Apr 29, 2013
4
4
Status
Medical Student
I have lurked these forums for quite a few years but never posted much. I would like honest opinions for my situation here.

I am a fourth year DO student applying to ACGME anesthesia programs this cycle. I am applying to 55-60 programs. First two years, middle of the road class rank, no red flags, no failures ever. Took COMLEX level 1, scored 531. Signed up and was completely prepared to take USMLE Step 1 and had a family member commit suicide a couple of days prior to the exam and I was simply no longer mentally ready to take it. I skipped my exam. I knew this would create an uphill battle for me, but figured it was better than risking a failure or very low score at the time.

Moved onto clinical rotations, did very well, honored internal medicine, family medicine, and surgery NBME shelf exams (school bases grades totally off of shelf exam scores, preceptor evaluations count for nothing). Took COMLEX Level 2, scored 587. Took USMLE Step 2, scored 238. Captain in the Army National Guard, strong research background, a couple of international research presentations, and all the typical other jazz that most folks have.

The programs that I have selected to apply to routinely match DOs. I am not trying to match at a top tier program, I simply want quality training that will allow me to be an excellent anesthesiologist, most likely in a community based hospital.

Before going on two out rotations beginning in September, I have spent a month in the anesthesia dept. at my core rotation site. It has gone exceptionally well and I have gained a large amount of procedural experience and built a solid knowledge base and am reading as much as I can to continue to build upon it. I have strong letters from two very recent anesthesia residency graduates who served on resident selection committees, a very strong EM letter, and a cardiology LoR.

I realize that I am not the typical student with a 260+ on Student Doctor Network. I am wondering if their is anyone out there that may have had a similar situation with only having Step 2, not both Steps and ended up matching.

Thanks.
 

FollowTheMoney

ASA Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 7, 2010
552
171
I'm going to be completely honest with you and say that most ACGME anesthesiology residency programs don't accept the COMLEX and have a "USMLE Only" policy. The other issue is that most programs also don't even use Step 2 as part of the evaluation process unless someone dramatically improves or drops the ball compared to their Step 1 score. Therefore, if you don't have a USMLE Step 1 score you are going to be filtered out of 80-85% of programs right off the bat. You can try to only apply to the ones that accept the COMLEX, but I can't guarantee that you will match with that strategy. Use FREIDA from the AMA website to help guide your search and you can get objective answers from it. I wish you the best of luck.
 
OP
P
Apr 29, 2013
4
4
Status
Medical Student
I have used FREIDA extensively and contacted many of the programs directly. Many of the programs have said that they like to see Step 1, but as long as at least one of the Steps is in the application it greatly improves your chances of being granted an interview. Whether or not that I have Step 2 will make a difference or not, I have no idea, but I hope that it does. Hopefully someone around here has had an experience with this.

I will also add that most all of the programs that said they were "okay" with COMLEX Level 1 were midwestern, which is good for me considering I am from the midwest and wish to remain in it if possible. Coastal programs.... not so much love from them based on the contact that I made.
 

drummerboy3856

2+ Year Member
Feb 8, 2015
13
0
Status
Medical Student
Can i apply as a DO with a 215 on USMLE Step One and not take USMLE Step 2? What are the chances of getting into a program? I see most programs on Freida (especially programs in NYC/NJ area which is where I want to be) do not require USMLE Step 2 and also most in this area were unfilled according to last year match stats. So can I just submit this USMLE Step 1, 1-2 letters of rec from anesthesiologist, top 20% class, excellent grades and volunteer + research experience and be okay? Or is there no chance at all? What can I do to strengthen my application besides step 2? Thanks these are silly questions I know, I am in a tough situation and am looking for help. Thanks.
 
Apr 10, 2015
3
0
Status
Medical Student
You could try to reach out to specific programs you may be interested in to inquire about the competitiveness of your application. Every program is different - some will probably care more than others about what is and isn't in your app. Doesn't hurt to get more info.

I was in a similar situation, not a stellar step 1. So I contacted programs and there was mix of whether I should or shouldn't take step 2, but the general consensus was to take step 2 if you are 100% sure that you will do better. Otherwise, I got suggestions to do research and make sure I have strong LORs and apply as early as possible. Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

Docuronium

ASA Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2011
182
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Resident [Any Field]
I wouldn't contact programs and ask whether you should take step two---of course they want you to take step two, they want to know you'll pass and know you'll do well. Requiring it and wanting to know the score are two different things
 
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Reactions: aimedicine
Apr 10, 2015
3
0
Status
Medical Student
I agree. Plus, with less than 2 weeks before apps can be submitted, it would probably be hard to make any significant changes. And saying you have no chance at all is silly. The research you've done on where to apply is important - stay positive and make sure you apply to all the low/mid tiers. Not sure it's helpful, but I know of a couple MD's who have matched with only a step 1 lower than yours at smaller community hospitals. Good luck.
 

drummerboy3856

2+ Year Member
Feb 8, 2015
13
0
Status
Medical Student
what are these lowest tier programs exactly? also what exactly is the best number of programs to apply to you recommend?
 

aimedicine

7+ Year Member
Sep 7, 2010
261
82
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
Can i apply as a DO with a 215 on USMLE Step One and not take USMLE Step 2? What are the chances of getting into a program? I see most programs on Freida (especially programs in NYC/NJ area which is where I want to be) do not require USMLE Step 2 and also most in this area were unfilled according to last year match stats. So can I just submit this USMLE Step 1, 1-2 letters of rec from anesthesiologist, top 20% class, excellent grades and volunteer + research experience and be okay? Or is there no chance at all? What can I do to strengthen my application besides step 2? Thanks these are silly questions I know, I am in a tough situation and am looking for help. Thanks.
why didn't you take step 2?
 

MaximusD

Anatomically Incorrect
10+ Year Member
Aug 8, 2006
5,175
327
State of Delirium
www.lmgtfy.com
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Attending Physician
Took only COMLEX. Am now an Anes resident at an ACGME program. Apply very, very broadly and you will go far with those scores and your background. Kudos.