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Getting into Surgery internship/residency

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by vader1984, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. vader1984

    vader1984 Junior Member

    Mar 1, 2002
    Up until I began my surgery rotation, i had my heart set on IM/Cardiology. But having had some IM rotations, I find these quite boring compared to surgery, and i find I'm quite interested in Surgery. So i guess my question is: how competitive is general surgery? My class rank and board scores aren't exactly stellar, plus, as of right now I'm completely uncoordinated in the OR- i can't even suture. I'm just trying to get a feel for whether or not pursuing surgery would be a waste of my time. Any help would be much appreciated.
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  3. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending 10+ Year Member

    Feb 10, 2002
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by vader1984:
    <strong> So i guess my question is: how competitive is general surgery? My class rank and board scores aren't exactly stellar, plus, as of right now I'm completely uncoordinated in the OR- i can't even suture. </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I'll say everything short of "don't worry; you'll get in." With all due respect to my hard-working and intelligent colleagues going into surgery this year, general surgery is not as competitive as it used to be. There are a plethora (would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?) of reasons why general surgery isn't "competitive" as it used to be; I shall not explore them here and now. Nevertheless, there is a shortage of surgery residents these days. I'm not suggesting that with mediocre scores and grades you'll be given the red carpet at the top places (whatever they may be), but you do have a good chance of matching somewhere.

    As for your underdeveloped skills, I wouldn't worry about it. Most hands are trainable. I really didn't do much in the OR other than cut sutures and paint iodine until I did my second ENT rotation my 4th year. And to be quite honest, I did more actual surgery and suturing when doing my plastics rotation. Technique will come if it isn't on its way now...
  4. dr.evil

    dr.evil Senior Member Physician 7+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2001
    As much as I'd love to say that my chosen future profession is the most competitive field known to the medical world (ego), I can't. Surgery competitiveness is probably at an all time low right now. This is likely due to lifestyle/hour/compensation issues as well as insecurity involved with specialties taking over procedures but that is all for another discussion.

    At the most competitive institutions (community & academic), you still need great board scores and AOA. This is at the top places cuz they don't have trouble filling spots.

    For the majority of programs, you will likely be able to match. Some program directors will not take mediocre applicants no matter what and would rather go unmatched that take a mediocre applicant. These are rare but are out there.

    Grades above 3.0 and boards above 210 will likely get you interviews. Grades closer to 3.5 and boards in the 220s will get you better interviews and likely your choice of place that you obtain an interview. AOA and greater than 230 boards will get you interviews almost everywhere. These are all generalizations but it gives you an idea. I'm sure people with less than 3.0 GPA get interviews.

    I won't tell my scores/grades but they're pretty decent but not phenomenal and I got interviews at all 25 places I applied. This just tells you that the surgery world may be your oyster right now.

    Big time bonus for me and you. I'm glad that I am applying at a time when applications are low. My chief residents applied during a time of increased competition and matched pretty low on their rank lists.

    Moral of the story: Just go for it if that's what you want. Don't worry about competition.

    BTW, technique will come.
  5. Arch Guillotti

    Arch Guillotti Senior Member Administrator Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2001
    There was an interesting article in the New Yorker some time ago. A well-renowned surgeon was asked if he would rather have a world famous sculptor/artist or joe schmoe with incredible work ethic. He chose joe scmhoe. Guess is goes to show that repetition is key.
  6. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lactate > 15
    I believe that there were 1000 unmatched general surgery slots last year -- wow!

  7. surg

    surg 10+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2001
    To reiterate a few points:

    Categorical General Surgery is definitely in a trough right now. While a number of top students are still choosing general, others have been swayed into the more "life-friendly" surgical specialties such as integrated plastics, urology, ENT, etc. which to the best of my knowledge have not gotten any less competitive (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)

    I'd say Liontrees assessment of general categories of board scores and "GPA" are fairly reasonable, although as he said, the numbers will only open the opportunity for an interview. You need to complement the numbers with good recommendations. Great recommendations will go a long way towards allowing people to discount your grades some.
    As far as OR technique the only thing I can say is practice practice practice. Walk around with a needle driver in your pocket. Take extra suture and tie knots through all your boring lectures. Sew at home (I recommend pigs feet for subcuticulars, and chicken breast with the skin on for things like deep dermal stitching.
    You can't change the past grades, but you can make sure you get honors in surgery and make good impressions on your future letter writers. Improvement counts too. If your board scores are substandard (&lt;199), consider taking Step II early in your 4th year to show that you can do well on a standardized test.
    If you love surgery and it shows, you will find someone to train you. Good luck!

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