cookiegrub

2+ Year Member
Oct 8, 2016
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Medical Student
I started exploring Ophtho late but have put my applications for aways. My score is mid 220s for step 1, definitely not your ideal candidate. How many aways do you recommend for a candidate such as myself during COVID times? And do you think for me a transitional year would be better instead of applying this cycle?
 
Feb 26, 2020
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220s will make it very tough to match in to ophthalmology but obviously not impossible. The reality is that ophtho is a top 5 specialty in terms of competitiveness, they truly pick from the cream of the crop. To match with a lower step1 score, you'll almost certainly need some other rockstar credentials on your app such as a top tier med school, impressive pubs, national conference (AAO, ASCRS) poster presentations, or letters from big wig type people. Away rotations are "okay" in ophtho, but in no way guarantee you an interview or even increase your chance of matching. There are many PDs who advise against them, and some that advocate for them.

If you look at the stats, the % of applicants who match off cycle (anything other than an MD MS4) is laughable. I would not advise you to take a year off and apply unless youre thinking of doing one of the ophtho research fellowships which have become quite competitive as well.

good luck
 

idkididk

7+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2012
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Are you asking if you should just apply to a TY, boost your app during the year with research/letters, then apply for ophtho as a TY? Would definitely recommend against that.. It will be terribly hard to go through interview season as an intern. Most ophtho programs are now integrated, meaning you have to do PGY1 at the same place as your ophtho program, so your TY year won't count.

Aways can prove your work ethic and show that you'd be a valuable resident, but with a mid 220s step1 I hope you have multiple publications and strong letter writers. Good luck!
 
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10+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2005
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Attending Physician
I started exploring Ophtho late but have put my applications for aways. My score is mid 220s for step 1, definitely not your ideal candidate. How many aways do you recommend for a candidate such as myself during COVID times? And do you think for me a transitional year would be better instead of applying this cycle?
If you haven't taken it, you need to destroy Step 2 to help offset your Step 1 score. Not a guarantee it will rectify your lower Step 1 score but for some programs it will go a long ways to prove that you can do well on testing.

Don't do a TY year too. It's hard to apply as a TY intern and nothing will set you apart - applications that have already done a TY or intern year are a dime a dozen.

If you have an ophthalmology department, talk to your program's PD or medical student director to see if there are any ways you can get involved to make your application more competitive.
 
Apr 16, 2020
3
0
Status
Medical Student
There's a lot of things that go into the ophtho match, but going off of what was communicated in the recent AAO webinar addressing the match, programs are looking for people who have demonstrated a strong interesting ophthalmology through volunteering/research and have met the academic profile they are looking for.

Your step 1 score is actually quite low for ophthalmology, so you would have to beef up the other areas of your application if you wanted to match. Some things that may give you a shot would be attending top tier MD school with a strong ophtho department, solid M3 grades, AOA, crushing some research or having a PhD.

Unfortunately its going to be an uphill battle however you look at it. The matched mean in 2019 was 244, and the unmatched mean was 231. With mid 220s you'd really have to have a super solid app otherwise to feel comfortable or perhaps consider dual applying.
 

Cawolf

PGY-1
7+ Year Member
Feb 27, 2013
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You also didn't mention this, but I see you are a DO student? I think that a Step 1 below the mean, DO, late decision (so assuming no research, mentor relationships, or rotations), and COVID limiting aways pretty much guarantees you won't match. Sorry to be blunt but it may be in your best interest to apply to less competitive specialities. Taking a year off will only make it harder for you to match as said above. Best of luck with whatever path you choose to pursue!
 
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