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Can geography hurt you?

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MDRus

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I posted this on another thread, but i am OP-threading it because I am really interested in the answer:

In undergrad admissions, geographic diversity is very important. So if you are from Wyoming, and you can walk and chew gum at the same time, hello Harvard!!

my impression is that med schools could care less about achieving geographic diversity, in fact it can work AGAINST you.

For example, i am a strictly east coast person and applied to a lot of schools in NYC, Boston, Philadelphia and DC. Doing pretty well with interview invites, but nothing from any schools in the midwest or south: Pittsburgh (yes, to me that is the midwest), Chicago, Northwestern, Wake, UVA.

QUESTION: will they hold it against you if they think you are not interested in their part of the country. is that why california applicants have trouble. schools think they will never leave california?

If this has been asked and answered a zillion times before, sorry.
 

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My understanding is that state funded schools are primarily interested in creating future doctors for their own state. Most of them figure that if you were born and raised in a state, that's most likely the state you will remain in. This is not necessarily true for private schools. They are probably more interested in geographical diversity, though I can't see this being much of a factor for them.
 

MDRus

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good point. i should have clarified. i am interested in private schools. does geography help or hurt your chances there -- in terms of their view of the likelihood you will go there?

ironically, my only acceptance is at a state school as an OOS with no ties to that state. go figure!!??
 

MassTransport

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Private schools don't care as much unless their mission is to train physicians to practice in the region. Some have ties to state funding, so you will see skew at those institutions. The question of "will this person be likely to come here" is missing the more important point of "would I like this person at my institution."

It's impossible to tell you how important your state of residency is except to say that it'll be less important to private schools. Check the selection standards on MSAR and see if geographical origin is a criteria.
 

MDRus

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all good points.

i do see people complaining that they get rejected from schools because "their stats are too high." i assume they mean that the school rejects them because it would waste their time to interview them because they will get in and go to a higher ranked school

i'm trying to figure out whether the lack of interest by midwest/south schools for which i am competitive, is partly because they think i will never leave the east coast. if so, then i need to correct that impression with an LOI, because i will definitely leave the east coast. (well, maybe.) I have been offered interviews at far more difficult schools in the east than the ones in the midwest who have rejected or ignored me.

this is a serious problem for me. partly because i don't really expect to be accepted at some of the reach schools that have interviewed me.
 

Spudds

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Can geography hurt you?
If you do not know it very well and you end up with a verbal passage about geography on the MCAT.

hehe could not refuse
 

Bacchus

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I have heard its statistically favorable for a resident to stay in the state upon completion of residency; is this true for medical students or is the match process too sporadic to guarentee a medical student to stay in the given region?
 

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california applicants have trouble because they have to compete with the thousands of other california applicants, some of the brightest minds in the world, who came here for sun and surf.
 

MassTransport

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I have heard its statistically favorable for a resident to stay in the state upon completion of residency; is this true for medical students or is the match process too sporadic to guarentee a medical student to stay in the given region?

Yes, I've heard this too, and it's likely to be true, both in terms of a medical student staying in the region for their residency and in terms of a resident staying in the region to practice. The question is how strong the pull is, and that is a little more amorphous. I'd be interested in seeing the data if there is any out there.

Residency directors are more familiar with local medical schools, and if you consult any of the match lists they give out at interviews, there is usually a substantial rate of "recidivism." A director at Boston straight up said that she will first consider any Boston graduates for positions first.
 

VoiceofReason

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Well I only interviewed at one out of state Private school, but I can tell you that while I was there they made it clear that they were recruiting from the east coast. The school is located in the midwest.
 
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Maxprime

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Yes, I've heard this too, and it's likely to be true, both in terms of a medical student staying in the region for their residency and in terms of a resident staying in the region to practice. The question is how strong the pull is, and that is a little more amorphous. I'd be interested in seeing the data if there is any out there.

Residency directors are more familiar with local medical schools, and if you consult any of the match lists they give out at interviews, there is usually a substantial rate of "recidivism." A director at Boston straight up said that she will first consider any Boston graduates for positions first.

I think that this is arguable from a 'chicken and the egg' standpoint. People tend to go to med school in a place they like or close to where they're from (and are therefore more likely to stay), same thing with residency.

