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Getting Ophthalmology Residency

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TheWhiteMamba

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I'm still a pre-med but I really feel like ophthalmology is the specialty I want to pursue. I have done quite a bit of shadowing and have been most interested in ophtho because of the ability to utilize both medical and surgical approaches to care, the current advances taking place in the field, the lifestyle it offers, and the fact it is a surgical specialty that allows for more patient interaction. I will be graduating this August with an honors degree in neurobiology from a good school but I have not taken my MCATs yet. My premed advisor thinks I am a very strong candidate for some top 10 schools if I were prepared to apply in June (which I wont be) but that getting into some of these schools will be very difficult if i apply in september.

So, my questions are as follows...knowing that ophtho is so competitive should I have two years off instead of my original plan of one to have a better chance at a top ten school?

Also, I have been doing research for a year in basic neuroscience and will be published this summer as a second author but I am going to switch labs after I graduate. Whether I have one or two years off, research will be part of my plan. As long as it is ophtho related, do residency programs distinguish between research and publications in clinical vs basic science research? I'm currently looking into research projects in both areas so any advice would be helpful.

Also, outside of ophtho research during my one or two years off, is there anything I can do in this time to give myself a leg-up on getting an ophtho residency before I enter medical school? Thanks in advance...
 

Brent8927

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I used to work in the Ophth department at UCSF as an academic assistant--you are definitely correct that ophth blends medical and surgical treatment and that you have a lot of patient contact.

The PI I worked for was the chair for education in the department, so she was the advisor the medical students who were interested in ophth came to.

It seems like you more or less need to have done relevant research to get an ophth residency since it's so darn competitive. All of the ophth-oriented students I knew conducted research in at least one of the labs in the department, and they also completed a sub-internship. All of this they did by the summer before the 4th year because opth is an early match specialty.

One girl in particular opted to take an extra year off to conduct research.

Having your name published and/or giving talks at conferences is also a big help. The students I knew helped author primary care handbooks, did poster presentations at conferences, etc. (FYI though, the students I knew were all aiming for top-tier programs—I don’t know what a student aiming for an “average” program would look like).

It helps a lot to get to know some heavyweights in the field--it is a relatively small field so program directors often know one another pretty well and catch up at the AAO (which if you get the chance, would be a great meeting to go to. I believe medical students can attend, and it’s possible that pre-meds can too. The 2009 conference is in San Francisco, I think around October or November).

If you are near a major medical center, you might be able to do some research/volunteer (people hardly ever turn away volunteers) in a neuro-ophth lab. Basically the more you can list on your resume, the better.

I can’t say with much certainty whether you should take one or two years off. A lot of people have different opinions on how important it is to go to a top ten school, but certainly everyone agrees it can’t hurt you. Regardless of where you go, it’s always a big help to do an away rotation at the program you’re the most interested in.

I would personally argue, at least for opth, that you’ll have a better chance of getting into an residency (and hopefully a prestigious one) if you go to a medical school with a distinguished ophth department—generally you always have an advantage to get into a residency where you go for medical school--since you hopefully have gotten to know the faculty/attendings. Plus, there’s a lot more high-caliber ophth research going on at the high-profile programs, and that’s a big plus in your residency application (if you are a part of it, that is!)

UCSF is definitely a high caliber program if you’re ophth oriented, as is UCLA. University of Miami (Bascom Palmer Eye Inst) is another great one. I can’t tell you how many times I heard about Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary (Harvard) while working at UCSF. A number of our clinical fellows came from Mass Eye and Ear, and it was definitely on the list of dream residencies for all of the medical students. I think Mass Eye and Ear is generally regarded as the best ophth residency. There are other great programs as well, but those four names are some of the few I remember.

If you and your advisor feel that taking an extra year is what it will take for you to go to a top ten school, and if you are sure you want to be a top ten school, then I guess I’d say go for it and take two years off instead of one.

