snowys435

7+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2012
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Pre-Medical
Hi There, long story short: SO is in LA and I am on east coast. I am a new third year on second rotation. step=254. None/minimal research in med school that hasn't been published. One abstract not ophtho related. I met with him and asked if maybe I did a research year would it help match out there. His opinion is that step score is not high enough + all ophtho programs out on west coast are very academic and I would need a strong track record of research in medical school to demonstrate interest in academic interests , which I do not have. Seemed to think that there weren't even any small programs out there I could match in. However, he did think that if I got involved in research this year, got good grades, ophtho is very doable on east coast from definitely a low tier program to maybe a very good one, depending on third year grades. Just wanted to confirm this and see if I should give up all hope of matching west coast?
 

long

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 27, 2009
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Medical Student
I would definitely say you don't have 0 chance. My step score is worse than yours and I am definitely not an academic and I got interviews on the west coast. Might be more difficult, but definitely not impossible. Also, you still have time to get some research.


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DrZeke

yzarc gniog ylwolS
10+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2005
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Hi There, long story short: SO is in LA and I am on east coast. I am a new third year on second rotation. step=254. None/minimal research in med school that hasn't been published. One abstract not ophtho related. I met with him and asked if maybe I did a research year would it help match out there. His opinion is that step score is not high enough + all ophtho programs out on west coast are very academic and I would need a strong track record of research in medical school to demonstrate interest in academic interests , which I do not have. Seemed to think that there weren't even any small programs out there I could match in. However, he did think that if I got involved in research this year, got good grades, ophtho is very doable on east coast from definitely a low tier program to maybe a very good one, depending on third year grades. Just wanted to confirm this and see if I should give up all hope of matching west coast?
I wouldn't strongly bet on matching West Coast unless you have state residence or grew up there, but I don't think it's impossible. If you're dead set I recommend 1-2 aways in that region. Your numbers are good.


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Ignatius M.D.

5+ Year Member
Nov 13, 2010
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I would definitely rotate in LA, even consider doing a research year out there as well if you're dead set and lack research. I don't know what he's talking about with your step score, which is ~90th percentile, and I think plenty good enough. It's hard for the majority of applicants, even qualified, to get an interview on the West coast. My step was a little higher and I had publications/abstracts, and only got one interview out West. Even then, I e-mailed that program when my SO interviewed there in another field, and got the invite after they-presumably-actually looked at my app. Other west coast places where my SO was invited and I subsequently e-mailed sent a rejection in reply. I do know people with lower step scores that went to places with top home programs (Miami, Michigan, Baylor, etc.) who got multiple west coast interviews. Letters are really what open up the west coast if you're not applying from the region, IMO. It happens in other fields. I had people from my school call programs (in medicine, radiology, others) to ask about their rejections and were told "We didn't think you'd come out to X place from Y state". Silly, I know, but they just find the easiest way to filter out apps now that everyone applies so broadly, and geography is a convenient filter. Really work on research (yes, you can research in 3rd year), honor the big core rotations-surgery, IM, peds-, and consider rotating/researching out there. Good luck.
 
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snowys435

7+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2012
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Pre-Medical
So my department chair thinks a research year out there will not help because my numbers look good and I haven't shown interest in academics. He says all ophtho programs out in that area are very heavily research focused and take superstars with 260+s and significant research. I dont know how to really get research out there. He trained at UCSF but seems unwilling to reach out t his contacts to help me find something. I didn't ask because he seemed very strongly discouraging of a research year and skeptical that i could match out there. How would I go about this on my own?
 

Slide

Finally, no more "training"
10+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2005
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So my department chair thinks a research year out there will not help because my numbers look good and I haven't shown interest in academics. He says all ophtho programs out in that area are very heavily research focused and take superstars with 260+s and significant research. I dont know how to really get research out there. He trained at UCSF but seems unwilling to reach out t his contacts to help me find something. I didn't ask because he seemed very strongly discouraging of a research year and skeptical that i could match out there. How would I go about this on my own?
Your department chair not willing to reach out to UCSF does sound a little sketchy, could be for a number of reasons. May be he didn't like UCSF or thought it was too malignant, or has bad relations with people there. Your numbers are great but your department chair is correct in that it is very tough to match in West coast programs because of the academic mindset and that they have plenty of applicants on the West Coast itself. Having a SO out there helps but that typically helps more for fellowship rather than residency unless your SO is also a resident/fellow/attending with superstar status that can influence department chairs.

A rotation out there would obviously help. A research year would help if you're with the right attending and program, but if it doesn't improve your chances, it's a wasted year. Some of these pre-residency fellowships/research years are pretty well known and can get you interviews, but they're pretty tough to obtain, and you will be working your ass off pumping out papers and research. Unfortunately you have to seek them out and do all the legwork yourself in securing these spots.
 

Eyefixer

10+ Year Member
Nov 26, 2007
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Attending Physician
A decision about rotating at LA programs should not be taken lightly. This can open doors just as quickly permanently shut them. Are you stellar in ophthalmology? Will you be able to impress Steve Schwartz or Rohit Varma in their clinics to the point where they will think "wow we want this guy". I don't know you from Adam, but chances of that happening are probably pretty low.


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Bluesclera

7+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2012
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Also those are pretty difficult personalities (Rohit Varma...) to work under. But Doesnt mean its impossible, Dr. Demer is nice (chair of Pediatric Ophtho, runs the UCLA STAR program) and the glaucoma person Dr. Anne Coleman is nice as well. You do need your stars to line up but mainly is sounds like your chair is not very helpful and you should seek out people that will help you reach out there. If your chair says no find someone else basically to help you out. You can also just email these professors, they are big in the field but its not like they dont respond to their emails.