Radonkey

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Hi, I'm interested in doing a couple of audition rotations in California and will probably need a letter from one of the programs. Does anyone have any suggestions as to which program and who to work with?

I also heard that a some of the programs will not interview you unless you have done a rotation with them. Do you know which programs these are and in particular, which ones in california?

Thanks! :luck:
 
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Radonkey

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For those who interviewed in Cali, do you have any information regarding these programs? Atmosphere, willingness to teach med students, happiness of residents...?

Stanford, UCSF, UCI, USC, Loma LInda, California pacific, Kaiser LA, UCLA??? Anything? :oops:
 

SimulD

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Auditions are kind of quirky. I did 2 (UChicago and Beaumont), had a great time, got 2 great letters, and had a paper published. Unfortunately, neither of them interviewed me! So, overall it helped to do 'em, but there is no guarantees about interviews.

Now, as for CA programs, I interviewed at 2 of them without auditioning there. Both of those had a few students that had done rotations there interviewing. And I'd heard UCLA wouldn't interview you unless you had rotated there, but clearly it wasn't the case this year.

Someone on this board has rotated at Stanford and said it was an awesome elective. I'd choose the one you're most interested in, try to get a letter, and hope for the best, but don't have any expectations about an interview.

Good luck,
Simul

Radonkey said:
Hi, I'm interested in doing a couple of audition rotations in California and will probably need a letter from one of the programs. Does anyone have any suggestions as to which program and who to work with?

I also heard that a some of the programs will not interview you unless you have done a rotation with them. Do you know which programs these are and in particular, which ones in california?

Thanks! :luck:
 

stephew

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for what its worth, I rotationed at mt sinai in nyc and got the letters etc, and they told me they wouldnt interview me because they (and I quote) "dont need any IMGs". So I went to Hopkins. Thanks for the favor!
 

garm

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I did an away at UCSF. It's more of a choose-your-own-adventure type rotation than some other places but that's probably a good thing. You get to work with the attendings that you want - and thus see the cases you're interested in - so it is likely possible to get a good letter. The residents are your primary contact there and since they're good, the rotation ends up being a good one.

My advice would be to plan early as spots fill up. My other advice would be to strongly consider aways in general, fully acknowledging the stories above. If, as Steph indicates above, you think you're a reasonable person and will not actively anger anyone, this exposure can only help you. Be the good med student, but also be yourself, the residents get a good sense of who you are during the month. Even if you don’t get an interview, or they belittle you the whole time, you have gained valuable exposure about how things are done at another institution. At my med school at least, they actively discourage aways as a blanket policy, something I disagree with for such a small field.

One final note: be prepared on the interview trail to justify why you did aways at the given programs, it will come up if there is a letter in your application.
 

stephew

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I really dont believe in the "med student picks the cases they want to see" philosophy. How often do you really know what you want to see? particularly in this field. You may be convinced that your not looking forwards to rectal exams and pelvics, but you really can't tell what subsite you'll enjoy and frankly, you figure that out as a resident, RARELY as a student. But that's a tanget to the above stuff. As far as "picking the attending you like" this can have pluses and minuses. You might pick someone really nice but who's got little clout. Imagine the senario, student on interview trail and PD says: "Hmm I see you went to UCSF. Good place. But how come your only letters are from Dr. Junior and Dr Only Board Eligible? What about Mack Roach? Didnt you work with him?" My point is its nice to have flexibility, but like Indiana Jones, you must Choose Wisely.
 

garm

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Steph makes a great point on both issues. Although generally there isn't much oversight on the rotation (not meant to be a pejorative) they do suggest that you work with all the attendings. Once you get a feel for how people work, then you can decide where you want to “focus.” When I indicated that you got to choose what you did, I meant that you make your own schedule. Residents tell you which patients they think might be interesting. As an aside, I think there is great value in working with a single attending for 2-4 weeks at a time. You get a better sense of what it is to be a radiation oncologist because you see the initial consult, sim, set-up, and maybe even follow up. When you only spend an afternoon (or even just see one patient) with an attending, you’re generally there to see new patients. The flip side is that you’re exposed to more disease sites that way so I can see both sides here.

To speak to the other issue, I find it frustrating that even if you did work extensively with a junior faculty member, the expectation is that you must have the big name letter. While not true across the board, junior faculty generally are more interested in teaching, or just see more patients. So you’re forced to push yourself on the more senior attending. This is particularly true when you’re asked to do a presentation (which you are at UCSF, 1hr). This has been discussed elsewhere though…
 

stephew

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well I think you make a good point (or like to think so). I myself am pretty much as junior and non-posh as it gets but i do enjoy teaching and hope residents and students enjoy working with me. But I would have to say that there is no question: a letter from me holds much less weight than, well, a heck of a lot of other people I work with. I hope that evolves over time but as a student, you s hould try to divide your time to include good teachers and big names (and hopefully that overlaps more often than not).
steph.
 