Personally, I would try anyway this year. You never know—you might get into your dream school.
 

melanoleuca

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I'm still a pre-med but I really feel like ophthalmology is the specialty I want to pursue. I have done quite a bit of shadowing and have been most interested in ophtho because of the ability to utilize both medical and surgical approaches to care, the current advances taking place in the field, the lifestyle it offers, and the fact it is a surgical specialty that allows for more patient interaction. I will be graduating this August with an honors degree in neurobiology from a good school but I have not taken my MCATs yet. My premed advisor thinks I am a very strong candidate for some top 10 schools if I were prepared to apply in June (which I wont be) but that getting into some of these schools will be very difficult if i apply in september.

So, my questions are as follows...knowing that ophtho is so competitive should I have two years off instead of my original plan of one to have a better chance at a top ten school?

Also, I have been doing research for a year in basic neuroscience and will be published this summer as a second author but I am going to switch labs after I graduate. Whether I have one or two years off, research will be part of my plan. As long as it is ophtho related, do residency programs distinguish between research and publications in clinical vs basic science research? I'm currently looking into research projects in both areas so any advice would be helpful.

Also, outside of ophtho research during my one or two years off, is there anything I can do in this time to give myself a leg-up on getting an ophtho residency before I enter medical school? Thanks in advance...

Just a pet peeve....can you all stop using the word "utilize." It isn't even a real word and "use" is what you want to say. No good writer ever uses "utilize" when he means "use."
 
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Hi, I have been accepted to 2 top ten programs this year. I would like to share my opinions with you. However, make sure that you talk to a lot of people who actually work in hospitals like residents and attendings to get more information and complete picture of how this process works.

So, my questions are as follows...knowing that ophtho is so competitive should I have two years off instead of my original plan of one to have a better chance at a top ten school?

Its really nice to strive for an acceptance to a top program but its not a requirement. Granted, Ophtho was very competitive for last few years and is still competitive but its popularity is going to decline in next few years. Plenty of reasons, besides the obvious decline in reimbursements, like saturation of the market, etc are pulling it downwards. One of my close friends, just out of a good residency program, was recently hired at 120K in a big city and he did not have as many offers to choose from. So as far as competition goes you dont need to worry - IMHO competition for a residecy spot in ophtho in next 5-6 years would be at the same level as emergency medicine. You can also browse Ophtho forum on SDN and see that people from "lowly" ranked schools with good USMLE scores and MS-3 grades are able to land good ophtho spots. So my advice is - Dont waste anymore years in undergrad. Just do your best in MCAT and get into the best possible school you can (Aim for Top 40). Your ability to land a good residency spot is based on your achievements in the school and NOT the school rank itself (School ranks are more of an undergrad thing - Med schools are a great equalizing factor in my opinion).

Also, I have been doing research for a year in basic neuroscience and will be published this summer as a second author but I am going to switch labs after I graduate. Whether I have one or two years off, research will be part of my plan. As long as it is ophtho related, do residency programs distinguish between research and publications in clinical vs basic science research? I'm currently looking into research projects in both areas so any advice would be helpful.

Any kind of research shows that you are interested in research and that is basically what residency PD's are looking for. IMO, Basic research looks better than Clinical research on your CV. But you can make up for it by publishing more Clinical research papers (as they are generally easier to publish than basic research). You will have more than enough oppurtunities to do both Clinical and Basic research in Med School - you dont need to take time out for that in undergrad.

Also, outside of ophtho research during my one or two years off, is there anything I can do in this time to give myself a leg-up on getting an ophtho residency before I enter medical school? Thanks in advance

Again, I will suggest you against taking any time off in undergrad to improve your chances of landing a good residency. Who knows maybe your interests will change in Med school. You can always take a year off in most of the med schools and do a NIH research, if you really feel the need. The process of becoming a Doctor is really hard as is, dont make it any harder on yourself. Best of Luck! :luck:
 

custard

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In terms of residency, what you do in medical school matters a whole lot more that what you do in undergrad. If anything take a year off in between 2nd and 3rd year in med school for research but even this isn't necessary. I would not delay going to med school for this reason.
 

