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Fell in love with radiology. Now what?

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akaMondo

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Hey guys,

I'm an M3 who always thought she'd be an oncologist. I always found imaging interesting, but figured there was no way I could do without patient contact. After doing a few rotations, as well as a radiology elective, I've realized that's not the case and there's a very real possibility that I will end up as a radiologist. Thinking forward to my application next year, I just wanted to know what I can do to make my application competitive for a possible radiology match. If it matters, my dream programs are midwestern, like Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin, Minnesota.

Step 1: 255
Class rank: top half
Clinicals: mix of P and HP so far, hoping to HP out. Our school has kind of overcorrected for prior class' grade inflation for clinical years, so I'm not hopeful for any H. Will this be a problem?
Research: almost none. A few weeks of bench work over M1 summer, no publications.
Standard ECs. A few interest groups, some free clinic volunteering, and a handful of hours at the ASPCA.
No idea where I'm getting my letters of recommendation yet. Hopeful for IM. Might ask my pediatrics attending as well.

I've got about a year to boost my app - any advice from those of you that have done well on the interview trail/match? How bad is not having research or 3rd year honors?

Also - I've seen mixed reports on the value of aways. I was wondering if anyone had advice on whether aways can only hurt you or not. Thanks!
 
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Lafakads

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Your step 1 is solid. Try to get in on a few projects and just about any program is a possibility.

You should get MCW, UWisc, UMinn. Also probably Mayo and UMichigan
 

akaMondo

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Your step 1 is solid. Try to get in on a few projects and just about any program is a possibility.

You should get MCW, UWisc, UMinn. Also probably Mayo and UMichigan

Rads specific or not? I was going to start doing case reports with an oncologist. I still love oncology, so it'll be between the two.
 

Lafakads

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Rads specific or not? I was going to start doing case reports with an oncologist. I still love oncology, so it'll be between the two.

I'd try a few rads specific but its not that big of a deal IMO. Any research is good. Maybe MGH and UCSF would be out of reach for you. Your step 1 score will carry you far, and sounds like you want to be in the midwest which is the least competitive. I expect you to do well.
 
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Derv

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You are looking good with that step 1, especially in the midwest. Get involved in some research, preferably Radiology and you will be fine.
 
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deleted379552

You will have your pick of programs. Radiology is still not competitive. I'm applying with pretty mediocre credentials and am getting a handful of interviews from top 10s and top 20s programs.
 
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blueshockey

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Hey guys,

I'm an M3 who always thought she'd be an oncologist. I always found imaging interesting, but figured there was no way I could do without patient contact. After doing a few rotations, as well as a radiology elective, I've realized that's not the case and there's a very real possibility that I will end up as a radiologist. Thinking forward to my application next year, I just wanted to know what I can do to make my application competitive for a possible radiology match. If it matters, my dream programs are midwestern, like Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin, Minnesota.

Step 1: 255
Class rank: top half
Clinicals: mix of P and HP so far, hoping to HP out. Our school has kind of overcorrected for prior class' grade inflation for clinical years, so I'm not hopeful for any H. Will this be a problem?
Research: almost none. A few weeks of bench work over M1 summer, no publications.
Standard ECs. A few interest groups, some free clinic volunteering, and a handful of hours at the ASPCA.
No idea where I'm getting my letters of recommendation yet. Hopeful for IM. Might ask my pediatrics attending as well.

I've got about a year to boost my app - any advice from those of you that have done well on the interview trail/match? How bad is not having research or 3rd year honors?

Also - I've seen mixed reports on the value of aways. I was wondering if anyone had advice on whether aways can only hurt you or not. Thanks!

Thought I would chime in since our applications are pretty similar in regards to step 1, research, and ECs. I've actually had a pretty difficult time getting interviews in the top 20, I'm sitting at 2 out of 9 in regards to interviews received. I think you would have a solid chance at the programs that you've listed, especially in Wisconsin and Minnesota; really I would say the only "stretch" as far as competitiveness would be WashU, otherwise you would have a solid shot at programs like Mayo or Michigan. Not having research (and to a similar extent, 3rd year honors) isn't a killer but there are other applicants like us with similar or worse credentials who also have research, so if you're a program and all else is equal...you can see where I'm going.

I don't really see the value of an away rotation in radiology; however I will say that at one of my interviews (top 25 place) where I had received it off the alternate list, I had one of my interviewers say that with my credentials and letters the only reason I didn't receive an interview initially was probably because I've lived in one state my whole life. So you can take from that whatever you want.
 

Voodoo Chile

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I was in a very similar situation to you (strong interest/background in onc/rad bio), but didn't realize I wanted to to rads until I'd done 2 aways in radonc at the beginning of fourth year. I remember going to the reading room for help with contouring, and thinking that I was much more interested in the imaging/technology/pathophys/anatomy than direct patient care (didn't love spending 70% of my days in rad onc clinic). Anyways, I tagged on a rads rotation in October of 4th year with very similar step scores to you (no rads specific letters either), and matched at a strong midwest program (interviewed at all the places you had mentioned). I had lots of radbio/rad onc basic science research from grad school, however, I don't think research is necessary to match at a "top" program based on the people I met on the trail. Everyone knows that 3rd year grades are extremely subjective, so you shouldn't sweat it if you don't have honors. As for letters, they can be from anyone, as long as they are not generic. If you have your heart set on matching at a specific program (family, spouse, etc.), than doing an away won't hurt, but otherwise they aren't necessary. There was no way any student will impress anyone with their knowledge of radiology as an MS4.
 
