How PGY2 interviews differ from PGY1

You’re in it for another year. Congratulations. The time spent now will pay dividends in the future.

Since you’re in the market for a PGY2, it likely means you’ve also been successful in landing a PGY1. From your experience in the interview process, you can take much of what made you an attractive candidate the first time around and apply it again this time. But there are some key differences you should consider when preparing for PGY2 interviews. Here are some of my tips for landing the PGY2.

The dinner before

For many programs, the night before the interview, there may be a dinner in a casual setting with the RPD, residents, or some combination of program representatives. While we’re known to be a libatious group, this is not the time and place to drink the RPD under the table. While it’s completely acceptable to have one alcoholic beverage with dinner, one tip I picked up over the years is to play it safe, order something you don’t like. Chances are you won’t drink much of it, nor will you drink it quickly.

That being said, certainly do not (under any circumstances) feel obligated, pressured, or coerced into feeling like you should drink. Regardless of the rationale behind, if you have any objections to alcohol, don’t partake. It should not impact your candidacy in the slightest way.

Know your “Why”

Why another year? Why this specialty? Those are two questions you must be able to answer. For many RPDs, having an understanding that the candidate really knows what they’re getting into helps predict what kind of year they will have as a resident. So digging deep into this question is central to much of the interview.

With Emergency Medicine specifically, I try to figure out whether the resident is truly interested in EM, or is doing this since critical care is too competitive, or they’ve just heard the job market is good. While those aren’t necessarily bad reasons to choose a specialty, they don’t necessarily mean you’re going to be a wonderful resident. Since much of PGY2 can be self-directed and rely on the resident’s genuine interest to keep reading, keep questioning, stay late, show up early – you really have to love the content. 

Although the typical response to this for EM is generally “the fast pace,” or “interaction with physicians/nurses” are all well and good, they’re also the most common answers. What sets candidates apart is when they can tie an experience they had to this “why.” Whether it be from an EM rotation they had, a critical patient that led them to learn more about EM care, or a personal experience of their own as a patient, making this connection a personal one can truly set a candidate apart.

Meet your match

With PGY2s, you’re more likely to spend a substantial amount of time with your RPD when compared to PGY1. With certain specialties, there may only be one preceptor available, and it may be the RPD. In these cases, you’re going to want to ensure your personalities are compatible.

While the goal should not be to find your new BFF, you shouldn’t be put off by other personality types. By having someone who is invested in your progress, but has a personality that can help you develop by pushing you, challenging you and allowing you to grow as a professional, you will be better suited to enter into a job setting and still achieve your goals no matter the leadership therein.

Do you have any other tips or advice for PGY2 interviews? Leave a comment below.


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