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How did you decide? My gut is not being very helpful..

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by longdistancerun, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. longdistancerun

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    Hi all,

    I'm just wondering how people decided where to go to school. I'm fortunate enough to have a few acceptances in my hand, but I don't know where to go.

    I am a very discerning shopper and very indecisive. I see major pros and major cons to nearly every school I am accepted at. What factors do you guys think are the most important?

    *1/2 year curriculum
    *location
    *students met during interview day/impression of student body
    *grades vs. pass/fail
    *3/4 year clinical teaching
    *research/travel opportunities
    *rank of school/reputation
    *board scores/match list
    *opportunities to do my outside of medicine hobbies

    I'd love to hear about how some of you decided where to go to school. THANKS!!
     
  2. Critical Mass

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    Tough Q because most will tell you that the stuff toward the top of your list is most important, yet these things are also rather subjective criteria.

    My list (I reserve the right to change the order of these in future posts, this is my mood today):

    1. cost
    2. curriculum
    3. solid grade system (don't care what you call 'em, just don't make it impossible for someone with a B or pass during M1 to be AOA)
    4. valuable clinical experience early
    5. location/cost of living
    6. diversity of student body

    Impression of student body is tough--I don't think that med schools really vary much with respect to the types of people they attract. The trick is to use my number 2 and 3 to neutralize the unpleasant ones.
     
  3. spicedmanna

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    Looking at practical matters is good for your initial decision process. You can make a list of your top 3 absolute yesses and noes in terms of qualities you'd absolutely like and not like to see in a school and/or location. Then, after you've narrowed your list down significantly (this means the remaining schools all qualify as to your screening criteria), the rest is about feel. How would you imagine yourself feeling attending that school for four years (note that this is not necessarily an intellectual response, but a response on the gut level)? What does it look like? You may need to revisit the grounds, if more information is needed.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
     
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  4. TexPre-Med

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    1. Cost
    2. Location
    3. Curriculum
    4. Research
    5. Match List
     
  5. Critical Mass

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    Agree with this. After visiting enough places, you should be able to sense the feeling from the campus. That's muy importante.
     
  6. SoCuteMD

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    My advice would always be to listen to your gut. If your gut is being a little quiet, I would seriously look at cost (taking into account financial aid). 1/2 year curriculum doesn't really matter UNLESS there is one that you feel would be particularly suited to you.

    As far as pass/fail vs. grades, unless you have a choice of a TRULY pass/fail school (no rankings during preclinical years or something like that), it doesn't really matter since your grades will matter in the end.

    Research and travel are great, but from the time I start med school until the end of my third year I will have had a grand total of something like 12 full weeks off. Not much time for travel.

    I would say opportnities to puruse outside hobbies are important, assuming you plan to MAKE time for them.

    Reputation/board scores/match - I put all these together and I would say these are as important as or slightly less so than cost :).

    3/4 year clinical training - I really know very little about this as I am still preclinical. I definitely think it's important, though :), but pretty hard for ANYONE to evaluate since most people only attend 1 medical school which leaves little room for comparison!
     
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  7. Critical Mass

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    In this case, it appears to be undesirable to have decreased bowel sounds. :laugh:
     
  8. turkleton

    turkleton Capeless Crusader
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    1. Cost/scholarship if offered
    2. Match list- I'd take the school with a good reputation of putting their students where they want to go
    3. Location

    All other things tend to be fairly similar, in my estimation. You'll make good friends everywhere you go, meet people who you'll be glad to never see after med school. School is gonna be tough anywhere and truthfully, other than "success" in terms of matching, there is a lot of homogenity amongst med schools. So your gut impression, however slight is your best.
     
  9. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member
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    1) cost
    2) location
    3) quality of and early exposure to clinical
    5) variety of clinical settings to try out
    6) general vibe (did I have easy conversations with faculty/students or was it more forced and uncomfortable)
     
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  10. Critical Mass

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    Definitely agree with this one, but how do you ever know where the students wanted to go? It's not uncommon for AOAer's at my school, for instance, to stay local and do family practice or ped's. Too bad they don't publish board scores on the match list.
     
  11. Law2Doc

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    I'm surprised so many are listing match list. It is pretty meaningless unless you already know for certain what specialty you are interested in (not the case for 90% of all med students, who will change their minds at least once), and I seriously question the ability of any premed to usefully interpret a match list anyhow. So much is word of mouth as to what programs you want or don't want to end up in, that you never want to go by a paper list in a vacuum. And (as Critical Mass suggested) the percentage of folks who go into X specialty often tells you more about what that given class was interested in more than what they could get.

