failure to get into residency of your choice

Hello everyone,

I have an interest in pursuing Ophthalmology one day. However, I was told that Ophthalmology is perhaps the most difficult residency to get accepted into. I don’t have a second specialty in mind because I am a semester away from finishing an opticianry program. I would like to become a doctor in the optical industry and Ophthalmology is the way to go for me. Therefore, I would like to know if one does not get accepted into the residency of their choice, has four years in medical school become a waste of time? I don’t intend to have a plan B so I feel it’s like a one shot make or break situation if I choose to pursue medicine.

Etam, you have structured the question such that the only answer possible is that “four years of medical school is a waste of time”. That is to say, if you don’t get into the residency of your choice and you have no plan B, then yes, you’re wasting your time. Nobody I know, however, has limited themselves in this way. I personally would not go through the time and expense if I was not interested in being a doctor per se. The odds against getting an ophthalmology residency are too great.

There are people who take time (i.e. a year off) between third and fourth year of med school to build up their resumes with research and extra clinical time. One of my med school classmates did this for ortho and matched.

Hi, Etam. I would completely agree with what you’ve heard about getting into an ophtho residency program. It is INCREDIBLY competitive. I have a classmate and close friend who has performed extraordinarily well in classes, on Step 1, and has done research and still believes only has a 50/50 shot at getting accepted. So, of course, you will need to be at the very top of your game to get one of these residency spots. But it is certainly doable.

We have been told many times at our school that you must have a plan B if you don’t get into your residency field of choice. That may be research for a year, that may be doing residency in a transition program, or that may be research. But you need to have another plan in place in case you don’t match. This becomes even more important when applying to the most competitive residencies.


Why is ophthalmology the only specialty that interests you? With your background in optinary it actually surprises me that you are looking into ophthalmology and not optometry, not that I am an advocate for the later since I am interested in leaving the field for medicine; simply because the medical part of the profession is the part that I truely love, retail and optical just do not excite me. As an OMD you will be focused VERY little on the actual optics when it comes to spectacles, and I will be amazed if you even touch a contact lens outside of ophtho residency. The most successful OMDs realize where their revenue comes from, surgery. They do what they are good at and that is cut, most refractions and optical are delegated to technicians and opticians. If you love optics and the retail side of things you really should look into optometry, most optometry schools focus on this aspect of the profession.

I am acutally excited to see what else medicine has to offer. I may find something that gets me more excited than the eye. If you ever want to give me a call just private message me and I would be more than happy to talk to you about my experiences.

Do not go to medical school with the SOLE intent of doing ONE specialty as you are picking the most competitive and regardless of background you will be like “others” aka no preferential treatment.