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the uclacrewdude abides
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hey, ive got a question that i couldnt find via search.

lets say you wind up, for whatever reason, at a prelim program. assuming (1) you get enough time off for all your interviews and (2) youre trying to match into a PGY1 position: do prelim residents face a more difficult rematch than US seniors? does this change for surgery?

thanks in advance (trying to figure out if i should rank any prelim programs at all).


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I am in the same position and would like to hear any advice on this as well.

There are a few programs I dont really want to rank, but would it be better to rank there than scramble and/or reapply after a prelim year?


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this might not be exactly what you're asking but a few of the prelim medicine programs i interviewed with allow you to continue with their categorical medicine program if you end up not matching with an advanced program. so in my case, i could continue with the categorical medicine program that i'm doing my prelim at if i don't match into PM&R.
sorry if this isn't what you're asking exactly.
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It depends on where you are doing your prelim year, what it's in and what kind of categorical spot you want.

In medicine it is probably not a big deal to get a categorical spot from the prelim spot since often the prelim spots are harder to get than the categorical spots at a given institution (they are often scooped up by highly competitive derm, rads, etc applicants). The people in the prelim spots are top candidates to begin with, and the medicine people might go out of their way to squeeze them in. This will be harder to accomplish if you are in prelim medicine because you failed to match a categorical spot. Virtually everyone should be able to scramble into a categorical medicine spot though.

If you are doing prelim surgery because you whiffed on ENT, Neurosurg, Gen Surg or Ortho, you'd better hope you aren't wasting your time on a prelim spot at a top program (even though they are pretty easy to get). They will throw your application in the trash as soon as you walk out of the courtesy interview for the categorical spot the next year. They get too many phenomenal candidates.

Better to do the prelim surg year at a place you'd be competitive, which is probably farther down the food chain if you didn't match in the first place.

Getting time off will be tough, but you can always threaten to quit if they don't let you interview. You'll be repeating intern year anyway, right?


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my understanding is that one of the best options for people that don't match is to NOT do a prelim year and just take a year off to do research or something. that way you will have more time for interviews and a better shot at matching the next year.


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Feb 14, 2002
It depends on the field, and why you didn't match. According to the advice I've gotten, if you were a competitive applicant, and have a reasonable expectation of successfully applying for a PGY-2 spot when one opens up (and they usually do in the surgical fields), then it's wise to do a prelim year, and to do one at a top-notch program in your field where the chairman is well-connected. Research probably won't help much, unless you haven't done any.
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