Planning for Fellowship

In case you missed it, here is the April 2023 fellowship preparation powerpoint reviewing the nuts and bolts of fellowship. 

Some highlights of this presentation:

Important Resources Highlighted

Fellowship Application_ Spring 2023 v1 (1).pptx

In case you missed it, here is the January 2023 fellowship preparation powerpoint. 

Some highlights of this presentation:

Important Resources Highlited 

Fellowship Planning Session

Interested in Fellowship?

Applying for fellowships can be a stressful process. It not only involves making major decisions that will impact your life, but also requires creating a competitive application and preparing for high-stakes interviews, all while you are still fulfilling your responsibilities as a resident. We are here to help you on this journey. Below there's lots of useful information from roadmapping the application process to tips on writing your personal statement. 

If you are planning on applying to fellowship, please set up a meeting with Dr. Johanna Daily ( 

Be an Early Bird!

Creating a successful application for fellowship does not start one or two months before applications are due. Starting the process a year before you apply can ensure that you are ahead of the game.

Here are some things to think about during the year before applying...

Decide on your subspecialty

You may be someone who knew you wanted to be a cardiologist when you applied to medical school or you may still be undecided about specialties. 

If you are in the second category, try to find clinical experiences in the subspecialty during your elective period, ambulatory block (for outpatient-focused specialties), or inpatient rotations in specialties that you are considering (for specialties with a heavy inpatient load, such as cardiology and oncology).

Talk to fellows and faculty in the specialty to learn what their life is like. Discuss your choices with advisors (e.g., your residency program director) or mentors. 

You might also find the NEJM Resident 360 blog post Family Medicine, Rad Onc, or OB? How to Choose a Specialty helpful. 

Schedule a rotation in your subspecialty

Most fellowships want at least one letter from a faculty member in the subspecialty that you are applying for. As you set up your schedule for the year, ensure that you have at least one rotation that will give you time with a subspecialty faculty member who can write a letter of recommendation for you.

Make connections 

Get to know the faculty in your field of interest! A mentor within the specialty who knows your strengths and work ethnic, reviews fellowship applications, and has been through the process themselves can be a strong ally and even help you make other connections within the field! 

Take part in research

There are many, many ways to get involved! From assisting faculty and fellows carry out research in your field of interest to case reports, medical education or QI projects, editorials, narrative medicine--the possibilities are endless! Aim for five projects for competitively specialties. 

Assembling your Fellowship Application

As the application deadline approaches 6 months, start collecting all the documents that you need to create your application. Some components depend only on you (e.g., the personal statement and resume) while other parts require input from busy people (e.g., letters of recommendation). The earlier you start, the better! 

Here are the steps required to assemble your application...

Know the application requirements

Most subspecialties use the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Some programs and subspecialties have specific requirements, so you will want to review the ERAS website in detail as well as the relevant fellowship program websites. 

Request letters of recommendations

How many?

Aim for four letters if the number is not specified. Check program requirements on the ERAS and program websites.

Who should write the letters?

After you review the letter requirements for your programs, think about who can write a meaningful LoR about your abilities as a doctor rather than someone who will rehash your CV. Usually, one of the letters is from your residency program director. Others can be written by clinicians in general medicine or subspecialties with whom you have worked. If you have been involved in research or education projects, get LoRs from your project supervisor. Include at least one letter from a subspecialist in the specialty that you are applying for. 

When should I ask for the letter?

Asking for a letter while you are still working with a faculty member is best — and the earlier the better — as this allows them to pay more attention to your performance in real time and perhaps take note of specific strengths or examples. You can provide additional instructions on how to submit the LoR closer to the due date.

How do I ask for the letter?

First, don’t be afraid to ask! All faculty members at institutions with residency programs are accustomed to writing LoRs. You can email your request, but also offer to meet in person to discuss your career plans. Writers based outside of the U.S. may require more guidance. An international faculty member may be brief about your abilities, and this could be perceived more negatively than intended. Providing sample LoRs could be helpful.  

Here are some more helpful tips: 

Write your personal statement

Your CV and LoR may be prioritized over your personal statement, but programs use your personal statement to learn more about you. The personal statement is the only place in your application where you can add your voice and bring together all of the pieces of your application. Send your personal statement to friends and mentors to ensure that it is error-free. Keep it brief — no more than one page. 

Some questions you may want to ask yourself as you write your personal statement include:

Create your application/CV

ERAS will prompt you to input all the information that fellowship program directors are looking for, such as education, academic projects, publications, etc. Include all achievements, including ongoing projects. Be prepared to address anything that is on your application during the interview.

Select programs and submit your application

Once you have created your application, you will submit it to programs (usually via ERAS). Deciding how many and which programs to apply to will depend on personal preferences, your competitiveness as an applicant, and the type of training you seek. For example, if you are planning a career as a clinician-investigator, focus on academically oriented programs. If you had some struggles during medical school or residency and therefore do not have a very strong application, you may need to apply more broadly. Your residency program director can help you decide how many and what programs to apply to. Look at the fellowship program website to find out the career paths of prior fellows.

Acing the Interview

Fellowship interviews are often a bit more involved than residency interviews. The number of faculty members and trainees is much smaller in the fellowship program, and some fellows may stay on faculty after their fellowship. Therefore, faculty will be considering you as a potential future colleague and want to determine in the interview whether you will be a good fit.

Tips for acing the interview include: 

Some interview topics to prepare for include:

Make sure you know what questions interviewers are not allowed to ask (e.g., what other programs you applied to, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and family status). If any of these questions come up, try to make light of it and take the conversation in a different direction. Let your residency program director know if you are concerned about questions asked during your interview. 

During the interview season, register with NRMP to rank your programs. Don't forget to submit and certify your ranklist on NRMP by the deadline. Good luck!