Residency Program Research

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Choosing a residency program is a fairly important decision.  You will be there for at least 3 years, so you want to make sure you find the best fit for you.  I’ve talked before about what to look for in a residency, but how do you find that information?

I have four simple sources of information: VIRMP description, program website, mentors, and existing residents at that program.

VIRMP Description

The description has been standardized for many years now.  Programs are required to put in salary, what equipment they have access to, and number of cases, for example.  I suggest paying particular attention to the number of faculty in direct support of the program.  I know programs where there was only one faculty and that person left, leaving the residents in a bind.

Besides the boilerplate information, each program also writes their own description.  There’s usually a lot of generic information in here like “good mentoring” and a description of learning opportunities.  Usually contact information is given here and I suggest you reach out to the program supervisor to express interest in the program and inquire about an interview (unless directions on doing interviews is written into the description- then follow those directions).

Program Website

Once you’ve narrowed down your potential list via the VIRMP descriptions, it’s time to research each practice.  I would visit the practice website to get a sense of what they do.  Some university websites are good, some are rubbish.  I’m not sure it necessarily reflects on the program, but it’s nice if you can find a page which describes the residency program.  You may also research the location- can you get affordable housing in walking/biking distance?  What is the cost of living like relative to the salary?


Your mentors in the specialty are probably your best source of information.  I believe I can speak reasonably intelligently about the majority of anesthesia programs in the US and Canada, because I know the people at those programs.  One mentee gave me a list of programs they were considering and I gave them a 2-3 sentence assessment of each.  Academic veterinary medicine is a small world and your mentors should know what’s up.  Use their experience and perspective.

Current Residents

You should absolutely take time to email and possibly call or video chat with the current residents.  Most residents will be happy to provide perspective on the program.  I would suggest asking “What do you like” and “What would you change, if you could?”  You can also ask about the caseload, their own experiences, and how they get on with the specialists.

Selecting a residency is an important step, and you want to make sure where you end up doesn’t make you miserable.  Doing research is absolutely essential.  Are there any other sources of information you think are helpful in researching residencies?

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