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audition rotation - should i do it?

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bethhill

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I am currently debating about whether I want to do audition rotations at hospitals that I am interested in for residency. I know that people will often encourage you to do away rotations and say that it is a great way to improve your changes of getting the residency slot. However, I have also heard some people say that it can hurt you, especially if you're a quieter person and not super aggressive. Of the two people I know who did audition rotations at their number one choice program, neither of them were matched to that location. I was wondering if people could respond to this issue -- to audition or not to audition...
 

pbmax

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True story:

A classmate of mine did an elective at our home program...she showed up late almost every day for rounds. Despite having a better academic record then half the folks on our rank list, she was put on the do not rank list just for showing up late.

A suggestion - do an away elective at your program of choice in a different department. You get to know the hospital but do not put yourself at risk of alienating people.
 

Koko

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pbmax said:
True story:

A classmate of mine did an elective at our home program...she showed up late almost every day for rounds. Despite having a better academic record then half the folks on our rank list, she was put on the do not rank list just for showing up late.

A suggestion - do an away elective at your program of choice in a different department. You get to know the hospital but do not put yourself at risk of alienating people.

Does this surprise anyone? If you're unreliable, it doesn't matter how great your academic record is or how many pineapples you can juggle while singing Mack the Knife. Reliability is a fundamental quality pd's look for.

To the OP: while your sample size is not significant, it is true that if you do not impress on your away rotation, or worse make a negative impression, it will hurt you.

But why be negative? If you really care and are interested in a specific program, it shouldn't be hard to motivate for a month. Work hard and show them why you'd be an asset to their program. You will not only make yourself more competitive, but you will learn things about the program, people and life as a resident that you would never be able to glean otherwise. I did an away at a place I thought would be my #1, and while I enjoyed my month I also realized that the program was not the best fit for me and ended up ranking it 10 on my ROL. On more than one occasion the med student coordinator told me that he wanted me to come to their program and seemed sincere (who knows for sure). I did get an excellent LOR from them that also made an impression at other programs. I'm not the most brilliant student - my point is if you work hard and have some common sense, it can be an advantageous month for many reasons.

Good luck and stay positive.
 

BlahtoThis

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i disagree strongly. for one, i think it's a dumb idea to go off an do an away rotation in a field you're not even applying to. also, you can REALLY improve your chances for matching at a program you may not have matched at otherwise if you do an away there, do well, and get the support of the residents/fellows/attendings you worked under. now, if you're a jerk or a goof off (like the girl in the story), and you can't hide it for a month, then i'd agree and say don't do the away rotation. if you're not sure of your capabilities or feel that you can't perform to a level equal to your academic record (again, see girl in the story) then it's probably not a good idea to do the away rotation. it depends on you as an individual. it also depends on who you meet there, their positions, and how willing they are to support you. this you don't have a lot of control over, but, if you work hard and do well, the worst case scenario is that you don't get any added benefit but at least know a lot more about the hospital, the residents, and the attendings in the field you're interested in and can make more of an educated choice, and the best case scenario is you get a lot of support from the people you worked with and have a much better chance of getting in.

and i'm sorry to say this, but if the person showed up late everyday (which means she didn't care about the rotation at all), she doesn't deserve to be ranked. clear and simple. what kind of resident will that person be when she's on a rotation she's not super interested in? if i was in the shoes of a PD and had some student not showing up on time at least regularly to rotations (1-2 times is excusable) and apparently blowing it off, i wouldn't want her in my program.
 

bethhill

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Koko said:
But why be negative? If you really care and are interested in a specific program, it shouldn't be hard to motivate for a month. Work hard and show them why you'd be an asset to their program. I did get an excellent LOR from them that also made an impression at other programs. I'm not the most brilliant student - my point is if you work hard and have some common sense, it can be an advantageous month for many reasons.

Good luck and stay positive.

I certainly understand and agree with you. That being said, I'm not sure if I'm being completely negative or realistic. The one thing that I found to be consistent throughout my third year was that my grades NEVER matched my own sense of personal performance. I did my pediatrics rotation right after I spent three months studying for the boards (after having failed it once). I came into the rotation knowing my stuff -- and knowing it WELL. I worked super hard and got along well with the attendings and got a pass. I knew medicine was my most important rotation and worked my tail off and earned a Pass. The two rotations that I cared the least about (although I still worked really hard -- came early, stayed late, all that stuff) were the two I earned Honors in. I know that there are some people who would say that the pattern would suggest that I do better when I don't care -- but my sense of it all is simply that the grading process is very random. Sometimes you click with people and sometimes you don't. I think most people would describe me as a "people person" and this is one of my strengths. But I also know that I can be quiet in new situations and I do think that hurts me -- even when I work hard.