TexasPhysician

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I agree that the competitiveness of ophtho is declining.

Even if it doesn't, a top 10 medical school is not a requirement at all. I don't go to a Top 25 program and we have people match ophtho every year.

If you want to up your chances at a top ophtho residency program, I suggest taking the year off while in medical school to do more useful research. I don't think undergrad research opportunities are nearly as good as once you get into medical school.
 

MsKrispyKreme

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The biggest predictor of whether or not you can get into an Ophtho residency is your board scores, and you haven't even gotten accepted into medical school yet. I think you're putting the cart before the horse. You need to focus on getting accepted, then making good grades during MI & MII, and then Step 1. THEN you can focus on ophtho.
 
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The biggest predictor of whether or not you can get into an Opthalo residency is your board scores, and you haven't even gotten accepted into medical school yet. I think you're putting the cart before the horse. You need to focus on getting accepted, then making good grades during MI & MII, and then Step 1. THEN you can focus on opthalo.


"Ophtho" or "Ophthalmology."
 

LateBl00meR

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"Ophtho" or "Ophthalmology."

Just a pet peeve....can you all stop using the word "utilize." It isn't even a real word and "use" is what you want to say. No good writer ever uses "utilize" when he means "use."


Why do people post just to correct other users? Apparently word choice matters now on an internet forum.
 

fizzle

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Why do people post just to correct other users? Apparently word choice matters now on an internet forum.

I don't think it's a desire to correct spelling in general so much as it is just annoying/amusing for ophthalmologists and those interested in the field seeing that field's name misspelled all the time. It's a pretty difficult name to spell, after all...

It's like how a chef would feel if everyone misspelled his/her title as "shef," because it implies a field that most people haven't heard of (and therefore seem to attribute little importance to, whether it is or it isn't) :p
 

MadEvans

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Just a pet peeve....can you all stop using the word "utilize." It isn't even a real word and "use" is what you want to say. No good writer ever uses "utilize" when he means "use."

Utilize is definitely a word. We use it in nutrition all the time. "Utilize" nutrient A to form compound X in the body.

I agree that use will make the sentence sound much less desperate for adoration if "use" was utilized instead. :smuggrin:
 

Pinkertinkle

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There are some pretty bold claims here made about the decreasing competitiveness of ophthalmology based on anecdotes. Here are the average step 1 scores for ophtho matched applicants for the last 5 years, showing increase greater than normal step 1 inflation. This would suggest that it is in fact getting more competitive rather than less. If anyone has objective evidence to the contrary, I would be interested in seeing it.

229 230 231 232 235

Source: www.sfmatch.org/residency/ophthalmology/about_match/match_report.pdf

But I do agree the OP does not need to wait in order to increase his chances of matching.
 
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87138

Why do people post just to correct other users? Apparently word choice matters now on an internet forum.



Ok then, here's a story: When I was 6 my family had a cat. It got hit by a car. Then we got another cat, and it had kittens. We kept one of the kittens. One day the mother got hit by a car. A month later, the kitten got hit by a car.

Also, it's spelled "ophtho" or "ophthalmology."


Hopefully now my post has so much more meaning.
 

TMP-SMX

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Worry about getting into medical school first. Then after that worry about Step 1 and research. After that, worry about honors. Then worry about honors in surgery, medicine, and your ophtho elective. Then you can worry about getting into your residency.
 
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Worry about getting into medical school first. Then after that worry about Step 1 and research. After that, worry about honors. Then worry about honors in surgery, medicine, and your ophtho elective. Then you can worry about getting into your residency.

I second that.:thumbup:
 

Law2Doc

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Worry about getting into medical school first. Then after that worry about Step 1 and research. After that, worry about honors. Then worry about honors in surgery, medicine, and your ophtho elective. Then you can worry about getting into your residency.