    I would put the more important criteria as:
    (1) Location
    (2) Cost
    (3) curriculum/schedule
    (4) research opportunities
    (5) grading
    (6) "gut" feeling/vibe about the place
     
  12. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    I wonder if schools poll their students to indicate how many students got their first choice match choice or second choice and so forth. Might make the match list a little bit more meaningful. From what I understand, at some interviews, they explicitly tell the interviewers that the majority of their students match into their top choice with most of their class matching into their top 3. Whether or not this is credible is debatable, but do you guys know of anything that might make a school's match list more meaningful?
     
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  13. Entei

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    I'm another 4th year. I'll take a stab at your list.

    *1/2 year curriculum
    not at all important

    *location
    very important

    *students met during interview day/impression of student body
    not very important. You're not going to meet everyone on interview day, people act differently on that day, and there's no way to anticipate what your class at that school might be like based on meeting upperclassmen.

    *grades vs. pass/fail
    eh. H/HP/P/F is just grades with different letters. Truly p/f is a different story. No one gives a crap about basic science grades unless you failed something. Ask about how they grade in years 3 and 4. Shouldn't be a dealbreaker, but you might be more/less frustrated with 3rd year politics depending on how they grade you.

    *3/4 year clinical teaching
    important, but hard to judge. Everyone's going to say they have excellent clinical training. Look to see what hospitals you get to do rotations at, and what kind of flexibility you have in determining your schedule, eg If you know in your heart from day one that you're not interested in, say, psych, it's nice to be able to sort of coast through it at the end of your fourth year and take the earlier time for more exposure to specialties you're more interested in.

    *research/travel opportunities
    only important if you're interested in research. Travel opportunities? I guess if you're interested in primary care, it might be fun. A lot of these things are not associated with any particular school, though.

    *rank of school/reputation
    important, but only if we're talking, like, top 15 vs everyone else. If you're comparing, say, 30s to 50s or something, reputation alone might not be worth the cost differential. If the school has a national reputation, it's a (small) plus when it comes to application time.

    *board scores/match list
    very important, but your individual performance is far more important. It's better to go to a place where you feel comfortable and happy (be it because it's a nice location, or whatever) and do well, than to go to a place that has a good reputation, but you're so miserable you do poorly. This is where your gut feeling comes into play.

    *opportunities to do my outside of medicine hobbies
    important. Your time is limited, and school is difficult. You need some outlet, or you won't survive.

    These things are a lot easier to look at objectively now than they were four years ago. :laugh:

    About the "x% of our students match at 1 of their top 3" statistic everyone throws around on interview day, it's pretty much meaningless. According to the NRMP, something like 80% of US seniors (meaning 4th year students in US allopathic schools) match to one of their top three. This is because you don't rank places that you didn't interview at, so the top three for a typical student at Podunk Med Skool looks different from the top three of someone from Man's Best Medical School.
     
  14. Critical Mass

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    I think that it is true, but the issue lies within the fact that you can't rank a program that you weren't offered an interview for. You might have ten grads who want to do rad onc, but if only 2 of them got interviews, then the other 8 will have gone off and ranked specialties that they were actually able to obtain. Do students really get one of their top 3 choices? Maybe, but they're also excluding all of the good places that they weren't able to rank.

    I think that my school had only one grad match into ORL last year, and she had to apply to the majority of programs in the country. Needless to say, she wasn't included in the many who got one of their top 3 choices.

    In the red states, my guess is that state schools are more likely to produce wannabe primary docs due to the population distribution and demand. I wonder what would happen if they excluded primary care at those allo places. In those specialties where almost all US grads match at one of their first choices, the statistics get skewed. As such, I can't put a lot of stock into those numbers.

    L2D brought up a great point about match lists. 9/10 pre-meds do not know enough to make an informed decision about specialty, so picking a school with specialty in mind is unwise.
     
  15. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    In that case- how about an unofficial rank that also includes places you didn't receive an interview for. Kind of, hey I didnt match into this place because I didnt get to interview. Perhaps then the "match" list would have some more weight. Even then though I admit the match lists would still have severe insufficiencies since most students matching into places are as a result of individually driven effort moreso than the school's.
     
