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Applicants: How to research programs of interest

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by notdeadyet, Mar 24, 2011.

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  1. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    I thought it might be helpful to the Class of 2012 and future medical students to start a thread about how to research programs of interest as they prepare to apply.

    I've gotten a few PMs and have seen threads and posts from folks who don't seem aware of how to go about learning some of the basics about different programs for themselves.

    I'll kick it off, but I'm hoping if anyone else has a few tips of how to go about researching potential residency programs, we might be able to help future applicants make more informed decisions and cut down on the "How heavy is UCI's call schedule?" threads. Post your tips now, while they're still top of mind.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  2. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    FREIDA allows you to search for basic information about Psychiatry residencies using different criteria. You can get a list by location (state or region), subspecialty (combined programs and fellowships), or any combination thereof. You can also filter by things such as a academic vs. community environment and class size.

    FREIDA is a great place to come up with an initial list of options of programs in areas you'd consider living that have fellowships you're interested in available in an environment you'd enjoy working. This is a good first step to get a list of potential programs as well as URLs for their web-sites.

    Note
    : FREIDA sometimes has out-of-date information and anything you learn here needs to be validated elsewhere. Some are pretty glaring (such as fellowships that no longer exist). But it's a good first step to make sure you don't overlook programs that would be great for you just because they don't get a lot of airplay on SDN or at your medical school.
  3. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    After coming up with a few programs you're interested in, please don't immediately email folks or start threads with questions like "What do you think about Acme University? Specifically, I'm wondering about class size, pay, benefits, location, rents, psychopharm, psychotherapy, fellowship opportunities, faculty involvement, etc."

    Every year, students are asked to post their impressions of different programs after going through the interview process on the Interview Review threads (though with less participation each year... editorializing...).

    For each program, posters list things such as:
    • Day of interview details
    • Program overview
    • Faculty
    • Location, lifestyle, etc.
    • Benefits
    • Program strengths
    • Potential weaknesses

    These threads are goldmines not just for programs you're considering, but also to get an idea of the range of possibilities. A single post on Acme University is helpful, but reading through what folks have to say about other programs, you get an idea of the what's out there by which to compare Acme.

    Below are the links to the last three years of Interview Review threads:
    There are older review threads as well, but I'd caution against reaching too far back, as you'll possibly get pretty out-of-date information.
  4. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    After whetting your appetite with reading review(s) about your program, consider going to the Psychiatry Forum on SDN and doing a targeted search:
    1. Click on the link on the right-side Search this Forum
    2. In the window that pops up, choose Advanced Search (do not use the box that appears outright, as it gives poor results)
    3. On the next page, input Acme in the Keyword box. To limit your results, choose Search Titles Only in the drop-down below the search box
    4. The default Search in Forum(s) will be correctly limited to Psychiatry if you start the search (and above steps) from within the Psychiatry forum

    Doing the above will produce a page of anything that had Acme in the thread title. Expect lots of "Acme vs. Standard U vs. Backwater Community???" and the like.

    Tips:

    • If the above doesn't produce sufficient results (and for smaller programs, it might not), expand your search by using the drop-down Search Entire Posts, which will show any post that has your program mentioned. Expect lots of chaff with your wheat.
    • The search function doesn't like boolean searches so try limiting your search to one term. Harvard AND Longwood or "Harvard Longwood" will each produce the same results set of anything mentioning Harvard OR Longwood. Try using Longwood or another single-term specific names.
    • Many programs go by multiple names and you might have to do multiple searches. For Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami, you'll get a different result set by searching Jackson and Miami as two separate searches.
  5. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    Yes, the information might be heavy on marketing-speak. Yes, the information might be old. Yes, the quality of the website is no indication of the quality of the program. But you'll find answers to a majority of your questions just by looking at each program's website itself and browsing through each page. Shouldn't take more than 15 or 20 minutes for each program.

    You may be surprised by what you find and it may very well alter your decision on whether or not to apply a program or to do so intelligently.

    Did you know OHSU has an Intercultural Psychiatric Program that has a pretty cutting edge approach to dealing with culturally sensitive treatment of immigrant and refugee communities? I didn't, and didn't expect to see something this in fairly-white Oregon. Discovering this excited me about the program and turned a program that I might have not applied to at all into one that ended up near the top of my ROL.

    Did you know that UCSF will not rank you unless you are able to submit proof that you completed and passed all of your Step 1/2? I didn't. Learning this ahead of time allowed me to schedule my Step 2 CS early enough to ensure that results were back in time. Several SDNers did not know this and could not rank what might have been their dream school.

