Choosing a Specialty: Checking Competitiveness


This is an important point. No matter how attracted you are to Dermatology, if you have only a mediocre academic record and you are bound to a single geographic location for personal reasons, your chances of actually getting a residency spot are very small. It is important to be realistic.

To check your competitiveness and the relative competitiveness of different specialties, consult the following resources:

Canadian Residencies:

  1. CaRMS Statistics/Match Report  – by looking at the numbers of applicants for each discipline relative to the number of positions for any given year, it is relatively straightforward to assess how competitive a given specialty is in Canada.
  2. CaRMS program descriptions  – each individual program description for a specific program at a specific university contains a section called “Selection Criteria” which will give you an idea of whether or not your profile meets their minimum criteria.
  3. Quebec décrèt – each year the QC government issues the number of residency positions in each specialty that will be divided between the four QC faculties of medicine; this, in conjunction with class interest in a given specialty, will contribute to how competitive a specialty will be within QC (and at individual QC schools) for that match year. You will receive the specific décrèt for your class during the fall of your fourth year.

US Residencies:

  1. NRMP Match Report – by looking at the numbers of unmatched applicants per discipline and by looking at the number of positions offered relative to the number of applicants for those positions, one can determine the relative competitiveness of a given specialty in the US.
  2. Charting Outcomes of the Match 2009 – this document provides very detailed profile information (including USMLE scores, research experiences, etc.) of matched and unmatched applicants for most of the major specialties in the US.

Next: Considering a Backup