What are you looking for in a neurology applicant?
When our committee reviews applications, we look at applications as a whole. There is not one particular characteristic that is required. We are looking to recruit a diverse group of residents with varied interests and backgrounds.
Overall, we are looking for applicants with a strong performance in medical school, particularly in the clinical rotations. If graduation from medical school is >5 years ago, continued clinical work during that time is strongly recommended. We want our residents to have a strong interest in neuroscience, demonstrated by either clinical experience and/or scholarly activity. For international candidates, it is preferable to have completed at least 3 to 6 months of clinical rotations in the U.S., with experience in both neurology as well as inpatient care. Due to the pandemic, we understand that not all candidates will have that exposure. We do not have an absolute score cutoff and are aware of the delays and postponements this year as well the alternate pathways for ECFMG certification. ECFMG certification is not required at the time of application. For LORs, there is no minimum requirement for number of neurology LORs. LORs from writers who can provide helpful information about your clinical and interpersonal skills are of the most value.
How many applications do you receive and how many applicants do you interview?
We typically receive approximately 700 applications and interview approximately 60-80 applicants for 7 positions. Due to the sheer volume of applications and our holistic review, we cannot pre-screen CVs or applications via email. We also cannot meet with or speak with applicants who have not received an interview invitation about their candidacy. Not everyone who meets the criteria stated above will receive an interview invitation; there are just too many applicants to do that.
Do you accept D.O. applications and as a D.O., is it possible to meet the licensing requirements?
Yes and yes! First of all, if you have taken COMLEX exams, you do not also need to sit for USMLE. We strongly encourage osteopathic medical students to apply to our program and have many outstanding D.O. residents and faculty. It is possible for our D.O. physicians to make minor modifications to the PGY-1 year curriculum in order to meet the criteria for licensure and we have a D.O. faculty advisor who helps with this process.
What if I haven’t yet received an interview invitation or rejection email?
If you haven’t yet been contacted, please be patient. We read carefully through all of the applications and do several rounds of reviews to generate a rather extensive waitlist. If you do get wait-listed, most of the cancellations and openings occur in January.
What should I expect during my interview day?
We are currently working on our virtual interview schedules, which will likely start in the first week of November and run through early February. We will plan to have a virtual info/getting to know you session with the residents the night before interviews. You will be provided with links to attend our virtual case conference and grand rounds on Thursday morning as well. Interviews with faculty will occur on Zoom and there will be both morning and evening (EDT) time slots offered to account for our applicants’ different time zones.
Can I come back for a second look?
At this point, we are not planning any in person visits prior to match day. However, we are looking into options for our interviewed candidates to have additional experiences either attending our morning report or participating in other educational activities in lieu of a second look. A second look has never been a requirement and we do not factor it in at all when making our rank list.
Do you have any advice for applicants on their interview day?
Virtual recruitment is new to all of us so please bear with us as we all figure it out. During your interviews, my main advice is to be yourself. And be interested. Our residents and faculty want to get to know you and we want to give you the opportunity to get to know us. Ask questions and make the most of your limited time to visit a program to see if it seems like a place that will encourage you to learn and succeed, to make lifelong connections, and where you will feel like you are part of a family.
How are your residents evaluated?
We have multiple evaluation tools that we use. We have rotation evaluations completed by your supervising attendings, 360 evaluations completed by other health personnel, patients, peers, and even a bi-annual self-evaluation! Twice per year in clinic, the clinic preceptor will observe your history and exam and give feedback. There are also 5 patient encounters called NEX’s that are required prior to taking boards. We also have several simulation trainings that occur during our boot camp, including LP, mock stroke code, brain death/coma, status epilepticus management, and seizure exam. Residents are certified in NIHSS, MRS, bedside swallow screening, and patient handoffs. Every 6 months, our clinical competency committee reviews all of the evaluations and data collected on each residents, performs a detailed performance review, and completes a milestones evaluation which is required of every resident in an ACGME accredited program. The PD will have an individual meeting with each resident every six months to review individual performance, review milestones progress, and generate a learning plan.
What types of didactics are included in the program?
On the website there is a sample monthly calendar, which provides a good example of the many didactic and conference series that are offered to our residents, fellows, and faculty. Required didactics for the residency includes weekly Case Presentation/Grand Rounds on Thursday mornings and Tuesday afternoon resident lectures (noon-3 p.m. every week with lunch provided). The Tuesday afternoon lectures incorporate curricula in every clinical subspecialty, neuroanatomy, evidence-based medicine, ethics, a journal club, and a series of board reviews prior to the in-service exam. There is also a series of outpatient neurology didactic sessions incorporated with the clinic sessions at UConn. New conferences this year include a basic neuroscience course for PGY3 and 4 residents with Dr. Greenfield and a new lecture series in Quality and Safety.
What kind of clinical supervision is provided?
All patient encounters are supervised by faculty attendings. In clinic, the clinic preceptor will see every patient after the resident initial encounter and help with medical decision making. In the inpatient setting, a teaching attending rounds on the inpatients daily. There is always an attending available either in the hospital during the day, and available by phone at night, to discuss consult and newly admitted cases. Senior residents also assist and help to supervise junior residents. For our PGY-2 junior residents, the first few months of long call (5-8 p.m.) as well as the first night float blocks are with a senior “buddy.” We want our residents to always feel comfortable asking for help and to have several months of inpatient and consult neurology under their belts before starting overnight call.
What opportunities are there for research?
All residents are expected to complete a scholarly project during residency. Most residents choose to participate in a clinical research project, but scholarly projects can also be in quality improvement, patient safety, or medical education. Usually the residents will pick an area of research and a faculty mentor in the area that they are interested in applying to for fellowship. The projects should be selected by late PGY-2/early PGY-3 and at the end of PGY-3 year, each resident presents a department Grand Rounds discussing their project as well as preliminary data and results. Then there is a whole year left of residency to complete a manuscript and present at a national conference. Many of our residents who are interested in an academic career have presented multiple posters and published journal articles as residents. There are many faculty who will eagerly mentor resident projects and who can help residents to be successful.
What kind of mentoring is offered?
Each incoming PGY-1 is assigned a senior resident peer mentor. In PGY-2 year, each resident selects a faculty mentor. This doesn’t have to be the same faculty who is helping them as their research project mentor. In addition to these mentors, mentoring occurs all the time. Residents are encouraged to get lots of advice from many faculty about fellowship and career questions!
What do you like about being a residency director?
As a resident and a chief resident, I always loved teaching as well as being able to make improvements in my own training program. Being a residency director has been an amazing experience—watching my residents transition from a beginning intern to a full-fledged neurologist is extremely rewarding. Now many former residents are faculty and medical educators making a real difference in our field! I enjoy the process of making our program better all the time and adding rotations and experiences as our departments grow. Now that I am an experienced program director, I have become involved in leadership and teaching of other program directors. I am committed to help make positive changes in medical education!
One of my favorite parts of being a program director is meeting neurology applicants during recruitment. I look forward to meeting you, even though this year it will not be in person!
Dr. Erica Schuyler