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Away or Audition Electives

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Babycatcher2B

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Hi, I am a rising 4th year and I am making my schedule for fourth year. I really want to leave my state for residency and I was told by my dean of student affairs that doing as many away rotations is best. I already have 2 away rotations on my schedule. I was wondering what are you guys thoughts on doing many away rotations (I mean atleast 3 rotations away). I'd like to hear from current residents and 4th years who have already matched. Thanks for your input in advance.:)
 

nykka3

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Hi, I am a rising 4th year and I am making my schedule for fourth year. I really want to leave my state for residency and I was told by my dean of student affairs that doing as many away rotations is best. I already have 2 away rotations on my schedule. I was wondering what are you guys thoughts on doing many away rotations (I mean atleast 3 rotations away). I'd like to hear from current residents and 4th years who have already matched. Thanks for your input in advance.:)
In general, I don't think it matters that much. OBGYN is not derm. However, if there is a particular program that you are interested in it could potentially benefit you especially if the program is very competitive. I didn't have one particular program I had to be a part of. I didn't do any away rotations, and 2/3 of my invites were from out of state programs vs. in state. I matched at an out of state program- Cedars Sinai Medical Center in LA!!
 

Global Disrobal

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Out of state electives,

Pros: Gives program a good look at you, interview guarantee (unless you screw it up), gives you a great look at the every day function of the program, a source of letter of recommendation if you do not have 3 from home institution

Cons: Cost, may cost you spot if you are not liked for any reason by the residents (i.e. "agh, that girl thinks she is so pretty...":p), will have to work harder than a home rotation where you already know the drill, etc.

Just some thoughts. I'm sure people will add to the list :)

Good luck!
 

smq123

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Out of state electives,

Pros: Gives program a good look at you, interview guarantee (unless you screw it up)

This is my question - people say that you're NOT guaranteed an interview, particularly at some of the big name programs, so they told me not to bother. What are your thoughts?
 

mules05

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This is my question - people say that you're NOT guaranteed an interview, particularly at some of the big name programs, so they told me not to bother. What are your thoughts?

I've been told that most programs (in most specialties) will extend you an interview invite as a professional courtesy if you've taken the time to rotate there. However, just because you do an away at Brigham and they interview you as a courtesy doesn't mean they'll overlook your 185 on step 1 and actually rank you. In addition, many competitive programs pre-screen who they let do aways, so they may not let you do an away if you wouldn't make their cutoffs based on numbers. To set up my away with UNC I had to send them a CV, my board scores, and a transcript before they would let me send in the application. The impression I've been given by the higher-ups in my department is that an away may be beneficial if it's at a program for which you may be considered, just to give you that extra something at a program you really like. It's not a magic trick to get into places you didn't earn.
 

BBCatcherVA

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I think you should look at away rotations as being for your benefit regarding a program and not the other way around. If you have a definitive top choice and want to thoroughly investigate it, an away may be the way to go. If you are trying to relocate to a different geographic area and don't think you can convince a program of your seriousness, this may be another reason to do an away. I agree with other posters that doing an away will not let you slip into a position for which you would not otherwise qualify. Having said all of this, I matched at my #2 program without doing any away rotations (and without writing any thank you notes for that matter, but that's a topic for another thread). For me, it wasn't worth the expense and time away from my family when the match process was still very up in the air.
 

smq123

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I've been told that most programs (in most specialties) will extend you an interview invite as a professional courtesy if you've taken the time to rotate there.

This was my question - I've been told that this is NOT true, regardless of your Step 1.

The dept. chair at my home program also says that away rotations are a waste of money, unless you're trying to see if you like that particular residency program.

I've given up asking for advice about 4th year. Everyone has something different to say, so I'm just getting more confused. :(
 

nykka3

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This was my question - I've been told that this is NOT true, regardless of your Step 1.

The dept. chair at my home program also says that away rotations are a waste of money, unless you're trying to see if you like that particular residency program.

