Avg. board scores for the top IM programs

Discussion in 'Internal Medicine and IM Subspecialties' started by gluon999, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. gluon999

    gluon999 Senior Member
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    Does any one know the avg. is for programs like MGH, Brigham, UCSF, Columbia, Cornell, etc? I know there is more to an applicant than just board scores but this is something objective that I'd like to know. Thanks
     
  2. muscles

    muscles student of the month
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    I think most people will say that at the very least, you need to have a 230 on step I to pass through the screening process.
     
  3. gluon999

    gluon999 Senior Member
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    Yeah that is what I have seen on other threads but nonetheless, I wonder if their avg is in the 230s or 240s.
     
  4. bball1984

    bball1984 Junior Member
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    I don't know about MGH, Brigham, etc. specifically, but I am located in the South and have called a few of the top programs down here to get this information.

    This is from the program directors of each of these programs, so I think it would tend to be pretty accurate. It is hard to know if these data are always perfectly true, since every program wants to paint itself in a very positive light to potential applicants.

    Anyway:

    Emory University- Avg. Step I: 237

    Vanderbilt University- Avg. Step I: 240 AND about 30% were AOA.

    Pretty high scores, especially considering these are solid programs but by no means the top of the pack among IM residencies nationwide.
     
  5. Friendly

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    I think people obsess about average scores and cut-offs on Step 1 WAY more than is necessary. Do your best. That is all that it required. Also realize that most of the top programs (whatever that means) seek diverse, interesting, and accomplished residents. I did not get >230 on Step 1, but I interviewed at all of the competitive programs I applied to, including the big ones that are always mentioned on SDN. I worked hard, and I like the field. I never felt like my application was 'beneath any school'.

    It's pretty common knowledge that all programs are looking for strong performance in the internal medicine clerkship and acting internship. I think that is far more important. Any medicine program that uses a high Step 1 score alone as the selection tool is going to miss a lot of excellent applicants, and I just don't think they treat the test that seriously for medicine. If they do, they'll usually never advertise this. Good luck to all.
     
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    #5 Friendly, Dec 30, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  6. dragonfly99

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    <Emory University- Avg. Step I: 237

    Vanderbilt University- Avg. Step I: 240 AND about 30% were AOA. >

    Hmm...I have a hard time believing this. It could be true, but I know several folks who have gone to these residency programs and didn't have >230 USMLE scores. Also, you should look at where they were AOA FROM. Are they AOA at some random medical school or Johns Hopkins? Not that it isn't hard to get into AOA anywhere, but all schools like to brag about how many AOA people they got but remember that if 30% were AOA that means 70% were not in AOA. So the majority were not in AOA.

    Most residencies, even the top ones, aren't picking people based on one thing, so if you WERE AOA but not with a high Step 1, or you had a high step 2 but not a high Step 1, or you had a high Step 1 but no AOA, you might get in....multiple variations on a theme of doing well.

    I agree w/the above post that doing well in the subI and 3rd year medicine clerkship are likely equally important to the Step 1 and AOA stuff. I mean, if someone barely passed Step 1 and 2 and then honored the med. clerkship and subI, someone might wonder about the academic standards at his school, but if someone got say a 220 or 225 USMLE Step 1 but then honored his subI and went to a med school known to be rigorous, that might be more important than a 230 USMLE Step 1 score.

    Anyone applying to competitive medicine programs, unless he/she is a superstar (i.e. 245 USMLE, publication, AOA and/or decently high class high rank and went to a high ranked med school and has great LOR's) should not assume he/she will get in to any one or two particular schools. You can always apply to 3 or 4 "dream schools" and see if you can get in. As long as you have decent credentials for IM (i.e. decent/average step scores, pretty good clinical grades) you might luck out and get in.
     
  7. docmd2010

    docmd2010 Senior Member
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    and of course you can be an osteopathic student, get a 260, have a publication, be in the top 10% of your class, honor your medicine clerkship, stellar LOR's and not get an interview to any of the top-tiered programs.
     
