Can someone please explain the competitiveness of specialties?

milliya

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I was reading something and the phrase "highly competitive specialties" came up. I've never heard about the competitiveness of specialties before.

-What specialties are highly competitive? Neonatology?
-What does "highly competitive" even mean? Is that referring to residency match criteria or something?
-How are you matched to a residency? Do you apply to them like med school or do they find you?
-Is it possible not to be matched?

I know that to be a neonatologist I have to do 3 years of residency and 3 years of fellowship after med school, but I am unclear about what these terms mean or how they come about. Basically, after the 2nd year of med school, my knowledge about what it takes to become a doctor becomes fuzzy.
 

Isoprop

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match: basically you write down which residency programs you want to attend and residency programs write down which students they want. it all goes into a big computer and med students and programs are matched. yes students can go unmatched which is when they "scramble." the scramble is when med students are looking for unmatched residency spots to try to get into.

competitive means you need a higher USMLE test score, high marks on your 3rd and 4th year rotations, and perhaps some research done.

some specialties are more competitive to get into than others. typically, the "lifestyle" specialities are harder to get into (e.g. rads, ophtha, derm...) than others. though there are competitive programs in the "non-competitive" specialties, especially internal medicine. the reason it is desirable to go into a competitive IM residency, for example, is because you are more "appealing" for competitive fellowships.

edit2: IM means internal medicine by the way.
 

dd128

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-How are you matched to a residency? Do you apply to them like med school or do they find you?
It's possible, they may be outside your window...watching as you type :scared:
 

Pinkertinkle

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A pretty good idea of what's competitive. But you do need to know the difference between residency and fellowship before you can understand it.
 

SB100

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match: basically you write down which residency programs you want to attend and residency programs write down which students they want. it all goes into a big computer and med students and programs are matched. yes students can go unmatched which is when they "scramble." the scramble is when med students are looking for unmatched residency spots to try to get into.
So some med students in the "scramble" could end up specializing in something totally different from their original plans?

Also to any med students who post here, do you apply to residencies all of the same specialty or do you pick some less competitive ones as "safeties"?
 

Terpskins99

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For frame of reference:

Average USMLE score among first time takers is 218 with a standard deviation of 23.
 

Terpskins99

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So some med students in the "scramble" could end up specializing in something totally different from their original plans?
Yes, if they rank too few locations and/or no safeties. Almost all of the popular locations fill in the match, only the undesirable ones remain (though there are always a handful of exceptional residencies that stay open... likely due to program directors failing to place enough students on their rank list).

Also to any med students who post here, do you apply to residencies all of the same specialty or do you pick some less competitive ones as "safeties"?
You rank as many residencies you are interested in regardless of specialty. Likewise, residencies rank the candidates they most want. A computer program then matches everyone according to best fit (a strange and mysterious system that I suspect is much like the NBA lottery... in otherwords, its fixed :cool:).

You can only match into a residency you actually place on your official rank list.
 

ChubbyChaser

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(a strange and mysterious system that I suspect is much like the NBA lottery... in otherwords, its fixed :cool:).

You can only match into a residency you actually place on your official rank list.
So the crappy residencies get the best candidates!!!1


Thats one good reason to slack off during med school.
 

SB100

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But can you also match into a residency where you never interviewed? From the sounds of it you could interview for residency positions across a wide spectrum. How many residencies does the average student rank?
 

Isoprop

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A pretty good idea of what's competitive. But you do need to know the difference between residency and fellowship before you can understand it.
one thing to keep in mind is that different fields tend to look for different things in their applicants. for instance, being published in almost a de facto requirement for rad/onc. most rad/onc residents i know of have phds.
 

ChubbyChaser

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But can you also match into a residency where you never interviewed? From the sounds of it you could interview for residency positions across a wide spectrum. How many residencies does the average student rank?
From what ive read is...if you are a marginal candidate you better rank all the ones you interviewd at...if you are a stellar candidate you can probably be a bit choosy.

Ive heard 10 ranks is a good number
 

ChubbyChaser

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so are those bars....the SD or the 25 and 75%iles?
 

Isoprop

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according to the pdf
Chart 10 displays the median Step 1 scores for matched U.S. seniors (top panel) and independent applicants (bottom panel) by specialty. The numbers are the median values for successful applicants and the vertical lines show the interquartile ranges, the range of scores for applicants excluding the top and bottom quarters of the distribution.