Osteopathic Primary Care Residency

So You've Decided on Family Medicine…

It's July 1st.  ERAS has just opened for you to store all of your credentials and information.  Where do you start?  There are a few questions that I needed to answer as I went through the process as an osteopathic student going into Family Medicine.  All of these questions need not be answered before you post your information to ERAS – you should take your time as you go through the process.

How did I decide on Family Medicine?

I entered osteopathic medical school with the goal of going into primary care.  As a first year student, I did not know whether I would go into Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, or OB-GYN.  As I progressed through my education, I learned about opportunities beyond those I thought were my options when I entered medical school: Geriatrics, Infectious Disease, etc.  I spent about 10 hours per month with a preceptor in Family Medicine during my 1st and 2nd years of medical school.  I enjoyed the outpatient environment of the office setting and incorporating OMM into practice.  I was able to see the many facets of Family Medicine by accompanying my preceptors to well-baby clinics, free clinics, high school sports physicals, home visits, health fairs, and many more venues.  By my 3rd year clerkship was over, I had fallen love with the continuity of care, the ability to care for whole families, and had begun to integrate OMM into my own practice.  I'm empowered by the interdisciplinary nature of practicing as a family physician, coordinating care, and advocating for the complete health of an individual.  It was through these experiences that I learned that Family Medicine was right for me, and I was right for Family Medicine.

What was I looking for in a residency program?

Full-spectrum Family Medicine: delivering babies, taking care of them as children, watching them go to college, treating their parents and grandparents.  I also wanted a community medicine focus, and a program that emphasized continuity of care.

It is important for you to compose this list for yourself, and keep it current as you go through the process.  As you visit and interview at programs, you will certainly modify your list and priorities.  Embrace this process.

Did I register for both allopathic and osteopathic ERAS sites?

No.  I decided that I wanted to integrate OMM into my practice as an osteopathic physician.  Therefore, I was applying to only AOA or dually-accredited programs.  Every AOA-approved program that receives applications through ERAS is listed on the osteopathic database. 

If a dually-accredited program participates in the AOA match, will it be listed on the osteopathic database of ERAS?

In theory, every dually-accredited program that participates in the AOA match should be listed on the osteopathic database.  However, there are some dually-accredited programs that have not registered for the osteopathic database of ERAS.

Did I find that some dually-accredited programs participating in the AOA match were not listed on the osteopathic database of ERAS?

Yes.  After I triple-checked their websites to confirm that they were dually-accredited and participating in the AOA match, I called their offices to inquire about their inclusion in the osteopathic ERAS.  In these cases, these programs admitted their oversight and rectified the situation.  Every year, there are programs that fall through the cracks, so it's always good to double check.


f a program is AOA accredited, does it mean that they integrate OMM education into their curriculum?

The AOA requires residents in their programs to receive _____ hours of OMM education per year.  However, every AOA-accredited program delivers this education differently.  Some offer monthly lectures, some do hands-on workshops, some have faculty that teach integration of OMM into clinical practice.  It was difficult for me to learn these subtleties by simply looking at the website.  If you are interested in OMM, it is important for you to inquire specifically about the OMM education and how it is delivered.  Other important aspects are the number of D.O. faculty that teach OMM, and the number of those that have NMM/OMM fellowship certification.  The best way to find out is to visit the program and see it in action.

How many programs did I apply to?

20.  As I mentioned above, I was looking for a program that would teach me full-spectrum family medicine.  I was willing to move to a completely new area of the U.S. and applied to programs in a 500 mile radius from my hometown, in places where family and/or friends were in town or nearby.

How many programs offered me an interview?  When did I schedule my interviews?

I was lucky enough to get interviews at all 20 programs to which I applied.  I began interviewing in mid-September and scheduled interviews through mid-January.  From mid-September to mid-October, I interviewed at approximately 3 programs every 2 weeks.  From mid-October until mid-December, I was interviewing at about 3-4 programs per month.  The frequency decreased through January.

Did I cancel any interviews?  How did I go about cancelling interviews?

I cancelled 8 interviews.  I interviewed at a total of 12 of the 20 programs that had offered me an interview.  By the time mid-November came, I had developed a short list of about 5 programs and only kept interviews at places about which I was most serious.

Once I decided to cancel an interview, I called the residency coordinator as soon as possible.  It is important to let them know ASAP so that they can offer that interview spot to another applicant with enough time.  I then sent postal letters to the Directors of Medical Education (DMEs) and Osteopathic Directors of Medical Education (ODMEs) to make it official.

What is a Family Medicine Residency interview like?  Any interviewing tips?

Family Medicine interviews are quite enjoyable!  Programs wanted to get to know me, the person.  I was asked questions about my interest in Family Medicine, my extra-curricular activities and interests.  For the most part, Family Medicine programs were very accommodating and interested in how their program would help me accomplish my goals.

Come prepared with questions about the particular program.  Your interview day is about finding out how you will fit at that program, so you need to do your homework first.  Create a written file of your honest impressions of programs as you interview at them.  Depending on the total number of your program list, you should keep a record for your final decisions.  Most importantly, be yourself!

Did I go on any second-looks?  How did I schedule my second-looks?

Yes. Once I narrowed down my list to 5 programs, I went back for second looks to shorten my list even more.  Of these 5, I had rotated at 2 of the programs.  The other 3 were the ones I went back to for a second-look.  I scheduled my second-looks between mid-December and mid-January.

To schedule a second-look, I contacted the Residency Coordinator of the programs.  They were very helpful and accommodating during the entire process.

When did I decide on my rank order list?

Deciding on the ranking of my programs was an ongoing process from the time I began interviewing.  Once I had finished my second-looks, my short list had narrowed down to 4 programs with a clear #1 choice.  I was re-arranging the rest of my rank order list until the last few days before the list was due.

Where did I match?

On Osteopathic Match Day, I was thrilled to match at my #1 choice!  All of my hard work had paid off, not just since July 1st last year when this process began, but also in my entire medical school career.  I am very excited to begin my career as an osteopathic family physician!

What is the best Family Medicine Residency in the U.S.?

There are no rankings of Family Medicine Residencies for the U.S., allopathic or osteopathic.  I learned throughout my residency search that there is no such thing as the "Best Family Medicine Residency in the U.S."  The key is to identify your own educational and professional goals and priorities, and find a program that will help you accomplish those aspirations.  The very best Family Medicine Residency in the country is the one that is the best one for you.