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jorts42

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You will have your pick of programs. Radiology is still not competitive. I'm applying with pretty mediocre credentials (Step 1 230s) and am getting a handful of interviews from top 10s and top 20s programs.

This is bad advice unless you have great research or come from a brand name school. I have a 240s step score and went 0/10 in the top 20. A few of my classmates who have 250s have barely gotten invites from those programs. You probably have something else that's special about your application.

Thought I would chime in since our applications are pretty similar in regards to step 1, research, and ECs. I've actually had a pretty difficult time getting interviews in the top 20, I'm sitting at 2 out of 9 in regards to interviews received. I think you would have a solid chance at the programs that you've listed, especially in Wisconsin and Minnesota; really I would say the only "stretch" as far as competitiveness would be WashU, otherwise you would have a solid shot at programs like Mayo or Michigan. Not having research (and to a similar extent, 3rd year honors) isn't a killer but there are other applicants like us with similar or worse credentials who also have research, so if you're a program and all else is equal...you can see where I'm going.

I don't really see the value of an away rotation in radiology; however I will say that at one of my interviews (top 25 place) where I had received it off the alternate list, I had one of my interviewers say that with my credentials and letters the only reason I didn't receive an interview initially was probably because I've lived in one state my whole life. So you can take from that whatever you want.

This is more like what my med school applicants have experienced
 
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deleted379552

My apologies. I didn't mean to be dismissive or insensitive.
 
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alopathik

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Hey guys,

I'm an M3 who always thought she'd be an oncologist. I always found imaging interesting, but figured there was no way I could do without patient contact. After doing a few rotations, as well as a radiology elective, I've realized that's not the case and there's a very real possibility that I will end up as a radiologist. Thinking forward to my application next year, I just wanted to know what I can do to make my application competitive for a possible radiology match. If it matters, my dream programs are midwestern, like Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin, Minnesota.

Step 1: 255
Class rank: top half
Clinicals: mix of P and HP so far, hoping to HP out. Our school has kind of overcorrected for prior class' grade inflation for clinical years, so I'm not hopeful for any H. Will this be a problem?
Research: almost none. A few weeks of bench work over M1 summer, no publications.
Standard ECs. A few interest groups, some free clinic volunteering, and a handful of hours at the ASPCA.
No idea where I'm getting my letters of recommendation yet. Hopeful for IM. Might ask my pediatrics attending as well.

I've got about a year to boost my app - any advice from those of you that have done well on the interview trail/match? How bad is not having research or 3rd year honors?

Also - I've seen mixed reports on the value of aways. I was wondering if anyone had advice on whether aways can only hurt you or not. Thanks!

Hey Mondo,

Congrats on your decision to pursue radiology as a field. It is the best field in medicine and one you will not regret. So disclaimer, I matched into IR at WashU with a board score way lower than yours so hope is not lost.

First, the most important factor for getting an interview for radiology is a high board score, which you have in spades. As far as grades - you need to get an A or Honors in either medicine or surgery - preferably both. If you do, you'll be able to get those top 10, top 20 interviews. Program directors want to see that you have a good basis in clinical medicine - they're not looking for screen jockeys. For HP or Honoring a rotation, at least at my institution, the exam was the most important aspect, so spend a lot of time on that. Unfortunately or fortunately, most medical students will get an above average rotation because of the variation in evaluator standards.
I go into this pretty extensively on my blog here:

How to do well on the wards
http://www.medartbook.com/blog/2016/6/18/the-non-gunners-guide-to-gunning-on-the-wards
Grades in Medical School
http://www.medartbook.com/blog/2016/4/30/matching-into-interventional-radiology-part-2

Feel free to contact me with questions:
[email protected]
 

akaMondo

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Thought I would chime in since our applications are pretty similar in regards to step 1, research, and ECs. I've actually had a pretty difficult time getting interviews in the top 20, I'm sitting at 2 out of 9 in regards to interviews received. I think you would have a solid chance at the programs that you've listed, especially in Wisconsin and Minnesota; really I would say the only "stretch" as far as competitiveness would be WashU, otherwise you would have a solid shot at programs like Mayo or Michigan. Not having research (and to a similar extent, 3rd year honors) isn't a killer but there are other applicants like us with similar or worse credentials who also have research, so if you're a program and all else is equal...you can see where I'm going.

I don't really see the value of an away rotation in radiology; however I will say that at one of my interviews (top 25 place) where I had received it off the alternate list, I had one of my interviewers say that with my credentials and letters the only reason I didn't receive an interview initially was probably because I've lived in one state my whole life. So you can take from that whatever you want.