But there are a ton of examples to the contrary. I'm willing to bet that not that many residents stay in MN after finishing up at Mayo (guessing, don't know #'s).

More to the point of the OP's question - I think the only thing that may snag you is wondering why you're applying to that school. Obviously, state schools aren't worth discussing in this reference. For privates, they may wonder if you'll fly across the country for an interview and then actually attend - I bet the odds of attending are inversely proportional to the distance the person has to travel.
 

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I posted this on another thread, but i am OP-threading it because I am really interested in the answer:

In undergrad admissions, geographic diversity is very important. So if you are from Wyoming, and you can walk and chew gum at the same time, hello Harvard!!

my impression is that med schools could care less about achieving geographic diversity, in fact it can work AGAINST you.

For example, i am a strictly east coast person and applied to a lot of schools in NYC, Boston, Philadelphia and DC. Doing pretty well with interview invites, but nothing from any schools in the midwest or south: Pittsburgh (yes, to me that is the midwest), Chicago, Northwestern, Wake, UVA.

QUESTION: will they hold it against you if they think you are not interested in their part of the country. is that why california applicants have trouble. schools think they will never leave california?

If this has been asked and answered a zillion times before, sorry.

i feel like there is some truth to what you said, at least from personal experience. for example, i'm originally from the midwest but go to school in the northeast. i got an interview invite within ~3 weeks from every school i applied to in my state (which has like 7 med schools) as well as some nearby schools (i.e. Pitt). however, i was pretty promptly rejected from schools like BU, Rochester, and haven't gotten interviews at any of the NYC schools or others in the east.

on the contrary, some of my friends from NYC or have connections to the NYC area (i.e. shadowing/research there) have gotten a lot of love from schools in their area, Philly, etc but no luck in the Midwest.

I think that when med schools look at your app, they try to also gauge your likelihood of attending if accepted, which can hurt your chances depending on where you're from.

This isn't a hard and fast rule, but I do think it plays a role.
 

badasshairday

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California applicants have a hard time because our state schools, the University of California campuses, are all extremely competitive to get into due to the amount of applicants and shortage of spaces. Also, 3 of our 5 state med schools are in the top 20 (UCSF, UCLA, UCSD). The other two UC's are in the top 50, and plus like I said the sheer volume of competitive applicants makes it crazy hard.

Than the other 3 private schools in the state are USC and Stanford. Stanford, need I say anymore. USC isn't too shabby either. Finally we have Loma Linda... a private school with extreme preference to applicants that fall under their religion.

Lastly, us cali applicants are screwed because for some weird reason, every interviewer out of state thinks we are nuts to want to leave the state for some reason. Every interview I've been to, they ask, "Why on earth would you want to leave California, to come to <insert city>?" They say it in such a way that it makes me feel like they think i'm insane to want to leave california.
 

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What I don't understand is the logic behind state schools only admitting state students. Not only does it stifle competition, decreasing their pool of qualified candidates to ridiculous levels where they have to lower their standards to let enough people in to fill the class, it also prevents future doctors from experiencing their state! Take Kansas for instance. Kansas is a rural state that (like most rural states these days) has a negative population flow, except near the kansas city area. All the other towns are full of geriatrics and high school kids that can't wait to turn 18 and leave the state for good. What makes them think that just because they were born in Kansas and they get an easier acceptance to their state med school they will stay after graduation? Most of those future doctors will be just as gone after graduation as the Californians who don't even know where Kansas is would be. It seems like they have it backwards. A medical school could be a draw to the state. Open it up, allow people from all over the country to apply, and some of them might just like it there. Maybe they like the lower cost of living, or the tax structure or malpractice. It could be part of a whole package to attract and keep future doctors in the state, and help the state economy. Competition in all things make them cheaper and better, why would this be different for medical school? If they could get people from the whole country to go to their medical school based on national admission standards, then they would have a huge incentive to try and keep them there through making the state a great place to live by improving malpractice, tort reform, state tax structure, etc, etc. This makes so much more sense to me.
 

DoctorDreamer

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I do think there is some discrimination based on location/school of undergrad.

I have decent stats, but went to a private Christian school in the midwest. I have interview offers at all of my midwest schools (including WashU, Baylor, and Emory). My east coast schools are mainly ignoring me completely.

There has to be more to it than just application data.
 

