Breaking: Personal statements must include program-specific paragraph

Discussion in 'Otolaryngology' started by ontological, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. ontological

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    On August 18, 1:47:27 PM, Emily Maurer from the Society of University Otolaryngologists posted to the AAMC a statement from OPDO (Otolaryngology Program Directors Organization) and AADO (Association of Academic Departments of Otolaryngology) that all applications must append a paragraph to their personal statement expressing specific interest to each program.

    http://bit.ly/OPDO-PS
     
  2. reinstatement

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    So since personal statements tend to be about 1 page...

    Do they want us to keep to that, or are we allowed to go onto the second page for this unique paragraph.
     
  3. Wordead

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    Wow. So glad this was not in effect when I was applying. This would effectively cost you 10+ hours writing all of those.
     
  4. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    Yes.

    Awful to think that an applicant might have to actually put some real thought and effort into a personal statement rather than to pen some BS about how a childhood otitis and observing the masterful attending weave through the intricate neuro-anatomy convinced him to go into Otolaryngology.

    Snooze....

    Makes me roll my eyes whenever I ask an applicant why he wants to go into a program and all I get back would be "I heard it was a good program" or "New York is a great place to live."
     
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    #4 neutropeniaboy, Aug 19, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  5. OtoHNS

    OtoHNS ENT Attending
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    This is a pretty transparent attempt to lower the number of applications. Which may not be a bad thing for applicants in the end.

    However, with all due respect, I think this is otherwise a pointless exercise for applicants.
     
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  6. reinstatement

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    It would be better if they just put a hard cap on the number of program students could apply to.

    Then students would apply to the programs they are most interested, and not have to write 65 pointless paragraphs that no one will ever read (like most of the application)
     
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  7. AMSZ

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    My question is what is going to be most useful in this paragraph. Regurgitate information from their website? That you have family ties in the area? I agree that an applicant should have good reason for a particular program, but isn't that what the interview is for?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. OtoHNS

    OtoHNS ENT Attending
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    This would invite multiple lawsuits from disgruntled unmatched applicants. Making them write a unique paragraph for each program accomplishes the same end goal without the lawsuit risk.

    Good question for which I don't have a good answer. I agree with you that there is no way to really evaluate a program until you go spend a day there interviewing. Other than program websites, you could also try picking the brains of interns/junior residents at your home program or attendings at your program who trained elsewhere.

    I'd be surprised if many programs took these paragraphs very seriously.
     
  9. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    I see how it could be an attempt to lower the numbers.

    But, I think that given the competitiveness of the field, people will still do what they can to maximize the chances. Since applicants don't incur any additional financial penalty, it would still be economical to make the adjustment in order to apply widely.

    I just get tired of reading the generic letters. In some ways, it's refreshing to see a compulsion to stress an interest in a program - even if it's a secondary outcome.
     
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  10. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    It might provide some focused discussion for the interview. For example, if you wrote that you liked that the program had heavy involvement in X, that might indicate to me that you've researched the program and that we could spend a good portion of the interview talking about X.
     
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  11. Wordead

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    The vast majority of applicants are not going to know a whole lot about your program aside from what they see on the website, otomatch, and some second or thirdhand info they get from attendings, unless they are from a program in your region. I certainly did not, and I would wager that I did a lot more research on programs than most other applicants. When I asked attendings about programs outside the region, the answer was invariably "oh, so and so is there. He's a beast". How many acoustics/flaps/whatever do they do per year? Will I be able to get into an otology fellowship from there? Do they have a high case load? My attendings had no idea how to answer most of these relatively basic questions for most programs - they knew about programs they trained at or were close by.

    Not to mention this immensely disadvantages any applicants without a home program, who are already at a huge disadvantage for letters and research.

    I dont see this actually decreasing the # of applications - if this were going on during my year, it would have just ended up with me spending a ton of time digging for information on programs and agonizing over what to write, only to be immensely disappointed when half the attendings who interviewed me didn't read my application much less my made up personal statement. Instead we'd talk about my research for half the time and my hobbies the other half....just like 95% of interviews on the trail.
     