  8. BaylorLion

    BaylorLion Playoffs - WIN OR GO HOME
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    Ouch, I felt that one :laugh: On a serious note, these do seem somewhat inflated to me. One thing to consider - these MAY include prelims who are going on to derm, rads, rad-onc etc. Emory has a very large class of prelim interns, and the 237 seems high to me just because they have such a large residency class in general, and there's such a small population of categorical IM applicants with > 230 board scores. Prelims tend to have super high board scores and may be inflating the average a little.

    At Vanderbilt, we have 33 categoricals, 4 med-peds, 5 neuro and 5 prelim spots. So fewer prelims to "inflate the average" - I can play the subjective game of "I have a board score > 240 and everyone I've talked to says their board score is > 240" but obviously no one's going to come out to say, "I bombed the USMLE," so...

    My cousin recently graduated from Northwestern and she said their board average was 228, which would seem fairly reasonable to me for a highly-respected IM program. As many have already pointed out, USMLE doesn't seem to be the be-all-and-end-all that it is for more competitive specialties, and I have a feeling that the cutoff is fairly low and after that, they look for AOA, research and who your letters are coming from.
     
  9. drjitsu

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    I highly recommend that you and everyone else on sdn check this link:

    www.nrmp.org/data/programresultsbyspecialty.pdf

    My personal opinion... anyone who says that internal medicine is not competitive is lying. True, the average step one score for IM is right at the national average. Do you really want to risk your training on a mediocre board score?

    If you want a good program, you need to be well rounded, end of story. You need a competitive board score (step 1 AND step 2... see the above link), you need to honor your medicine clerkship OR excel during your sub-internship, you need good evals from every single clerkship (MSPE). Recommendation letters are important, but they all read the same, so less emphasis is placed on them. Same with personal statements, just don't incriminate yourself. AOA may be important because lots of programs want a certain percentage of house staff to be AOA. This info is available for each program on FREIDA or possibly the program's website. Research may be important to some, but generally it's not (again, see the link). Also, all that CV filler, community service, etc... not important. Basic science grades... no one cares... see the link.

    Bottom line: Those with the best grades get the best jobs. This is true for every field, and it's true for medicine. It does not matter who you know or where you go but what you have done and can do and will do. (don't believe me all you good old boy, elitist, creatures of academic inbreeding... check the link under "Graduate of highly regarded medical school")

    The stats given for the programs above do not surprise me in the least. These are top university programs with top house staff and top faculty. You better bring some kind of game if you want a piece.

    All this being said, focus on the learning. If you focus on the learning, the grades will come. If you focus on the learning, the evals will be stellar. If you focus on the learning you will shine. Dedicate yourself to the learning of your trade and all the details will fall into place.

    And have some fun while your at it...
     
  10. viostorm

    viostorm Senior Member
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    This NRMP thing is NOT useful for determining what PD's at the TOP programs think is important as it is diluted by a large number of non-competitive programs.

    You are way off thinking that LOR from presitgious people don't matter and that coming from a top program doesn't matter .... it matters I promise ... at least at the 4-6 top of the top programs. Also, I know personally I was selected for an interview specifically because of my CV filler at a top program.
     
  11. drjitsu

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    not something to be proud of...

    I think this survey is useful. It's the only glimpse we get into the minds of PDs out there. It surely is better than pure conjecture!

    You are right though. People get interviews based on who they know, the name on the letter instead of the content, and the name of the school instead of the accomplishments therein. It happens, and we should all be ashamed of it, not promoting it. We should be promoting knowledge, experience, skill sets, communication; however, instead we sit around talking about which program has what kind of reputation and rank them accordingly. Any other professions would (and do) find this quite ridiculous.

    That being said, I do not think I'm way off base. People from no name schools get interviews at all the top places. The only difference is that they deserve them.

    (Just for position sake, I'm from neither a no name nor a big name school.)