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Radonkey

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Thanks for the advice! Certainly, it seems like doing away rotations would be beneficial. I'm generally a good student, havent' had any conflicts with any attendings/residents/other med students. I'm good at doing the required work, being on time etc. I know what sort of things to anticipate when I'm on surgery or medicine. However, I have not rotated through rad onc and don't know the ins and outs of this field. Any words of wisdom as to what I can do to shine a bit brighter, especially for rad onc?? What's your definition of a perfect med student? What sort of things can we do to make you life easier?

garm said:
I did an away at UCSF. It's more of a choose-your-own-adventure type rotation than some other places but that's probably a good thing. You get to work with the attendings that you want - and thus see the cases you're interested in - so it is likely possible to get a good letter. The residents are your primary contact there and since they're good, the rotation ends up being a good one.

My advice would be to plan early as spots fill up. My other advice would be to strongly consider aways in general, fully acknowledging the stories above. If, as Steph indicates above, you think you're a reasonable person and will not actively anger anyone, this exposure can only help you. Be the good med student, but also be yourself, the residents get a good sense of who you are during the month. Even if you don’t get an interview, or they belittle you the whole time, you have gained valuable exposure about how things are done at another institution. At my med school at least, they actively discourage aways as a blanket policy, something I disagree with for such a small field.

One final note: be prepared on the interview trail to justify why you did aways at the given programs, it will come up if there is a letter in your application.
 

Butch

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Radonkey said:
Thanks for the advice! Certainly, it seems like doing away rotations would be beneficial. I'm generally a good student, havent' had any conflicts with any attendings/residents/other med students. I'm good at doing the required work, being on time etc. I know what sort of things to anticipate when I'm on surgery or medicine. However, I have not rotated through rad onc and don't know the ins and outs of this field. Any words of wisdom as to what I can do to shine a bit brighter, especially for rad onc?? What's your definition of a perfect med student? What sort of things can we do to make you life easier?
The perfect medical student ... really no such thing. Obviously, it helps to come from a prestigious med school, have great grades/board scores, and excellent letters of recommendation.

There are a few traits particular to radiation oncology. First, research is an important part of the field, so publications and presentations at meetings are appreciated. Second, the rad onc field is a small world. I would HIGHLY recommend rotating at a top-notch, well-known program in order to get good letters. People coming from institutions with good rad onc programs are at a big advantage.
 
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Radonkey

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Butch said:
The perfect medical student ... really no such thing. Obviously, it helps to come from a prestigious med school, have great grades/board scores, and excellent letters of recommendation.

There are a few traits particular to radiation oncology. First, research is an important part of the field, so publications and presentations at meetings are appreciated. Second, the rad onc field is a small world. I would HIGHLY recommend rotating at a top-notch, well-known program in order to get good letters. People coming from institutions with good rad onc programs are at a big advantage.
Thank you, I can certainly see how that would be very important in terms of the application. How about during the rad onc rotations themselves? What makes certain medical students stand out more? Are there certain things medical students can do during rotations to help the residents? Are there certain things we can do to show initiative?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
 

kryptonite

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Many of the things that applies to doing well in other clinical clerkship also applies in radiation oncology: enthusiasm, being a team player, hardwork, etc. Because radiation oncology is a very specialized field, we don't expect the medical students to know the ins and out of the technical aspects of radiation oncology. We do expect that students know the history + physical of the cases that they are seeing well (i.e. prepare the night before, thereby providing accurate information and not missing any pertient information- going over with the resident assigned to the case the afternoon before is very helpful), and have read up on the natural history of the particular cancer that they are seeing. Sometimes students feel that they have to see 2-3 cases a day to seem "interested". On the contrary, I would rather have a student who knows the 1-2 cases/day well. Another advice is to follow through on the things that needs to be done (order CT, MRI, follow-up pathology, coordinating care with other specialty) that are deemed still necessary after the radiation oncology consultation. This shows responsibility and patient ownership on the part of the student. In addition, I think it is always impressive that the medical student volunteers and is excited to be involved in the sim/contouring, treatment planning of the patients that they've seen at initial consultation.

Lastly, I think after a month, it is very evident as to which students are truly working hard and eager to learn, compared to those that are simply trying to kiss up to the residents and/or attending to get a better grade or a letter of reccomendation. Being ernest is still the best policy.

Let me know if there's anything else that you would like to be addressed.
 

stephew

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remember, all students come in green. no one really knows what goes on in radonc (including our colleagues). in fact first year residents in the field are some of the most helpless puppies you'll ever meet. its a very tough first year because youve never done any of the day to day stuff, not even as a student really.

as for away rotations, again, if you tyhink you wont embarrass yourself then do them and while i agree top centers/big names matter, be realistic; if you dont think youre going to match at one, try also doing a rotation at a lesser known program that yuo might be interested in. IF youre good, they'll want you and you'll have an "in", whereas sometimes, the reality is that no matter how good you are, there are people with better cv's for those really competitive spots.