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How Do I Choose Residency Programs to Apply To?

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Dr. Jayde Price
PGY-1 at Tulane Triple Board (Pediatrics/Adult Psychiatry/Child psychiatry)

The most important thing to remember when applying to residency programs isThink about what matters to you.

In this post, I’ll run you all through some top considerations I had when choosing residency programs to apply to.

1. Consider your career goals.

  • Ask yourself: Do I want to do research? Apply to a fellowship? Work in academia? How does this program encourage me to pursue my specific career goals?

  • Find a program whose mission and curriculum support your goals for after residency!

  • Example: I wanted to train in pediatrics, and I applied to combined programs (triple board), categorical pediatrics programs that had a fellowship at the same institution (post-pediatric portal programs), and categorical pediatrics programs that emphasized mental health and had child psychiatry facilities I could rotate through.

2. Consider the location.

  • Ask yourself: Do I want to live in a large city or a smaller town? How is the weather? Do I want to be near my family? Will I be able to walk/bike to work or will I need to commute? Are there fun things to do outside of work? If you have children: Is there childcare nearby? What is the school system like?

  • Find a program located in a spot that meets your needs.

  • Example: I have lived in small cities in the southeast my whole life, so I wanted to venture. I sought out programs in larger cities in the southeast, as well as programs in different regions of the U.S.

3. Consider the culture.

  • Ask yourself: Do I want to be at a program that feels more supportive or competitive? Do the residents get along with each other? Do the interactions seem genuine? Is resident well-being prioritized?

  • Find a program with an environment where you can thrive.

  • Example: I thrive in environments where that are genuine and supportive, so that is what I sought out. I used Zoom QandAs and social media to gauge vibes* and considered that when deciding where to apply.

4. Consider these other factors (if you want).

  • Ask yourself: Do I want to work at various sites or just 1-2? Is there protected time for didactics? What is the schedule like? – Traditional vs. x+y, etc. Does program prestige matter? Is this program a reach for me? What is the cost of living? Example: I feel like these factors are good things to be aware of, but I did not prioritize them when picking

The bottom line: No matter where you end up, you are a doctor, and you will learn. There are so many paths to reach your final goals; you just have to discover them. Keep on growing, my friends!


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