• Forums Updates Complete
    Thank you for your patience!

Away Rotations

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

McAllenHopeful

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
26
Reaction score
1
A quick question about away rotations: I think we can all agree that they are extremely important, especially in ortho. But what I'm wondering is how many I should do and why they are important. Are they important to PD's just because they want to see that you're willing to do some extra work, or do they want you to rotate at their specific institution? I'm wondering this, because if possible, I would like to get away with only doing 1 away rotation. I'm getting married in October, and I need to save some money up and I want to take October off to help out with the wedding. WOuld this be okay, or do I need to do 2 away rotations? BTW, in case it matters, I have a 3.7ish GPA (all A's in 3rd year, except in OBGYN because I hate vaginal bleeding) and go in the 230s on my step I. Thanks for your help!!

Members don't see this ad.
 
First and foremost... congrats on getting married! As a MS4 having just gone through the entire process and awaiting my match results, I think the general feeling is that you should maximize your opportunities and do as many away rotations as possible. Obviously, it's a way for you to get to know a program that you're interested in (much more than you will during a 1-2 day interview session), and more importantly, a way for programs to get to know you. Firstly, they see what type of worker you are. Secondly, they get to assess your personality (as this is easier to hide for a day or two, than a whole month... and this goes both way, you get to assess the true program... everyone can make themselves out to be the best program with the best resident comraderie for 1-2 days, but for an entire month, you'll get to really know the place). Lastly, there are several programs (and this has been well discussed in other forums (try signing up the the www.orthogate.com forums) that are partial to rotators (HSS, Mayo, Lenox Hill, all Chicago programs, maybe with the exception of UIC, etc.).

True, it's not impossible to match somewhere as a non-rotator, but there are places that prefer someone that they've gotten to know. Another benefit, especially if you do them early, is you can get powerful letters for your application from big names to add to your portfolio. My school allows only 3 rotations in a particular specialty area, so I did one home rotation and two aways. I really got to know the places, got some good letters, and one of them ended up being my top choice. Had I not gone to experience it, I don't think I would have assessed it as I did.

I know that 4th year is supposed to be the easiest year with the most time to do other things and get a break before starting internship, but don't forget that ortho is a very competitive residency program, and they're out there looking for two things, above all else (at least the good programs are): 1) a hard worker who will bring skill and dedication to the program, and 2) a good fit in terms of personality. One grumpy resident has a tendency to rub off on the others, and no program wants unhappy residents. Most important, IMO, is the fit.

Most people apply to greater than 30 programs and interview at greater than 10. I would rather go into things knowing more about a few programs than having to take everyone's word for it on interview day. Good luck with making your decision, and perhaps the best advice that I can give is... talk to your PD or chair and see what they think (they'll review your scores, grades, etc. and look at all of that relative to where you will be applying).

McAllenHopeful said:
A quick question about away rotations: I think we can all agree that they are extremely important, especially in ortho. But what I'm wondering is how many I should do and why they are important. Are they important to PD's just because they want to see that you're willing to do some extra work, or do they want you to rotate at their specific institution? I'm wondering this, because if possible, I would like to get away with only doing 1 away rotation. I'm getting married in October, and I need to save some money up and I want to take October off to help out with the wedding. WOuld this be okay, or do I need to do 2 away rotations? BTW, in case it matters, I have a 3.7ish GPA (all A's in 3rd year, except in OBGYN because I hate vaginal bleeding) and go in the 230s on my step I. Thanks for your help!!
 
McAllenHopeful said:
A quick question about away rotations: I think we can all agree that they are extremely important, especially in ortho. But what I'm wondering is how many I should do and why they are important. Are they important to PD's just because they want to see that you're willing to do some extra work, or do they want you to rotate at their specific institution? I'm wondering this, because if possible, I would like to get away with only doing 1 away rotation. I'm getting married in October, and I need to save some money up and I want to take October off to help out with the wedding. WOuld this be okay, or do I need to do 2 away rotations? BTW, in case it matters, I have a 3.7ish GPA (all A's in 3rd year, except in OBGYN because I hate vaginal bleeding) and go in the 230s on my step I. Thanks for your help!!

You sound like a good applicant on paper. I think that aways will be good for you in certain targeted circumstances.

From my perspective, I did two months of out-of-town aways (in addition to my home program) and then ended up matching at my #1 which was somewhere else. So I felt like I wasted a lot of time and money as well as lost time away from my (at the time new) wife. It’s tough to look back and see how I benefited from those months.

Also, there is a potential risk to doing aways. You can sink yourself quite easily. We have students at our program that do it all the time and I know of a handful of residents in other programs that openly admit that if they had rotated at their program, they probably wouldn't have been ranked so high. Among students, the conventional wisdom is to do as many aways as possible, but this is not the sentiment among chief residents, attendings and program directors.

My overall impression is as follows:

1) You must rotate at your home program, even if you don’t want to stay there. You need letters and people will ask you about the faculty there. It’s good to know them.
2) If you have a program or two that you are extremely interested in going to, you should rotate there. For example, the one in your home town, your wife’s home town, etc.

Other than those, I wouldn’t go too far out of my way to go on aways. They are hard, expensive, emotionally draining, inconvenient and in my case, didn’t affect my final decision or preference. I think that doing an away, just to do an away, is a waste of time and money. If you have somewhere that you just have to do ‘everything possible’ to try to go there, then do it.

Just my two cynical cents…

P.S. I know a guy who wanted so bad to go back to his hometown program that he did two consecutive 4-week rotations there. He got to meet and work with the entire department. Needless to say, he ranked it #1 and got it.
 
Members don't see this ad :)
I totally agree with the above poster's statement about not doing aways just for the sake of doing them. That is a BIG mistake. Aways are meant for you to get a look at programs that you are interested in. I almost fell into this trap when I applied for mine (since my school's schedule was a week off from most others, I was applying to many more than the two slots I had available, and I almost went to places that I knew I wasn't that interested in). Luckily, two of my desired residency programs had slots and I took them. Like I said, an away rotation is a chance for both the applicant and program to look at each other. You have to work hard and sacrifice on your aways. If you don't really want to be there, believe me, it shows and the residents (and therefore, the PD and chair) will know. I also left my wife (for two consecutive months in the middle of a fourth-month stretch of surgery rotations) and it wasn't easy. However, for me, it was the right thing to do. I truly found my #1 (and here's to hoping that I match there).
 
A good rule of thumb that an ortho resident at my med school mentioned is to do two away rotations. One at your "dream school" and one at a "competitive school" based on one's credentials.
 
Top