Mar 26, 2021
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Hi,

Im currently an MS3 planning to apply to General Surgery this upcoming application cycle. Im wondering if I could receive some feedback on what I could improve in my app.

Top 35-50 medical school

Step 1: 252
Step 2: not yet taken
IM: pass
FM: honors
Surg: honors
Psych: honors
OBGYN: pass
Peds: in progress
Neuro: after peds

Research: 5 pubs (3rd to 5th author, all radiology since that is what i thought i wanted to go into for a long time), no surgery research but trying to line some up currently

Extracirriculars: Helped establish a makerspace at my med school, helped revamp 1st year doctoring course during the summer between MS1 and MS2, housing coordinator for applicants (helped pair applicants with students to say with), radiology interest group president

Overall i feel like my application is pretty average. What could i do in the next 6 months to help bolster my application to make me more competitive for higher ranked programs? Or is it too late at this point for any significant changes to occur?
 

ACSurgeon

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I don’t know that a 252 and 5 pubs and honors on surgery is average for general surgery. Maybe average for the top programs.

Away rotation and impress them
get great letters from your home program
More research
 
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futurgensurg

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That's most definitely not average. You'll probably match at top programs. Just keep working on getting more general surgery research.
 
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Banco

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You're already in a very strong position. For top programs it is highly competitive but you will likely net some interviews there already.

Things you can improve:

1) Get LORs from influential people - don't underestimate this. Impress people on your SubI to do this.
2) Surgery specific research - get on some case reports/abstracts/clinical papers before application
3) If there is any specific program you really want, then you can consider an away rotation - though these aren't needed for surgery in general


Otherwise just write a good application and apply smartly, work on your confidence, you are not "average" and I think you know this.
 
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Redpancreas

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Woah dude, definitely not average. You're strong all around. Keep it simple now and focus on landing the plane. 1) Get Step 2 done early 2) Do your SubI before October so you have a grade there. I'm not sure what else you need? Maybe an away at a reputable place/dream program to serve as further validation of your work ethic? In terms of which programs to target down the line, my advice is to not necessarily target the big names but find the programs that do the best job for your future goals whether you plan to enter private practice (case loads will be important) vs. fellowship (match lists/reputation will be important). Best of luck!

It's still very very early, but if this spring/summer gets very busy and Step 2 CK is not working out, you may get docked a few points at a few places, but having no Step 2 CK by 10/15 (ERAS submission date) in your case is probably OK as this year everyone's still got a scaled Step 1. If your practice exams are garbage, definitely try to fix that but if you can't make it work or feel like you're at risk of not doing well, holding off may not be an unreasonable option. The rest of your application's strong so most (even good) places would probably give you the benefit of the doubt. If that happens, definitely take it by Mid January so you can have a score sent to schools before committees sit down to rank applicants.

I'm sure you'll do very well!
 
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mrbreakfast

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Step 1 of 252 puts you in the top 15% of general surgery applicants, so...but if you want to improve further:

1) Obviously, nail step 2
2) Get a first-author publication, even if it means sacrificing quantity for quality
3) Make connections and impress people. Everyone will have complementary letters, but you want that "special" letter, potentially from a writer who the program director reading your letter knows personally.
4) You clinical grades are hard to interpret without knowing the "average" for your individual program, but I'd at least try not to get any more passes. Every program's curve is different, but generally speaking at many med schools (including the one I went to) a "pass" was indicative of a below-average performance.
 
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Mar 26, 2021
11
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Step 1 of 252 puts you in the top 15% of general surgery applicants, so...but if you want to improve further:

1) Obviously, nail step 2
2) Get a first-author publication, even if it means sacrificing quantity for quality
3) Make connections and impress people. Everyone will have complementary letters, but you want that "special" letter, potentially from a writer who the program director reading your letter knows personally.
4) You clinical grades are hard to interpret without knowing the "average" for your individual program, but I'd at least try not to get any more passes. Every program's curve is different, but generally speaking at many med schools (including the one I went to) a "pass" was indicative of a below-average performance.
Thank you for the advice! I appreciate it.

