5+ Year Member
2+ Year Member
May 8, 2014
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  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
I'm an MS4 at a mid-tier allopathic medical school who is currently debating between GS vs internal medicine (w/hopes of going into gastro). I've been pretty interested in all things GI related so an area of interest I have in terms of GS is colorectal surgery.

Scores: Step 1: 235/Step 2: Have not taken yet
Grades: Top 50% of class. Honors in surgery, IM, family. HP everything else.
Research: All of my research is in the basic sciences/benchwork and not directly surgery related. I have 2 first author publications in a well-reputed physiology journal, an abstract published in the journal Gastroenterology (high impact I guess), and I was invited to present a talk on an abstract I submitted to Digestive Disease Week (I wasn't able to present due to taking Step 1)
EC's: Volunteered with school's free clinic doing phlebotomy/translation for 2 years. Was part of our school's program to address urban underserved populations and worked with several students to develop and implement a successful/sustainable resource counseling model for a local FQHC. Was a subcommittee chairperson for AMSA.

I'm hoping to match at an academic program with opportunities to continue doing bench research. However, I know my scores would make less than competitive at some of the top programs. Do I still have a chance to match at an academic program? Additionally, do I have a chance at any of the west coast programs? I grew up and went to college in California, but I'm not sure how much that counts for these days
Last edited:

Eithz H

5+ Year Member
Apr 29, 2014
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
I'm applying to gen surg as well so I feel like I can provide some insight.

Your step score is high enough to pass the cutoff at most top-tier academic programs. Important to remember that gen surg is not neurosurgery or ortho. The step score average is simply not as high. With that first cutoff passed they will begin taking a closer look at the rest. Since you have a very strong amount of research with actual publications in peer-reviewed journals, I believe this will shine brightly (especially to academic-minded PD's who are trying to attract students with a similar mindset).

I think you would have good chances overall. The one thing you could do to bump those chances up further would be to do really well on Step 2. The reason I think this is important is because PD's want to see that students have an ability to take standardized tests and therefore do well on the ABSITE (the better students do on the ABSITE, the better the program looks). It is important to remember that 235 is still a very respectable score and is not something to turn one's nose to. It is always important to remember that step scores are consistently the "most important" because of the ability to perform on the ABSITE. But after step scores are LoRs. You seem like a strong, dedicated applicant with good 3rd year scores so I'm sure you have some strong LoRs.

If you do well on the interviews, I have no doubt you have good chances at an academic program.

Just remember that during interviews I would not reveal that you were considering IM or are applying IM as a dual-track (I'm not sure if you are, but just in case). As I'm sure you know, us surgeons think we are always the coolest, most able people in the room when compared with other specialties (which we usually are).
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