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AOAStatus?

Discussion in 'Radiation Oncology' started by thone2k, Dec 10, 2005.

  1. thone2k

    thone2k Junior Member
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    Hi guys,

    I am a first year medical student interested in rad onc. I have been reading the posts and I wasn't sure what "AOA status" meant. I did a google search and found american osteopathic, optometric and obesity association.

    thanks.
    M
     
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  3. CNphair

    CNphair Senior Member
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    Alpha Omega Alpha...it is an honor society for med students. Most (but not all) schools have it.You can be junior AOA (top 2 or 3 in the class) or senior AOA which is usually the top 15%. However, it varies by school...sometimes it can get pretty political.
     
  4. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    Its a little redundant. If you see great grades and a great CV, AOA isnt telling you anything new. its a bit overrated. One does not live or die by AOA status per se.
     
  5. radonc

    radonc Senior Member
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    for certain specialties (derm, ent, ortho) that are traditionally very competitive to get into, aoa matters. for radonc, it doesnt really matter, but it wouldnt hurt.
     
  6. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    im not quite sure i follow; the issue that AOA doesnt really tell anyone much that the rest of the CV doesnt say stands no matter which field you go into. Some schools dont even have aoa; And for better or worse, at this point in time radonc is probably the most difficult spot to get. So I think i missed something you were getting at.
     
  7. radonc

    radonc Senior Member
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    in my school, aoa was only given based on pre-clinical grades for junior aoa and preclinical/clerkship grades for senior aoa. not board scores, research activities, etc. so for us, it just showed we were smart. didnt say anything else about us, what we did, how we spent our time, etc.
     
  8. radonc

    radonc Senior Member
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    traditionally, radonc has not used AOA as a cutoff, and from my understanding, they still dont. meanwhile, fields like derm wont even consider your application unless you were aoa.
     
  9. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    i see what you mean now; you believe there is a tradition about aoa in some fields that have been long competitve. I wouldnt know. But there must be a way for those fields to deal with schools that dont have aoa; that would be of practical importance for students applying to such fields but again, if you are AOA, its because of your grades (usually; there are exceptions), as you noted. So it doesnt tell anyone anything that the grades etc don't. But I see your point better, thanks for clarifying.
     
  10. medgator

    medgator Senior Member
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    From what I am reading, I think he is just trying to showcase rad onc as a field that looks at things other than AOA (for ex: dedication to field as evidenced by research, aways, key LORs etc.) This remains in stark contrast to the other residencies at the same level of competitiveness (ortho and derm) which are way more numbers/AOA driven.
     
  11. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    yep that's what i got.
     
  12. user_name

    user_name Member
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    I think programs deal with schools that don't have AOA by looking at the ERAS application. There is a specific spot where you mark if you are AOA, not AOA, or school has no AOA chapter. This prints out on your ERAS form that interviewers have in front of them.
    I was junior AOA and an officer as a senior, so I have some insight. Junior AOA at our school was pure pre-clinical grades and was a small number (~5). The senior AOA included first 3 yrs grades, but it was not just grades that got you selected. Only like 15% of your total class size gets selected by AOA mandate, but anyone in the top 25% is eligible. Previous members vote on who to induct. Everyone in the top 10% gets in unless there is an honor code issue usually. We did have several people get in who were 20-25th percentile over people in 11-15th percentile based on research, character, etc. All of this to say that AOA isn't purely grades as a senior, but there are strict criteria for selection.
    FYI, nobody mentioned it as I recall during an interview, but I am certain that it is a part of the overall picture. My grades/scores were mentioned, but I never heard, "Ah, you were junior AOA." It may be that many of the attendings aren't AOA as the field is newly competitive, while derm has been longer and has many attendings that were also AOA (a way of stroking their ego by saying they were AOA too in school.)
    In my experience there are programs that look at grades/scores, others that look at research, and a rare few that look at both.
     
  13. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    well again, AOA doesnt really tell you anything. Its like a deans letter which just reiterates your grades and some of the comments from your letters of rec which we can read for ourselves. However I disagree that programs look either or at grades/scores vs research; that really doesnt make any sence to do. It all adds together. What may happens is a program might not be basic sci heavy and see ana applicant is and thus may be inclined to this its not a good fit.
     
  14. RadOncMan

    RadOncMan Member
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    Is there any correlation between AOA status or Board Scores with future performance as a resident or attending in Radiation Oncology? I would think that in 15 years when you are performing at your peak as an attending Radiation Oncologist, none of your patients will be asking whether you were AOA or not. I am also pretty sure that many current Radiation Oncologists who are highly respected did not have AOA status or great board scores as Radiation Oncology was much less competitive in the past.
     
  15. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated
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    That may be so, but when you are looking at upwards of 300 applications for 2 or 3 spots, AOA is certainly a nice way to separate some of the top applicants.

    Besides RadOnc has simply gotten more competitive due to an improvement in the quality of the applicant pool. PDs were/are always looking to take the best of the lot, regardless of the year they applied.
     
  16. radonc

    radonc Senior Member
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    yeah, but it is absurd how competitive things have gotten now. PD's shouldnt get too picky...just 7 years ago, it was not a very hard field to get into...a lot of FMG's got into the field back then...including our very own stephew.
     
  17. CNphair

    CNphair Senior Member
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    Well, it is a buyer's market. I don't really see how PD's can not be picky. What are they going to do? Say "I want a candidate who represents the average man - no AOA, no 250s on the boards, no big name schools." Unfortunately, I had a program director tell me she was only selecting from students at top 25 medical schools. Why? Because she can. Its not what I would do...but thats because I live far outside the 25.
     