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I think that this is arguable from a 'chicken and the egg' standpoint. People tend to go to med school in a place they like or close to where they're from (and are therefore more likely to stay), same thing with residency.

But there are a ton of examples to the contrary. I'm willing to bet that not that many residents stay in MN after finishing up at Mayo (guessing, don't know #'s).


I just had a Mayo interview, and they said that about 40% of the class stays on for Mayo residencies.

What I don't understand is the logic behind state schools only admitting state students. Not only does it stifle competition, decreasing their pool of qualified candidates to ridiculous levels where they have to lower their standards to let enough people in to fill the class, it also prevents future doctors from experiencing their state!

Yup, that's how I feel about med schools in the south-west where they have a physician shortage (and perhaps I'd stay on afterward). I'd LOVE to live in Arizona or Colorado, but not much of a shot for OOSers.
 

stwabewwie

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Lastly, us cali applicants are screwed because for some weird reason, every interviewer out of state thinks we are nuts to want to leave the state for some reason. Every interview I've been to, they ask, "Why on earth would you want to leave California, to come to <insert city>?" They say it in such a way that it makes me feel like they think i'm insane to want to leave california.

Then they ask if we have ANY contacts at all in <insert city>, and when they hear "no," they shake their head and start scribbling something on their notepad...

Waitlist/rejection letter in the mail a few weeks later...
 

mvenus929

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i feel like there is some truth to what you said, at least from personal experience. for example, i'm originally from the midwest but go to school in the northeast. i got an interview invite within ~3 weeks from every school i applied to in my state (which has like 7 med schools) as well as some nearby schools (i.e. Pitt). however, i was pretty promptly rejected from schools like BU, Rochester, and haven't gotten interviews at any of the NYC schools or others in the east.

on the contrary, some of my friends from NYC or have connections to the NYC area (i.e. shadowing/research there) have gotten a lot of love from schools in their area, Philly, etc but no luck in the Midwest.

Schools want to know that you'll attend, and that you'll survive. If you've lived in a rural town all your life, you might not be so cut out for NYC, especially if you've never been there before. That was a concern for my NYC interviews... they wanted to know if I had been there to experience the area before. If you don't know anyone in the area, you'll likely suffer burnout from being there for four years, and they don't want to see that happen either.
 

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Goosecoid...the orginizer
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Schools want to know that you'll attend, and that you'll survive. If you've lived in a rural town all your life, you might not be so cut out for NYC, especially if you've never been there before. That was a concern for my NYC interviews... they wanted to know if I had been there to experience the area before. If you don't know anyone in the area, you'll likely suffer burnout from being there for four years, and they don't want to see that happen either.

You know, NYC is different that other places, but it's not that different. New Yorkers tend to exaggerate this to an annoying level.
 

mvenus929

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You know, NYC is different that other places, but it's not that different. New Yorkers tend to exaggerate this to an annoying level.

Comparing NYC to a city like Denver, about the only difference is that it's bigger and less spread out. Comparing NYC to a city like Columbia, SC (or Pueblo West, CO, or Livingston, MT or Goldsboro, NC, all of which I've lived in) is like comparing night and day. Even comparing DENVER to these 'cities' is like comparing night and day. There is no comparison. Not everyone is cut out for the big city life, and that's probably the point they're emphasizing more than anything.
 
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I was mountain biking one time on this mountain near where I live. Long story short I fell and busted my lip on the ground. That stung a lot.
 

LizzyM

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A couple of things....

Public med schools cost the taxpayers money. The difference between what you'd pay at at your state school and what you'd pay at a comparable private school is tax money. It makes sense that schools offer that perk to their taxpayers (residents) and not to outsiders. If they accept "lesser" students they do so with the understanding that these applicants meet the minimum requirements to survive at that school. They also have the hope that these "locals" have family and friends (old HS classmates, etc) in the state and that they understand the culture and want to remain close to "home".

Otherwise I condur with post #15 above. Well done.

Many people take the opportunity to go away from home for college but want to be closer to home for medical school to take advantage of social support networks, because they have aged parents/grandparents who they'd like to see more than twice a year, because they want to practice in that area eventually, because it is culturally most comfortable.

Dropping some little hint in a secondary essay that you have spent time in the area, have family in the area, grew up here before your family relocated, etc can help.
 

