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Away Electives

Discussion in 'Internal Medicine and IM Subspecialties' started by Pinworm, Feb 18, 2012.

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  1. Pinworm

    Pinworm

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    Im a 3rd year and am planning on doing a 3-4 away electives next year. How many programs should I apply to? -- ie How often is it that you do not get a spot in the elective you apply for?
    Any information from someone who has personal experience with this would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.
  2. kl323

    kl323

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    I'm going to keep my eye on this thread. I'm in the same boat as OP.
  3. gutonc

    gutonc No Meat, No Treat Administrator SDN Senior Moderator

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    Why in the name of all that's holy would you do 3-4 aways in IM? If you're so borderline an applicant that you think you need them, I think you'll be sadly disappointed with the outcome.

    3-4 audition rotations is an excellent way to ensure that you have at least 3 crappy auditions.

    You should also be aware that many programs don't allow visiting residents to do SubIs or ICU rotations and subspecialty rotations may be only peripherally related to the IM department and you may have no contact with anybody in the department unless you march in there of your own accord.

    I only did one away rotation and it was a huge waste of time (other than helping me decide I wanted nothing to do with that particular program...I wound up ranking it 14 out of 14).
  4. ToxoplasmaG

    ToxoplasmaG

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    Same thing happened to me. I ended up in a subspecialty month which was fine because this program was closer to my hometown. The thing was that I never really saw the program director and I don't feel that it helped me that much. Unless you are an FMG or a DO student applying for MD match, it's really not that essential. The majority of residents didn't do an away rotation at the program they match at.
  5. Phyozo

    Phyozo

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    Generally agree with the comments above. A family friend is on the selection committee and recommends against away rotations if you are doing them for the purpose of impressing the program/getting foot in the door. Do them if you really want to get a better idea about the program/learn about living in the region. Unless you manage to excel above and beyond (unlikely, given the logistical limitations of learning a new system are likely to slow you down regardless of how brilliant of a med student you are) AND excel in front of people on the selection committee, you're likely to be disappointed.

    I did 0 aways and got plenty of great interviews. Focus your energy elsewhere.
  6. intmed3

    intmed3

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    I did 1 away and it was very helpful in getting my foot in the door (mostly because I was lucky enough that my subspecialty attending was also on the selection committee). But it was a place at which I probably would have gotten an interview without the away. I mostly did the rotation to get a better feel for the program.

    By the same token, if you are a mediocre applicant and you do an away at a big name program, don't expect a guaranteed interview. I know plenty of people who did aways at the elite programs and didn't even get interviews.

    Bottom line, if you're going to do an away, do your research. Make sure you are doing it to learn more about the program. And if you are doing it as an "audition" rotation, don't waste your time at your super reach programs.
  7. Pinworm

    Pinworm

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    Thank you all for your comments. You put up some important points to consider.

    So I guess I should put my reasons for wanting to do 3 away rotations. First off NONE of them are 'auditions' - all of them are sub-specialty. One of them is a reach school but at a program that a fellow classmate (who now is an intern there) recommended I do as it helped them during their interview at that program. If I don't end up getting in there, at least I most likely got 1 month of a great education. The other 2 are at programs i'm relatively confident I will get interviews at and I am wanting to see if I actually would like the program itself/location etc.

    I don't want to end up basing my 3 years of residency off of 2 days I spend interviewing at a program. There are other programs I am interested in for similar reasons, but would only do an away rotation there if I did not get any of the first 3.

    I am pretty confident that I will still be doing around 3 away rotations next year. Given that, can someone please help answer my original question? (below)

    If I want to do 3-4 away electives next year, how many programs should I apply to? -- ie How often is it that you do not get a spot in the elective you apply for?

    If someone has any experience in doing multiple away rotations and can comment on how easy/difficult it was for them to get the spots they wanted, that would be much appreciated.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  8. vertigotastic

    vertigotastic

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    I agree with the above posts about the away electives cons >> pros.

