What is an away rotation?
An away rotation, also known as an audition rotation or sub-internship, is an opportunity for you to rotate through a radiology department at an outside institution or hospital. There are two sites to find away rotations: VSLO (most common) and Clinician Nexus. Rarely, a program will organize its rotations, so check their website or reach out to a program directly.
Do you have to do away rotations?
No, but with increasing competitiveness in radiology, away rotations can be highly beneficial for you. This is a wonderful way to show interest in radiology, find new research opportunities, find a mentor and get a strong LOR, and get a foot in the door for programs that you have a strong interest in. Away rotations do not guarantee an interview; however, programs are more likely to strongly consider these applicants.
Where should you apply?
It is important to be realistic about the programs you apply for. Use Residency Explorer (example below), Freida, or Doximity to assess your competitiveness and identify “target” programs for who you are a good fit. Rotating at a “reach” program won’t hurt, but with limited time and money, it may not be the best decision. Interviews are not guaranteed, especially at “more competitive” institutions.
When should you start preparing to apply?
It’s best to PLAN AHEAD and start preparing in the winter of the rotation cycle:
Make a list of the programs you are planning to apply to. Using a google sheet to keep track of programs can be extremely helpful, like this sample here.
Applications will open Feb-May at random times, so keep track of the dates. Programs may give rotations first-come first-serve so you want to submit as soon as applications open to increase your chances of being selected.
Start gathering required documents, which are program specific. Most programs require a professional photo, CV, background check, drug screen, immunizations, and titers.
Some programs require a letter of recommendation and/or letter of intent (example).
Upload all these documents ahead of time so you are ready to submit when applications open.
When should you schedule your aways?
Rotations from June – February can benefit you, but you will likely have limited availability depending on your medical school schedule and cost limitations. There are benefits for each part of the year.
Earlier rotations: With ERAS applications due in September, you should rotate at least one radiology program and get a strong LOR (home or away). Although you can upload letters afterward, it is ideal to have a LOR uploaded by end of September. This would also be a wonderful time to form a bond with a mentor to help guide you through the cycle if you do not have one yet.
Later rotations: There are mixed opinions about rotations from October to January. These can be helpful for getting an interview at a program, especially when they realize how much they love having you in the reading room!
How much money should I expect to spend?
Some programs will have tuition fees, application fees, charge by student type (esp. DO or IMG), or require additional lab work. Housing can be expensive depending on the city - check out RotatingRoom, Furnished Finders, or this Facebook group. Some programs provide housing or discounts so also make sure you reach out. We also have a list of URiM scholarships for away rotations! With all of these considerations, you might spend around $1500-2500 per rotation.
What do I do after I accept an away rotation offer?
Once you accept an invitation, immediately withdraw your application for other programs for the same date range. You do not want to deny an invitation to a rotation as it could potentially affect future interview offers. Additionally, follow up with the accepted rotation for any paperwork or training required to be completed.
How to use residency explorer
Let's say an applicant was interested in residency in New York near family. After filling out their profile, Residency Explorer compares the applicant to matched residents, with outlined dots representing less competitive, grey being similar to, and darker dots representing more competitive compared to matched residents. It also displays how many of the matched residents are MD, DO, or IMG. In this example, the target program would be Nassau University where the applicant is more similar to the matched residents.
Other factors to consider are regional or personal ties to a program, special tracks that the program offers, and locations that you are truly interested in. Residency Explorer only offers vague comparisons, so if your dream program does not align with target programs, seek personalized advice from your faculty advisor.
search for programs
Use techniques in this video to search for programs of interest. We also recommend using Residency Explorer to identify target vs. reach programs.
Find application dates
Search for radiology rotations and after finding programs you are interested in, select the institution name to display when applications open for browsing and submission. Write both of these dates on your tracking sheet.
Find REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
From your programs of interest, look at the application requirements from last year, as these usually stay the same. Write down anything additional you need i.e. LOR, personal statement, labs or background check. Start working on these requirements during Winter so you can have all required documents by the application date.