemish!
Applications With A Blemish: All Is Not Lost!
I cannot give you a money-back guarantee that you will find a spot in a residency with an application blemish, especially as radiology has become a bit more competitive. However, in most cases, all is not lost. If you own the blemish, complete research projects, do well at your current level, ace the following USMLE exams, and get familiar with a radiology residency faculty, you can surely up your chances of getting accepted!