    SDN is a great source of information, but it's no substitute for going to the horse's mouth as well.
  6. atsai3

    atsai3

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    This is great. Thanks for the contribution.
  7. Fermata

    Fermata kekeke

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    It is not updated nearly like it used to be but some information can also be gleaned from Scutwork.
  8. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    Deleted, bad info, apologies....
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011
  9. st2205

    st2205

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    It's been updated a little more than that. For instance, the University of Utah was updated last fall. Granted, this was a medical student and not a resident posting, but it was the first one off the top of my head that I know was updated recently. St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital has had 3 updates in the past few months. I haven't read the reviews, but now looking at it 3 reviews in a couple months on what admittedly is a dead site may seem a little fishy. In any case, I remember occasionally stumbling upon ones that have been updated in the past couple years.
  10. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    Ack. You're right. I was looking at date the program information was updated, not the reviews themselves. Scratch that.

    I still didn't find many recent program reviews in the ones I was looking at, but it looks as if scutworks is still breathing, albeit shallowly.
  11. zac16125

    zac16125

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    Thanks for starting this thread. Also, good to see scutwork is back. It was completely down a couple months ago and only accessible through archive websites. Maybe now that its back it will become a little more active, unlikely but would be nice.
  12. st2205

    st2205

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    That really would be nice. It'd be great if every resident lurking here would post even a small review of their program.
  13. BPlaysItCool

    BPlaysItCool

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    As nice as that would be for us. It makes perfect sense to stay quiet as a resident. While I get the sense reading here vs other forums that psych programs are more benign you won't hear a peep from me after match. Except in pleasant passing remarks regardless of what I think.

    Even though I'm a critic of medical culture in general, I take the same approach to my medical school. There's just too much to lose by having an opinion on such matters. And very little upside to expressing yourself honestly with regard to your bosses or the systems they operate in.

    This is common sense of course.
  14. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    Yeah, except for the whole pride and dignity thing.

    If folks refuse to speak their minds (intelligently and appropriately) and refuse to take stands (that are well thought out) all the way through med school and residency, they might want to accept that they're probably just folks who will not be ones to ever really speak their minds or take stands.

    There's always good reason to not speak the truth or try to implement unpopular change. Folks refusing to criticize their organizations is the reason so many organizations are malignant. And one of the reasons that change seems so glacial in this environment is that you have so many folks cultured to not speak out, not take stands, etc. And most of them probably thought it was just a temporary strategy they'd take to get through med school... residency... fellowship... junior attending... etc.
  15. BPlaysItCool

    BPlaysItCool

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    Well good luck Custer.

    I think I'll go for surviving. Not that I don't see your point. But. Just being that outgunned. Makes no sense to me.

    Besides. Is some crap from this or that school or program such a crusadable venture. Not for this serf.

    Edit: More towards your original goal. I have used you search technique explicitly and have learned an enormous amount about psych programs of interest. So thanks for the tips.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011
  16. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    On the upside, your feeling this way may just more a reflection of your school's culture. You may find yourself a little more comfortable making yourself heard at wherever you end up in residency.
  17. FutureDrO

    FutureDrO

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    Thanks for the tips in this thread notdeadyet. :thumbup:
  18. Daftrage

    Daftrage

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    I have to agree here. Go check Scutwork for university of south Florida psychiatry from about 4-5 years ago. It is pretty crazy. Also look at that thread earlier where a guy who interviewed at the University of Chicago spoke out and was identified by a resident and was threatened.

    I think the best approach would be to do everything you can in house trying to correct any issues, such as talking to PD and not air your issues online. If the program is unreceptive to you then it's a pretty good bet that you are being risky taking it to a public forum.
  19. st2205

    st2205

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    I think there's a huge difference between giving an honest review of a program -- highlighting strengths and weaknesses -- and coming out and bashing programs. I don't think 'program bashing' is synonymous with 'program review' in the context of this thread. Also, I'd venture to guess that more people than not are content with their program, so when people say reviewing programs on scutwork it doesn't mean airing dirty laundry. There are plenty of good things about programs that I'd like to hear, not just the bad.
  20. Daftrage

    Daftrage

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    True but we started talking about giving honest reviews which include bad things (weaknesses) which have the potential to get you in trouble if your talking about a residency your in. If everyone just posts positive information then what have we really learned about being a resident at a program.
  21. st2205

    st2205

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    A little bit more than if there were no review at all. Plus, there'd be a lack of information posted at bad programs, which would be somewhat telling. This is assuming a lot of people give reviews.
  22. BPlaysItCool

    BPlaysItCool

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    I know what you mean. Searching this forum with notdeadyet's techniques. I was able to learn so much about programs in my desired location AND learned about the pertinent decision criteria people were using.

