Updated August 2015.
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. The other group are those with competitive dreams or particular needs for residency that make fourth year that much more stressful. 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, not to mention that 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. 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.
For the 2015-16 application season, they’re offering another deal for the readers of this site, $699 for the whole package by using the coupon code BW699 at checkout. I’ll also get a few bucks for referring you if you sign up, and you’ll get a warm feeling inside for supporting this site in the process. Regardless, I wouldn’t bother writing this at all if I didn’t think it was a substantial discount for the full product making it a worthy consideration for those so inclined.
So if you’re in the market for professional help, $699 will get you a team of physicians working with you on everything from day 1. As a cost comparison, non-physician professional editing for personal statements runs around $150 on the lowest end and more commonly around $300 and is of course not done by physicians, who are the actual intended audience. From my research online, physician editing typically costs $500-1000 just for the personal statement.
And if you do sign up and use their service (or other consultants), please come back or send me an email to let me know how it goes.1 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.