Chances of matching into a competitive specialty after going unmatched.

Mar 16, 2020
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Hello All,

1) Wondering if anyone has or heard of students applying only to their first choice specialty (something competitive, e.g. Derm, neuro, plastics), going unmatched, taking a year off and matching into their choice the following year.
I know it is probably quite unlikely, but I am thinking for example I will only be applying to neurosurg, and will apply as broadly as possible, but worst case scenario, if I do not match, I am planning to take a research year and going again. It's a long way away until I apply, so I will focus on scores, research for now.

2) Of course I would like to avoid this research year if possible down the road, I'll be writing step 1 when it is pass/fail, other than research, grades, and doing well in rotations, electives, etc, what else can I do to improve my chances for getting into a competitive specialty first time around?

Thanks!
 
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Taddy Mason

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It’s possible. My n=6 (1 Derm after her/his 3rd try, 1 Derm after his/her 4th try, 1 ortho, 2 optho, 1 radonc). Mind you it’s very dependent on one’s individual circumstances. The derm people busted their asses publishing and making connections in derm.

Edit - Also, all of the above individuals looked good on paper, had no red flags, and were competitive when initially applying with the exception of the derm person who matched after his/her 3rd try lacking research. Also, know another person who matched derm the 2nd time around, so n=7.
 
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Mar 16, 2020
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It’s possible. My n=6 (1 Derm after her/his 3rd try, 1 Derm after his/her 4th try, 1 ortho, 2 optho, 1 radonc). Mind you it’s very dependent on one’s individual circumstances. The derm people busted their asses publishing and making connections in derm.
Really cool to hear it's possible, thanks for the info.
 
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Frogger27

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Yes, reapplicants match every year in competitive specialties. I believe you can find this data in the NRMP data that gets released annually
 
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AzBasRad

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If you realiize you aren't competitive to begin with, I would recommend taking a research year before applying. The stigma of reapplying is real (just look through the ophtho and urology reddit spreadsheets).
 
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If you realiize you aren't competitive to begin with, I would recommend taking a research year before applying. The stigma of reapplying is real (just look through the ophtho and urology reddit spreadsheets).
Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about, thanks.
 

NotAProgDirector

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Per this thread: Canadian MD -> USA Neurosurgery residency/Attending | Student Doctor Network

You're a Canadian medical student looking to come to the US for neurosurgery. That's going to be very difficult. Technically Canadian schools are equivalent to US schools -- you don't need ECFMG certification. But your chances of getting a NS spot in the US are very poor.

Last year there were a total of 11 Canadian students in the match (total), 7 got spots and 4 did not.

Zero got NS spots. There were 232 positions = 203 graduating MD + 8 Prior MD + 3 DO + 6 US-IMG + 12 FMG.

Getting a NS spot is all about excellent performance + connections. As a Canadian MD, you're unlikely to be able to get those connections. It might be possible if you are able to do a bunch of rotations in the US as a 4th year student, plus have all the rest. But this is going to be a huge uphill climb.

If you don't match the first year, you're going to likely need multiple research years to have a chance. And if you'll need a visa also, that's going to make a spot more difficult to get. Some programs / schools on our northern (your southern) border may be more amenable.

Anyway, you're early in your training. You may totally change your mind. You might not get a good enough score on Step 2 to consider NS at all. But you'd need to be very stellar, have great US connections, great research to have any chance at all. You may be much better off trying to get a spot in Canada.

Best of luck
 
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Per this thread: Canadian MD -> USA Neurosurgery residency/Attending | Student Doctor Network

You're a Canadian medical student looking to come to the US for neurosurgery. That's going to be very difficult. Technically Canadian schools are equivalent to US schools -- you don't need ECFMG certification. But your chances of getting a NS spot in the US are very poor.

Last year there were a total of 11 Canadian students in the match (total), 7 got spots and 4 did not.

Zero got NS spots. There were 232 positions = 203 graduating MD + 8 Prior MD + 3 DO + 6 US-IMG + 12 FMG.

Getting a NS spot is all about excellent performance + connections. As a Canadian MD, you're unlikely to be able to get those connections. It might be possible if you are able to do a bunch of rotations in the US as a 4th year student, plus have all the rest. But this is going to be a huge uphill climb.

If you don't match the first year, you're going to likely need multiple research years to have a chance. And if you'll need a visa also, that's going to make a spot more difficult to get. Some programs / schools on our northern (your southern) border may be more amenable.

Anyway, you're early in your training. You may totally change your mind. You might not get a good enough score on Step 2 to consider NS at all. But you'd need to be very stellar, have great US connections, great research to have any chance at all. You may be much better off trying to get a spot in Canada.

Best of luck
Appreciate the honesty, yes, I know it will be very difficult. The main thing I’m worried about is it’s becoming extremely hard to get neurosurgery jobs in Canada, and by the time I get through neurosurg residency (if I even make it) it will be at least 9-10 years from now, so it could be even more saturated. I’m definitely looking at Canadian residencies as well though, even though Canadians neurosurgeons cannot become board certified in the states they can still practice, so there’s always that.

Thanks
 
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