  18. user_name

    user_name Member
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    steph,
    i propose that many schools separate the two type of candidates because i know multiple people that have applied and know much of their information. other applicants and i had minimal research, good to great scores, and NO PhD and went to the same places to interview. At many places, the people I sat in the conference room with had no PhD either. Another applicant I know had good research and a PhD but marginal to poor scores. He got just as many interviews but at different places. We only overlapped at one program. Further info that supports my view is a place like Vandy that openly says they will only interview PhDs while a place I interviewed only interviewed one PhD, and they said it was in error. A few top programs do look at both. I went to a place or two where I was the only non-PhD. For the most part, I and others were shut out at the "big name" places last year for lacking a PhD.
     
  19. RadOncMan

    RadOncMan Member
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    The field is just so competitive that I think Program Directors have to look at superficial factors such as AOA, brand name medical schools, PhD, or something else that makes a candidate stand out from the other 300 or so applicants.

    Does any of that correlate with future potential as a Radiation Oncologist? Who knows. Radiation Oncology is so different from Medicine, it's like an entirely different field. One could argue that a EE or Physics whiz who was number one in his undergraduate Physics department might make a better Radiation Oncologist than an AOA member.

    "Big Name" schools are big name schools largely because of their research prowess hence they would be favorable towards those who are like minded. Is the training at a big name place necessarily better? Only if you plan on having an academic career, where training at a non-big name place might not open as many doors or shut you out of research opportunities. Otherwise clinical training at non big name program can be just as good if not better.
     
  20. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated
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    The bottom line, really.
    It's not that black and white. I have a PhD with so-so scores and was shut out of a lot of big name places.
    Another argument entirely. PDs screen because they can and it is not just limited to RadOnc.
     
  21. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    its true, i very likely wouldnt have a spot if i applied now; not without take a real long detour.

    Trust me, the whole PhD thing is a little skewed; obviously its a powerful thing on a cv but dont think it will buy you a spot, nor think thank without it your out. Harvard doesnt want all PhDs or all harvard folks for that matter. Some places, as you can see, aren't particularly aiming for PhDs and some are.

    AOA - again i think youre overestimating its use in screening.Of course Im not saying no one does it; each place has their little bias. However, at the level of student we're seeing, to begin with, it doesnt make much sence to use. and again, it doesnt really add much. And again some schools dont use it. Board scores are a more likely screen in any given case and to be honest, we see folks with "low" board scores ("low" being relative here of course). These folks tend to have other intersting factors and yes, a PhD may be one; i notice a lot of phds are on the low end of the usmle scores from what i see just by eyeballing the apps that come across my desk.


    as far as the pros and cons of screening- i dont think any one argues that a better usmle score or a phd makes for a better doctor. its simply a matter of "well, you have to begin somewhere". Cutting me out as an IMG is one way to do it now that you have lots of amazing people who didn't need to go offshore to school.
     
  22. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member
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    Here's what I think makes most people frustrated about this application process. Most, not all ...

    It's one of the only competitive fields that doesn't use an AOA/Board Score cut-off across the board, and tends to include research/PhD and other factors. So, multiple-choice test whiz kids and AOA hot-shots (and, of course the large overlap) without these "other" factors get it into their head that ... "If I applied for ortho/optho/urology/rads/ENT/NS I would have matched."

    And it isn't like that is fantasy talk - it's pretty much true. If they applied to the breadth of programs for those specialties that most people apply to when applying to rad-onc (think about it - a top rad-onc candidate may "limit" themselves to 30 apps - that's 40% of the programs!) and interviewed at as many as they do, they would have matched in any one of these fields. I purposely removed Derm and Plastics from the list; they are as hard as rad-onc, plus you have to be good looking :)

    And so, the point: it's a good thing. And, I say that bittersweetly, because obviously I was one of those that didn't make that cut, and it may happen again. If it was backwards, and most competitive fields were this way, and rad-onc was purely numbers, we'd lose a lot of amazing candidates with PhDs, cutting edge research who happened to have 216s on the Step 1 exam. These are people, like it or not, who are becoming the leaders of the field. I've spoken to at least one PhD applicant who'd rather do hem-onc at a high powered institution than rad-onc at a low-tier program, b/c he/she wants to become a true academic oncologist, and I bet there's more out there.

    I still think their needs to be some tweaking. I'm sure there is correlation with research and becoming an academician, however there are other factors that show a candidate's leadership skills that likely tightly correlate. I'm not sure what, but being heavily involved with medical school government, starting/devoloping organizations (clinical or community service), etc. - these are also people that will become academic leaders, even though they don't carry a BSC ( ... big swingin' CV, a little investment banker metaphor for y'all).

    Side note: is January 13th National Radiation Oncology Residency Interview Day? I have to cancel multiple interview on that day. Dammit.

    Later,
    S
     
  23. radonc777

    radonc777 radonc777
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    AOA is a very presitigious medical honor society. If you can get it as a 3rd year, great! If you can get it in your 4th year, great! If you did your best in medical school but were not inducted into AOA and still want to apply to a competitive field like rad onc, you can and still should. :)

    http://www.alphaomegaalpha.org/
     
  24. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
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    and its unlikely to make a difference for the reasons above. but you never know and if nothing else it will make you feel good.
     

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