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Pediatrics Residency Questions

What advice would you give about getting letters of recommendation in your specialty?

Approach someone you have worked with on a rotation or in a volunteer activity.  Ask if they can write a strong letter of recommendation.  Give the letter writer plenty of notice, but also make sure they have a clear deadline.  Give the letter writer your CV, personal statement, including test scores and let them know of any concerns on your record so they can help address them if possible and any other pertinent information that may help them. If it’s been a while since working with this person, it’s helpful to send them a copy of their clerkship evaluation of you to refresh their memory!

What is the value of doing audition rotations in your specialty?

I think they can be helpful. I would be careful about doing a sub internship at a program that you are interested in. You will be compared to students in that program who already know the system. Better to do elective rotations. Getting to know faculty and residents can help your chances of getting in.  This allows a possible letter writer the chance to see you in action and gives the program a chance to do the same. The residents/staff you work with will all remember how much a part of the team you were.

To what extent does research, publications, or presentations affect one’s ability to match in your specialty?

Not a make or break for pediatrics unless you want to go to a more competitive program. They are helpful in general but not a “deal breaker”.  The pediatric match data don’t really show a major difference in match rate with respect to publications, etc. 

Is a Step 2CK score needed before you will invite someone for an interview?

No. It is helpful if Step 1 score wasn’t the best.

What does the perfect applicant look like in your specialty?

Well-rounded. Performs average to well in clerkships, is a team player, has volunteer efforts. More or less in descending order of importance: Glowing letters of recommendation, outstanding interview skills, excellent grades and step scores, meaningful volunteer and research experience. Prior life experience before med school. 

Does having a below average Step 1 score doom you in your specialty?

No, just make sure the rest of your application is well-rounded. Consider taking Step 2CK earlier and do well! Talk with school academic office for test taking strategies if you haven’t.  It may limit your choices of programs.

Would you ever take someone with a Step 2CS failure?

Yes. Biggest red flag is failing multiple step exams.

Does a student need to Honor in your specialty in order to match?


The students have significant elective time during their 2nd and 3rd year for career exploration. 

What electives would you recommend to a student who knows they are interested in your specialty?

More hospital or clinic time of any variety but in general peds. Would consider a few specialty electives for pediatrics to see if this is something you are interested in.  High yield would be: dermatology, orthopedics, cardiology, ID, GI, psych.

What electives would you recommend to a student who is undecided but considering your specialty?

More hospital or clinic time of any variety but in general pediatrics.  Talk with faculty about what they like and don’t like about the specialty.

Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you feel an applicant to your specialty ought to know?

Take the time to talk to the residents in the field you are considering and see what a day is like in their shoes and imagine yourself there. They are the best representation of what it is currently like and can best answer specific residency related questions.  Go to conferences when on “audition rotations” to get to know as many residents/faculty as possible. Make yourself known and that you are interested.  Many students are concerned about the number of programs they should apply to.  For an average student applying to pediatrics, 12-15 interviews should be adequate, as long as there is a good mix of programs.

Pediatrics Residency Data

Length of Training: 3 years

Mean USMLE Step 1 score = 228
Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score = 243

Mean number of programs applied to: 31

Programs: 199

Match: NRMP Main Residency Match

Program Interview Invites (%): Completions (%):
Before Oct. 1 37 1
October 45 18
November 10 34
December 6 32
January 2 15

Average hours worked per week: 47


Sources: NRMP; AAMC
Updated: 01-2019