Preparing medical school students to successfully attain residency though the National Resident Matching Program® (Match®) is one of the highest priorities at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC). With this goal in mind, AUC launched the Physician Match Advisory Program in 2013. Since then, over 40 medical students have taken advantage of this resource and successfully matched in residency programs at hospitals across the United States. The specialties entered include fields such general surgery, anesthesiology, family medicine, and psychiatry.
Lee S. Cohen, M.D., a program advisor, explains his role in the program, shares his thoughts on its benefits to students, and offers advice for those entering the Match.
AUC: Dr. Cohen, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Dr. Cohen: I’ve practiced psychiatry for over 32 years, primarily in the New York area, and in addition to other academic roles, I currently serve as the director of Psychiatry at the Clinical Neuroscience Center at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.
My primary specialty is in adult psychiatry, although I’m double board certified as an adult psychiatrist as well as child and adolescent psychiatrist though the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
The areas that I’m particularly interested in are psychopharmacology and neuroscience. I’ve presented papers on these topics at the National American Psychiatric Association meetings and have also authored published research in several medical journals. These include the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Journal of Child and Adolescent Pharmacology.
AUC: How did you come to be part of the Physician Match Advisory Program at AUC?
Dr. Cohen: In 2007, I became involved with running the psychiatric clerkships, and now neurology electives, for AUC students completing these rotations at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital. During this time I got to know a great deal about the university, its clinical program and more importantly the students.
When Dean Chumley shared her vision to establish a Physician Match Advisory Program for fourth year students, I was intrigued. The residency application process is intricate and for a student to successfully match, many factors need to be carefully considered. My experience with residency programs, including both from a student advisory role for US medical students and as a residency committee member, meant I could offer a unique perspective.
Since the program first launched, I have advised over a dozen students and look forward to working with other students in advance of the 2015 Match season.
AUC: What are your thoughts on the program’s benefits to AUC students entering the Match?
Dr. Cohen: Every AUC student entering the Match should take full advantage of this program as early as possible. The potential benefits to a student are vast and can positively impact each step leading up to the all-important Match Day.
As an advisor, I am able to work with students to develop a Match strategy based on their academic performance, see how it aligns with the desired specialty, make recommendations to improve their personal statement and CV, and provide tips and tools for standing out during the residency interview.
Meeting with an advisor such as me allows students to more easily navigate the Match application process. They can learn how to apply, where to apply, and ultimately maximize their change of a successful match.
AUC: If there was one piece of advice you could offer to all students entering the Match, what would it be?
Dr. Cohen: Keep an open mind. This may sound simple, but for many, it is not always an easy concept to grasp. As is likely the case at every medical school, not all students have a stellar academic record, but with an open minded approach they can match into a well suited specialty which is of interest to them. This approach is also applicable to those students with the “complete package,” i.e. great grades, excellent step scores, and high letters of recommendation.
There are so many areas of practice a student can go into. If their interest is in primary care, they can match into internal medicine, family practice, or pediatrics. Each of these falls under the primary care umbrella, so when entering the Match it is important for students to see each of these as options to consider.
Open mindedness also extends to geographical preference. Be open to locations other than your home state, or a region you have a particular affinity for. Be open to different hospital settings; include university hospitals and community programs.
There are many paths to success if a student is open-minded.
AUC: As someone who went into a competitive field, is there any particular advice you would give an AUC student who wishes to do the same, e.g. a student wishing to go into a filed such a neurology or anesthesiology?
Dr. Cohen: Have a backup specialty and be flexible. This isn’t to dissuade their application into that ‘first choice,” but it would be wise. Since there are decidedly more limited residency slots than there are graduating medical students, competition is fierce. A student who has highly competitive USMLE® Step scores, but only applies to a specialty with few slots, and limits the region they apply to, is only hindering their chances of successfully matching. As an advisor, I would suggest picking a backup specialty with more availability and expanding the range and location of programs they apply to. This could make all the difference at the end of the day. Let’s remember: the goal is a successful match. That is the key.
Posted August 25, 2014 10:55 AM