Do you wonder why obtaining a degree in medicine is often described as a journey? The reason is that it can be a lengthy and complex process. Becoming a physician requires many years of education, exams, multiple applications, and a thorough licensing procedure. To some, success in this journey means finishing each step as quickly as possible.

However, rushing could put a pause on your ability to receive a medical license. If you fail to achieve high grades during medical school, don’t have a strong CV/resume, get poor scores on exams, or have old letters of recommendation, you might not be accepted into the residency program of your choice or even any program at all. Although the 2020 Main Residency Match resulted in more seats than any year prior, roughly 7% of U.S. graduates and 41% of IMGs, did not match into a residency program.

To increase your chances of acceptance into your preferred residency program, you may consider deferring your application. Taking a year off between medical school graduation or your internship can provide you the time needed to become an exemplary residency applicant. Below we outline three reasons you should consider deferring your residency application.


    1. You Lack Real-World Experience

You were so busy trying to keep your grades up and take each step of the USMLE during medical school that you have little real-world experience. When you look at the experience portion of your curriculum vitae or resume, it pales in comparison to that of your peers. Taking a year off can give you time to gain experience by participating in rotations, volunteering at hospitals, or completing research and subsequently publishing your findings. Each of these experiences can impress residency programs and increase your odds of being accepted. For more information on the residency application process, click here.


    1. You Need a Good Score on the USMLE

Your grades in medical school were good but, they could have been better. To even those grades out, you need a great score on the USMLE. By choosing to wait a year and apply for residency later, you will have time to prepare for all steps of the USMLE or just those you have not taken yet. If you do decide to defer applying to residency for this reason, just be sure you are motivated and hold yourself accountable when it comes to preparing for the exam. If you don’t, you may realize you have wasted a year with little to show for it. On the other hand, if you prepare really well for the USMLE during this time, you might receive a USMLE score that helps you earn a residency spot in a program you really wanted to get into.

One point to note is that the USMLE is changing to pass/fail in January 2022. This does not mean you should not study if you are planning to take the exam after this date. If you fail to pass the USMLE, you can retake it but it will cost you. Traveling to the U.S. to take the exam and paying for the exam can add up. For more information on preparing for the USMLE, click here.


    1. Your LoRs are Old

You haven’t participated in a clinical experience or stayed in contact with a medical professional in some time. The letters of recommendation you are planning to apply with are just over two years old. Deferring your residency application a year can provide you with the time needed to get new LoRs. You can earn these letters of recommendation in several ways. Earning them through a clinical experience means you will have more items to add to the experience sections of your cv or resume, as mentioned above.

Upon completion of one four-week clinical experience with AMOpportunties, you may request an LoR from the precepting physician. If you want to refresh all three of your LoRs, you can participate in three clinical experiences. AMO offers in-person and online clinical experiences. Both types of experiences allow you to earn the LoRs needed to apply for residency in the U.S. For tips on how to obtain a great LoR, click here.


Want to refresh your LoRs or gain real-world medical experience?

Apply for a clinical experience with AMO today >