The Road to Fellowship?
Congratulations! You have made your decision to apply for a sports medicine fellowship. Now begins to process of gathering information about the various programs and putting together another application(s). But how do I get there you ask? This is yet another lengthy process, ideally starting in your internship year of residency.
Starting Intern Year, take part in local event and high school coverage. Utilize other volunteer positions by taking part in local conferences, talks, mass participation events, etc. During your second year, set up an away elective for the spring, ideally at a location you are thinking about applying for fellowship. Continue event/high school coverage throughout this year. During the spring of your 2nd year, attend the annual AOASM conference to network and learn about many of the available fellowship programs. Also, begin working on your personal statement. Ask for letters from 3-5 attendings you have worked with well in advance to make the application process and interview trail go smoothly. Typically, one letter will need to be from your residency or program director, and the others should come from sports medicine physicians you have worked with and can include physicians of other specialties.
Starting to gather these items early will enable you to find information about the programs to which you may apply and really consider your own goals and desires in a fellowship program (i.e., location, program highlights, academia, physician mentor, collegiate sports coverage, professional sports coverage, etc.). Regularly updating your CV to include volunteer activities, any publications you may have helped with, and all of your credentials makes the application easier.
The ERAS application website opens July 1st for many allopathic and dually accredited programs. Begin, early in July, uploading your information, volunteer activities, and personal statement. They also require you include a waiver regarding viewing your recommendation letters. For non-matched osteopathic programs contact the programs directly for their applications.
ERAS allows you to send out applications starting around July 15th. Submit ERAS payments and applications once letters of recommendations have been received. Non- matched osteopathic programs have their own deadlines, so check with them individually. Ideally, programs prefer you to apply by early September.
At this point it is wait for interview invitations. Once you have received and gone on your interview(s) make sure you send Thank You notes or emails as appropriate. You typically want to be wrapping up your interviews by mid to late October. You should review the information obtained during the interview process and pose any last minute questions to program directors, current fellows, family, friends, and colleagues.
Non- matched osteopathic and programs participating outside the match will contact you directly regarding acceptance. If you are applying to a program which participates in the NRMP (National Resident Matching Program), registration opens typically around October 12th. The last step from your perspective is to develop a rank list and submit by the match deadline which is typically around Dec 13th at 9pm. NRMP match day is typically around January 3rd annually.
FAQ: How to Apply to Fellowship
1. What residency’s can I enter and still be eligible for a primary care sports medicine fellowships?
First you must evaluate your interests and professional goals for your future career. A person interested in sports medicine can do a residency in family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or neuromusculoskeletal medicine. Remember your priority is your primary specialty!
2. How do I decide which programs to apply?
There is no right answer to this question. But most importantly, you need consider the following: what area of the country you would like to train in, do you want a community or university setting, which sports do you want included in the fellowship, are you interested in doing research, what credentials does the faculty have, and what benefits does the program offer?
3. Does accreditation matter?
It is important so you can ensure you are qualified to take the certificate of added qualification examination in sports medicine. Several programs are in the process of applying for dual accreditation or osteopathic recognition.
4. How do I strengthen my application?
Most commonly program directors are looking for experience and interest at an early level, presentations at local/regional/national meetings and attending AOASM and AMSSM conferences can help set you apart during the process. Meeting program directors and getting involved at the AOASM Annual Conference is also a great way to promote your application and learn more about the individual programs.