From the Viewpoint of a Program Director: What You Need to Match into Vascular Surgery
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 Vascular surgery specifically, 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 in the specialty is a MAJOR factor, while having LORs from vascular surgeons and a strong personal statement are also highly recommended.
- Step 1 and Step 2 Scores:
- Step 1 – Score
- 235+ looks like a very solid score in Vascular surgery, with the median being 230.
- Range programs do NOT typically offer interviews: 200-220 seems to be the minimum threshold we would recommend for having a good chance at enough interviews. If you’re below 200-210 range, we suggest having a back-up specialty you could consider.
- Range programs DO typically offer interviews: 235+ 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 240+ range, you can likely be selective about where you apply.
- Step 2CK – Score
- 220-240 seems to be the minimum threshold at which programs will grant interviews
- Scores below 220 generally will place you in an unfavorable position to receive an interview
- Step 2CK – Timing of Taking the Exam
- Only 7% of programs required at least passing CK, although we do expect this number to grow. You can wait to take Step 2CK until after you have submitted ERAS.
- Failing Step 1 is more likely to be a show stopper:
- Failing Step 1 is a BIG deal in ANY specialty, and this is especially relevant in vascular surgery. 23% of vascular surgery programs will NOT consider you if you’ve failed Step 1, and 31% 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 large number of programs and also consider a back-up specialty. 77% and 69% of programs seldomly consider applicants who have failed Step 1 and Step 2, respectively.
- Types of Applicants Considered:
- International Grads (U.S. and non-U.S.) are more likely to have difficulty matching into vascular surgery: Only a few programs will consider interviewing or ranking IMGs (U.S. and non-U.S.) on a routine basis. 64-71% consider U.S. IMGs seldomly, and 7% never consider an IMG for an interview or rank. If you are a non-US IMG, the chances are even lower, with nearly 79% of programs seldom or never considering such an applicant. We recommend doing your homework to determine which programs may be more likely to consider IMGs, and definitely recommend a back-up specialty to apply into.
- Osteopathic graduates may have a chance to match into Vascular surgery: 29% of programs will routinely interview DO applicants, and about 23% of them will be ranked. Only 7% of programs will never interview, and 31% will never rank a DO applicant. With the remaining 46-64% that seldomly consider DO applicants, it is very important to do your research to identify these programs so that you can best increase your chances of matching.
- Interviewees Get Ranked!: If you get an interview invitation, you are very likely to end up on the rank list if you interview. We recommend ranking at least 8-10 programs, so once you receive 10 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 receive interview invitations in October 61% of the interview invitations will be sent out during October, the rest will be sent out during the subsequent months. Expect to hear very little from vascular surgery programs until October.
- Expect to interview in November/December: Only 5% of interviews will occur before November, which gives you ample time to prepare. For further discussion on how to prep for your interview, see our blog post on how to Crush your Residency Interview: https://elitemedicalprep.com/preparing-for-your-residency-interview/
After you’ve browsed your specialty, take a look at a few other specialties and note what’s NOT important for vascular surgery:
- Step 2 isn’t particularly important in Vascular Surgery
- The MSPE/Dean’s letter isn’t particularly important for Vascular Surgery
- Class ranking/quartile isn’t as important in Vascular Surgery as in other specialties
Summary Vascular Surgery Applications:
- A solid Vascular surgery application would include a 235+ on Step 1, 230+ on Step 2, a LOR from 1-3 vascular surgeons, and a strong personal statement identifying your interests in vascular surgery.
- Vascular Surgery does not seem particularly 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 in Vascular surgery, but you should apply very broadly and apply for a back-up specialty.
- Expect Interviews in November-December. Reach out to programs you have high interest in if you haven’t heard from them by end of November. Once you have about 10 interview invitations, you can consider being a bit more selective about which ones you actually take (but not before).
Good Luck! ☺