So at my program, its just pass and honors. Every year about 20% of students get honors per clerkship. I think they give the percentage of people that honor in the deans letter. Had a few shelfs not go my way unfortunately (including one where I missed honoring by one point...). Such is life.
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
0
Woah dude, definitely not average. You're strong all around. Keep it simple now and focus on landing the plane. 1) Get Step 2 done early 2) Do your SubI before October so you have a grade there. I'm not sure what else you need? Maybe an away at a reputable place/dream program to serve as further validation of your work ethic? In terms of which programs to target down the line, my advice is to not necessarily target the big names but find the programs that do the best job for your future goals whether you plan to enter private practice (case loads will be important) vs. fellowship (match lists/reputation will be important). Best of luck!

It's still very very early, but if this spring/summer gets very busy and Step 2 CK is not working out, you may get docked a few points at a few places, but having no Step 2 CK by 10/15 (ERAS submission date) in your case is probably OK as this year everyone's still got a scaled Step 1. If your practice exams are garbage, definitely try to fix that but if you can't make it work or feel like you're at risk of not doing well, holding off may not be an unreasonable option. The rest of your application's strong so most (even good) places would probably give you the benefit of the doubt. If that happens, definitely take it by Mid January so you can have a score sent to schools before committees sit down to rank applicants.

I'm sure you'll do very well!
Appreciate the advice and feedback! Planning on taking step 2 as my first block in 4th year (end of June) to get it done with followed by two sub Is at my home program.

What are your thoughts on the importance of doing an away? Per the most recent PD survey it seemed less than 20% of programs considering an away as a significant factor in deciding whether to interview someone and rank them. But dont know how much stock to put into that since its a small sample size and may not be representative of the larger gen surg community.
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
0
You're already in a very strong position. For top programs it is highly competitive but you will likely net some interviews there already.

Things you can improve:

1) Get LORs from influential people - don't underestimate this. Impress people on your SubI to do this.
2) Surgery specific research - get on some case reports/abstracts/clinical papers before application
3) If there is any specific program you really want, then you can consider an away rotation - though these aren't needed for surgery in general


Otherwise just write a good application and apply smartly, work on your confidence, you are not "average" and I think you know this.
Appreciate the feedback! And thank you haha imposter syndrome can be very real sometimes.

Regarding aways, definitely on the fence about doing one but per the most recent PD survey they dont seem that important. Thoughts??
 
Mar 26, 2021
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I don’t know that a 252 and 5 pubs and honors on surgery is average for general surgery. Maybe average for the top programs.

Away rotation and impress them
get great letters from your home program
More research
Will do! Thank you for the feedback.

I know I've asked this of a few different people that have responded to this thread but I like to get different opinions. What are your thoughts on the importance of away rotations? Like I mentioned in previous comments, they dont seem that important per the most recent PD survey but im not sure how representative that survey is of gen surg programs.
 

Banco

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Appreciate the feedback! And thank you haha imposter syndrome can be very real sometimes.

Regarding aways, definitely on the fence about doing one but per the most recent PD survey they dont seem that important. Thoughts??
Aways are not the norm in general surgery. Only do it if there is any one specific program that you want for whatever reason. Otherwise don’t worry about it.

I think getting some surgery research would be probably the most bang for your buck going forward in terms of improving your application. Since your step 1 is already so high you don’t even need to take step 2 prior to application.
 
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Redpancreas

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Appreciate the advice and feedback! Planning on taking step 2 as my first block in 4th year (end of June) to get it done with followed by two sub Is at my home program.

What are your thoughts on the importance of doing an away? Per the most recent PD survey it seemed less than 20% of programs considering an away as a significant factor in deciding whether to interview someone and rank them. But dont know how much stock to put into that since its a small sample size and may not be representative of the larger gen surg community.
I don't really know. As a principle, "aways" in general are good to get your foot in the door at that particular institution and you may be able to get a letter from that as well.
 
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ACSurgeon

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Will do! Thank you for the feedback.

I know I've asked this of a few different people that have responded to this thread but I like to get different opinions. What are your thoughts on the importance of away rotations? Like I mentioned in previous comments, they dont seem that important per the most recent PD survey but im not sure how representative that survey is of gen surg programs.
Away rotations for general surgery are looked at as a double edged sword that can help or hurt an applicant, and they’re recommended if you’re a weak candidate or applying for a really competitive program. Since your original post asked about “top ranked programs,” I mentioned away rotations. Otherwise you could match a great academic program without aways with your profile. If you have your heart set on mass general or Hopkins, an away might remove some of the randomness of the process and help give you an edge at such places...
 