I've given up asking for advice about 4th year. Everyone has something different to say, so I'm just getting more confused. :(

Aww! Smq just go with your gut. I think your chair (who is very opinionated btw ;) ) is correct. Ultimately, it will always come down to this (determining if it is a right fit) regardless of whether your goal is to get an interview or LOR. PM me if you like.
 

Babycatcher2B

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This is where I am confused because my 4th year "big buddy" told me I should only do one away rotation. She did a bunch and sacrificed her vacation and she matched at a program she did not do an away rotation at.
 

nykka3

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This is where I am confused because my 4th year "big buddy" told me I should only do one away rotation. She did a bunch and sacrificed her vacation and she matched at a program she did not do an away rotation at.

Yep. So determine what you can sacrifice/accomplish. Sometimes the dates of your away rotation do not coincide with the rotation dates at your home school, so you might end up sacrificing 2 months of rotation time at your home school for one month at your away program. So this can definitely affect your vacation time at the end of the school year before residency starts.
 
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Blade28

This was my question - I've been told that this is NOT true, regardless of your Step 1.

The dept. chair at my home program also says that away rotations are a waste of money, unless you're trying to see if you like that particular residency program.

I used my away rotations as a chance for me to check out other programs - not so much to get an "in" or "guarantee" an interview (which I don't think is necessarily true - you still need a good app to earn an interview).

For me, I wanted to see what a big West Coast county hospital was like, and I wanted to see what a big East Coast "ivory tower" was like. I wanted exposure to different types of residents and attendings, and I wanted to see how the programs were run.
 

smq123

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I used my away rotations as a chance for me to check out other programs - not so much to get an "in" or "guarantee" an interview (which I don't think is necessarily true - you still need a good app to earn an interview).

But I guess this is part of what I've been told - that even if you have a good application, and a strong Step 1, if you do an away rotation, and don't "mesh" with the people there, then you STILL won't get an interview. Even if you work hard, and try your best to get along with everyone, if they decide that you didn't "mesh" well, then you might not even get a courtesy interview.

It just seems like away rotations are such a huge gamble. Not that I'm not applying for them, but still.

Oh well. It'll all work out somehow.

P.S. Nykka - thanks for your offer! I always know who I can turn to for OB/gyn advice. :biglove:

Trust me, you'll be hearing from me soon. :)
 

mules05

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This was my question - I've been told that this is NOT true, regardless of your Step 1.

The dept. chair at my home program also says that away rotations are a waste of money, unless you're trying to see if you like that particular residency program.

I've given up asking for advice about 4th year. Everyone has something different to say, so I'm just getting more confused. :(

He told me the same thing at first, but when I told him I was being told there were no spots to do rotations at my home program before February, he was suddenly full of advice on how to get the most out of an away rotation and where I should try to rotate. Regardless of the actual utility of doing rotations away vs. at your home program, I don't have the option to choose, so I'm doing my electives at the more competitive places I'm interested in and hoping it doesn't end up hurting my application that my letters won't be from my program.
 
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smq123

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He told me the same thing at first, but when I told him I was being told there were no spots to do rotations at my home program before February, he was suddenly full of advice on how to get the most out of an away rotation and where I should try to rotate. Regardless of the actual utility of doing rotations away vs. at your home program, I don't have the option to choose, so I'm doing my electives at the more competitive places I'm interested in and hoping it doesn't end up hurting my application that my letters won't be from my program.

Yeah - I've heard from so many other third years that the entire process is so frustrating because of the wide variety of contradictory advice.

Did he also tell you that your letters don't matter because "nobody reads them"? He said not to worry about where my letters came from, or who wrote them, because all LORs are invariably positive, and he doesn't feel that reading them is useful.

On the flipside, though, I was also told that the secretary, D.C., DOES read them, and it's likely that she would pass along her impressions to the faculty (seeing as her office is literally around the corner from the PD's office).

