SO attending WashU MSTP program next year; how hard is it to get a residency there? (Current MS I)

Jan 17, 2012
Hi all,

I need some advice. I am a first year medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine. My boyfriend is moving to St. Louis this summer to attend WashU's MSTP program. WashU's MSTP program is phenomenal and he can't turn down the opportunity, but we would like to try to stay together. That being said, I don't want to do more than three years of a long-distance relationship, and therefore I want to know how hard it is to get a residency in St. Louis (either WashU or SLU) and if those programs are any good. Since my boyfriend will be there for 8 years it could work out if I were able to land a residency out there. I am interested in Emergency Medicine but I am not totally sure what residency I want to do (but I know for a fact that I am not interested in doing surgery or something ultra-competitive like ortho, radiology, etc.)

Here are my questions:

How hard is it to land a residency at WashU? I know it is an insanely hard medical school to get into, but how about their residency programs? I know that for medical students, it is possible to do couples matching, but since my SO is doing MSTP we can't do that. For significant others of MSTP students, is there any way that they can make it easier for me to relocate there for residency (assuming I do well in medical school in Utah?) If I can't match into a residency out there, is it possible to take a year off and reapply to the match (sort of like medical school)? Are there any other ways that medical students from another school can improve their chances at matching at a certain university? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


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The competitiveness varies by residency program, though WashU does have pretty good programs in most things. Matching at WashU won't be a piece of cake, but I do think that they will take into account your ties to the area and school itself when it comes to residency applications. And there are of course other residency programs in St Louis at SLU, Mercy, and other hospitals in the area, so when you come to that point, those are things to consider as well.

At this point, you should focus on doing well in school and next year do well on Step I. One thing that can help as a fourth year is doing an away rotation at WashU in your desired specialty so they can get to know you. I've also known of students from other medical schools who have done research rotations at WashU after first year or during fourth year, but I'm not sure how much effect that would have on residency applications. WashU has a reputation of regarding research highly so I would suggest thinking about doing some sort of research project during you schooling if that's something you are interested in.

Another thing that I have seen is people transferring to WashU from other schools during medical school. I don't know how difficult it is but I know of two people who transferred into the current 4th year class as 3rd years. I'm certainly not suggesting you should do this, but I'll put it out there as an option that I have seen people do.

But really the best you can do to optimize your chances of matching at WashU, in StL, or really anywhere is to do well in school and on boards. It's an unfortunate situation to be put in to feel the need to match to a particular location, which I totally sympathize with, but it comes with going into the medical field and also dating within that field.


Give Em' the Jet Fuel
7+ Year Member
Nov 6, 2011
As Ksmi said, it all depends on the residency program and the strength of your application. For EM, WashU is generally middle of the road in terms of competitiveness (largely due to location and because its a 4yr program). SLU is less competitive than WashU. Besides those schools, U Missouri and SIU are both less than 2hrs from St. Louis.


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Jun 22, 2009
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Virtually impossible to answer the question when you're an MS1. Is it hard to match into (any) Wash U program if you barely crack 200 on Step 1? Very. But if you knock your Steps out of the park and get involved in research - and have a legitimate reason for wanting to be in St. Louis - it becomes easier, though the sheer reputation of the place still makes it highly competitive.

I can't speak to EM, only IM. SLU is not considered highly competitive by any means. As a poster above mentioned, there are other non-competitive programs within a few hours driving distance of St. Louis. So if you're willing to sacrifice/compromise on which residency you attend, you should be able to get close to STL (assuming a moderately strong application). Matching at Wash U is obviously tougher - despite the location, it's academic reputation is still top-notch - and entirely dependent on your application.