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  16. Law2Doc

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    Wouldn't matter -- there's also a big advising component here too. You don't just fire out applications willy nilly like you did to apply for med school. Schools are not shy about steering you toward reality. So it's not just a question of not being interviewed, you may not have even had the opportunity to apply to real longshots.
     
  17. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    These are all pretty good points. Doctorpardi and I were planing to create the next FAQ series involving the match- that is- how important is the match really for deciding a medical school. I hope that you will have a good amount to say since its a recurring topic :)
     
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  18. Sartre79

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    I'm strongly considering a private school over a state school, but your mention of cost matters is making me rethink. Would this be a serious mistake. The schools are Creighton and U of South Dakota. The problem is that there are virtually no job opps for my wife (audiologist) in SD vs. Omaha. Any insights?
     
  19. When thinking about costs you should obviously take into account your wife's ability to make a living in addition to cost of attendance for each school...
     
  20. OP
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    longdistancerun

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    Thanks everyone for your input. It is very interesting to see what people consider as important. Clearly cost is at the top of the list but only if it is a significant amount.

    I had placed more emphasis on type of students, etc. I think this is partially because I'm non-trad and older and was worried that some of my schools might be overly "young". But I think the points you make about finding friends and all types at all medical schools are valid.

    Do you all think it's better to be in the middle of your class at a top school or at the top of your class in a middle school? ie, big fish small pond or just another fish from a famous pond? Friends of mine who have recently graduated at the top of a good school but not a famous school argue that they are in a better position because their professors and advisors are willing to make calls on their behalf. Hmm.
     
  21. Auraraptor

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    Quick question, what is AOA?
     
  22. Anastasis

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  23. Auraraptor

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  24. Sartre79

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    Well, its not that cut and dry. It would be possible for her to maintain her job here in the Twin Cities and I could make the weekly drive to South Dak. etc and live there/attend school during the week. Practical? Not so much. Plausible? Yes, I know people who have done it. Being raised in SD, I really don't want to go back there....so how much does that dread of being there account for 16K vs 40K tuition?
     
  25. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member
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    Alot about how you perform in medschool is about how much you can reduce outside stressors to keep yourself consistently near sanity. For many people without your other considerations a drastic decrease in debtload is a significant outside stress eliminated. However your dread of being in SD and the fact that you'd be separated from you wife alot might be a bigger issue for you than a large debt looming over your head. Is and extra 100k in debt going to seriously haunt you to the point that you are willing to go somewhere you hate and not have your support system with you, or is being somewhere that makes you happy and having your wife by your side going to do more for your sanity? Only you can answer this question.
     
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  26. 78222

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    I started by using the search function because when I applied 2+ years ago, there had already been 500000000 threads just like this one!
     
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  27. Sartre79

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    Thanks for the insight...I've never thought of it in that context. Valuable advice.
     
  28. Critical Mass

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    This exact poll was posted in pre-allo yesterday. Lots of opinions have been posted, but mine is that there are far more important things than school choice and rank.

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=378448

    Regarding SD vs. Creighton, I don't know enough about either to give good advice. With even economics (considering spouse's income, for instance) equal, I'd probably pick the one with the curriculum more suited to me.

    Just keep in mind that if your wife puts steaks in the freezer for you while you're in school, she's investing in future maintenance should you become divorced one day. :D
     
  29. menaniac

    menaniac Moxious!
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    Just keep in mind that if your wife puts steaks in the freezer for you while you're in school, she's investing in future maintenance should you become divorced one day. :D[/quote]

    I'm dealing with this very issue right now, and believe me, those steaks don't count for nearly as much as you think they do!
     
  30. Sartre79

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    I'm dealing with this very issue right now, and believe me, those steaks don't count for nearly as much as you think they do![/quote]


    I'm kind of confused as to what you mean...either you're getting a divorce and her supporting you doesn't count that much or I lost it in translation.
     
  31. AtreyuRocks

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    i just wanted to thank the OP for posing this question in a way that invites helpful information! :thumbup: and of course thanks to everyone else for sharing their $.02! :)
     
  32. Law2Doc

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    I'll reiterate what I've said a few times, but the range of credentials at a top school versus a middle school are not such that you can expect to be tops at one and middle of the other. Everyone who gets into the mid-level and above allo med school has gotten their fair share of A's in undergrad, is capable of performing at the med school level, and so who ends up top of the med school class is pretty much up for grabs. So the big fish are usually big fish anywhere and the small fish are small fish anywhere. It's not like undergrad where the range between the Ivys and the less competitive schools can be significantly more dramatic.
     

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