You’ve made the decision to apply for a PT Residency Program, you’ve made it past the “paper” screening and you’ve been invited to schedule an interview. Congratulations! How exciting!! You’ve successfully interviewed for jobs in the past as well as for the graduate program in physical therapy. An interview is no big deal, right? Well…it is a big deal. Your residency interview will be different from previous interviews in several ways. Over the years, we’ve noted some traits and trends in those applicants who succeed. By sharing the following tips, we hope that you, too, will realize your goal of becoming a PT resident.
Know the program and sponsoring institution
Learn as much as possible about the program to which you are applying. Look at the program’s website and read about its Vision, Mission and Goals. Ask yourself if they resonate with who you are and/or who you want to become. Most programs are sponsored by a health care organization or an academic institution. As you gather information, be especially mindful about understanding the sponsoring organization’s relationship to the residency program.
When you enter a residency program, you are no longer a student. A requirement for entry is having a valid PT license – you have stepped over the threshold. Now, you are moving from being in a student body to being in the work force. As a resident you will step into the relationship of mentor/mentee to assist you in the transition of becoming a professional. Do your research and understand these two important roles, as they will make a difference to your success in a residency program. Then ask yourself these questions:
· Am I ready to become a mentee?
· How will I deal with uncertainties or conflicts that arise during the year?
· What is my communication style?
· How do I currently care for myself under stress and duress?
· How do I celebrate success?
Know the various professional roles of a PT
It is common to envision becoming a better clinician by completing a PT residency program. Be prepared to discuss your clinical reasoning and approaches to patients in your specialty area and population of interest. You may even be asked to treat a patient.
Recognize that a physical therapist has many roles and responsibilities both in and beyond the clinic. Consider not only the various roles across the continuum of care: primary/secondary/tertiary care, prevention and the promotion of health/wellness/fitness, but also those in consultation, education, critical inquiry and administration.
Know where you could be going
If you are accepted to the PT Residency Program and you decide to attend, plan carefully for your transition. The geographic location of the PT Residency Program can (and will) determine the costs of both housing and transportation. Also, planning for and having a functional social support system will be critical to your success, especially if you will be spending a year away from family and friends.
If given the opportunity, ask insightful questions
If you are given the opportunity to ask questions about the program, be sure that the answers are not obvious or easily obtainable by scanning the website or by reading the program brochure. Ask a question that will help clarify a didactic or clinical experience that holds special interest for you. Hone your questions so that any you ask will help you answer your ultimate question: Is this is the best residency for me at this time in my life?
If you do not live in close proximity to the program, you may be offered an on-line interview. If you accept this alternative, make sure that you have the technical capabilities to do so.
Whether you do an in-person or an on-line interview, there are a few tips that will help you with either:
· Know that you may be interviewed by more than one person
· Dress for success
· Look at the interviewer(s)
· Be concise, yet thorough, with your answers
In summary, do your homework – if you are convinced that this is the right program for you, help the interviewers recognize and understand that you are the best candidate for their residency program.