I third that. There is NOTHING you can do before you get into med school that is going to help you get a competitive residency. Nothing. Nada. Zip. So chill out. And while you may think you like optho now, you are being a bit shortsighted to think things won't change over the course of several years, once you see more things. Almost all med students change their minds at least once during their clinical years. You might find that something you thought you'd hate you love or that something you thought you'd love you'd hate once you see what's really involved (in other words all the stuff you get shielded from during shadowing experiences).

And you are assuming you are going to be competitive for optho anyhow, which isn't a guarantee -- half of all med students end up in the bottom half of their class and there isn't a great way to predict who will be in what half prior to the first couple of exams -- most of the folks in the bottom half of med schools got "mostly A's" in college and did decently on the MCAT. Guess what -- new ballgame in med school and nobody cares that you were a superstar before you got there -- the higher volume/faster pace and the need to be flexible with your study skills tend to separate the top and the bottom of a group that was very close in stats when they started.

And as mentioned Step 1 will make or break you for competitive fields. So it's fine to have "leanings" prior to med school but foolish to be so focused before you see more. And getting a desired residency is something you can't even start to think about for several years. Research is always good, but research while in med school counts more -- you simply can't write your ticket until you are in med school, and even then a lot of it is going to be based on talent/memory/ability more than desire.

So take it one step at a time. Get into med school. Do the best you can in everything. Keep your mind open as to what you like/dislike during rotations. Take electives that will help you make decisions and do away rotations at places that might be places you'd want to go to. And then cross your fingers in the match. Baby steps. You can't jump to the end now. It's like going up a staircase -- there's only one way to get to the top, and that's to do things stepwise. Stop looking for an elevator.
 

Pianoman32

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I'm still a pre-med but I really feel like ophthalmology is the specialty I want to pursue. I have done quite a bit of shadowing and have been most interested in ophtho because of the ability to utilize both medical and surgical approaches to care, the current advances taking place in the field, the lifestyle it offers, and the fact it is a surgical specialty that allows for more patient interaction. I will be graduating this August with an honors degree in neurobiology from a good school but I have not taken my MCATs yet. My premed advisor thinks I am a very strong candidate for some top 10 schools if I were prepared to apply in June (which I wont be) but that getting into some of these schools will be very difficult if i apply in september.

So, my questions are as follows...knowing that ophtho is so competitive should I have two years off instead of my original plan of one to have a better chance at a top ten school?

Also, I have been doing research for a year in basic neuroscience and will be published this summer as a second author but I am going to switch labs after I graduate. Whether I have one or two years off, research will be part of my plan. As long as it is ophtho related, do residency programs distinguish between research and publications in clinical vs basic science research? I'm currently looking into research projects in both areas so any advice would be helpful.

Also, outside of ophtho research during my one or two years off, is there anything I can do in this time to give myself a leg-up on getting an ophtho residency before I enter medical school? Thanks in advance...

How can your advisor say you are competitive for a top ten school if you haven't taken the mcat yet? You're missing the most important part of the medical school application.
 

Law2Doc

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How can your advisor say you are competitive for a top ten school if you haven't taken the mcat yet? You're missing the most important part of the medical school application.

As described in many SDN threads, the quality of advisors is often quite suspect. If they were generally any good, SDN wouldn't have the traffic for advice it has.
 

Isoprop

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PS: utilize utilize utilize utilize utilize utilize utilize
 

TexasPhysician

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There are some pretty bold claims here made about the decreasing competitiveness of ophthalmology based on anecdotes. Here are the average step 1 scores for ophtho matched applicants for the last 5 years, showing increase greater than normal step 1 inflation. This would suggest that it is in fact getting more competitive rather than less. If anyone has objective evidence to the contrary, I would be interested in seeing it.

229 230 231 232 235

Source: www.sfmatch.org/residency/ophthalmology/about_match/match_report.pdf

But I do agree the OP does not need to wait in order to increase his chances of matching.

