How to Plan Preliminary Year Interviews

Certain specialties (neurology, radiology, ophthalmology, dermatology, PM&R, etc) are considered “advanced,” which means that you’ll need a preliminary year (either internal medicine or transitional year) before you begin residency in your specialty of choice. Applying to these preliminary years can add to the stress and cost of applying to residencies.
Here are some tips that can save you money and time:
1. Ask whether preliminary year programs will interview you on non-official dates that would fit your schedule better. Preliminary year programs are usually more flexible with interview dates. If you’re doing an away rotation in or just visiting a certain city, and you have an interview invite there, reach out to the preliminary year program to ask whether you can just drop in for an interview while you’re in town. It won’t always work, but it’s always worth an ask!
2. Check whether a program’s preliminary year is linked to their advanced residency program. Some “advanced” programs actually guarantee a certain number of prelim spots at their own program. Ask in advance so you don’t waste an extra application and don’t have to worry about interviewing separately.
3. Cluster your interviews together. If you’re traveling to many different cities for preliminary year interviews, consider grouping your interview dates together over the course of a week or two. This can save a lot of money, especially if you’re doing interviews in bigger cities — you’ll be able to find lots of cheap nonstop flights.
4. Bring your luggage to interviews. Preliminary interviews are usually very casual, and most applicants will bring their luggage. Since interview days usually end in the early afternoon, this gives you flexibility in finding better and cheaper flights. An extra bonus: you can usually find other interviewees to share a ride to the airport.

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