Residency Interview Questions
Ask the right questions to find your match
Family medicine residencies reflect the broad scope and versatility of the specialty. Therefore, programs can be quite unique and different from one another. While every family medicine residency program is required to meet certain specifications and minimum requirements for accreditation, each has autonomy to adapt its program to meet the needs of its community, the strengths and interests of its faculty, and the training goals of its residents.
A strength of the family medicine specialty is the exposure to a variety and breadth of curriculum during residency, which helps you evolve and hone your skills and knowledge when starting out in a practice and advancing your career. When considering a residency, weigh each program’s curriculum, faculty, benefit package, community, and other offerings. Family medicine residencies should provide well-rounded training, even for residents with an interest in a focused area, like sports medicine.
Use the questions below during interviews to learn about a program’s focus areas, strengths, challenges, and to determine if they fit your preferences. These questions were developed with input from family medicine residency program directors and are organized by topic area.
Most residency program websites provide basic information about the program’s structure and philosophy. Meetings with faculty members and program directors are your opportunities to go beyond surface information. Use these questions to ask about curriculum, rotations, processes, past accomplishments and graduates, the future of the program, and elicit feedback about what life will be like as a resident.
- Where are most past graduates located?
- Which type of practices do past graduates go in to after residency?
- How do you perceive your program compared to other programs?
- What are the program’s strengths? What makes the program unique?
- What kind of feedback have past graduates given you about your program?
- Which rotations are conducted at which hospitals and clinics?
- What other residency programs are on-site?
- How and how often is feedback provided to residents?
- How would you describe the patient demographics?
- What community service programs does your residency offer?
- What changes do you anticipate in the program during the next three years?
- In what ways is the program an innovator in education?
- Can you give me an example of how the program handles X, Y, or Z (Be specific. Ask about scheduling, leadership development experiences, away rotations, navigating different approaches to complex situation, etc.)?
- Can you describe the community? What do you enjoy the most/least about living here?
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The time you spend with a program’s residents is important to understanding what it would be like to become a resident with the program. Use these questions to ask current residents questions about the learning process, expectations, community service opportunities, lifestyle, and any other practical issues related to training.
- What was the most important factor that made you choose this program?
- What is a typical week/month/year like for a resident in PGY-1, PGY-2, and PGY-3?
- What is call like? What kind of backup and supervision is provided?
- When leave of absence becomes necessary, what happens?
- What community service opportunities are available?
- How do you and other residents deal with the stress of residency? What does the residency offer in terms of wellness programs?
- What do you and the other residents do for fun?
- How do you view other residency programs at the institution and what are your interactions with them?
- Which areas or processes are helping you learn the most?
- What are the program’s strengths?
- In what areas could improvements be made to the program?
- What are your plans after graduation?
Family medicine residencies require that residents have exposure and experience in obstetric care, including spontaneous vaginal deliveries. Students who are interested in delivering babies after residency, or providing care in complicated or surgical deliveries may want to apply to programs that offer training above the minimum requirements. The average family medicine resident performs 48 spontaneous vaginal deliveries, including 10 with continuity patients from their own panels. Use these questions to ask about women’s health and obstetrics care.
- Which obstetric procedures are available in the program?
- What are the learning processes for training in obstetrics? Which faculty teach obstetrics?
- If there is an obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN) residency, how do family medicine residents work with faculty and residents in that program? Which residents cover call for OB service?
- Could you describe the residency’s relationship with the other departments or services that provide OB care?
- How would you describe the program’s OB experience?
- How many deliveries does a typical resident handle in your residency? Will I have an adequate volume of deliveries in training to be trained to handle deliveries in practice? Could you describe options to have more or fewer deliveries, and what that might be like?
- How many continuity deliveries does a typical resident handle in your residency? Could you describe options to have more or fewer continuity delivers, and what that might be like?
- Can you tell me about a resident who has (insert your own educational goals), and how she or he has accomplished that goal?
- Does the program participate in Reproductive Health Education in Family Medicine (RHEDI) certification for pregnancy termination procedures?
- If the residency program does not offer training in pregnancy termination, what are the options for me to receive that training?
Family medicine residencies are required to teach procedures commonly performed by family physicians in ambulatory and inpatient settings. Many residency programs offer training in additional procedures their faculty has experience or interest in, and/or that are needed in the communities they serve. It’s also possible to receive procedural training through partnerships and relationships with other specialty departments and services in the context of your family medicine training. A great resource on procedural skills you can expect to receive is the Consensus Statement for Procedural Training in Family Medicine Residency(www.afmrd.org) created by the Council of Academic Family Medicine organizations. Use these questions to ask about those and other procedural training opportunities in your residency interviews.
- Could you describe your curriculum as it relates to procedural skills in family medicine? Which procedural skills training does the program offer?
- What is your philosophy regarding procedural skills in family medicine?
- How do residents get exposure and training in procedural skills?
- How are procedural skills taught? Is simulation used, and if so, for which procedures?
- Which women’s health procedures are taught? Is training offered in point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS)?
- Which procedures are regularly billed?