Well, maybe more spots will open up, since people are still making up their minds about future careers. I know some people who were die-hard OB/gyn people during 1st and 2nd year...and they've recently said to me that if they never delivered another baby, they wouldn't be too broken up about it. So, you never know.
 

nykka3

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Did he also tell you that your letters don't matter because "nobody reads them"? He said not to worry about where my letters came from, or who wrote them, because all LORs are invariably positive, and he doesn't feel that reading them is useful.

On the flipside, though, I was also told that the secretary, D.C., DOES read them, and it's likely that she would pass along her impressions to the faculty (seeing as her office is literally around the corner from the PD's office).

Sometimes letters were mentioned during my interviews, esp. if the interviewer knows the LOR writer. The OB/GYN community (academics) can be a close knit community.
 

mules05

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Yeah - I've heard from so many other third years that the entire process is so frustrating because of the wide variety of contradictory advice.

Did he also tell you that your letters don't matter because "nobody reads them"? He said not to worry about where my letters came from, or who wrote them, because all LORs are invariably positive, and he doesn't feel that reading them is useful.

On the flipside, though, I was also told that the secretary, D.C., DOES read them, and it's likely that she would pass along her impressions to the faculty (seeing as her office is literally around the corner from the PD's office).

Well, maybe more spots will open up, since people are still making up their minds about future careers. I know some people who were die-hard OB/gyn people during 1st and 2nd year...and they've recently said to me that if they never delivered another baby, they wouldn't be too broken up about it. So, you never know.

Yeah, he did tell me nobody will read them. Which I guess makes sense from his standpoint, because he doesn't actually write his own LORs (I needed one from him for an away, so I wrote it and emailed it to him, and he signed it and sent it in). It doesn't matter too much to me what he does with them, since I'm not going to apply to this program...I'm just hoping other programs put some value in letters.
 

nykka3

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Yeah, he did tell me nobody will read them. Which I guess makes sense from his standpoint, because he doesn't actually write his own LORs (I needed one from him for an away, so I wrote it and emailed it to him, and he signed it and sent it in). It doesn't matter too much to me what he does with them, since I'm not going to apply to this program...I'm just hoping other programs put some value in letters.

Do you and smq attend the same med school?
 

midwestobgirl

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i have also been wondering about away rotations and talked to 4th years, residents, and faculty at my program. here's the summary of what they said:

if you are a "strong applicant" (research, good step 1, interesting extracurriculars, etc...) an away rotation is just as likely to hurt you as it is to help you. you're likely to get interviews most places regardless, so you don't need an away to help with that. all you might do is find that one random resident/faculty who you won't click with and make a bad impression, potentially costing you a spot on their list. however, if you're a less ideal applicant (low step 1, etc...) you might raise your chances of interviewing and matching at that program by showing them what a rockstar you are on an away.

aways will only help you at that program. no one else cares where you rotated (so rotating at brigham doesn't make you more competitive because its a competitive program). the only exception to this is if you get a great letter from someone at that program who is well known, but that applies to your home school too.

i was also repeated told to do aways to figure out if i wanted to go to that program, not to try and guarantee a spot.

all this being said, i was told if i had my heart set on one program i should try and rotate there as it may help my chances.


in regards to all the mixed opinions out there, i'd attribute it all to differences between programs. some might like to take those who rotate there, others don't care. just like some put a lot of weight on LORs and others don't.

hope this helps :)
 

mules05

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i have also been wondering about away rotations and talked to 4th years, residents, and faculty at my program. here's the summary of what they said:

if you are a "strong applicant" (research, good step 1, interesting extracurriculars, etc...) an away rotation is just as likely to hurt you as it is to help you. you're likely to get interviews most places regardless, so you don't need an away to help with that. all you might do is find that one random resident/faculty who you won't click with and make a bad impression, potentially costing you a spot on their list. however, if you're a less ideal applicant (low step 1, etc...) you might raise your chances of interviewing and matching at that program by showing them what a rockstar you are on an away.