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  12. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    I don't think or expect any program to think negatively about the applicant who can't cite the number of flaps or the department finances in the personal statement. But, I do believe that a small summary of why an applicant might be interested in a particular program can serve as an example of someone who has done some superficial - possibly deep - inquiry into the program rather than simply checking off all the boxes for applications (if checking boxes is what you do these days).
     
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  13. Wordead

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    The underlying point of my examples is that it is very, very difficult to figure out the strengths of a program before the interview, and sometimes even after. How could I find out if a smaller program across the country is strong in rhinology before an interview? Im not sure I could even do that now with any degree of reliability.
     
  14. cs24

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    Sure they should put some real thought and effort into their one personal statement, but not 65 separate personal statements. That just sucks all around for applicants. I think it makes more sense for questions like this should be saved for the interview.
     
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  15. OtoHNS

    OtoHNS ENT Attending
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    I can see how reading all those applications and personal statements would get tiresome.

    I didn't realize there is no longer a fee per program to apply. I applied back in the old SF Match days, and there was a definite financial incentive to limit the number of programs. It's a fairly hazy memory now, but I seem to remember something like the 1st 10 programs were included, then $10 per program 11-20, then $25 per program 21-30, then $50 per program 31 and above. Those numbers are probably not accurate, but that was the general idea.
     
  16. Slack3r

    Slack3r Sicker than your average
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    There is, as you'll see here: https://www.aamc.org/students/medstudents/eras/residency/344062/fees-info.html

    You'll notice the fees increase as the number of programs applied to increase.
     
  17. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    No, I'm saying that if they intend to apply to 65 programs, they're going to do it anyway whether they have to write this paragraph or not. I don't think it will deter most applicants.

    I worded that oddly.
     
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  18. DrBodacious

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    I have heard the complaints from program directors about the major time sink of having to screen 200+ applications for their 1-5 spots. This interferes with program directors' time to manage other important issues and maintain their clinical practices or research duties.

    On the other side of the coin are the applicants, who want to apply broadly. I am not sure why any applicant would be expected to genuinely have a unique draw to each program to which they apply. Passion for ENT and motivation to go anywhere in the country to train is commonplace. This is just another hoop to jump through, and is an obvious BS game. But, I guess this is another thing applicants will have to excel at to get a spot. I wasn't very good at the "why do you want to come to our program" question. Frankly, relative to not matching, I didn't give a **** which program I went to, except for the bottom 2 out of 15 on my rank list. I guess people want to hear that they have family in the area, or they are from that area, that they have spent time in the area and loved it, that their SO is at the same institution, that they know the residents or faculty personally, legacy connections, etc. Or you can just blow smoke about the great reputation of the program and Dr. X, Y and Z, and how honored you would be to train there, etc.
     
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  19. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    Well, this isn't the first time no one agrees with me. :(
     
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  20. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    How are you supposed to know anything of substance about the programs unless you've been there for a decent period of time? You'll know you're home program and the two or so programs that you did an away at but not the other 60 that you will apply to. It's tough to get into ent and impossible to know the details about all the programs you will apply to. In the end they just want to be an otolaryngologist and every program will get them there.

    Why do you want to go here? Every medical school. Because I want to be a doctor and you are a doctor school. At every school you'll be sitting in class or your room and studying the same crap as everyone else. Some schools have more research or more resources but in the end, it's pretty much all the same
     
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  21. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    Oh, I don't know.

