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Tackling Residency Red Flags

The road to residency does not always run smoothly. Regardless of best intentions, hard work and dedication, many residency candidates hit bumps along their journey into US medical residency. 

Typically, these obstacles or challenges are called “red flags” as they may raise questions for Program Directors and Interview Committees.

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The Three Most Common Red Flags in the Residency Application

There are three main sections of the residency application that can have red flags: the USMLE® exams, Background Gaps, and Supporting Documents.


The USMLE® exams are typically the most frequent red flags to appear in your residency application. You can have low USMLE® exam scores, multiple USMLE® attempts or USMLE® score gaps.


If you have been out of medical school for +5 years or left the medical profession and want to return you have what is considered Background Gaps.


There are also a number of red flags that can appear in your Supporting Documents such as the Personal Statement, Letters of Recommendation, and MyERAS Common Application.

Learning about your red flags and understanding them can help you create your Plan of Action and better prepare your residency application to overcome any red flags in your path.