cameroncarter

7+ Year Member
Apr 18, 2011
59
10
Status
Medical Student
I go to a top 40 school.
All Passes on pre-clinical with a few high pass scores
MS3: 2 Honors, 2 High pass, 3 passes
Step1: 214, Step2: 232, CS: Pass
I also have a masters and a ton of PM&R research...4 presentations, 5 papers, much more down the pipeline.
I'm getting 2 strong letters from PM&R docs.

Basically, I'm just really upset about my step 1 score as I know it won't meet cut offs for many programs. So, I'm hoping to apply to 60ish programs and 40 pre-lim IM programs. Thoughts?
 

RangerBob

7+ Year Member
Sep 16, 2012
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Attending Physician
Cuttoffs aren't necessarily set in stone--I had two interviews at programs where I didn't meet their cutoff score, and I didn't have the research background you do, though I don't know if increasing interest in the field is changing competitiveness (I think our board scores are still the same--ie, fairly low). Your research background will likely help you a lot, as well as your step 2. 60 programs may be overkill, but I'm also being told by current M4's now that the goal is to interview/rank about 16 programs or so, whereas when I applied the goal was about 8 (to have a 95% chance of matching per the Charting Outcomes in the Match data).

I'm not sure how accurate that 16 number is (I never looked at the most recent data), but applying to programs is fairly cheap--it's easy to cancel interviews if you get too many.

Applying to 40 pre-lims does seem like a lot though... I just applied to the 20 or so programs within Chicago, and only my own academic program and community programs (I didn't see a reason to do an academic pre-lim unless it was at my advanced program or current school--they're typically harder hours and you see more zebras, whereas as a PM&R resident you really just want to get comfortable with bread-and-butter medicine). I thought it'd be a waste of money to travel around the country for pre-lims, so unless an interview was coordinated with the advanced program I applied do, I didn't bother applying to pre-lims in different geographical areas, aside from a few TY's within a 5-8hr drive or so.

Don't forget to apply to TY programs--they're much more flexible with electives. Just try to apply to programs where you'll actually learn something--most of the cush programs out there are not going to help you get a strong background in medicine, but typically the less competitive TY programs that PM&R residents are more competitive for have a good combination of electives, good medicine rotations, and a better schedule than many pre-lim IM programs.
 

j4pac

PM&R resident
10+ Year Member
Aug 22, 2005
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I would probably apply to 45-60 PMR programs if I were in your shoes. Your scores are in the low-average category. Your experience within the field is probably your biggest selling points...but they aren't big factors for getting interviews. Assuming you interview well enough, I think that you'll match and potentially match strong...if you get the interviews.
 
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cameroncarter

7+ Year Member
Apr 18, 2011
59
10
Status
Medical Student
I would probably apply to 45-60 PMR programs if I were in your shoes. Your scores are in the low-average category. Your experience within the field is probably your biggest selling points...but they aren't big factors for getting interviews. Assuming you interview well enough, I think that you'll match and potentially match strong...if you get the interviews.
Gotcha...this makes sense. Hopefully if I get a foot in the door, I feel I can impress with my research and other pm&r involvement.
 

rehabresident16

2+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2016
6
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Resident [Any Field]
Someone from my school matched to a top TOP program this past year with similar scores (210s/230s). The field weighs letters, experiences, and research (aka how much do you care) more than many fields I think.
 

j4pac

PM&R resident
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Aug 22, 2005
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Gotcha...this makes sense. Hopefully if I get a foot in the door, I feel I can impress with my research and other pm&r involvement.
I think so. I'm pretty confident that you'll match if your strategy is good enough and that you interview well. Interviewing well doesn't mean answering the questions right. It means that you look like a good fit for the program. If you get the interview...then you don't have to worry about proving your competence. They also will have seen your CV, and know about your experience and research. There is no need to "sell" your accomplishments on your interview. Be confident, passionate about the specialty, be positive and interactive with EVERYONE you encounter, know everything there is to know about the program and the area, and be yourself. The PD will ultimately go with the people he/she has the best "feel" for.
 
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cameroncarter

7+ Year Member
Apr 18, 2011
59
10
Status
Medical Student
Someone from my school matched to a top TOP program this past year with similar scores (210s/230s). The field weighs letters, experiences, and research (aka how much do you care) more than many fields I think.
WOAH! How did they sneak past the filters?!
 
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cameroncarter

7+ Year Member
Apr 18, 2011
59
10
Status
Medical Student
I think so. I'm pretty confident that you'll match if your strategy is good enough and that you interview well. Interviewing well doesn't mean answering the questions right. It means that you look like a good fit for the program. If you get the interview...then you don't have to worry about proving your competence. They also will have seen your CV, and know about your experience and research. There is no need to "sell" your accomplishments on your interview. Be confident, passionate about the specialty, be positive and interactive with EVERYONE you encounter, know everything there is to know about the program and the area, and be yourself. The PD will ultimately go with the people he/she has the best "feel" for.
Thanks for the help as always j4pac. Was actually told by advisor today to focus on fit because my research heavy background may make smaller/non-academic programs uninterested. Thoughts?
 

j4pac

PM&R resident
10+ Year Member
Aug 22, 2005
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Thanks for the help as always j4pac. Was actually told by advisor today to focus on fit because my research heavy background may make smaller/non-academic programs uninterested. Thoughts?
The research experience in and of itself is not significant. A few publications aren't going to go far to impress attendings with dozens of publications. But the publications do at least show some commitment and passion for the specialty. That's what's far more important than you being apart of academia. PDs want applicants that meet the requirements...are good people who are passionate about the field and their program. I had a PD at an academic program tell me straight up that he didn't care how many publications a resident has coming into his program. The reason...he had PhDs who did absolutely nothing in regards to research when they got in his program...and others with minimal research who pumped out publications in residency. PDs aren't stupid...they understand that not everyone has access to research, especially PM&R research. Very few DOs get that exposure...and yet PM&R PDs accept them in droves.

When you get asked about your research...and you will (I got asked about mine in every interview)...your research topics don't matter. What does matter is that you are able to convey your passion for your work. Attends and PDs can stiff out the ones trying to check the research box. They want their incoming residents to be people they want to work with. They want hard workers, who play nicely, and are passionate about what they do.

To answer your question...I don't think that there is a big difference between what the academic and non-academic programs want. I got into an academic program...but I feel I would have matched at my next two programs which were not big academic centers.
 
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