    That's not possible without people giving feedback. And sometimes the information was so sparse (circa 2002) that it could hardly be measured accurately.

    But. Even faced with the apparent paucity of information. And wishing there was more of it. I still understand why it is what it is. Medical hierarchy is just not interested in the opinion of it's interns. Actively disinterested in my opinion. I'm not calling anyone's bets in that situation. And am surprised when people do. Interested and grateful. But surprised at the cajones.
  23. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    If people are legitimately fearful about anonymously posting honest feedback of problems a program is facing and working on, it would really make me question the program.

    Most of the places I interviewed at, the residents seemed pretty open about discussing and even bringing up the biggest challenges a given residency program (this is a typical question to ask). If they aren't, this is a red flag of someplace that's probably unpleasant to work.
  24. Daftrage

    Daftrage

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    I agree with several of the posts above and think this is a good thread idea. I also think you should absolutely talk to the residents on interview day about negatives and evaluate the responses.

    One of the things I liked about the programs on the top of my rank list, especially the top ones were that I felt that I learned exactly what I was getting into and am excited about that. I can tell you my perceptions of programs I reviewed online and then went to see in person were occasionally very different in both good and bad ways.

    But enough derailing here. A piece of advice I would give is to research where previous med students from your school have gone. If they did a good job it can give you a little boost and also give you some conversation starters. Also find out where all your attendings at your home school trained. They can give you feedback about the program and may still have solid connections to the program. My mentor trained at my future residency and gave me invaluable feedback about what to expect and also made some extra calls that helped me land a spot.
  25. GmailQueen

    GmailQueen

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    When people at my program have issues with the way the program is being run, or suggestions for improvement, they take it up with the program director and the committee responsible for our training rather than airing it on an anonymous internet forum.

    I'm not really sure how negatively reviewing your program in public is the best way to "take a stand", since it is unlikely any positive changes will result. Instead, you will just discourage applicants from applying to your program, and, most likely, the administration will never get wind of it, or, at best, be extremely annoyed that no one bothered to contact them with concerns.
  26. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator

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    I think that's pretty much how it would work anywhere. You deal with issues with your administration directly. On scutworks and SDN and the like, discussions about challenges programs are facing can be helpful. No big whoop. This ain't the cosa nostra we're talking about.
    Those comments I made to BPlaysItCool were about not expressing oneself honestly in regards to bosses or medical systems while in med school and beyond. Not scutworks in particular.
    No one's suggesting using scutworks as a way to raise issues. That's what the administration is for. That said, if a program has faults, I don't think residents are obligated to whitewash their program on scutworks or the like in the name of misplaced loyalty. It's dishonest.

    Example: There have been people posting about individual programs struggles to accommodate the new call schedule. It's healthy discussion amongst peers that's helpful to all involved. Any applicant that would be scared off by this discussion is probably an applicant not worth having.
  27. LEdaddy

    LEdaddy

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    IMO, this thread should be a sticky.
  28. mkeguy

    mkeguy

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    to get back to the thread topic...
    psych really is a buyers market. i have a decent application and got 12 out of 12 interviews from places all over the country with very different teaching goals. i am very glad i took so many interviews so i could contrast them and see what programs i really like. a few points to think about...

    1. location- not only where you want to live, but also, what are the patients like? the demographics in houston are very different from boston.

    2. research money- i am not into research but interviewed at some heavy-hitter programs. none of the places i looked force research on their residents but the funding speaks to the reputation and contribution of the faculty

    3. resident vibes- at the dinner its pretty easy to see where you'll fit in

    4. pharm vs. therapy- some places have a focus on one or the other while most are based in GME guidelines. good to know this going in.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  29. seva86

    seva86

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    How can one tell which programs are focused on academics, research or community mental health? I'm looking for a program that has bits of all 3, but is not focused on primarily research, for example.
  30. FLpk1girl86

    FLpk1girl86

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    try looking for their website, scutwork, or just emailing one of the residents there and asking them
  31. member2721

    member2721

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    Talking to Program directors that have been doing it for years is a good way to start. I would start with your home PD.

    Otherwise, you can get a snapshot of programs from SDN reviews, and there is good information out there but you do have to actively filter out based on who is the writer.

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