Do I even want to go into fellowship? How do I decide?
The Council of Pediatric Subspecialties has a wealth of information for future pediatric subspecialists. Highlights include specialty-specific information here: https://www.pedsubs.org/about-cops/subspecialty-descriptions/ that includes not only descriptions of specific specialties, but also specialty-specific advice for building your strongest application.
OK, I’m in. What’s the Timeline?
Each year and each program has its own application details and deadlines, but all pediatric subspecialty fellowships are on the same calendar. Like residency applications you apply through ERAS and match through the NRMP.
Typically ERAS opens for applications in early July and programs begin offering interviews in the late summer and early fall. Most interviews are done by the end of November. Match day is usually in December.
The most current ERAS application deadlines are here:
The most current NRMP match deadlines are here:
How do I build my strongest application?
Every subspecialty has its own culture and priorities, but some things are universal:
Focus on residency! Developing your foundational skills in core pediatrics is more important than getting a leg up on subspecialty content.
What about research?
Again, different programs and fields will have different priorities, but one completed published paper is worth more than five active projects that aren’t completed. Evidence that you saw something through to the end product is quite meaningful – fellowship directors know that you don’t have dedicated research time in residency for major projects.
Who should write my letters of recommendation and how do I get them?
You should get at least 3 letters; very few programs ask for more than three.
One should be from your program director – email and set up a meeting with Lisa McQueen sometime in the spring to discuss your application and your letter. The other two should be from faculty members who can speak to your clinical skills in the specialty you are seeking. In most cases, this is a faculty member in the specialty, but you can also get letters from faculty in other fields with related skill sets. For example, if you are applying to cardiology, have a letter from an intensivist is completely relevant.
Give your letter – writers a month, and meet with them to ask for the letter and share with them your career goals. Having a copy of your CV and your personal statement really helps facilitate this. When you register on ERAS, you will be able to identify your letter writers and generate a pdf with a unique code which you send to your letter writer so they can upload your letter on their own. You’ll get notified by ERAS when that letter is uploaded. Important – and this freaks people out every year – you do not need to receive confirmation that your letters are in before submitting your application. Submit it when ready; if your letter writers haven’t yet uploaded you can gently remind them but you do not need to wait for their letter before you upload and submit your application!
What should be on my CV?
A few guidelines:
Be prepared to discuss anything and everything that you put on your CV.
More recent entries are more important, but relevant experiences from medical school and even before are still fine to include if they are relevant.
Don’t pad your CV. Listing teaching you gave on rounds to the medical students as “oral presentation” is disingenuous and it won’t look good.
What about my personal statement?
Again, lots of variability in how much attention and what kind of attention programs pay to your personal statement, but in general, programs want to understand what your career goals are and whether they have the resources and mentors to support those goals. Write about the areas within the specialty that are of particular interest to you. Use the personal statement to connect any of your scholarly work to your career goals. Be specific, be professional, and focus on your goals.
How do I prepare for interviews?
Every summer our program prepares a fellowship interview boot camp, including mock interviews and a subspecialty faculty panel. It’s helpful to get different perspectives and to get feedback on your interview style. Last year we held virtual mock interviews and we will plan to do the same this year. While you can’t predict every question, you should most definitely expect some version of these:
- Why are you choosing this specialty?
- What prompted you to apply to our program?
- What do you think you might focus on for your scholarship?
- What are your career goals? Academic or community practice?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years?
- What questions do you have for me?
A note about the 2021 – 2022 season: At the moment it appears that this season will also be conducted virtually but we’ll keep you in the loop if anything changes.