    I'm just for knowledge. That's all I'm saying. Focus on the knowledge instead of the prestige. Focus on doing something worthwhile instead of filling your CV with garbage to make it look good. Fill your life with substance instead of filling your ego with delusions.
     
  12. mirrortest7

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    While I agree with your point, drjitsu, that we should all focus on gaining knowledge and accomplishing useful things that are important to us, rather than accumulating activities merely to fill our CV, I think you're being a bit extreme here.

    First of all, I'm not sure I understand you're statement that getting an interview based on "CV filler" is something to be ashamed of. You defined community service as "CV filler" above. So I guess if a residency program chooses to consider an applicant's dedication to service/volunteerism when offering interviews, that is something that both parties should be ashamed of. Right.

    Second of all, I agree that the handing out of interviews based solely on applicants' schools of origin (especially for those of us who aren't at the absolute top-tier schools) is frustrating. But there's another way to look at it. Imagine you're a PD. Over the years, you've found that residents who enter your program from medical school X have been competent and successful, while residents from medical school Y have struggled. If two similar applications are sitting on your desk, one from a student at medical school X and one at medical school Y, who are you going to invite for an interview? The name of the medical school on the CV is simply another piece of information that can be used (along with grades, letters, evals, research, etc...) to evaluate the potential a candidate has for succeeding at the next stage of training. I agree that it shouldn't be the primary factor, but to imply that it shouldn't even be considered is ridiculous (not nearly as ridiculous, however, as implying that candidates from top medical schools get interviews at top programs solely based on their school's name).

    Finally, it's news to me that we all rank programs based only on reputation. I don't know or know of a single person who has done so. The vast majority of people rank based on what is best for their individual goals. If one's burning goal is to be department chair at JHU, then maybe ranking based solely on reputation is in line with these goals (and I'm certainly not commenting on whether this is good or bad...to each their own), but for the majority of applicants, many other factors come into play.

    You've made a lot of generalizations that seem to stem from frustration with the whole "who you know"/nepotism/pedigree aspect of this field. I agree that this can be frustrating at times, for sure, but it's reality. As you said, work hard and gain knowledge, and things will most likely work out for the best. In the mean time, don't let the other stuff drive you crazy.
     
  13. drjitsu

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    I totally agree with this mirrortest.

    I'm not frustrated. I think I'm just bored today, and I really got off on a tangent.

    I don't mean to generalize. As a general rule, I generally try not the generalize.. haha

    I think volunteer work and community service is essential in our profession and should be encouraged as such. However, my unclear point is that often people try to fill up their CV with numerous community service points only to try and compensate for a average board score or some other blemish. Certainly not everyone doing volunteer work is doing this. I certainly have it on my CV. I'm just trying to say that the things we do should be done in a noble spirit. We should study for knowledge not grades, we should volunteer to make an impact not fill a CV. The later is automatically fulfilled by the former.

    Likewise, I think if a PD has a favorable experience with applicants from a certain school, then by all means give them a preference if it comes down to that. That's really their prerogative. I just feel that the name of your medical school should not factor in as an absolute selection criteria.

    I also agree that most people are not ranking based on reputation. My, again unclear, point is that it is discussed often. This is likely because it's not clear cut and thus debatable... so.... it's debated...

    As for nepotism, it's out there. It probably sounds as though it really bothers me. What bothers me is when people buy into it and think they are bound by it. So, I just wanted to say that we're not bound by it, and anyone can get into their ideal residency as long as they have the determination to do so.
     
  14. mirrortest7

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    I totally agree (with this and everything else you said). I hope I didn't come off as antagonistic earlier, as that wasn't my intent.
     
  15. viostorm

    viostorm Senior Member
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    Sorry to disappoint you .... I actually am quite proud of my health work in a 3rd world country.

    The fact of the matter is at the top programs the people not only have top scores but are absolutely amazing people ... like someone at one of my interviews had climbed Everest. One girl had spent a year at NIH.

