I get emails all the time asking for residency application advice. A lot of these come from IMGs, which isn’t surprising: applying to residency in the US from the outside is stiffly competitive, and the support/advice from home isn’t always sufficient. To profitably fill that void are the “residency consultants” and their ilk, like the folks who wrote The Successful Match who would also love for you to be their client on not one but two (ugly) consulting websites. A lot of these guys are former associate program directors in fields like internal medicine who applied to residency themselves in a different era. In many cases, the nitty gritty details and current application climate are probably better known by recently matched fourth years and residents in your specialty of choice, and being involved in interviewing and selecting candidates in one field at one institution doesn’t necessarily make you an expert in the whole process. Great consultants probably exist, but the credentials they spout are a red herring.
I don’t think US allopathic students who are thoughtful and reasonably competitive for their respective fields generally have a significant need for a comprehensive application review. Depending on how supportive and useful your student affairs department and faculty advisors are, many US MDs who are reaching a bit (but flexible) are also likely doing just fine on their own for the most part. But for others, particularly IMGs, a service and all-around helping hand to go over every nook and cranny of your application, help you fix your mistakes and take the right angles, polish your personal statement, and prepare you for interviews is obviously of value. Given how much you have to pour into ERAS, traveling costs, etc–shelling out for a residency consultant may be too much insult to injury, even for those students who are among those who would benefit the most. While I’m generally suspicious of a lot of “advice” (and you often get what you pay for), but there’s no doubt that the perspective, experienced editorial services, and advice you get from qualified people who don’t know/like/love you is going to better approximate the things that will help you when the same sorts of strangers review your application or interview on the big day.
Game Set Matched is a residency consulting company with a polished online package. It’s a team of people with a network of contacts and not one random guy in one random place. So if your application requires unique expertise, they have additional folks who’ve matched in multiple fields in multiple places (and from multiple countries) who they can tap for additional knowledge. You create an account on website for free and then fill out the forms with your ERAS information including demographics, CV, personal statement, etc and then (once you pay) the folks at GSM respond to your application point by point. They edit your personal statement. They ask you interview questions, review your online answers, and then critique those too. When you have questions throughout the process, they will answer them. The whole package normally costs $999 (you can buy the components separately for $399), which–while entirely reasonable–is more than I would have ever considered spending from my loan coffers as a medical student.
Since the interview season has already begun, they reached out to me this past week with an offer for the readers of this site, $399 for the whole package by using the coupon code BW399 at checkout (good until rank order lists are due, 2/25/15). But better still, when I then asked if people could sign up now with the discount to use for next year’s application cycle, they said yes. 1
So if you sign up and are applying this year, they’ll help you prepare for your interviews. They’ll review your application and help you figure out how to communicate with programs and present yourself on the trail. If you don’t match, you can use it again next year.
But if you’re an MS3 or IMG who is planning on applying next year (2015-16) and think you could use all the help you can get, then this is the time to sign up, because $399 will get you a team of physicians working with you on everything from day 1. As a cost comparison, professional editing for personal statements runs around $150 on the lower end (and is not normally done by physicians, who are the actual intended audience). So while the deal for this year is good, the deal they’ve agreed to for next year is excellent. You have until the official end of the interview season, February 25, to buy GSM using BW399 at checkout.
And if you do sign up and use their service (or even other competitors!), please come back or send me an email to let me know how it goes. 2 The reason I began writing about medicine on this site was what I felt was a lack of reasonable information online when it came to medical education, and there’s still not enough.