aways will only help you at that program. no one else cares where you rotated (so rotating at brigham doesn't make you more competitive because its a competitive program). the only exception to this is if you get a great letter from someone at that program who is well known, but that applies to your home school too.

i was also repeated told to do aways to figure out if i wanted to go to that program, not to try and guarantee a spot.

all this being said, i was told if i had my heart set on one program i should try and rotate there as it may help my chances.


in regards to all the mixed opinions out there, i'd attribute it all to differences between programs. some might like to take those who rotate there, others don't care. just like some put a lot of weight on LORs and others don't.

hope this helps :)

I definitely agree with all of this. I had a hard time deciding whether to do aways, because I can't decide if I'm a strong applicant. I have a very high step 1 score and some great extracurriculars, but no ob/gyn research (although god knows I've tried to set it up) and no AOA or anything like that. However, since there were no spots for ob/gyn electives at my school, if I want letters from the specialty I have to go elsewhere. I have to say I'm excited to do aways just to see another region of the country as well- even if I don't ultimately get interviews or match at these programs, I'll be applying to other programs in the same regions, so I'll be better able to evaluate whether I'd like to live in that area.

Nykka- yes, smq and I are at the same school
 
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Blade28

But I guess this is part of what I've been told - that even if you have a good application, and a strong Step 1, if you do an away rotation, and don't "mesh" with the people there, then you STILL won't get an interview. Even if you work hard, and try your best to get along with everyone, if they decide that you didn't "mesh" well, then you might not even get a courtesy interview.

Yes, that's absolutely true. Do poorly on an away rotation and you've jeopardized your chance to interview/match there. (It would have been better NOT to have done an away rotation at all!) Kinda like the whole "do I do an SMP or not?" dilemma in Pre-Allo.

It just seems like away rotations are such a huge gamble. Not that I'm not applying for them, but still.

Oh well. It'll all work out somehow.

Agreed. Times two. :)
 

Babycatcher2B

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i was also repeated told to do aways to figure out if i wanted to go to that program, not to try and guarantee a spot.

all this being said, i was told if i had my heart set on one program i should try and rotate there as it may help my chances.


So, I think I will take this way of thinking now (since this was my original thinking when I initially decide on my away rotations). I talked to the chair of Ob/Gyn at my school and he said that me doing the 2 away rotations that I had scheduled was fine. He said its about seeing if you like the program. I was worried about decreasing my chances of matching at an out of state school and after I talked to my dean of student affairs he had me worried so much that I was planning to do away rotations at places that I really didn't have a strong interest in (based on location and other factors) just to ensure that I had some relationships with programs away. So now, I am doing 2 away rotations in the area of the country that I want to be in (because of family and my significant other) and I will focus my energy and time on studying really hard for Step 2 to improve my scores, excelling in my AI rotation to get a good letter, and doing electives in Anesthesia and ICU so I can learn some things before I am thrown out into the intern world; instead of using all my time and energy (and last hoorah before I begin training to be a real doctor) trying to ensure spots at programs by doing away rotations (which is obviously not the way to do it). I feel ten times better now that I have finalized my 4th year schedule. Thanks for all the advice.
 

Babycatcher2B

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Does the time of the year when you do an away rotation matter??? Any thoughts?
 

nykka3

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Does the time of the year when you do an away rotation matter??? Any thoughts?

Depends on your goal. Is your goal to get an LOR and hopefully a possible invitation or is it just to get a feel of the place. Also, I recall that interview invites for for ob/gyn started in sept. and some actual interview dates were as early as october. the heavy interview season seemed to be nov. and dec. though. you don't want to be on an away rotation and miss days interviewing at other programs. my advice is to try to get the aways out of the way by october.
 

chrisisinnocent

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This is my question - people say that you're NOT guaranteed an interview, particularly at some of the big name programs, so they told me not to bother. What are your thoughts?

I had an away rotation scheduled at a big name program. They turned me down for an interview about a month before my rotation was supposed to start.
 
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