    Here's how you can learn more about a program and things you can elaborate on:
    1. Look at the website
    2. Read some abstracts written by attendings or PhD folks at the institution
    3. Read the US news and world report
    4. Look at the hospital website
    5. Maybe it's the only institution for miles and would be the go-to hospital
    6. Maybe it's consistently been the best program in the city
    7. Maybe because it's the smallest program in the area and that's more your speed.
    8. Maybe it's the biggest program in the city and that's your speed
    9. Your chair said this was a great program - better than others.
    10. Maybe 2 of your home attendings did fellowships there and are awesome at what they do
    11. You spent countless hours on otomatch and they all described great things about the program
    12. You rotated there and like X, Y, Z.
    13. You happened to present at cosm and there were a lot of residents from there who presented stuff
    14. You heard on CBS that they do X.
    15. You have lots of family there and want to end up in the region
    16. You like all aspects of ENT but they have 10 Head and neck surgeons and you are leaning towards Head and neck.

    Come on. It isn't an essay. It's a damn paragraph.
     
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  22. OtoHNS

    OtoHNS ENT Attending
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    I agree with you.

    However, you are at the lowest end of the totem pole of ENT, and you do not make the rules. So, if you really want to move to the top end of that totem pole, do what you have to do and follow the rules. If they say you have to dig 100 holes and fill them up again to apply for ENT, you should cheerfully do that too.

    And as Neutropeniaboy has detailed, it's really not difficult to come up with a paragraph about each program. Tedious yes. Difficult no.

    This will definitely not be the last time during the next couple years you'll be forced to do scutwork and other things that seem pointless. Fortunately, there are plenty of good times and good learning experiences in there as well.
     
  23. operaman

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    This sounds like an interesting stopgap measure until there's a consensus agreement to limit the number of programs applicants can apply to. Of programs that already require additional information after ERAS submission, all see a drop in sheer number of applicants as many decide not to complete their applications. Perhaps this new requirement will cut back on the number of people blanket-applying to every single program (100+ paragraphs to write!). It may really help those programs that sit in the sweet spot of possibility and generally receive applications from nearly every applicant in the cycle.

    That said, I'm really glad I don't have to do this! :)
     
  24. Wordead

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    I don't anyone thinks it would be difficult, we all had to do the same thing when applying to medical school with the secondaries - this would be essentially the same thing. Time consuming and without real benefit to anyone, except maybe for the PD or committee who has to read fewer applications. You are correct though. As a med student, you suck it up and you jump through the hoops because who are you to disagree with huge names like Wax and Eisele.

    To be honest, I find it more disappointing that attendings want to limit the # of people applying simply because there are too many applications to read. I remember hearing "take a year off, it will be productive and shows dedication to the field". Yet when students are willing to sacrifice an extra $2000+ of their own money, go on more interviews, and prioritize matching into the field over location, it's suddenly such a burden, or gaming the system or whatnot. To me, the end effect of limiting applications is that there will be more gamesmanship - I wouldn't even apply to programs outside my region because I wouldnt have the impact LORs that would be recognized, or the ultra-competitive programs because it would be wasting an application.
     
    #24 Wordead, Aug 22, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  25. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    If you apply to 100 programs, it's 100 damn paragraphs. Us news and world report? Seriously? How many of these things have you done? Websites are usually made by people who don't know a thing about medicine. How often are they updated? How do you define "best"? How different can individual programs be that you can come up with 100 unique essays? Many of the people I know are at a program because it was number 3 on their rank list and that's where the computer put them, not because the program was special with rainbow unicorns flying around and the top 10 ent surgeons in the country all in one place. Honestly this is just another hoop to jump through, giving applicants more useless crap to write and PDs more useless crap to read
     
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  26. brown_cow

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    Most applicants look into programs details when they are invited to an interview, but not all...

    It is still a lot of busy work, but this forces applicants to at least do some homework about each program (now before the apply, previously it was assumed after they received an interview).

    It remains to be seen if this cuts down people's applications or if applicants simply ignore the requirement. What's to stop someone from paying the money current applicants already do and see if the program rejects a great application missing the "why here" paragraph?
     
