Department Website: med.unc.edu/pediatrics
Faculty Member Contacts
Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Associate Professor and Pediatric Student Director
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
FAQs / Additional Info
How do students get assigned a career goal advisor?
We will assign you a CGA in April. You can tell us if you have a preference, but we will spread students out so each can have our full attention. If you have questions prior to that (usually with schedule), please email the medical student coordinator (Lynn West) who can direct you.
What should my Individualization Phase schedule look like?
Truthfully, it doesn’t much matter, but here are some things to consider:
1) If you are undecided and want to know what, for example, anesthesia is like, get that out of the way early so you can choose a specialty with comfort.
2) Schedule an intern-level rotation (inpatient acting internship, ICU month) sometime b/w March and July so you can have a faculty letter in by September. Your goal is something that says “functions at the level of an intern.” ID consults or outpatient pulmonology doesn’t work for this reason.
3) Don’t leave the country in October when you need to schedule interviews and cannot communicate quickly. Save these for the spring. Also don’t plan any intensive rotations late October through early January, as this is when you may be interviewing.
4) If you are a branch campus student, I personally but strongly recommend coming to Chapel Hill so we get a chance to know you. Many times now, we have been at rank meetings where we just do not have as much to say authoritatively about students who we didn’t see perform clinically at UNC or interact with our residents.
Do all my rotations need to be in Pediatrics?
Definitely not. There are 2 schools of thought: 1) I need to be as prepared for internship as possible. These people focus heavily on peds. 2) I’m never going to have a chance to see PM&R, urology, etc and want to be more well-rounded for residency. Besides, I have 3 years of training where I’ll learn nothing but pediatrics. Either is correct and totally acceptable.
Should I do an away rotation? What in?
Are you geographically restricted or really interested in a particular program? Then yes. Otherwise it is optional and does not help nor harm you with that particular program if you do not. It may help if you are particularly set on a program, particularly one that you think may be a “reach” for you and you can thrive clinically.
Do I need a rotation at UNC if I spent my time in Charlotte/Asheville/Wilmington?
YES! If you have zero, repeat zero, interest in UNC as a potential residency spot, then maybe. Otherwise, you really need to show your face and be known by our residents so you aren’t a stranger when it comes time to residency selection time. Every year this happens (particularly from the Charlotte kids) and every year someone is lower on a list than they probably should because it looks like no interest was made. Take something that will put you in contact with residents, so something at UNC (not off campus subspecialty clinics in Raleigh) or at WakeMed or Moses Cone with our residents.
When do I need to meet with my career goal advisor? How do I prepare?
Your primary meeting will happen sometime usually May to July. It lasts at least an hour. We will meet as a group in October to discuss interviews and again in Jan/Feb to discuss rank lists (optional). We are available to you anytime otherwise, also.
How many letters of recommendation do I need? From whom should I get them?
Three or four letters:. 1 departmental, 2-3 others (usually 4 total)
- Peds clerkship
- Intern-level rotation
- Other (either another clinical, or from significant research/service/project mentor, or from another discipline if applying to a combined program)
- Departmental Letter – Mandatory, written by your career advisor on behalf of the Chair. This is a cumulative letter of your accomplishments, including clinical, academic, extracurricular activities.
When do I ask for my letters? What do they need?
At the end of your time with an attending, I recommend testing the waters by asking if the attending would consider writing you a “strong letter of recommendation” for residency later. If yes, ask them again sometime May – Early August by email. Then if they still say yes, letter writers should be provided with these three things:
- Personal statement (does not have to be final version)
- ERAS Cover letter (this is a unique identifier and needed for letter upload).
Pro tip: try to remember memorable patients or experiences this attending observed you care for. Can add to a letter substantially.
How do I determine the best programs I should apply to?
Realize it is individual. In general, start with geography. Be realistic about where you would actually want to live; if you wouldn’t live in NYC, don’t apply there! After geography, consider quality of program. Board pass rate is a reasonable surrogate. There are also rankings (fraught with bias) on doximity. Try not to get dissuaded by anecdotal sites like Reddit and Studentdoctor.net. A great place to start is FRIEDA; it’s free to register and can break programs down and cross-reference them. Useful for couples matching and figuring out which places have both programs. After choosing an initial list, take a look at their websites. Figure out what you care about (tracks?, clinics?, size of program?, fellows?, diversity?, etc.). You’ll figure this out as you are on the interview trail, also. Finally, give a realistic thought to competitiveness. Your advisor will help you with this.
I just got this great piece of news…do I need to notify programs
This is hard. AOA, yes, though if you are nominated for AOA you could consider waiting to submit your application, as you would likely be notified of your election prior to the submission deadline (though do not let the ERAS deadline pass!).
Step 2 scores are automatically added, so only notify programs if it substantially changes things, as they will look at the score eventually anyway. Some programs may wait for missing pieces to come in, so if you didn’t get Step 2 done in time for the score to be in to programs by 9/15, then you might want to send an email. Other awards, probably not unless they are well-known and substantial. Notify coordinators by email (do not call), and never program directors.
My LORs aren’t in and ERAS just opened!
Programs know that faculty members are busy people who are often late with things. Letters typically don’t clinch/rule out an interview invitation. But this is why you should give your letter-writers so much advance notice that when you check in with them 7-10 days prior to ERAS opening, they can remember how much they have procrastinated and get it done.
I am waitlisted for an interview at X and I’d really like to see that program. What do I do?
Talk to your advisor. We can send an email on your behalf. Also, if you have some weaknesses in your application, January may be a great month to interview at some of the more competitive programs where you were originally waitlisted, and others have canceled. In fact, reaching out to those programs with a call or email in January can help you get off a waitlist.
I didn’t get an interview at X program. Should I send them a “letter of intent”?
This is a new thing. And it isn’t particularly helpful, either. A better approach is to let your advisor know ahead of interviews being released where you really want to go and, if we deem it reasonable, we will send an email on your behalf. Ahead of time.
Should I send thank you letters to programs?
Yes. Email or handwritten is fine. Your thank you letters should remind your interviewer of the key highlights of your conversation and thank them for inviting you to interview. Slight nod to email as you can sometimes get a response from faculty and it is quicker and free.
Should I send a letter to the program I am planning to rank #1?
People have different opinions on this. If you do it should be only to the top. Not to any other program. It should be a brief email, to coordinator and program director and state why you are ranking them #1 and why their program fits you.
How do I respond if a program reaches out to me after my interview?
No program or residents or faculty should ask you your rank list. Or fellow students, honestly. Just say thanks and tell them how excited you would be to be at their program.