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Schools want to know that you'll attend, and that you'll survive. If you've lived in a rural town all your life, you might not be so cut out for NYC, especially if you've never been there before. That was a concern for my NYC interviews... they wanted to know if I had been there to experience the area before. If you don't know anyone in the area, you'll likely suffer burnout from being there for four years, and they don't want to see that happen either.


I understand and it makes sense, but I think by doing so, they weed out a good percentage of people who could do well and survive at their school. For example, I live in the Midwest but not the REAL midwest, and I find that the place I live is not any different than where I go to school (east). I have been to NYC, Boston, Whatever, and find that it would probably be fine for me to go to school there. However, adcoms who see that im from Smalltown, MidwestState are going to take one look at me, and throw my application in the reject pile without considering much else.

NYC isn't THAT different and it doesnt take someone THAT special to be able to survive there, but for some reason, they seem very insular and resistant to take in people that arent originally from that area. I'm not saying that these schools don't (obviously they take a lot of OOSers) but in general i've seen a much higher proportion of my friends who have family there get interviews there with lower stats than other people. I'm sure something similar worked in my favor for my local schools.

it's just a little annoying for those people who would like to try something new. as for me, i'm fine with staying near home.
 

mvenus929

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I understand and it makes sense, but I think by doing so, they weed out a good percentage of people who could do well and survive at their school. For example, I live in the Midwest but not the REAL midwest, and I find that the place I live is not any different than where I go to school (east). I have been to NYC, Boston, Whatever, and find that it would probably be fine for me to go to school there. However, adcoms who see that im from Smalltown, MidwestState are going to take one look at me, and throw my application in the reject pile without considering much else.

NYC isn't THAT different and it doesnt take someone THAT special to be able to survive there, but for some reason, they seem very insular and resistant to take in people that arent originally from that area. I'm not saying that these schools don't (obviously they take a lot of OOSers) but in general i've seen a much higher proportion of my friends who have family there get interviews there with lower stats than other people. I'm sure something similar worked in my favor for my local schools.

it's just a little annoying for those people who would like to try something new.

I'm from the West. Not really the midwest... the west. In the time that I can remember, I lived west of the Mississippi (except for maybe when we lived in Minnesota) my whole life up until my junior year in high school, when I moved out to South Carolina.

My interviewer at AECOM specifically told me that one of his jobs was to make sure that people would be able to handle the shift of moving to NYC (and specifically the Bronx) if they hadn't lived there previously. I was supposed to spend a month there this past summer (while I was applying), but wasn't able to, so my trip out for that interview was my very first time in the city. He expressed concern over it, but told me that I had an advantage being an army brat, which I really played up in my application. Like, that was one of my focal points, next to my family experiences with behavioral disorders.

I doubt that adcoms would throw your application in the reject pile just from where you live. Heck, according to AMCAS, both of my parents live in rural, underserved areas. I still got interviews at NYC schools (not all of them... I haven't heard anything from Mt. Sinai or Cornell, and I didn't apply to Columbia).

I think it depends on 1) what the adcoms are looking for, not necessarily in terms of geography and whatnot, just in general, and 2) what you emphasize in your application. If you imply you'd be more likely to attend one of those schools vs. one of your seven state schools, because you enjoy the area or the program is better, and you have some support there, they'll look twice at you. Or maybe you just don't have the characteristics they're looking for... I can't figure out why NYU likes me and Mt. Sinai doesn't. But the fact that you have seven state schools, and I'll have two next fall, including one brand new DO school, might also play a role in that. I'm afraid I don't have many people to compare myself to, because most everyone that gets into med school from my undergrad goes to our state school. It's a dream school to them.

All in all, I think geography plays some role, yes, but I don't think it's the be-all end-all thing that they look at. You probably won't get rejected just because of where you're from (with the exception of some state schools), but it may be a factor in deciding not to offer you an interview if you also have other factors that don't seem up to par with them.
 

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Geography will only hurt you in the following cases:

(1) You are between it and its cubs;
(2) You are a non-resident applying to California schools.
 

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Geography is a terrible thing to understand because it can make you want to go to areas where your body is not used to going to... like Antarctica, for example. Now that you took Geography, you know where it is. Normal pre-meds do not even know where it is (near Switzerland, right?) so we would not even try to get there. Good luck keeping your urge to explore contained...
 