I guess my point is that I don't get it when people say -- just work hard and be enthusiastic and you'll a) get the honors b) get a great LOR c) secure a residency position. I can honestly say that on the surface I worked equally hard during all of my rotations and I really felt like the evaluations were somewhat random...
 

Koko

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bethhill said:
I certainly understand and agree with you. That being said, I'm not sure if I'm being completely negative or realistic. The one thing that I found to be consistent throughout my third year was that my grades NEVER matched my own sense of personal performance. I did my pediatrics rotation right after I spent three months studying for the boards (after having failed it once). I came into the rotation knowing my stuff -- and knowing it WELL. I worked super hard and got along well with the attendings and got a pass. I knew medicine was my most important rotation and worked my tail off and earned a Pass. The two rotations that I cared the least about (although I still worked really hard -- came early, stayed late, all that stuff) were the two I earned Honors in. I know that there are some people who would say that the pattern would suggest that I do better when I don't care -- but my sense of it all is simply that the grading process is very random. Sometimes you click with people and sometimes you don't. I think most people would describe me as a "people person" and this is one of my strengths. But I also know that I can be quiet in new situations and I do think that hurts me -- even when I work hard.

I guess my point is that I don't get it when people say -- just work hard and be enthusiastic and you'll a) get the honors b) get a great LOR c) secure a residency position. I can honestly say that on the surface I worked equally hard during all of my rotations and I really felt like the evaluations were somewhat random...

For what it's worth I had a similar experience with 3rd year evals at times. Do you have an idea why you received the evals you did - i.e., did you see written narrative assessments in addition to numerical or H/P/F grades? What I would suggest is focusing on your specialty interest and looking at those evals to determine why you did not receive the evals you thought you earned. Be honest with yourself and consider asking residents/attendings in your field of choice for their thoughts as well: "how could I improve my perfromance? Where did you think I needed to imrpove?"

Being quiet can hurt you. It depends on how quiet you are. Here you need to do some honest self-assessment. If you've been criticized for this before, have you tried to speak up more? Do you think you can? If not, then you should weigh this and the potential to look passive, disinterested, or unknowledgable on an away rotation.

Also determine how necessary it is for you to do the aways. Are you strong on paper or not? The fact that you failed step I once doesn't help, but what about the rest of your academic record? How competitive are the programs you are looking at and your field of interest in general? You don't need to answer these questions here, just answer them for yourself.

Ask your advisor what he/she thinks and ask faculty who know you and who will be honest, to offer their advice, particularly if they are in the specialty you want to pursue or are familiar with the programs you are interested in. Research the programs on Scutwork and talk to students who have rotated there to assess how challenging it is to do well there.

Good luck.
 

sophiejane

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Our dean has told us about 80 times now that the #1 most important thing you can do to get your #1 choice is to rotate there and totally shine.

It's amazing how easy it is to do well, yet how many people fail to grasp that. You don't have to be aggressive. Just be on time, be nice, be a team player, work hard, read, be good to patients, and don't be an idiot.

Seems simple, but I guess it's not a given that everyone can do this.
 

bethhill

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sophiejane said:
It's amazing how easy it is to do well, yet how many people fail to grasp that. You don't have to be aggressive. Just be on time, be nice, be a team player, work hard, read, be good to patients, and don't be an idiot.

Seems simple, but I guess it's not a given that everyone can do this.

i guess this is my point -- exactly... i am fully aware of what my strengths and my weaknesses are. i am not a "natural scientist" by nature and i certainly am not at the top of my class with regards to knowledge base. this is my weakness and i'm sure this affects my grades adversely to a certain point. but what i do know about myself is that i'm an incredibly hard worker, always on nice time, i've been told that i'm sweet to a fault, i love being a team player, and i really like people (including patients). even with all of this being true -- i don't have the seeming "flair" for getting to know my attendings / residents well in the short time i'm with them and i believe my grades suffer for it.

so -- for some of us -- even though we're on time, nice, team players, hard workers, readers, good to patients, and non-idiotic -- it still doesn't translate. it's not that we simply "can't" do it...
 

doc-synergy

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i haven't read the whole thread yet - but i would recommend doing an audition rotation - but only if you are prepared to give it your very very best. also - remember that the audition rotation also gives you a better idea of whether you want to go there. something that i did that which helped is: schedule an elective at a program that you will probably rank in the middle first (july / august) and then schedule your next audition at your #1 or 2 program a month or two after this. this way - you can build some knowledge base and intern-skills before you go to your top choice. hopefully, this will lead to a nice letter of rec from one of the attendings at your top choice program - which is *very* helpful.
 

sophiejane

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bethhill said:
so -- for some of us -- even though we're on time, nice, team players, hard workers, readers, good to patients, and non-idiotic -- it still doesn't translate. it's not that we simply "can't" do it...