- Do residents work with other specialty departments or services for procedural training? If so, could you describe that relationship and your residents’ role?
Family medicine is unique because of the importance it places on advocating for the health of patients, families, and communities. Family medicine residencies have health policy training integrated into curriculum. Some residencies offer opportunities for training and exposure in health policy and advocacy, as well as flexibility for residents to pursue leadership roles in state, regional, or national positions.
- Does the program have leadership curriculum?
- Are residents supported in external or organizational activities?
- Does the program support time away from training to pursue leadership opportunities?
- Have your residents held external leadership roles? If so, which roles and how has the program made that work with residency schedules?
- How has the program balanced accommodating or opportunities that require time away from residency with the curricular requirements of the program? What arrangements could you potentially see making for (state your own interests)?
Global health and international service opportunities vary widely by program. Some programs may serve a large community of patients who are immigrants or refugees, requiring the development of strong global health skills. Use these questions to determine how well a residency program will help you meet your goals for international experiences.
- What is the goal of the international rotation?
- Can you describe the field experience (e.g., clinical activities, public health initiatives, community activities, patient education, or other activities)?
- What is the cost of international experiences to residents?
- What opportunities exist to seek additional funding for international rotations?
- Will I have professional liability insurance while participating in an international rotation?
- Will my employee benefits (e.g., health insurance, dental insurance, etc.) continue while I am abroad?
- How long are the rotations?
- What time of year do residents travel?
- Are certain years (e.g., PGY-1, PGY-2, PGY-3) prohibited from participating?
- In what country (or countries) do the residents engage in international activities?
- Have residents ever designed their own global health experiences? If so, can you provide some examples?
- What policies and processes are in place to ensure resident safety during travel?
- How many residents have participated in international experiences in the past two years? Can you provide some examples of their projects and experiences?
- Who are the faculty involved? What other international experiences have they had?
- Whom do I contact to get more information?
- Does the program accept medical students for trips?
- What are the didactics (e.g., lectures, reading, discussion, debriefing, etc.) of the rotation?
- Does the program accept residents from other programs for trips?
Not all residencies offer training in osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT). Use these questions if you’re interested in this type of work. You’ll probably need to check availability.
- What access do residents have to faculty who teach osteopathic principles and practices?
- What opportunities does the program have for OMT procedures?
- Does the program bill for OMT?
Family medicine residency programs are specifically required to have residents assess community, environmental, and family influences on health. Ask these questions to learn more about the populations you’ll be treating if you join a program.
- What are the clinic’s primary patient population in the program? Are there opportunities to serve underserved patients?
- What is the program’s training curriculum in population health? How will this prepare me to approach population health and health equity at my practice?
- How will I learn to address social determinants of health, population health, and the interface between primary care and public health?
- Where do residents see patients outside of the clinic (nursing homes, free health clinics, home visits, telemedicine, community health events, etc.)?
While fellowships aren’t required after family medicine residency, if you plan to pursue a narrower focus in family practice, use these questions to help you prepare for a fellowship.
- Describe your personal fellowship interests before asking the following question: How could this program prepare me for fellowship training?
- How will I receive adequate training to prepare me for a fellowship, while ensuring that it’s not to the detriment of other aspects of my training?
Not all family medicine residency programs prepare residents for academic and/or research careers. Use these questions to see if the program will meet your goals for an academic or research career.
- How does the program support the research interests of residents?
- How do residents meet their scholarly requirements?
- Can you describe noteworthy (or award-winning) scholarly activities of residents in the program?
- Does the program support opportunities to present or publish research? How does the program support residents for these opportunities?
- Are there opportunities to achieve additional graduate degrees during residency? Can you give me an example of a resident who’s done this and how the curriculum was structured? How long did it take?
Family medicine residents interested in sports medicine may need additional training outside the standard curriculum. Use these questions to ask about curriculum and other details in sports medicine.
- Does the program offer curriculum in sports medicine? Does the program’s faculty practice and teach these skills?
- Does the program serve patient panels with sports medicine needs?
- Could you describe the program’s relationship with other specialty departments or services that provide sports medicine services or training? Do the program’s residents have opportunities to work with or learn from those groups?
Fewer than 15% of family medicine residencies incorporate integrative medicine practices into their curricula. Use these questions to ask about the program’s approach to teaching and practicing integrative medicine.
- What is the program’s philosophy on integrative medicine?
- How does the program incorporate integrative medicine into the practice and training?
A program’s structure and culture will have a significant impact on your residency. Use these questions to ask questions about how wellness fits into the overall training program.
- Could you describe the program’s wellness curriculum?
- What is your philosophy regarding resident wellness?
- How will the program’s culture help me grow as a physician?
- How does the program assess resident wellness and well-being?
- How does the program evaluate whether it has delivered on residents’ expectations, based on training opportunities they anticipated as an applicant?
AAFP App: Find and Rank Residency Programs
The AAFP app makes it easy to organize your residency search. Use the tool to research programs, create a customized scorecard to rank residencies on what matters most to you, track your application process, and more. Just download the app and visit the "For Students" section.