    Its obvious you haven't been on the interview trail because exactly the "rumors" on SDN have proved to be spot on about what it takes to be a competitive candidate.

    My feeling it is overall after interviewing is this is what it takes to be a competitive applicant in this order.

    1. Top med school
    2. High step 1 + 2 scores
    3. AOA
    4. CV fillers.
    5. Research
    6. LOR from well known people
    7. Not being a socially awkward moron at interview.

    You should do your CV fillers for whatever reason you want ... if you are simply doing them only to accomplish your career goals who cares?
     
    #15 viostorm, Jan 2, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  16. drjitsu

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    I'm sorry if I inadvertently offended you. No harm meant.

    To me, work as a firefighter and work in a third world country are not "CV fillers". They are quite commendable, and congratulations to you.

    We have a difference of opinion on the definition of "amazing people". Climbing a mountain and working for the NIH, in my opinion, have nothing to do with being an amazing person.

    And, I'm sorry that our experiences have differed so, but I am on the interview trail right now and interviewing at all the big "brand name" schools. My medical school would certainly not be considered a "big name" and I think it's wrong to tell people that it is weighted so heavily. I'm a firm believer that we're judged on what we do in medical school. And I believe that most PDs will take a star from a lesser known school over an average student at a "big name". I'm sure that this is sometimes not the case, but let's all hope it's the minority.

    Frankly, I've found much of what's said by those who have not been through this process to be pure conjecture and often missing the mark. It was true in undergrad about medical school, medical school about residency, and residency about working in the real world.

    I haven't found the people at the "big four" or five or whatever schools to be any higher caliber than those at Vanderbilt or Emory, to name some mentioned earlier in this thread. And, frankly, I think putting schools of this caliber into "tiers" is quite ridiculous and done only to feed our own egos.

    I just don't agree with your priorities in terms of competitive applicant qualities. However, I believe this is is quite subjective and varies program to program. I simply offered up the NRMP survey as a little bit of data (however flawed it may be) to guide us in the process.

    I hope you have a great interview season and a happy new year.
     
  17. dragonfly99

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    People fixate too much on *ONE* aspect of the application. Having only 240's board scores by itself is not going to get you into Harvard, or even Emory or Vanderbilt. Coming from a fancy top 5 med school BY ITSELF is not going to get you into those schools either. Doing a lot of cool volunteer work with a crappy/low USMLE score is not going to get you into those schools IN SPITE OF poor academic performance. I think that schools look at everything. That said, I think think that having quite high board scores can provide a distinct advantage, even for internal medicine, as could going to a top 10 or 15 medical school. I do think that some schools like Hopkins/WashU/Harvard do care what med school you come from, in the sense that they'd probably rather take an "average" Harvard med student vs. an "average" med student from a school with lower average GPA and MCAT scores, a higher med school acceptance rate, and where people do less research, etc. But that doesn't mean a stellar candidate from one of those schools who has high USMLE scores, great clerkship grades, and participated in research that interests Harvard couldn't get into a Harvard residency.

    I do think they look at everything...and that is based on my own personal experience. As for myself I went to one of those well known medical schools, did fine but wasn't AOA and did all right on my boards (not setting the world on fire on Step 1, but did fine, and did get 240's on Step 2), didn't ace a whole bunch of 3rd year clerkships but honored by subI in medicine and had a positive Dean's letter and LOR and some above average extracurriculars and one publication. I did get into a good medicine residency that is well known, and it was my #1 choice, though never tried some of the places in New York/Boston because I wasn't interested in moving there and not sure how competitive I would have been to get in those places.

    To get into ANY residency at the super competitive places like Harvard, UCSF, etc. that are in popular cities will be HARD. That includes things like peds, IM, path that are not normally thought of as being competitive. So my best advice is to apply broadly and be realistic about how hard it is to get into certain programs, and just try to sell the best parts of yourself as an applicant.
     

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