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blah
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I am going to my fourth year, I have two away rotations in rad onc set up, a medical oncology rotation at my home institution, and was planning to take a month of vacation to do rad onc specific-research at a neighboring institution. the problem is that I didnt know i wanted to do rad onc until a few months ago and therefore I could not shadow at my home institution during third year since they suck here and the chairman in rad onc makes us get waivers from the medical school (radiation exposure?) and the med school wont give waivers unless we get permission from the director of whatever clerkship we were on to let us be in the rad onc department during the clerkship, knowing no clerkship director would do that because we technically arent supposed to have time during the week since we are supposed to be busy with our clerkship duties. Anyway, so the point is my school sucks and they have not been helpful in me trying to get a rad onc spot so I have been shadowing away from home at a couple of neighboring institutions (none of them, including my home institution have rad onc residencies). I wanted to know how bad it would look if I dont have a letter from my home institution or that my home institution does not even know me. Would another program call up my home program to find out more about me and then have nothing to say (my school does not have a good reputation so they may not be well known)? Is this a legitimate concern? Is it worth it for me to take a month to do an elective at home even though they dont have a residency program so I can get a letter from my home institution?
 

bobloblaw

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If your home department does not even have a residency, the only advantage to doing a rotation there would be (a) to familiarize yourself with radiation oncology before you go on to another institution to do an "audition rotation" (b) to get support for your application to other programs.

It is unlikely that a program director would call a radiation oncologist at your home institution unless (a) you have a letter of recommendation from your home institution and the program director wishes to speak with the author of said letter (b) the program director just happens to know someone at your home institution (possible - but not likely).

Just my two cents, but I think your time would be better spent in departments that have residencies and are used to working with medical students. You would get more exposure to rad onc in an environment that is (hopefullly) geared toward education and also potentially get letters from radiation oncologists who may be better known in academic circles. Also, you get the chance to pick the brains of the residents re: programs, applications, etc. There should be little down-side to ignoring your home institution's rad onc department, especially since it sounds like they haven't been much help to you so far...
 
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blah
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Thanks for the reply. Also, is scheduling an away elective in December a bad idea if you are only interested in impressing them for a possible residency spot, not to get letters? When do most rad onc programs decide to interview/schedule most of their interviews?
 

Gfunk6

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December is not a good time for an away rotation as most residency programs make their decisions about who to interview by early December at the latest. If you want to make a lasting, recent impression I would try Sept-Oct. But then again, these are the most difficult times to get limited, externship spots.
 

ronmexico

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Thanks for the reply. Also, is scheduling an away elective in December a bad idea if you are only interested in impressing them for a possible residency spot, not to get letters? When do most rad onc programs decide to interview/schedule most of their interviews?

definitely do not do an away rotation in december. it is just a recipe for disaster imho.

worst case scenario:
this place sends out invites in nov. and you dont get one. then what do you do in december, stick it out for an odd month or back out. there is no good option. most importantly, however, 1/2 the interview dates are in december. if you want to take as many trips as you can you need as much time as you can get to do it.

i did a november away and was forced to decline an interview invite to u of chicago, the only place that had no dec. or jan. interviews. i suggest that you look at last years list of interview dates. programs tend to do things the same way year after year and this will give you some idea what to expect this year.
 
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ronmexico said:
definitely do not do an away rotation in december. it is just a recipe for disaster imho.

worst case scenario:
this place sends out invites in nov. and you dont get one. then what do you do in december, stick it out for an odd month or back out. there is no good option. most importantly, however, 1/2 the interview dates are in december. if you want to take as many trips as you can you need as much time as you can get to do it.

i did a november away and was forced to decline an interview invite to u of chicago, the only place that had no dec. or jan. interviews. i suggest that you look at last years list of interview dates. programs tend to do things the same way year after year and this will give you some idea what to expect this year.
If i dont get an interview, I would still take the elective for the experience. But they do interviews during december actually.
So does it look bad to take that much time off to interview or will they just not allow you to take it? I thought places would be understanding since you are interviewing in their specialty.
 

CNphair

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If i dont get an interview, I would still take the elective for the experience. But they do interviews during december actually.
So does it look bad to take that much time off to interview or will they just not allow you to take it? I thought places would be understanding since you are interviewing in their specialty.
You will probably be taking more time off to interview than you think. In December, I was home one weekend and one week for Christmas. The rest was spent going back between the midwest and east coast.

Rad Onc interviews are not flexible. You won't be able to coordinate many with what works best for your elective. What good is it to be at a program for 2 days here, 1 day there, etc...? Exhaustion does not lead to a good learning experience.

And in return for your efforts, you will probably just piss off the program director because you did not make his clerkship a priority.
 

ronmexico

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CNphair said:
You will probably be taking more time off to interview than you think. In December, I was home one weekend and one week for Christmas. The rest was spent going back between the midwest and east coast.

Rad Onc interviews are not flexible. You won't be able to coordinate many with what works best for your elective. What good is it to be at a program for 2 days here, 1 day there, etc...? Exhaustion does not lead to a good learning experience.

And in return for your efforts, you will probably just piss off the program director because you did not make his clerkship a priority.
totally agree with CN and that was really my point. if you have a full interview schedule, such that you are keeping up with the other applicants, you will most assuredly miss an entire dec. rotation. i dont think this would be advisable even if they are understanding.
 
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ronmexico said:
totally agree with CN and that was really my point. if you have a full interview schedule, such that you are keeping up with the other applicants, you will most assuredly miss an entire dec. rotation. i dont think this would be advisable even if they are understanding.
Ok, well i guess I'll withdraw from that elective then. sucks cuz i only have one away elective. do you think withdrawing from my elective will look bad when it comes time for them to decide whether to offer me an interview?
 

bobloblaw

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These are good points.

However, just to provide the other point of view... I did a December rotation at one of the Big Name programs and had to take time off during my rotation for a few interviews. Nobody seemed to have a problem with the fact that I had to take off for a few days (although a few of the residents had very pointed opinions about the places that I interviewed at). Based on my rotation there, I did end up getting a January interview at this Big Name program that I'm positive I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Purely anecodatal (n = 1). Also, I didn't match there so take this with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately, the possibility of having to cancel other interviews is a very real one. If you can do a rotation earlier in the year, that's best. But if you can't, it might make more sense to do a December rotation at a program if it is the one that you really want to go to. Unfortunately, you won't be able to get a letter out of it in time for your application to other programs.

I don't know if programs will remember that you cancelled away rotations or not. A lot of these departments are small and so it's possible that they will.