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Psychiatry Residency Questions

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

It’s important to develop a good, working relationship with someone you would like to receive a letter of recommendation from. If you are seeking a letter from an attending psychiatrist, it is important that they know your clinical skills are strong and have seen you interact with patients fairly regularly. The more they know about your background and any specific areas of interest you have, the better. It is helpful if they are able to comment on how other faculty perceives you as well, so be sure to develop good relationships at the institution even if you won’t be seeking letters from those individuals.

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

These rotations are invaluable in psychiatry. As the specialty becomes more competitive, programs are going to be more likely to select for applicants who have shown their commitment to the field by doing auditions. Away rotations are a separate matter, but doing an audition rotation at your home institution, even if not required, is highly recommended.

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

These are things that will definitely set an applicant apart from others, but are presently not required to match well in psychiatry. For students who may have struggled at times, these will add to the “body of work” that helps show dedication to the field and research in particular. Institutions will always view research interest as a favorable trait and if an applicant has already demonstrated aptitude in this, all the better.

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

There may be exemptions made in some cases, but overall the answer is that a Step 2 CK score is needed for invitation to interview.

What does the perfect applicant look like in your specialty?

A good academic track record is always helpful, but most importantly we would like to match applicants that have displayed dedication to the field of psychiatry and understand the role psychiatry plays in modern medicine. We are most interested in applicants that are psychologically minded and have a good grasp of diagnostic nuances.

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

It does not doom applicants. As psychiatry becomes more competitive, more and more applicants will be falling along the average score. This will make it tougher for applicants with below average Step 1 scores to stand out. Showing an improvement on Step 2 CK is a reassuring step that applicants can make to show programs that they can pass these board exams.

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

We would rank someone who had a CS failure, but passed it on a retake prior to match deadline. We would not rank an applicant who has not passed Step 2 CS prior to match deadline.

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?

The Psychiatry Consult elective would be a good experience for students who have a strong interest in psychiatry as it interfaces with other fields.

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

Inpatient or Emergency Psychiatry electives would be more patient intensive rotations that would ensure the student had maximum exposure to the widest range of pathology in the field. Procedure based electives (ECT or TMS) would also be good options as well as specialty clinics (like treatment resistant depression, chemical dependency, or geriatrics).

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

It’s very important that applicants realize that the residents they meet on rotation or during interviews are one of the best ways to judge whether or not a program would be a good fit for them. Likewise, they should recognize that the residents they encounter could be their strongest advocates when the rank meetings occur.

Psychiatry Residency Data

Length of Training: 4 years

Mean USMLE Step 1 score = 226
Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score = 239

Mean number of programs applied to: 35

Programs: 193

Match: NRMP Main Residency Match

Program Interview Invites (%): Completions (%):
Before Oct. 1 19 1
October 54 18
November 18 31
December 6 30
January 2 20

Average hours worked per week: 46.5


Sources: NRMP; AAMC
Updated: 01-2019