Aug 2, 2017
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Hey guys,

Current third year contemplating taking a year off to do research before 4th year before eventually applying to a surgical subspecialty. My question is: Can a research year, assuming at least average productivity (obviously I will try to do more than average, but research can be tricky) hurt one's application?

I've asked this to several people in person and have been told that research years are frequently for people with low step scores or otherwise less competitive applications and can therefore be looked down upon. Is there any truth to this? I am willing to do whatever it takes to be a strong applicant.

Thanks
 

Stagg737

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If it's not in your area of interest, you don't get any publications, and you don't get at least a LoR, then it definitely wouldn't look good. As long as you're putting in the work, getting a pub or two (preferably more depending on what kind of research and publications you're shooting for), and being generally productive it shouldn't hurt you.
 

Doctor-S

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Hey guys,

Current third year contemplating taking a year off to do research before 4th year before eventually applying to a surgical subspecialty. My question is: Can a research year, assuming at least average productivity (obviously I will try to do more than average, but research can be tricky) hurt one's application?

I've asked this to several people in person and have been told that research years are frequently for people with low step scores or otherwise less competitive applications and can therefore be looked down upon. Is there any truth to this? I am willing to do whatever it takes to be a strong applicant.

Thanks
It would be useful to know: what is your objective (or reasons) for taking a year off to do research before 4th year?
 
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Dermpire

2+ Year Member
Feb 12, 2016
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Medical Student
Hey guys,

Current third year contemplating taking a year off to do research before 4th year before eventually applying to a surgical subspecialty. My question is: Can a research year, assuming at least average productivity (obviously I will try to do more than average, but research can be tricky) hurt one's application?

I've asked this to several people in person and have been told that research years are frequently for people with low step scores or otherwise less competitive applications and can therefore be looked down upon. Is there any truth to this? I am willing to do whatever it takes to be a strong applicant.

Thanks
This is definitely not true. At many top schools, research years are almost expected for things like derm/plastics between 3rd/4th year, this is especially useful for getting into several of the top academic programs. I believe I saw someone mention that at a top program interview almost everyone there had a research year.

Now if you go unmatched and do a research year after you graduate, then yeah everyone knows what happened. But I do believe a good portion of these people do well enough and land a spot eventually.

Basically I highly doubt anyone would look down on a research year between MS3 and MS4, and even a research fellowship after MS4 seems to work for a good number of people.
 

Snoopy2006

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Jun 22, 2009
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Really depends on the field. But like @Dermpire mentioned, there's definitely fields where it's almost expected to a research year in between M3 and M4 year to be competitive. I suppose if you did a research year in derm and decided afterwards to switch to ENT, it could hurt you. Or if you work under a bigwig and have terrible work ethic and don't publish, and s/he writes you a terrible LoR because of their experience with you (I've seen it happen), you might be sunk. But if you're a normal person with a good work ethic and can get some pubs out of a research year, it should only help.
 
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LyMed

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May 4, 2017
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Are you currently competitive for your desired field, as according to official match results (and not compared to SDN or some other resource)?
 
OP
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Aug 2, 2017
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Hey guys thanks for the responses so far. Just to give the question a little more context - I want to do a surgical subspecialty at a top academic hospital, both because I eventually want to go into academics and, in the areas that I would like to do residency, it seems as if all of the hospitals are "top academic hospitals". Step is high 250s. I've worked hard at research but I didn't expect it to be such a slow process. I should have 1 bonafide paper and about 6-7 "experiences" (a book chapter or two, abstract, etc) before I apply but I fear that this is average or even below average for the places that I'd like to go.

My primary factor in the decision making process, far and away, is what will make me more competitive. I don't mind the idea of taking a year off for financial or time reasons, and I would do it if I thought it would make me a better applicant for good academic programs, as it sounds like most of the posters here have suggested.
 

Foot Fetish

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Jun 4, 2016
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This is definitely not true. At many top schools, research years are almost expected for things like derm/plastics between 3rd/4th year, this is especially useful for getting into several of the top academic programs. I believe I saw someone mention that at a top program interview almost everyone there had a research year.

Now if you go unmatched and do a research year after you graduate, then yeah everyone knows what happened. But I do believe a good portion of these people do well enough and land a spot eventually.

Basically I highly doubt anyone would look down on a research year between MS3 and MS4, and even a research fellowship after MS4 seems to work for a good number of people.
Are you doing a research year, Dermpire?
Personally, I really want to avoid doing one if possible.
 

Dermpire

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Feb 12, 2016
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Are you doing a research year, Dermpire?
Personally, I really want to avoid doing one if possible.
Not planning on it, right now. I'm content in almost any derm program and don't have a desire to match at a prestigious institution. I've been highly productive during med school (will hopefully have multiple pubs/case reports and a bunch of presentations by the time ERAS opens) and should clear a 250 on step easily, (based on class performance and comparing myself to the class above me). If I already have a great shot at matching, I don't see the point. However if for some reason I bomb step or all my papers get rejected, I'd definitely do a research year. But right now that's looking highly unlikely.
 
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Dermpire

2+ Year Member
Feb 12, 2016
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Hey guys thanks for the responses so far. Just to give the question a little more context - I want to do a surgical subspecialty at a top academic hospital, both because I eventually want to go into academics and, in the areas that I would like to do residency, it seems as if all of the hospitals are "top academic hospitals". Step is high 250s. I've worked hard at research but I didn't expect it to be such a slow process. I should have 1 bonafide paper and about 6-7 "experiences" (a book chapter or two, abstract, etc) before I apply but I fear that this is average or even below average for the places that I'd like to go.

My primary factor in the decision making process, far and away, is what will make me more competitive. I don't mind the idea of taking a year off for financial or time reasons, and I would do it if I thought it would make me a better applicant for good academic programs, as it sounds like most of the posters here have suggested.
Based on your goals you are the ideal candidate for a research fellowship. You should see if you can get a research year at a really prestigious institution. The connections you make and the added research will be a major asset to an already strong application, not to mention I've heard it is very common for research fellows to match at that program the following year.
 
Sep 5, 2017
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Based on your goals you are the ideal candidate for a research fellowship. You should see if you can get a research year at a really prestigious institution. The connections you make and the added research will be a major asset to an already strong application, not to mention I've heard it is very common for research fellows to match at that program the following year.
How would one go about setting up such a research fellowship or research year? I'm aware of HHMI and Doris Duke, but those seem relatively restrictive and highly competitive. Do you know of any other avenues?
 

Dermpire

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Feb 12, 2016
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How would one go about setting up such a research fellowship or research year? I'm aware of HHMI and Doris Duke, but those seem relatively restrictive and highly competitive. Do you know of any other avenues?
Sorry, I'm not sure, I would recommend talking to your PD or chair and seeing what they know. They can likely point you to a good program or speak more to the process.
 
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