Do Surgical or EM Residencies Like Older Applicants?

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Session 9

Ryan and Rich once again dive into the forums over at where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you. In today’s show, they discuss about residency matching for older students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Entering into a residency program in later 40’s. Family, internal medicine, and psychiatry will be amenable to the older residents, but how about surgery or emergency medicine? Are there stories wherein older 4th year’s are not considered for or are at a significant disadvantage for these two specialties?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

In some ways, older students have the more advantage in residency than traditional students.

Job experience

  • Residencies are a job where you’re expected to work in a small group and be responsible for what needs to be done.
  • Most traditional students have never had a job in their life. Older students have worked and understand what it means to be responsible, to be on time, and to be supportive of your team in doing that.

The ability to network

Going into residency has a lot to do with board score. There is a significant amount that has to do with networking:

  • Letters from your professors
  • How you do an interview
  • Small group dynamics around you


  • Each medical specialty has its own culture.
    • Rich has observed no bias in emergency medicine people in their 30’s and 40’s. As with surgery, it depends on the surgical specialty and the culture on the program.
  • More competition
    • Residency slots become more competitive.

Major takeaway from this episode

Older medical students who have done successfully in medical school, have done well in their boards, have done well in their rotations, and have done all the networking necessary to get into a residency slot, probably have as good a chance as any other student landing a spot for most specialties.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, whatever you want to do, you can make it happen!

Links and Other Resources

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Email Dr. Ryan Gray at or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.