With 165 AOA Accredited Family Medicine Residencies, 97 Dually Accredited Family Medicine Residencies and 386 ACGME Family Medicine Residencies, how could any osteopathic medical student possibly narrow that down to choose any of them?

Here's a breakdown of what you should look for:
  • Location: It’s the most important aspect. You should think about where you want to end up after residency. You should ask yourself - Do I want to go back home? Do I want to try some place new? Do I want to be a rural doctor?  Do I want to work in the city?  A lot of people end up practicing where they have trained because they become comfortable with the area and the specialists that you refer to.

  • Fit: The second most important aspect after location is fit. Do you fit in with the program director? Do you fit in with the residents? Do you fit in with the hospital? Do you fit in with the location? Try to spend as much time as you can with people you may be working with at the hospital. Try to get a feel if you fit in or not.

  • Size:  Do you want a relatively small residency that’s 2 to 3 residents per year or one that has 5 to 6 residents per year.  

  • Opposed or Unopposed: An opposed residency is one that has other residency programs in the same hospital. An unopposed residency has solely family medicine residencies in that hospital. If you are going to be in an unopposed residency, you are going to get a lot of experience in a lot of different aspects. There will be more hands-on time, but it will be a heavily in-patient-focused residency. In an opposed residency, it will generally be an out-patient-focused residency and you will get different perspectives from other residencies and specialists that will shape the way you learn.

  • Culture and Mission: Is it very focused on academics, or community service or research and does that fit in with how you want to be a doctor?

  • Office or Clinic: In office-based settings, you will see a wide variety of insurances and patients.    In a clinic setting, it’s generally a more underserved, underinsured populations.

  • Education Style: You should ask - Are there once-a-week conferences where you block put part of the day or is it more  informal or formal morning reports. Know what works for you?  

  • Focus: Are you focused on pediatrics or OB? Find a program that has a lot of focus on those aspects.

  • Elective Potential: Does the program allow you to go outside the specific hospital system?  Are you going to be able to do international rotations. How many electives do you get?

  • Fellowship Potential: Find out if other residencies have gone on to do fellowships? Is the residency program associated with a fellowship? Have other residents gone on to do a fellowship?

  • Community or Academic Based: Academic centers will have more fellows, so you get less time seeing patients, but you might get more time with teaching from the fellows. With community- based hospitals, you might see less pathology, but you have more hands-on experience to handle the more bread-and-butter aspects that family doctors deal with in an ongoing basis.