    To answer your question, I applied through VSAS to about 4 different programs. Got invites at 3/4 but ended up not doing any of them for other reasons. As long as you apply early, it will not be difficult to land spots, BUT it is possible that you may not get all the ones you'd like. Good luck!
  9. reventon2

    reventon2

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    i agree with the above comments. if your app isn't good enough to otherwise get you an interview, an audition rotation likely won't make a huge difference. If you do plan to do one at a reach school, you should definitely try to do the same rotation at your home school to at least have the medical knowledge and spend the first week getting used to the system. Also, not sure where are your doing your aways but some competitive schools (esp. UCSF, BWH) won't give you a courtesy interview if your otherwise not qualified.
  10. reventon2

    reventon2

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    Its all about first come, first serve. Make sure you have all your paperwork, titers, etc ready to go and submit the first day VSAS opens. For most places it won't matter, but for good competitive places a lot of people are trying to get those electives. Also, if you are really interested in a particular place it helps to call the coordinator and let them know. The biggest problem with doing multiple aways is the logistics of setting up housing and getting to know a new hospital system while trying to be on your A game all the time. GI and Cards spots are tough to get if you procrastinate but most others are fairly easy to get.
  11. Sunburn74

    Sunburn74

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    If your grades are great and your board scores are excellent, I wouldn't do aways unless you absolutely are dead set on 1 or 2 programs. If you feel like you need something to give you the edge over the next guy, then sure do it. However its a huge risk. They may hate you, you may hate them, may screw things up, may hate the town, may be lonely. A month is a long time.

    I personally did no aways and am happy where I stand.
  12. qwerty!@#$

    qwerty!@#$

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    I know this was mentioned above, but how important are away rotations for DO students applying to allopathic IM residencies? especially if you are unable to get a medicine sub-i and have to do a subspecialty rotation
  13. throw away

    throw away

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    Just to give you some perspective on VSAS, I wanted to do one away rotation because I wanted to spend time in a particular area. I applied to 5 popular programs and got 2 offers. One of the offers did not correspond to the dates that my school allows, so from 5 applications I got one "do-able" offer. I think most places were first come, first serve and just filled up very quickly.
  14. qwerty!@#$

    qwerty!@#$

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    Yeh I know vsas is just a race to apply. But does it make a whole lot of difference to do an away rotation?
  15. amine2086

    amine2086

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    For MD students applying to IM, away rotations are not really necessary. They can be helpful but they can also end up hurting your chances if you have a poor show.
  16. Trogghunter

    Trogghunter

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    If your boards are good and no red flags, don't bother.
  17. GTV

    GTV

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    You know, I didn't do any aways because I really bought into the general SDN wisdom of "if your app is otherwise good, they can only hurt you." Having matched at my fourth choice (albeit a place I am very happy to go to), now I'm not so sure if the aforementioned advice is always correct. I can't help but wonder if I had chosen to do a month at any of my other top 3 institutions whether they would have considered me more highly. As a side note, I can list off at least 5 people in my graduating class who were not AOA, had lower board scores than I did, and had less clinical honors who matched at "better" or "more competitive" places than where I will be doing residency-- each of these people happened to do aways at the institutions to which they matched... it just has me thinking "what if."
  18. Trogghunter

    Trogghunter

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    You cant ever wonder 'what if', because it happens for a reason, imo. In my example, I rotated at 2 programs on a sub-i and AI and I received interviews from neither program. One doesn't really take DO students, and the other has a cutoff score, which I scored almost 2sds above, on both 1 and 2, no red flags, some research with pub/poster/present/grant.

    My evals from the chairs of medicine at one and chair of pulm/icu were 'honored' and I got a letter from one, which I used in eras, that most interviewers commented on very favorably. With that, I got along well with my residents, they gave me great feedback at my work ethic and knowledge base and gave me their #s to catch up, when I went there for my interview.

    So, I think to myself, I kind of dodged a bullet honestly because had I gone to either, I'd live in a major city with no realistic access to nature(huge for me) because I'd be a fanboy of the program itself and not the city/environment/living situation/proximity to family and friends. That's my n=1. I was a big advocate for doing away rotations until my experience.

    Idk, things work out for a reason, I believe, whether you match 1 or 6, you match.
  19. jdh71

    jdh71 si vis pacem, para bellum

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    I think there is some caveats here. My opinion. Not even the word of "sdn god". I think away rotation can be helpful but only to a place you really, really want to go THAT IS ALSO not a top 30 spot.

    Student rotates at Hopkins or BWH or UCSF: "I really, really, really want to go here!" Duh. Almost everyone wants to go there. You will not help yourself out in those situations.

    But. Let's say you really, really want to do your residency at SLU or University of New Mexico or Drexel (no disrespect to any - just three random mid tier spots) for . . . reasons. Showing up for an elective at these kinds of spots and letting them know how you want to go there for . . . reasons . . . can help you.

    This is the ONLY situation where aways can help IMHO, provided you mean it when you say you want to go there. Don't do a sub-I. Pick a sub-specialty.

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