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About Tianwei Ellen Zhou and Andrew Karaba

Tianwei Ellen Zhou graduated from McGill University’s MD-PhD program and is now is a resident in ophthalmology at Université de Montréal. Her PhD research focused on retinopathy of prematurity, a blinding eye disease that affects many premature infants.

Andrew Karaba is a fellow in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University. He completed his MD and PhD at Northwestern University, where his thesis research focused on herpes simplex virus pathogenesis. Following completion of the Medical Scientist Training Program he completed a residency in internal medicine through the Osler Medical Training Program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Residency is the one step between a medical student and a full-fledged physician. For some people, residency is also the time to grow their career and family. It is a period that demands hard work and long hours. Your choice of program, therefore, is incredibly important. This decision will shape you professionally and personally. This chapter lists a number of significant factors that should influence your choice; as you are reading, we encourage you to make a very honest pros-and-cons list for each factor. The chapter will operate under the assumption that you have decided on your preferred specialty, perhaps thanks to your learning experience in your rotations, as discussed in Chapter 19. Even so, by no means is this an easy choice, and you do not need to make it alone. We encourage you to consult friends, colleagues, family, and resources, including this one. The process of becoming an intern once you have been accepted is the topic of the next chapter.


  • Match your residency location based on your career plan and lifestyle.

  • Mentorship and didactic teaching are important for residents.

  • For your interviews, be prepared and practice!

  • Collect good stories from your clerkship so that you can use them in the interview.

  • Take advantage of pre- or post-interview socials.

Choosing Your Residency


The location of your residency program directly impacts your lifestyle. Large North American cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal, or Toronto offer fun summer festivals, dynamic art scenes, professional sports, and good restaurants—great places to relax and recharge when you are not on call. But traffic and rush hours are inevitable. Housing can be expensive. And finding a parking spot (if you can even reasonably maintain a car) can easily turn into a treasure hunt. You might be able to get around with public transportation, but keep in mind that you are often working odd hours, so residents may need a car. If you have children or are planning to start a family, moving to an area with a good school system or affordable housing becomes relevant. Will your significant other have job opportunities in the city? Is the ...

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