Percentage of US students matching was the highest in history based on your report. IMG's will always have trouble matching into specialties and it will only get harder for them in the future - in all specialties. Sure the Step 1 score is a little higher than I thought, but that isn't the only factor in your application. Granted I am not doing a nationwide study on ophtho applicants, but from what I have seen, a slightly better than average student has a good chance of matching ophtho.
 

Pinkertinkle

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Percentage of US students matching was the highest in history based on your report. IMG's will always have trouble matching into specialties and it will only get harder for them in the future - in all specialties. Sure the Step 1 score is a little higher than I thought, but that isn't the only factor in your application. Granted I am not doing a nationwide study on ophtho applicants, but from what I have seen, a slightly better than average student has a good chance of matching ophtho.

That percentage of students matching is often mistaken for percent of applicants who matched, but actually it is the percent of all applicants that are US seniors, grads or IMG's. Thus three (US, US grad, and IMG) numbers always total up to 100%. It does not tell us much at all about the competitiveness of ophthalmology, and in fact a higher percentage of US seniors matching would actually indicate that it is MORE competitive as these are the most competitive applicants.

I do agree that matching ophtho is not out of the question for students at any school, but I disagree and see no evidence that it's on an inevitable decline in competitiveness.
 
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249825

That percentage of students matching is often mistaken for percent of applicants who matched, but actually it is the percent of all applicants that are US seniors, grads or IMG's. Thus three (US, US grad, and IMG) numbers always total up to 100%. It does not tell us much at all about the competitiveness of ophthalmology, and in fact a higher percentage of US seniors matching would actually indicate that it is MORE competitive as these are the most competitive applicants.

Based on that logic, I guess Plastic surgery would be a breeze for everyone since only 75 % seniors matched in it last year.:rolleyes:

Here's the link : http://residency.wustl.edu/medadmin...3b84d9759d62506786256f8f00749e38?OpenDocument

Ophtho is still competitive and it would remain competitive until the effects of market saturation (like pathologists) starts to become more obvious to med students. Just ask any ophtho resident graduating at your school, the average starting salary is currently around 120-140 in big cities maybe a little more in the rural areas. This would, for sure, have an impact on the competitiveness of ophtho. Ophtho residencies wont become as easy as Psyc residencies to get into but for sure they will be much less competitive.
 

Pinkertinkle

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Based on that logic, I guess Plastic surgery would be a breeze for everyone since only 75 % seniors matched in it last year.:rolleyes:

Here's the link : http://residency.wustl.edu/medadmin...3b84d9759d62506786256f8f00749e38?OpenDocument

Ophtho is still competitive and it would remain competitive until the effects of market saturation (like pathologists) starts to become more obvious to med students. Just ask any ophtho resident graduating at your school, the average starting salary is currently around 120-140 in big cities maybe a little more in the rural areas. This would, for sure, have an impact on the competitiveness of ophtho. Ophtho residencies wont become as easy as Psyc residencies to get into but for sure they will be much less competitive.

Please look at the sf match report before rolling your eyes. I am referring to the relative number of US seniors vs US graduates and IMG's matching. If more IMG's and US grads are matching this makes the specialty appear less competitive because IMG's and US grads are "second tier" compared to US seniors. This data is not addressed in the link you posted.

I don't think that current medical students are unaware of the relatively low starting salaries in ophthalmology, many attribute such things to unscrupulous practices of current established ophthalmologists trying to "milk" new physicians. Salaries tend to go up quite a bit once one becomes more established.

Also there are many other factors when it comes to residency competitiveness which work in ophthalmology's favor.
 
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249825

Please look at the sf match report before rolling your eyes. I am referring to the relative number of US seniors vs US graduates and IMG's matching. If more IMG's and US grads are matching this makes the specialty appear less competitive because IMG's and US grads are "second tier" compared to US seniors. This data is not addressed in the link you posted.