  27. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    Since I am actually a practicing otolaryngologist who reads hundreds of applications every year (a few thousand and counting now), I am quite familiar with all these things and very familiar with the differences among the many programs out there. That's why I suggested them as tidbits people could use to jump start the process of writing these small paragraphs, not essays. And since I'm pretty familiar with what sinks medical students during the interview, you might use some of these things as kindle. There are many components of an application I read, and one of them is the personal statement. Many others do as well. You might reconsider how seriously you take this new mandate.

    Look: if it's coming, it's coming. You can bitch about it all you want. Since you have no clout and will have no voice in whether this is executed or not, you might as well smile and just do it.
     
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    #27 neutropeniaboy, Aug 23, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  28. AMSZ

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    Truth.


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  29. rigid

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    @neutropeniaboy Out of curiosity what are some of the best answers you've heard to "why do you want to do otolaryngology?" I'd imagine its hard for candidates to not all sound the same after a while
     
  30. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    The most honest answer I heard was from a candidate who said out of all the areas of the body, he felt it was the only region that made sense to him anatomically and physiologically.

    Other reasons stated:
    1. Ripe for growth in research
    2. Heavy technology
    3. Diversity of cases
    4. Could be heavy surgeon or heavy clinician or in between
    5. Many opportunities to be very specialized or be as general as can be
    6. Frequent partnerships with neurosurgery, allergy, pulm, and optho.
    7. Stable growth
    8. Highly competitive field
    9. Great personalities
    10. Virtually no one encroaching on our business
     
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  31. Durden89

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    Haha wow, you are so incredibly far removed from what it is like to be a student. I can only imagine the type of attending you are, I bet you're a complete joy to work with...
     
  32. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    Well, I was called "insufferable" once by a peer, but that was a long time ago.
     
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  33. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST
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    Right here, dude! Although, I do believe that I did apologize a short few...years...later!
     
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  34. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    I didn't know if you would see that post! Does @Apollyon or #apollyon work in the forums?
     
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  35. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST
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    I just was cruising through. The @ lights up - the pound sign doesn't.
     
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  36. Irishlass

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    So now that we've all submitted, when do the program's download
     
  37. Irishlass

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    When do they actually start looking at the applications? Do they note whether it came in on September 15 th vs. Septemper 17th or do they just get alphabetized and gone over at a set time time?
     
    #37 Irishlass, Sep 15, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  38. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats
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    Most programs don't download applications until after Academy. There's no priority given to when you submitted as long as you get it in on time.
     
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  39. Irishlass

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  40. Irishlass

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    So why do we break our necks trying to get them in the moment ERAS opens, there are always tech delays.....
     
  41. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    So how this policy worked out for you guys? Decreased the number of applications?
     
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  42. Wordead

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    My program had 50 more apps than last year, haha.
     
  43. Psai

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    Lol
    wonder how neutropeniaboy feels about reading all those extra paragraphs of fluffy bs
     
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  44. Wordead

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    I mean to me all personal statements are fluffy bs with a few rare exceptions. I can see what NPB is talking about - pretty much everyone I knew wrote extremely generic personal statements because its one of those things thats more likely to hurt you and highly unlikely to help you if you write an "impact" PS. I'm sure it's a ****storm to deal with. I just disagree with the implementation. Honestly I think they should just do away with the smokescreen entirely and go with AoA, letters, research, and board scores.
     
  45. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    I've actually changed the way my program interviews candidates. This year I have raised our cut-off USMLE to 245. Therefore, I anticipate having to read only about 100 fluffy bs personal statements.
     
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  46. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    Jesus Christ that's a high cutoff
     
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  47. ND1

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    @neutropeniaboy

    Anyone heard when interview invites will start rolling out this year?
     
  48. Irishlass

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    So how many did you get in total?
     
  49. Irishlass

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    Besides the USMLE score, how do you choose whose PS to read? Are the specific paragraphs just a completion grade, what they say is not as important as the fact that you did it?
     
  50. Irishlass

    2+ Year Member

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    So now that most of the first round of invites are out. Any new insights into the process? Is it easier or harder than you thought it would be?
     

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