Dear Doctors,

I am currently currently a third year medical student but already thinking about residency applications. I am hoping to end up in a particular major city, as I am tired of being so far away from my family. They pretty much all live there. Is there anything I can do during interview season to help my chances of Matching to a spot in my home city?

– Homesick


Dear Homesick,

It’s great to hear from you! I actually was in a very similar situation when I applied to FM residency. I wanted to relocate to Chicago from Michigan to be back with my twin sister and also to be closer to my then boyfriend (now husband!). My strategy was to apply to every FM program in the city proper and not turn down any interviews there. I also wrote letters after the interviews to those specific Chicago programs I liked, stating that it was a priority for me to come to Chicago and why. I had to work harder to prove I wanted to come, having no clear connection to the city. You are already in a better situation because you have a clear connection to the area.

After I was accepted to my Chicago program, I would later be a part of the recruitment team. I learned firsthand that letters like the one I wrote do make a difference. Programs want to hear that they are valued and why. Of course geography wasn’t the ONLY reason I chose my program, but it helped for them to realize that a big move (to cold weather!) was something I was more than willing to accept!

Full disclosure, I think my strategy was successful in part because FM is not an overly competitive specialty…although Chicago is a popular place to practice overall so harder than baseline so there’s also that. Don’t be afraid to show your love for your city!

Good luck!

– Dr. Brittani


Dr. Brittani James

Brittani James, MD is an Academic Family Medicine Physician who teaches medical students and residents and practices on Chicago's South Side. She co-founded Med Like Me with her twin sister Dr. Brandi. Read their inspiring comeback story From Self-Doubt to MD. Feel free to send Dr. Brittani a message here.

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