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Redpancreas

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Away rotations for general surgery are looked at as a double edged sword that can help or hurt an applicant, and they’re recommended if you’re a weak candidate or applying for a really competitive program. Since your original post asked about “top ranked programs,” I mentioned away rotations. Otherwise you could match a great academic program without aways with your profile. If you have your heart set on mass general or Hopkins, an away might remove some of the randomness of the process and help give you an edge at such places...
Generally the same thought for IM as well OP. Glad someone else clarified.
 

YCAGA

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If your application was average, the US MD match rate for general surgery would be like 30%…
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
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I don’t know that a 252 and 5 pubs and honors on surgery is average for general surgery. Maybe average for the top programs.

Away rotation and impress them
get great letters from your home program
More research
So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review (total of 5). Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
0
That's most definitely not average. You'll probably match at top programs. Just keep working on getting more general surgery research.
So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review. Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
0
You're already in a very strong position. For top programs it is highly competitive but you will likely net some interviews there already.

Things you can improve:

1) Get LORs from influential people - don't underestimate this. Impress people on your SubI to do this.
2) Surgery specific research - get on some case reports/abstracts/clinical papers before application
3) If there is any specific program you really want, then you can consider an away rotation - though these aren't needed for surgery in general


Otherwise just write a good application and apply smartly, work on your confidence, you are not "average" and I think you know this.
So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review. Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
0
Woah dude, definitely not average. You're strong all around. Keep it simple now and focus on landing the plane. 1) Get Step 2 done early 2) Do your SubI before October so you have a grade there. I'm not sure what else you need? Maybe an away at a reputable place/dream program to serve as further validation of your work ethic? In terms of which programs to target down the line, my advice is to not necessarily target the big names but find the programs that do the best job for your future goals whether you plan to enter private practice (case loads will be important) vs. fellowship (match lists/reputation will be important). Best of luck!

It's still very very early, but if this spring/summer gets very busy and Step 2 CK is not working out, you may get docked a few points at a few places, but having no Step 2 CK by 10/15 (ERAS submission date) in your case is probably OK as this year everyone's still got a scaled Step 1. If your practice exams are garbage, definitely try to fix that but if you can't make it work or feel like you're at risk of not doing well, holding off may not be an unreasonable option. The rest of your application's strong so most (even good) places would probably give you the benefit of the doubt. If that happens, definitely take it by Mid January so you can have a score sent to schools before committees sit down to rank applicants.

I'm sure you'll do very well!
So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review. Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
 
Mar 26, 2021
11
0
Step 1 of 252 puts you in the top 15% of general surgery applicants, so...but if you want to improve further:

1) Obviously, nail step 2
2) Get a first-author publication, even if it means sacrificing quantity for quality
3) Make connections and impress people. Everyone will have complementary letters, but you want that "special" letter, potentially from a writer who the program director reading your letter knows personally.
4) You clinical grades are hard to interpret without knowing the "average" for your individual program, but I'd at least try not to get any more passes. Every program's curve is different, but generally speaking at many med schools (including the one I went to) a "pass" was indicative of a below-average performance.
So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review. Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
 

Banco

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So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review. Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
Practically speaking I’d say it doesn’t change too much - for top programs though maybe. But perhaps you want to try to get in some surgery related research (and ideally pub/poster/abstract) before application. That’ll just round it all out nicely, showcase your interest/dedication, get a good LOR etc

You’re still in a strong position for academic programs. The top tier ones like to see research from my experience.
 
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SurgDoc95

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If you’re not set on T20 programs you’re probably set as is. Like others have said, good academic LORs will help your app probably the most at this point. Secondarily try for a little more research and make sure you don’t have a drop on Step 2.

Example of why I think you’re pretty set already= I’m a DO MS4 who matched my #1 with 25+ interview invites with 22x/24x and a good (for a DO student) research resume. If you apply even semi broadly I can’t see you not doing considerably better than I did. Good luck!
 
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Redpancreas

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So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review. Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
Better question for a surgery person.
 
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SurfingDoctor

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So I just realized I wasn't very clear in my initial post, but I lumped in abstracts/posters with actual peer reviewed publications. So its more like 4 abstracts and 1 publication under review (total of 5). Does this change things at all? I apologize for my neuroticism haha.
Yes, abstracts/posters count for significantly less than publications in peer-reviewed journals
 
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