From A Program Director Viewpoint: What You Need to Match into a Transitional Year (TY) Residency
The NRMP conducted a survey to determine what factors Program Directors consider when deciding which candidates to interview and rank for their residency program. The results were compiled into a “at a glance” tool, which 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: https://public.tableau.com/profile/national.resident.matching.program#!/vizhome/PDSurvey_0/Desktoptablet
For a Transitional Year Residency, major components of the survey you should pay attention to include: (from top to bottom of the page):
- Selection Criteria for an Interview – Step 1 and 2 scores are MAJOR factors, as well as a having a solid personal statement.
- Step 1 and Step 2 Scores:
- Step 1 – Score
- 250+ looks like a very solid score for a TY residency, with the median being 240.
- Range programs do NOT typically offer interviews: 220-230 seems to be the minimum threshold we would recommend for having a good chance at enough interviews. If you’re below 220, we suggest having a back-up specialty you could consider.
- Range programs DO typically offer interviews: 230-250 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 2CK – Score
- 220-230 seems to be the minimum threshold at which programs will grant interviews
- Scores below 230 generally will place you in an unfavorable position to receive an interview
- Step 2CK – Timing of Taking the Exam
- Almost 60% of programs required at least passing CK, and we expect this number to grow. We recommend you take your Step 2CK exam early enough so that it can be included in your residency application.
- Failing Step 1 may be a show stopper:
- Failing Step 1 is a BIG deal in ANY specialty, and this is quite relevant for Transitional Year residency applicants. 44% of programs will NOT consider you if you’ve failed Step 1, and 42% will NOT consider you if you’ve failed Step 2. So, if you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply, but you should apply to a BIG number of programs. Only 4% of programs will routinely consider applications who have previously failed Step 1 and 2. We recommend doing your research to find these programs if you failed a USMLE exam previously.
- Types of Applicants Considered:
- International Grads (U.S. and non-U.S.) may have a chance to match into a Transitional Year Residency: 16% of programs routinely interview U.S. IMGs and 8% routinely interview non-U.S. IMGs and between 5%-17% may end up on the rank list. That being said, ~40% of program will never consider a U.S. IMG for an interview or rank them, and ~55% will never consider a Non-U.S. IMG for an interview or rank them. We recommend doing your homework to identify the programs that are more IMG-friendly to increase your chances of matching.
- Osteopathic graduates have a good chance to match into a Transitional Year Residency: 63% of programs will routinely interview DO applicants, and 58% of programs will routinely rank them. Only 4% of programs will never interview or rank DO applicants. You can do your research to try to avoid the few programs that do not consider DO applicants, but otherwise, your application can be considered by the majority of programs.
- Interviewees Often Get Ranked!: If you get an interview invitation and attend the interview, you have an 80% chance of ending up on the rank list. We recommend making a rankings list of at least 8-10 programs, so once you receive 8 interview invitations, you can feel okay with starting to prioritize and cancel as more come in given you are likely to get ranked.
- Expect to start receiving interview invitations in October: The majority (48%) of interview invitations will be sent out during October, and 25% will be sent out in November. You may hear from a few programs before October and a few programs in December and January. If you do not hear back from a particular program and you know they already started to send out invitations, you may email the program to express your interest.
- Expect to interview November-January: The interview season is quite dispersed. About 15% of your interviews will occur in October, and the rest of the interviews are split between November, December, and January. Programs often offer several dates throughout this timeline, which is convenient because it provides the applicant flexibility to schedule a TY interview around the same time an interview for an advanced program (radiation oncology, dermatology, anesthesia, etc) can occur. 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 a Transitional Year Residency:
- Commitment to the field (aka research) isn’t particularly important when applying for a TY residency position.
- LOR in the specialty isn’t particularly important for a Transitional Year residency.
- Class ranking/quartile isn’t as important as in other specialties.
Summary for Transitional Year Residency Applications:
- A solid TY year application would include a 240+ on Step 1, 240+ on Step 2, a well-written personal statement, and an impressive MSPE letter.
- TY residency does not seem overly IMG friendly, but it certainly is possible to match as an IMG if you do your research to identify programs with active IMG residents and establish proper connections.
- If you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply for a TY residency, but you should apply very broadly.
- Expect Interviews in November-January. Reach out to programs you have a high interest in if you haven’t heard from them by mid-November. Once you have about 8 interview invitations, you can consider being a bit more selective about which ones you actually take.
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 anesthesia, dermatology, family medicine, neurology, 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.