I'm often asked what one can do to improve upon their resume in order to better their chances of getting into a residency. The fact of the matter is that it is extremely competitive. I thought I had an excellent resume, when I applied to various residencies. I had been a co-founder of this website, near perfect grades, excellent references, previous work in the field, and other items. That being said, I was only offered a couple spots out of the 6 residencies at which I interviewed. Now part of the failure can be attributed to a couple poor interviews, without a doubt, however, I am more than certain that there were things I could have done to improve upon my resume.
The biggest recommendation I give to residency-hopefuls is to consider every opportunity presented to you. It can be difficult to pursue some of these opportunities. When you are in school, a night hanging out with friends sounds better than volunteering to help out at a basketball tournament. Doing some screens at a soccer practice after hours is not always appealing after working a 10-hour day. However, sometimes it is things like these that can lead to other ventures down the road. Doing a little extra at your work can lead to promotions, raises, or at least an excellent reference should you pursue another job. When I first started teaching physical therapy students, I was not paid for my time. However, it forced me to know the material even better, gain experience teaching, and I believe played a significant role in getting me where I am today. When Jim first approached me about starting this website during physical therapy school, I could easily have shrugged it off and thought it wasn't worth the time; however, I latched onto the opportunity and helped develop the website to have over 4,000 followers on facebook and nearly 50,000 views a week.
Now I am not saying you need to accept every offer that comes your way, but absolutely consider it, especially if there is some higher goal to be reached. What I am advocating for is a form of long-term selfishness (some may call it selflessness). You will be presented opportunities that do not offer pay initially, but can lead to a job in the future, a payment down the road, networking, etc. These chances may have minimal short-term reward, but in the end can potentially help you reach your goal.
-Dr. Chris Fox, PT, DPT, OCS