Factors for matching competitive fellowship?

JennyLaw

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Yes, I know psych fellowships aren’t famously competitive. However, I suspect that given the notable increase in competition for general psychiatry positions, this may change.

i will be applying for fellowship in a reasonably competitive geographic area in 2-3 years. Luckily my residency program is in this area. Unluckily for me, I am a DO.

what factors do you think will be most important for me to secure a fellowship once this new rush of highly competitive psych residents apply for fellowship? I cannot get a straight answer even from senior residents. I figure research and networking.

I also heard my step 1/2 score (which I took) will be important, but unfortunately that’s gonna be pass fail reporting by the time I apply.

also, do I need to take step 3, or can I just take comlex 3?
 
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TexasPhysician

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The main problem you face is competition against internal applicants. Programs often prefer their own regardless of how great external applicants are (assuming no red flags on internal applicants). If your preferred program has 4 spots and 5 internal applicants, your odds may border on 0%.

Otherwise, an important factor is having a pulse.
 
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nexus73

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To the OPs original question. I wonder if contacting programs now to express interest would be helpful or not. e.g. sending the PD an email and letting them know how many years out you are. You’d probably want to have some questions as well, which would justify the early contact. I’d assume programs want to match with applicants who are interested in them.
 

clozareal

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After going through the fellowship process, I feel like a lot of what makes a fellowship candidate competitive at a highly sought after program is largely out of our immediate control. Top fellowship programs like residents from top residency programs. They also like stellar letter of recommendations. Competing with internal applicants is not even a competition because most of the time they'll pick the internal applicant so some of this is a numbers game on how many people are applying that year to that fellowship.

The things that are under your immediate control:
  1. Personal statement: have someone else read it, preferably someone who is mindful of how language and connotation can reflect unconscious bias. Being on the admissions committee this year, I've seen personal statements hurt applicants more often than they've helped.
  2. Interview: practice, practice, practice your interview questions (e.g., Why do you want to do X fellowship? Why this fellowship program? etc.); prepare responses to common questions; research the fellowship and be interested in what they have to offer; and most of all, do not criticize the program's shortcomings because no program is perfect and all programs will have something they are working to improve in their training or system. Make sure you send follow-up thank you emails.
  3. Networking: if you have alumni who currently work at the fellowship program you are applying for, send them an email to see if you can chat with them briefly about the program and express interest. It may end up being that they could be a strong advocate for you and have sway with the fellowship selection committee. This is less relevant during a pandemic, but going to the specialty conference and attending that program's reception can also be an invaluable networking experience that may get you an interview (which I've seen happen with several candidates during our residency cycle this year).
But if you want to get into any fellowship, it's not going to be competitive. However, the top fellowship programs are just as competitive as the top residency programs. I know residents at top programs that didn't get their first ranked choice in competitive fellowship programs.
 
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asdf123g

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Yes, I know psych fellowships aren’t famously competitive. However, I suspect that given the notable increase in competition for general psychiatry positions, this may change.

i will be applying for fellowship in a reasonably competitive geographic area in 2-3 years. Luckily my residency program is in this area. Unluckily for me, I am a DO.

what factors do you think will be most important for me to secure a fellowship once this new rush of highly competitive psych residents apply for fellowship? I cannot get a straight answer even from senior residents. I figure research and networking.

I also heard my step 1/2 score (which I took) will be important, but unfortunately that’s gonna be pass fail reporting by the time I apply.

also, do I need to take step 3, or can I just take comlex 3?
I dont think your worries are entirely justified. Its sad being a DO is seen as lesser (assuming you are as qualified as the MD). That won't change anytime soon.

The general consensus I've gathered is most fellowships are not really that competitive outside of CAP because psych is unique in that you do not need a fellowship (Currently) to practice in any of the sub-areas. The bump in salary also appears negligible, so in terms of money in the long run, you might even be losing money from a lost year of a physicians salary while instead getting paid at a fellowship rate.!

Do you own HW, but everytime ive seen that come up, the answer ive seen is COMLEX 3 only. Pass is fine.

I think one of the most important things you can do is to network. The most qualified dont always get the position. The underdog can get a leg-up just by who they know.
 
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it is more important who you know in those places you want to go. Their own residents will have an advantage because they know them. Unless they do not want them or have extra spots.....not much you can do. But, I know many folks that got into big name places for fellowship. If you have geographic limitations like 1 or 2 programs then it might be hard. But overall you just need a strong pulse and ability to talk in coherent sentences.
 
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kaysisiel

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would someone be able to comment on how not having a step 3 score will affect my application? step 3 was cancelled due to covid. planning to take it end of summer.

I'm not sure what the answer is but it's interesting that your program allowed you to progress past PGY1 without passing USMLE Step 3. That in itself may raise more questions.
 

childpsych2020

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I'm not sure what the answer is but it's interesting that your program allowed you to progress past PGY1 without passing USMLE Step 3. That in itself may raise more questions.

i didn't realize this was a thing. my program typically lets us take step 3 w/in the first two years and it is required that we take it before we go into our pgy3 year. obv this year is different given the circumstances.
 

Celexa

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I'm not sure what the answer is but it's interesting that your program allowed you to progress past PGY1 without passing USMLE Step 3. That in itself may raise more questions.
when a resident needs to take step 3 by is very program dependent and partially reflects licensing laws in their state. I think it generally a bad idea to delay step 3 past intern year as a psych resident given you just get further and further from medicne, but it isn't by definition a problem. of course this year is unlike any other year in the past....
 
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