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Lifeblood_20

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Hello, I am an incoming M1 at a T20/research-heavy MD school. I am interested in specialties that have a good work-life balance, like ophtho/EM/derm, which I know are competitive. Since Step 1 will be P/F for my year, it is speculated that research, etc. would be more important for the residency match. Now, I personally really don't enjoy doing research and want to do as little of it as possible in med school, just enough to still match decently. I am not gunning to match top programs, but I do hope to be able to match urban or suburban midwest. As a newbie to the med world, I was wondering what a successfully matched M4 profile generally looks like. How much research is usually expected (# of abstracts/papers/conferences) and what else is important?
 

Cauchy

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Research with mentors who can write good LORs, preferably 1st or 2nd author journal articles. Get involved in a one or two extracurricular projects that you are passionate about and can show leadership in. Crush clinical rotations with as many honors as possible. AOA is helpful as is being first or second quartile on grades. Crush step 2 CK.
 
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Banco

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High exam scores. Good letters from famous/accomplished people. Productive research and/or other ECs. Those are the key elements.
 
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AzBasRad

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Recognize that you already have an edge coming from a T-20 school. Otherwise, the basics like academics, scores, publications, leadership etc will be important as everyone above already noted.
 
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Lifeblood_20

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Thank you all. How important is it to have a "narrative" for why you want to pursue the specialty, much like the personal statement for med school apps? Coming from undergrad, my EC interests have been generic (nonprofit doing food drives/raising money for charity etc) and my research was in basic science/psychiatry, which I do not see myself pursuing further in med school. Do people generally find niche/unique interests in med school that supplement their specialty interest? (e.g. interest in EM -> research on gun violence in the city, interest in healthcare equity -> starts a student-run free clinic etc) I am just not sure what mine would be at this moment.
 
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Banco

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It’s important to have your reasons for “why X” but for the vast majority it’s something relatively generic and that’s totally fine. Just needs to be logical, not forced niche or anything. In my experience the pieces fall into place more or less on their own.
 
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Redpancreas

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Hello, I am an incoming M1 at a T20/research-heavy MD school. I am interested in specialties that have a good work-life balance, like ophtho/EM/derm, which I know are competitive. Since Step 1 will be P/F for my year, it is speculated that research, etc. would be more important for the residency match. Now, I personally really don't enjoy doing research and want to do as little of it as possible in med school, just enough to still match decently. I am not gunning to match top programs, but I do hope to be able to match urban or suburban midwest. As a newbie to the med world, I was wondering what a successfully matched M4 profile generally looks like. How much research is usually expected (# of abstracts/papers/conferences) and what else is important?
For your profile (with wiggle room)

1. Derm: Good derm elective evaluation, evidence of multiple scholarly pursuits and the ability to publish, 250+ CK, Good performance (Honors/High pass) in clerkships.

2. Ophthalmology: Similar but perhaps a bit more wiggle room.

3. EM: Not in the same tier. Some people love EM, can tolerate it's lifestyle, and it pays well, but it's not necessarily competitive especially coming from a top school. No research, a below average CK score, and passable third year performance would suffice. Ideally you would want decent/average SLOE letters though (standardized letters of evaluation specific to EM 4th year rotations).

EDIT: Realized I'd honest answered one part of your question. Frankly, I agree with @Banco 's later post for the most part. I would put school prestige in tier 1 and letters perhaps in tier 2.
 
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Chromium Surfer

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High exam scores. Good letters from famous/accomplished people. Productive research and/or other ECs. Those are the key elements.

When you say "Productive research and/or other EC's are you implying that someone with productive research but minimal EC's would be fine still? I have heard that for residency nobody really cares about EC's like they did for med school and all that matters for stuff outside the curriculum is research.
 

Banco

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When you say "Productive research and/or other EC's are you implying that someone with productive research but minimal EC's would be fine still? I have heard that for residency nobody really cares about EC's like they did for med school and all that matters for stuff outside the curriculum is research.

Yeah I had minimal other ECs - a little volunteering, some club leadership, a part time job. Nothing too impressive. But my research experience seemed to be exceptional and was mentioned pretty much everywhere. Research is still the grand-daddy of "ECs" for residency match - but it is also by no means necessary for many fields. For example many of my friends matched top IM, GS, and EM programs with minimal/no research.

But there are other applicants who distinguish themselves through EC's (strong leadership, advocacy, business, volunteering initiatives) that can be very impressive too. These applicants are in the minority.


If I was to put into hierarchy what's valuable:

Most Valuable: Step 1/2, Clinical Grades, Strong LORs
Pretty Valuable: Research, School prestige/AOA, Unique ECs
Less Valuable: Typical ECs, Pre-clinical grades


This all obviously depends on specialty too. You can have minimal of the above list and match less competitive specialties. For something like dermatology, you wanna have as much of that as possible.
 
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operaman

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Lots of good advice above. Whatever you do, best to get started as early as possible. Give yourself some time to adapt to the workflow and then start reaching out for opportunities. Given your interests, maybe start early with derm or Ophtho stuff since those are far more competitive than EM. Easier to decide on EM with a few derm papers under your belt than try to match derm while just starting research during your clinical years. People do it, but it’s tough. Many opt for an additional research year if they come to something competitive later than most.
 
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