Future DR resident interested in IR

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May 18, 2020
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Wasn't sure whether to post this here or in IR. I recently graduated med school and will be starting residency in diagnostic rads after an intern year in general surgery. I'll be going to a mid-tier academic place with 2 ESIR spots/year. Right off the bat, I don't mean to come off as neurotic. I am indeed enjoying my vacation time, but I do find it valuable to set short-term goals for myself. I did not apply to direct IR programs, but have developed a strong desire to pursue this path as a fellowship after rotating with IR during my fourth year of med school
My understanding, through interviewing with DR, is that obtaining fellowship in most non-IR subspecialties is fairly easy, but I have no clue how competitive IR fellowships are. A few questions I have:

1) I read that 2-year VIR fellowships are shutting down, and 2-year independent IR fellowships will replace them. What is the difference between these two?
2) Any advantages/disadvantages to applying to independent IR fellowships through ESIR vs. non-ESIR?
3) I also wanted to know what exactly the application criteria is for 1) obtaining an ESIR spot and 2) independent IR fellowships. How much weight is placed on Step 1/2/3? Research? Letters? Med school grades?
4) And lastly, I wanted some advice on what I can be doing now to bolster my chances of getting on the ESIR path and being competitive for fellowship. I have thought about getting involved in IR or vascular surgery projects during my surgical intern year. For fellowship, I would ideally like to end up in a specific geographic region (and a specific school) in order to be closer to family.