I'll assume you still dint get it. I am going to an allo school and thats where OP is hoping to enroll as well. As a graduating U.S. senior if I see a 92% (sf match report) of chance to match in Ophtho as compared to 75% in Plastic, guess which one would be a safer option for me? Does that tell you something about competition?

I don't think that current medical students are unaware of the relatively low starting salaries in ophthalmology, many attribute such things to unscrupulous practices of current established ophthalmologists trying to "milk" new physicians. Salaries tend to go up quite a bit once one becomes more established.

Well that sounds like I should keep on working as 60K employee (one of many) because I may become a CEO -earn millions and make it all back. Odds are not in my favor in that case. Establishing your own practice, especially in big metros is EXTREMELY hard, too competetive and reimbursements are going down everyday. These days you will have to move to a podunk town if you want to cash in with your own established practice while you are relatively young. Else, you will have to be someone's cow to "milk" for years while waiting for your right to earn a partnership in an established practice - just like an extended residency.

Also there are many other factors when it comes to residency competitiveness which work in ophthalmology's favor.

Care to elaborate? I guess you are prolly trying to allude to lesser number of residency spots (Demand-Supply?)?

I am planning of going into ophtho even though I am aware of all the economic ramifications. Eye surgeries are most overlooked component of any oversea medical mission and I want to contibute towards it as much as I can. A lot of med students have other priorities, which are very sensible, like paying off their debt as soon as possible with a good lifestyle,etc. I dont think young ophtho's of future can afford that so decline in competitiveness is imminent. I am not trying to put Ophtho down- I love Ophtho, I am just trying to convey that it wont be one of the competitive speciality in 5-6 years so OP does not need to go overboard with his/her research to be an extraordinary applicant.
 

Pinkertinkle

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I'm afraid you dont get it. The 92% in the match report means 92 percent of people who matched are us seniors, NOT that 92% of US seniors who applied matched. 8% of people who matched were us grads or IMGs, NOT 8% of IMG's and applicants who applied matched. This is a fundamental difference. The precent of US seniors applicants who matched is NOT in the sf match data.
 

Pinkertinkle

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We can speculate on various things such as lifestyle in residency and practice, change in supply and demand, lowered reimbursements, etc... However I find it unwise to assume that in 4 or 5 years the residency will become less competitive. The low starting salaries thing is not new to this year and has been going on for a while without significant impact on the competitiveness of applications. My advice is to play it safe and do the best you can regardless of what specialty you're looking to go into, without going overboard of course.
 
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249825

I'm afraid you dont get it. The 92% in the match report means 92 percent of people who matched are us seniors, NOT that 92% of US seniors who applied matched. 8% of people who matched were us grads or IMGs, NOT 8% of IMG's and applicants who applied matched. This is a fundamental difference. The precent of US seniors applicants who matched is NOT in the sf match data.

Ok. My bad then. I have not read sf match data before - I guess i needed to study it closely.

The % of US seniors matching in 2008 is around 86% (Slightly lower than years before that) which puts it in currently competitive category. I am certainly convinced that it would be much less competitive in future. IMHO, OP does not need to fret over undergrad research to get into Ophtho 5-6 years down the line.


Link : http://residency.wustl.edu/medadmin...51675e1c167df70186256f8f0073a46c?OpenDocument
 

TexasPhysician

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I'm afraid you dont get it. The 92% in the match report means 92 percent of people who matched are us seniors, NOT that 92% of US seniors who applied matched. 8% of people who matched were us grads or IMGs, NOT 8% of IMG's and applicants who applied matched. This is a fundamental difference. The precent of US seniors applicants who matched is NOT in the sf match data.

While I was not currently aware of this, the percentage of every specialty filled by US grads is going up. We are adding more medical school spots than we are residency spots. Expect to see this trend continue to push out international grads in everything unless we add residency positions.

Maybe it is just easier to match ophtho in Texas....? From what I've seen it just isn't that difficult. That site doesn't really explain as much as the NRMP site. Wish it did.
 
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