Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The responses below are opinions of the authors and the UM program, and should not be construed as absolutes. Consult your colleagues, Dean of the Medical School and advisor(s) for additional input and strategies.

Application Basics

What is the mechanism for applications via the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP)?

Only applicants through Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) system are considered.

Is a USMLE Step 1 score required for application?

Yes, a USMLE Step 1 score is required for all candidates regardless of medical background.

Is there a specific United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) cut-off score?

All applications are reviewed in their entirety for candidate’s strengths and special attributes. We generally avoid arbitrary, rigid numeric filters such as a “cut-off” score. At the same time, all candidates are competitive against each other. Please note the USMLE Step 1 average for U.S. senior applicants to anesthesia programs in 2018 nationwide was 230.

What percentage of your residents are International Medical Graduates (IMG)?

14%

Do IMG applicants require any previous US clinical experience?

Although not required, we have found this is very helpful and desirable to the successful applicant.

Do you sponsor J1 Visa?

Yes we do.

Do you sponsor H1-B Visa?

No, not at this time.

Are there any special requirements for foreign medical graduates?

Yes, to apply Foreign medical graduates must:

Do you take into consideration the year of graduation, and if so in what way?

Timetables outside of the usual four-year academic routine can be an asset or a concern. We will consider your experience and time utilization during and after medical school carefully. Generally speaking, do not leave any gaps in the timeline as people tend to assign an unfavorable interpretation to unexplained voids.

What is the maximum post graduation year acceptable to your program?

No specific timeline excludes eligibility, but individual circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Beware of holes in your narrative and please be sure to account for all time between graduation and now.

How many current residents are there in your program?

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has certified our program for 40 residents in training.

How do Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) affect a training program?

CRNAs are skilled anesthesia providers and key contributors to many training programs, including ours at the University of Minnesota. This delivery model is often termed the anesthesia care team (ACT) and is the routine mode in many areas of the country, especially the southeast. CRNA participation in anesthesiology training programs is highly beneficial as you should always capitalize on the vast clinical experience of the individuals you interact with. Moreover, they are the key providers who facilitate your opportunity to attend conferences, lectures, journal clubs and other opportunities on a predictable basis. Finally, as you will quite likely work with CRNAs during your future career, the more you understand the ACT system, the better. 

General Early Advice for those thinking to apply

When should I start my application process?

Early! You will want to start initial planning in May and June (the very end of the M3 year, start of your M4 year). Initial plans should include at least the following:

  • ERAS overview

  • Acquisition of AAMC number

  • First draft of your personal statement

  • Identifying and contacting people who will write letters of reference

  • Confirming your schedule for autumn, including interview times, USMLE 2 timeline, and key clinical or research rotations.

Who should I ask for letters of reference?

You need at least three letters of reference and all should be from people who know you well. Ask your advisor or other key mentors. At least two should be from anesthesiologists, and perhaps a surgeon you worked with extensively (the attributes of a good surgery resident tend to be quite similar to those which make for a good anesthesiology resident). In addition, of course, you will get your Dean’s Letter from the medical school.

Any special letter of reference required or recommended?

Three letters of reference are required; however, who you choose is up to your discretion. In general, strong letters from experts both within anesthesiology, as well as those outside of anesthesiology are desirable.

How should I write a good personal statement?

There are many strategies, and no one right answer. It must be sincere, honest, and help the program understand your unique attributes. By all means make the reader feel good about you and your message ­ be positive!

Consider the components which convey the following message(s):

  • I chose this field because…

  • I’ll be good at this specialty because…

Substantiate your claims with concrete examples or details:

  • “I am a good team player because of my work with…”

Show that your values and interests match those of practicing anesthesiologists.

Provide something interesting for the interviewer during your on-site interview:

  • My experience at the Olympics taught me…

Should I take USMLE Step 2 before I interview?

It depends. Programs will definitely incorporate Step 2 scores if available. If you sense your current Step 1 score under represents your potential, you should plan an early effort at Step 2 so this new assessment is a part of your application packet. However, we have seen a weak Step 2 score occasionally hamper a good application. Between 1/3 to 1/2 of applicants provide Step 2 scores before Match lists are finalized.

Do I need to do more than one anesthesia rotation during my 3rd/4th year?

Not necessarily. Your senior year schedule must synchronize multiple priorities, but an “advanced” anesthesia experience should be considered optional. Remember you will have 36 months of continuous training/education to become an anesthesiologist; your experience during your senior year of medical school will pale in comparison. Instead, it is recommended that you use elective time to gain additional insights and experience in key physiological systems (e.g., pulmonary, cardiology, nephrology, EKG interpretation, etc).

Should I do a research rotation in the department?

Do research because you are curious, you want to learn more about the scientific method or you are excited about a particular question or investigational project at the Medical School. In general, it is not necessary to do research as an obligatory merit component of an application packet.

What about "couples matches"?

This is increasingly common. It does require some additional time, thought, and organization on your part. Both people will need an honest appraisal of their academic record as well as the current competition within their chosen specialty. Speak to the faculty in your department about a best strategy for you and your partner.

One option to keep in mind is to seek out larger cities where multiple medical schools and training programs exist within easy driving distance of one another. This is an option that will allow you a bit more flexibility in making your decision. 

Time and Money

How many programs should I apply to?

This will vary on your geographic restrictions, as well as your time, energy, and financial resources. In general, five is a viable minimum, and the range of 5 – 10 programs is quite common. If you are looking in geographically distinct areas — say the Midwest and the West Coast — then you might be looking at up to 20 programs or more.

If you visit ten or more programs, prepare to take extensive notes with detailed comparisons. Both time and distance will blur the details from the initial interview until your last. Plan a system to organize your thoughts and reflections soon after each visit to a new program.

How much should I budget for the application/interview process?

This will vary on number and distance of programs, cost of gas, airline ticket prices, etc. An average estimate is $5,000, though some get by with considerably less, and others spend quite a bit more. Of course, don’t forget ERAS fees as well. 

Letters of recommendation

Can I get a letter of recommendation from Dr. Wall?

If you are a current student at the University of Minnesota and wish to have a recommendation from Dr. Wall, he is happy to accommodate you providing you prepare and supply him with, at a minimum:

  • Your CV

  • Your personal statement

  • Your AAMC number plus waiver letter.

After the office receives these documents, we will work to schedule you a brief interview with Dr. Wall. Please also remember that the better he knows you, the more detailed and personal the letter will be.