Location, Location, Location
Why is it so important?
Just finished speaking to another group of applicants and felt compelled to remind you why location matters. Of course it matters to you, the applicant. But you may be surprised to find out it matters even more to your interviewers and especially program directors.
Throughout all of my personal interviews and many additional conversations with Program Directors and other interviewers across numerous specialties – I asked and continue to ask one question.
“What is the main reason people choose your program?”
Originally, I thought that each program would use this posed question to further add more to their uniqueness and talk about didactics, autonomy, outpatient or inpatient focus, funding, etc. However, almost all of them reply, “Location.”
This is both a puzzling and fascinatingly useful answer. And it is consistent whether you are in Florida, New York, the Midwest, or Southern California and across nearly all specialties.
How can you, the potential applicant/interviewee, use this information?
The goal is to match into your top program in the specialty of your choice. Most medical students I speak with have a location in mind. Even if they don’t have a specialty yet, they always have a location.
If we know that program directors and interviewers already believe that location is one of the primary reasons that residents are coming to their program, then we can strategize around this. With every interaction we must create, convey, or provide (during an interview) a reason to be in that location. If you are not already from the particular location, then you should have done your research and be able to use a statement like, “My brother lives here” or “I have vacationed here during the last few summers.” It is uncommon to see the average applicant match into one of their top programs in large cities/regions without having a particular tie to that city/region. Use accordingly, strategize ahead of time, and don’t fabricate.