2.03.2014

The Cost of Interviewing for Residency

Super excited to be co-hosting Medical Mondays this month - see the details and link up at the bottom of this post!  Quick catch up for those of you new around these parts: my husband is a 4th year medical student, a mere 45 days away from Match Day.  We're in the process of creating our rank list and coming to terms with the fact that we'll be leaving the city that we've called home for the last nine years.  Read about our residency journey thus far.



Nothing about medical school is inexpensive.  Interviewing for residency is no exception.  We'd been told to expect to spend anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 on interviews (oh to have a travel budget of that amount normally!).  Obviously, there are two large underlying factors in how much students spend on interviews.  The first is the type of program in which one is interviewing.  A less competitive program, say family medicine, means you can travel to fewer interviews.  A more competitive program, such as ortho, requires more interviews.  Or more praying.  Or both.  The second factor is how far from home one plans on interviewing, or in another word: plane tickets.  If many far away interviews are scheduled, you can expect to be towards the higher end of that estimate.

As soon as we started planning my husband's residency interview process, I decided it would be neat disturbing informative to keep track of exactly how much we would be spending on the interview trail.  Happy to aid in my little quest, my husband diligently kept his receipts for EVERYthing: gas, tolls, hotels, coffee, meals, plane tickets, rental cars...the whole lot of it.  He'd leave for interviews, come back with an envelope stuffed with receipts, and I'd add them to our spreadsheet.

We tried our hardest to keep costs down.  To the best of our ability, we laid out interviews in a logical order, grouping places together geographically if at all possible (so that my husband wasn't driving through Wisconsin to get to Minnesota, then coming back to Wisconsin the next week).  However, it's not like you can just call up these programs and tell them when you are available to interview.  Students receive an email saying (more or less), "Hello!  We like your board scores and you don't sound like a dunce in your personal statement.  Come see us on one of these five days to see if you like us too." And then you accept one of those dates, and hope that when the neighboring program offers you interview dates, they line up with the ones you've already scheduled.  

My husband is going into internal medicine, which isn't a super competitive field.  However, he hopes to do a fellowship, so he applied to and interviewed at some pretty competitive programs.  We took about half of the interviews granted, and it was more than we should have.  He was d.o.n.e. with interviews by the time the last few rolled around.  So he did a total of 16 interviews, and I accompanied him on three of them (two extra plane tickets).  

To keep costs down, we primarily did three things.  First, my husband drove to 13 out of 16 interviews.  Only spending gas money instead of the plane ticket/rental car combo saved us gobs (no, we didn't factor in depreciation on our vehicle.  We assume once your car is over a dozen years old, it really doesn't matter).  Second, we used and abused one of my good friend's hotel discount codes (shout out to my girl Perri - thank you for managing to stay in hospitality long enough for us to get through interviews!).  Third, Southwest Airlines.  Oh my lanta.  As interviews were rolling in, we scheduled, rescheduled and shuffled interview dates, and we were so grateful for Southwest's no change fee policy.  My husband literally changed plane ticket dates and destinations probably half a dozen times.  Had he booked on any other airline, there would have been hundreds of dollars in change fees.  

So are you ready for it?  The ugly honest number of how much we spent on residency interviews?

$4,422.37 

Rawr.  Here's the breakdown:   
Transportation (gas, tolls, rental cars, plane tickets): $2,366.91  [54%]
Food: $262.18  [6%]
Lodging: $1,305.28  [30%]
Application fees: $488  [11%]

Average cost per interview: $276.40

I feel like the average cost per interview is decent, considering the hotel alone was normally in the $75-$100 range.  Had Liam and I not accompanied him on the interviews that we did, the total would have been a couple of hundred dollars less due to the cost of my airline tickets, and two extra nights in Denver.  Aside from that, and maybe a couple of meals, there was no added cost to us going.  There was no way I was passing up trips to Colorado and North Carolina ;) 

Have any of you kept track of residency interview costs? If so, do you want to share your ugly number?  Knowing that we were recording every dime probably helped us to curtail costs, but ignorance might have been bliss.  

Without further ado...

Medical Monday Link-Up and BlogHop



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Want to co-host next month? Shoot Jane an email at fromadoctorswife@gmail.com and be sure to write "Medical Monday Co-host Request" in the subject field.

Now, link up below and have fun! The link up is open through Friday, so be sure to come back during the week to check some great reads!

10 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you are one step ahead of us and manage to blog about it so I can reap the benefits of your firsthand experience ;) Yikes on that cost, though - even with discounts and smart planning for transportation! Definitely NOT looking forward to footing that bill in a couple of years...

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  2. I wish we had kept track of his expenses in med school for interviews! We were fortunate that his parents volunteered to cover most of his expenses, but he will be applying to fellowships this fall & we are responsible for those so I will be keeping a close eye out. He just informed me he'll apply to 30-40 fellowship programs and hopefully go on 10-15 fellowship interviews - gotta love competitive specialties ;) The hidden expenses of medicine!

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  3. Everything is so expensive! Congratulations on completing interview season and best of luck on match day:-)

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  4. Thanks for the post! I appreciate your insight into this expensive adventure. And I thought the med school interview process was spendy... :-P Glad we have a couple years before we have to empty our pockets for this. :-)

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  5. Wow, I love being organized, but kind of glad I didn't keep track of that - it's almost better not to know :) But really it's all an investment that's worth it. And in the grand scheme of life, it's not soooo much money when it's part of getting to that career. If that makes you feel any better at this point... it's hard not to think about all the other useful things you could have done with that money right now!

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  6. Yikes! Oh the joys of making your way through med school. The good news, your husband is one step closer to getting an income! Woohoo! Can't wait to hear where you end up!

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  7. Very glad that my boyfriend only chose to interview at two hospitals for his cardiothoracic fellowship since it's not a competitive specialty (all the programs never fill because there aren't enough applicants). Just wait until you get to boards - about $1500 for the test; they're usually in places like Las Vegas, Orlando, etc so for most people that means flying + expensive accommodations. Plus board review materials and courses. What a pain.
    Next up for us is peds cardiothoracic fellowship interviews.. Which will definitely mean flying since there's only about 10 programs across the country.
    I'm just glad he will have the experience to help coach me through it when it's my turn.

    Wish him luck on the match!

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  8. That's incredible. I can never figure out if I'm happy or sad that South Africa doesn't follow the whole Match set-up. Ours is kind of decentralized and not very structured, each institution is on its own path and so on the one hand it's less "stressful" maybe, but on the other hand it's so confusing to keep track of!
    Definitely glad that kind of expenditure is not in my future though. Med school is expensive here too, especially considering the weakness of our currency, but nowhere near as badly as in the States.
    Good luck!
    P.S: internal isn't competitive in the States?! It's super competitive here. So interesting.

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  9. Thanks for hosting the link-up! This is very interesting, as I met my husband after he had done all this. He also did IM, and then fellowship in Cardiology.

    I wish you luck with Match!

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  10. How are all the interviews going for you guys so far? I know it's so tough in med school to afford all the travel I remember we drove to what we could. Luckily fellowship/job interviews are paid for so you have that to look forward to :) Hopping over from medical Mondays.

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[Super-sweet reminder to family and friends: please refrain from mentioning the Hubby's name, school or our city. Thanks ;)]