Eliminating yourself

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Thyroid Storm
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May 8, 2003
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One of the interns on my current team is a transitional year intern that got into one of the best ophtho programs in the country. When I started talking about doing away rotations in ophtho, she told me that was a bad idea and was generally looked down upon by a lot of the more presitigious ophtho dept's. She said unless I knew as much as the program's pgy-2's, I'd just end up eliminating myself. Instead, she said that it was much smarter just to do some research at the institution, or rotate in a different speciality there and make sure to go to all the ophtho grand rounds and get to know the ophtho dept. That way you can get your foot in the door w/o eliminating yourself.

To back her story up, she said that not one person who did an audition rotation at her program got in. However, people like her who had done research there did get accepted.

Is this true in general, or is this just her particular instituion?


Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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Oct 1, 2002
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I agree and disagree with this.

When you do an away rotation and deliver a 'weak' performance, without a doubt, you will eliminate yourself. These applicants are better off not doing the away rotation.

However, if your medical school is associated with a bad/average ophthalmology program or you want to visit another program, then I think it is beneficial to complete an away rotation. There's a current resident at Wilmer who did an away rotation there while I was at Hopkins (his home institution had a good ophthalmology residency program too). He was awesome, and he matched there.

At Iowa, there is an applicant who matched here after completing an away rotation and delivering a strong performance. I worked with this applicant, and the student was refracting patients, performing 90D examinations, and diagnosing basic eye problems.

Even if you don't match at the away program, you may walk away with an outstanding letter of recommendation from an influential faculty. This letter may help you match at another top institution.

Clearly, doing an away rotation is not a backdoor method for mediocre applicants; however, away rotations may help you obtain an outstanding letter of recommendation. In addition, considering how much PGY-2 residents know about ophthalmology in July, it's not hard to shine if you do extra reading and work hard. Most PGY-2 residents are still struggling with a phoropter in July! ;)

With the Army, you need to know the ophthalmology program director. It is highly advisable that you do away rotations at the Army's training programs. Good luck!