Acceptance Factors for Matching into Anesthesia for Residency

Martin B., MD
  • Sep 13
  • 8 min


From A Program Director Viewpoint: What You Need to Match into an Anesthesia Residency

The NRMP Program directors survey “at a glance” tool is extremely helpful in gauging where your application packet stands compared to the applicant pool, and whether adding additional components, like a letter of recommendation (LOR) in the specialty, could give you a leg up as programs review your application.

The interactive tableau tool can be found here, and we recommend taking a look at the specialty you’ll be applying to before submitting your ERAS packet:!/vizhome/PDSurvey_0/Desktoptablet


Major components of the survey you should pay attention to for Anesthesia Residency (from top to bottom of the page):

  • Selection Criteria – Step 1 score is a MAJOR factor, while having an LOR in the specialty are also highly recommended

  • Step 1 Score – 230+ looks like a solid in Anesthesia
    • Range programs do NOT typically offer interviews: 215-220 seems to be the minimum threshold we would recommend for having a good chance at enough interviews. If you’re below 215-220 range, we suggest having a back-up specialty you could consider.
    • Range programs DO typically offer interviews: 230+ seems to be the range at which you can feel comfortable in being offered interviews by a decent number of programs. If you’re in the 250+ range, you can likely be selective about where you apply.
  • Step 2 – You SHOULD take it: 60%+ of programs required at least passing CK, and we expect this number to continue to grow. So please make sure you will have your Step 2 score in by Early October at the latest.
  • Step 2 – Score a 220+: Treat Step 2 as a “minimum threshold” since Step 2 is generally looked at secondarily to Step 1. 220+ seems to be the target where you need to be to feel comfortable for Anesthesia.

  • Failing Step 1 NOT a show stopper: While Failing step 1 is a BIG deal in ANY specialty, 2/3 of anesthesia programs MAY still consider you if you’ve failed Step 1/Step 2. So, if you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply, but you should apply to a BIG number (100+) of programs.

  • International Grads are a GO!: >1/3 of programs routinely consider IMGs, and only 10% never do. We still recommend doing your homework to determine which programs are more likely to consider IMGs, and advise you to apply to a lot of programs.

  • Interviewees Get Ranked!: If you get an interview invitation, you’re 90% likely to end up on the rank list if you interview. We recommend making a rankings list of at least 10-15 programs, so once you’ve got 15 interview invitations, you can feel okay with starting to prioritize and cancel as more come in given you’re likely to get ranked.
  • Expect interview invitations from late Sept to mid Nov: If you’re falling short of 10-15 interviews by thanksgiving, start reaching out to programs you are REALLY interested in to express interest in interviewing to beef up your rank list.
  • Expect to interview in Nov/Dec: For further discussion on how to prep for your interview see our blog post on How to Crush your Residency Interview.


After you’ve browsed your specialty, take a look at a few other specialties and note what’s NOT important for Anesthesia Residency Interview:

    • AOA isn’t particularly important in anesthesia
  • Research isn’t important for anesthesia (like it is for Plastics or Derm)
  • Having “connections” and personal relationship with the program isn’t as important for anesthesia


Summary of Anesthesia Residency Applications:

  • A solid anesthesia application would include a 230+ on Step 1, 220+ on Step 2, an LOR from an Anesthesiologist, and a decently strong MSPE. 
  • Anesthesia seems relatively IMG friendly, but we still recommend doing your homework, especially identifying programs with active IMG residents. 
  • If you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply in Anesthesia, but you should apply very broadly
  • Expect Interviews Late Sept-Mid Nov. Reach out to programs you have high interest in if you haven’t heard from them by Thanksgiving. Once you have about 15 interview invitations, you can start being picky about which ones you actually take (but not before).

Good Luck!

Wondering about your chances of matching into other specialties for residency? Check out our analysis of the NRMP directors survey “at a glance” tool for areas including neurology, dermatology, family medicine, transitional year, psychiatry, emergency medicine, and more under the Residency Applications category of our blog! If you need further or specialized assistance understanding which residency specialties you are best suited to apply to, you can contact us or visit our residency advising page to learn more about how Elite Medical Prep residency advising services.