Hey, thanks for your time and advice! I was only really thinking about an away because I've heard that if you want to be in a certain location, doing an away in that region just to get to know people and show your interest in the area is perhaps useful. I consider myself pretty personable, so I'm not worried about tanking a rotation, but I do realize that there's little to nothing an M4 can offer a radiology program. I moved away from home for med school, so that shouldn't be a problem to me (although I think that's a weird problem for an interview to have?).

Thanks!
 

akaMondo

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Hey Mondo,

Congrats on your decision to pursue radiology as a field. It is the best field in medicine and one you will not regret. So disclaimer, I matched into IR at WashU with a board score way lower than yours so hope is not lost.

First, the most important factor for getting an interview for radiology is a high board score, which you have in spades. As far as grades - you need to get an A or Honors in either medicine or surgery - preferably both. If you do, you'll be able to get those top 10, top 20 interviews. Program directors want to see that you have a good basis in clinical medicine - they're not looking for screen jockeys. For HP or Honoring a rotation, at least at my institution, the exam was the most important aspect, so spend a lot of time on that. Unfortunately or fortunately, most medical students will get an above average rotation because of the variation in evaluator standards.
I go into this pretty extensively on my blog here:

How to do well on the wards
http://www.medartbook.com/blog/2016/6/18/the-non-gunners-guide-to-gunning-on-the-wards
Grades in Medical School
http://www.medartbook.com/blog/2016/4/30/matching-into-interventional-radiology-part-2

Feel free to contact me with questions:
[email protected]

Hah, thanks. I'm sure you had better ECs and research than I do. I've pretty much just studied hard and enjoyed med school, so my application is lacking in the research department. I definitely didn't prepare as I should have for my first few shelfs, but I learned my lesson and am getting much better at preparing. I really appreciate your advice, and best of luck in your illustrious IR career!
 

akaMondo

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I was in a very similar situation to you (strong interest/background in onc/rad bio), but didn't realize I wanted to to rads until I'd done 2 aways in radonc at the beginning of fourth year. I remember going to the reading room for help with contouring, and thinking that I was much more interested in the imaging/technology/pathophys/anatomy than direct patient care (didn't love spending 70% of my days in rad onc clinic). Anyways, I tagged on a rads rotation in October of 4th year with very similar step scores to you (no rads specific letters either), and matched at a strong midwest program (interviewed at all the places you had mentioned). I had lots of radbio/rad onc basic science research from grad school, however, I don't think research is necessary to match at a "top" program based on the people I met on the trail. Everyone knows that 3rd year grades are extremely subjective, so you shouldn't sweat it if you don't have honors. As for letters, they can be from anyone, as long as they are not generic. If you have your heart set on matching at a specific program (family, spouse, etc.), than doing an away won't hurt, but otherwise they aren't necessary. There was no way any student will impress anyone with their knowledge of radiology as an MS4.

This post made me feel great about my chances in the midwest. Thanks, friend, and enjoy residency!
 

iCY

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Rads specific or not? I was going to start doing case reports with an oncologist. I still love oncology, so it'll be between the two.

Oncology is extremely rewarding. I requested extra months of onc during my intern year. Have you considered radonc? Theres also the field of interventional oncology through IR. Goodluck!
 

futureradres12345

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Oncology is extremely rewarding. I requested extra months of onc during my intern year. Have you considered radonc? Theres also the field of interventional oncology through IR. Goodluck!

Oncology also has the highest rate of physician burnout, according to several studies. Rewarding, but also incredibly demanding and the poor outcomes take an emotional toll.
 

iCY

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Oncology also has the highest rate of physician burnout, according to several studies. Rewarding, but also incredibly demanding and the poor outcomes take an emotional toll.

Haha dude every field of medicine is burnt out and overworked. Highest percentage doesn't mean Jack when the rates are within single digits of each other. Every specialty is near 50 percent burnout even radiology. 54 is greater than 53 but not really significant haha. Do what interests you more.
 

akaMondo

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Oncology is extremely rewarding. I requested extra months of onc during my intern year. Have you considered radonc? Theres also the field of interventional oncology through IR. Goodluck!
I HATE outpatient medicine. I did consider radonc briefly, I did an elective and it was cool but not my cup of tea. I love cancer patients, though. I know I'd enjoy onc, and I think I'd be fine with the emotional toll of patients dying. Mostly worried about lifestyle, matching fellowship, and personality fit. The practical side of things. From a medical/patient side of things, I love medical oncology.
 
D

deleted379552

Oncology is very outpatient-heavy as well. On heme-onc, we spent most mornings in clinic and were only in the hospital briefly in the afternoon to see consults. Cancer patients are usually treated outpatient (in the clinic or transfusion center) except when they deteriorate and need to be hospitalized.

That said, outpatient primary care is very different from RadOnc clinic or outpatient Oncology. Like you, I hated outpatient IM/FM/Peds. However, I really enjoyed heme-onc clinic. You get more time in the specialties to actually talk to patients (not constrained by the 15-minute timer). Definitely do a few rotations at the end of the year and see what fits for you. I changed my mind at least 3 times throughout third year.
 
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