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This is somewhat off-topic but what exactly do people mean by "traditional midwestern values" or "southern hospitality?"
 

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My interviewer at AECOM specifically told me that one of his jobs was to make sure that people would be able to handle the shift of moving to NYC (and specifically the Bronx) if they hadn't lived there previously.

I find this to be rather ridiculous. Nobody asked me or any of my classmates if I had ever lived in/made sure I was able to "handle" living in Baltimore before I came here. I doubt that they do that at Hopkins, either. It's silly and pointless to try to gauge whether or not someone can "handle" living in a city by inviting them for a 1-day interview and/or asking them if they have lived there before. I understand that NYC is a bustling metropolis, and that the Bronx has some not-so-great areas (specifically around aecom), but, come on. If I can adjust to the drug dealer outside my window on his Nextel at 3am and avoid hitting the flailing, strung-out prostitutes on the drive to campus, anyone can.
 

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I'm from the deep south and think that, if anything, geography is helping me. With the exception of FL, most of the nearby states have under-performing high schools and little focus on academics. This translates to fewer applicants to OOS colleges and medical schools. My home state has always come up in a "Wow, we don't see many applicants from there" context in interviews.
 

badasshairday

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I'm from the deep south and think that, if anything, geography is helping me. With the exception of FL, most of the nearby states have under-performing high schools and little focus on academics. This translates to fewer applicants to OOS colleges and medical schools. My home state has always come up in a "Wow, we don't see many applicants from there" context in interviews.

Lucky. Geography hurts when you are from California.
 

GulabJamooMD

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california applicants have trouble because they have to compete with the thousands of other california applicants, some of the brightest minds in the world, who came here for sun and surf.


hells yeah :thumbup:
 

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california applicants have trouble because they have to compete with the thousands of other california applicants, some of the brightest minds in the world, who came here for sun and surf.

Agreed about the brightest minds, but only because too much sun bleaches the brain.
 

starlight04

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I'm from the West. Not really the midwest... the west. In the time that I can remember, I lived west of the Mississippi (except for maybe when we lived in Minnesota) my whole life up until my junior year in high school, when I moved out to South Carolina.

My interviewer at AECOM specifically told me that one of his jobs was to make sure that people would be able to handle the shift of moving to NYC (and specifically the Bronx) if they hadn't lived there previously. I was supposed to spend a month there this past summer (while I was applying), but wasn't able to, so my trip out for that interview was my very first time in the city. He expressed concern over it, but told me that I had an advantage being an army brat, which I really played up in my application. Like, that was one of my focal points, next to my family experiences with behavioral disorders.

I doubt that adcoms would throw your application in the reject pile just from where you live. Heck, according to AMCAS, both of my parents live in rural, underserved areas. I still got interviews at NYC schools (not all of them... I haven't heard anything from Mt. Sinai or Cornell, and I didn't apply to Columbia).

I think it depends on 1) what the adcoms are looking for, not necessarily in terms of geography and whatnot, just in general, and 2) what you emphasize in your application. If you imply you'd be more likely to attend one of those schools vs. one of your seven state schools, because you enjoy the area or the program is better, and you have some support there, they'll look twice at you. Or maybe you just don't have the characteristics they're looking for... I can't figure out why NYU likes me and Mt. Sinai doesn't. But the fact that you have seven state schools, and I'll have two next fall, including one brand new DO school, might also play a role in that. I'm afraid I don't have many people to compare myself to, because most everyone that gets into med school from my undergrad goes to our state school. It's a dream school to them.

All in all, I think geography plays some role, yes, but I don't think it's the be-all end-all thing that they look at. You probably won't get rejected just because of where you're from (with the exception of some state schools), but it may be a factor in deciding not to offer you an interview if you also have other factors that don't seem up to par with them.

I completely agree that geography will not make or break your application, but it can help tip it one way or the other, and in the game of med school admissions where so much relies on picking apart tiny differences in stellar applicants, i think that it can go a long way. I'm not saying that I didn't get any NYC/Boston interviews solely because I'm from the Midwest, but that being from the midwest was certainly disadvantageous in comparison to those who were traditionally from the east coast/New England area.

I agree with whoever said its ridiculous to try to gauge whether someone can "handle" NYC or the Bronx in a 1-hr long interview. Nice try, but not effective.
 
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