I still think that the little they will get to know you is better than not knowing you at all. If you have a hard time showing people who you really are on a 4-week rotation, imagine how hard you will find it to make a strong impression when you only have a few hours on interview day. You sound like a great person and you owe it yourself to make sure the people that matter know that.

I'm a naturally shy person but I just have to bust through that on a daily basis. I would much rather not say a word on rounds than to speak up and answer questions, but I make myself do it. I make myself go sit at the table full of residents at lunch. I make myself do the small talk that I hate and with practice, I've somehow learned to come off looking sincere. ;)

Just fake it if you have to. But you have to play this game...there doesn't seem to be any way around it.
 

jennyboo

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bethhill said:
Of the two people I know who did audition rotations at their number one choice program, neither of them were matched to that location. I was wondering if people could respond to this issue -- to audition or not to audition...

It depends on a few things.

1) What specialty is it? In some specialties, audition rotations are expected (i.e. necessary) in order to match, so whether you will shine or not you end up having to do it regardless. In other specialties, you don't need to do auditions and they're optional.

2) Did you do well in your home rotation in that specialty? If so, chances are you will also do well away.

3) Does your home institution have a residency program in that specialty, or even better, a pretty well respected residency program in that specialty? If so, you may already have a great letter of recommendation and you may not need to do an away.

If you're still iffy on the away, I might suggest doing just one to see what other residency programs are like and to figure out what types of questions to ask. You have little to lose unless you have stellar boards, stellar grades / AOA, and research papers -- in which case they'll invite you to interview regardless of whether you did an away with them or not.

I am shy, I don't stand out, I have the "sweet personality" that doesn't stand out to faculty and other evaluating people (residents). I still somehow did extremely well in my aways. Some of it is beyond your control -- how the away institution structures their rotations, who the faculty members are and how much they value teaching medical students makes a big difference and you can't do a thing about that (other than choosing good places to rotate).

The majority of people don't actually end up with residency at a place where they did an away.... I did, and I'm very glad for it.
 

gutonc

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I did an away rotation at a place that I thought was going to be my #1 place. I had a horrible month but I'm glad I did it. I ended up hating the hospital, thought the attendings were kind of weak and wasn't that impressed by the house staff. I ended up ranking the place 11. So do it, if for no other reason than to findout of that place is really as great as you think it is.

BE
 

ruthmd

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I'm going to second what a number of posters have said- I did an away rotation because my home program in what i'm going into is notoriously weak, and because I wanted to spend some QT with my family in the city in which they live. I found a great rotation, did it, LOVED it, it ended up being my #1, and I'm going there for residency. Now, I worked hard, no doubt, but i think doing an away at programs you're seriously considering is invaluable. Firstly, most programs give you an automatic interview unless you really screw up (i.e., being late or an a**, etc). Secondly, you get to know firsthand over a month if it's a place you'd feel comfortable, with both the people and with the education you're going to receive. This is something that can be super hard to figure out on your interview day. I did another away at a much higher ranked program and was so unimpressed with the people and the teaching, it ended up being my #3- but I think my showing the initiative and interest implied by doing an away there played a big part in helping me get the interview.
Good luck in whatever you end up doing!
 

NinerNiner999

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If you do not have the ability to be your absolute best during an away rotation, and you have no redeemable social qualities for people to know if they like working with you, don't do an audition rotation. Period.

If you work well with other people and you may not be the best, but you show some learning potential, that will help your chances considerably.
 

willow212

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Agree with many of above posters that auditioning can be a great way for you to figure out if the program is right for you (and is probably the best reason to do an away).

As far as changing your chances of matching somewhere, I think that there are different scenarios that one can consider.

1. "Reach" Program
If your numbers, CV, recs, etc. aren't already good enough for the program, it may be hard to match at a "reach" program no matter how well you do on an audition. While hitting it off with some key members of the team may give you an in that you wouldn't already have had, chances are that it would be hard to stand out among other audition applicants.

2. "Safety" Program
Unless you really clash with folks on an audition, you'll probably have a good chance at a "safety" program no matter what.

3. "Middle" Program
This is probably where you can make the biggest impact, positively or negatively. It's hard to know how well you will work with the team that's on when you rotate, though if you generally get along and show enthusiasm, it may work in your favor.

Of course, the above does depend on what specialty you are matching in. If there are only a handful of spots, then a direct and long-standing connection (your home school or research at that institution, etc.) is probably more useful than an audition rotation.
 
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