I get a lot of questions about how we rate applicants both for interview decisions and for final ranks for the NRMP match. In general, we want housestaff who are outstanding doctors, who will make us (the department of anesthesia) look good by taking great care of patients, interacting with surgeons and nurses in the OR and be recognized for the excellent work the anesthesia residents do. We also want housetaff who will become engaged in the environment around them by getting involved in hospital, state, or national activities. These could be in research, quality improvement, or professional societies as a few examples. We also want to recruit future residents who are team players (sometimes referred to as “low maintenance” people) and become life long learners. All of these are a lot to ask for, especially when just learning the day job such as the technical and knowledge parts of the specialty (and all of its subspecialties) can be a real challenge.
It can be difficult to assess this professional potential from applications. But the outstanding people just jump out at you, right from the get go when reading their file. Thankfully, we now have more and more of these terrific candidates applying for anesthesia residency. The selection committee assesses each applicant’s: grades (especially in the 3rd yr clincal core rotations) and class rank, medical school attended, the applicantâ€™s commitment to the specialty of anesthesia (a very subjective assessment, but for example we would rather not hear that a person is switching to anesthesia from another specialty because anesthesia is easier or less demanding), research experience and potential for a future academic career, USMLE scores, communication skills, compassion & humanism, and an other category that might include: exceptional achievements, their personal statement, or really excellent letters of recommendation.