BamaAlum

15+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2001
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Hey guys,
Now that this year's match is coming up and I have turned the corner of my 3rd year, I have started thinking about applying to programs. Do any of you currently in the thick of the application process have any advice for those of us applying next year to make the process go more smoothly and/or make ourselves more competitive. Obviously, at this stage not too many things can be changed (ie grades, board scores, etc.), but are there any little things we can do in the next several months to make ourselves more attractive to programs? I am trying to set-up elective rotations at 2 out of my top 3 programs in the early fall.
 

b&ierstiefel

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10+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2004
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In a van down by the river.
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BamaAlum said:
Hey guys,
Now that this year's match is coming up and I have turned the corner of my 3rd year, I have started thinking about applying to programs. Do any of you currently in the thick of the application process have any advice for those of us applying next year to make the process go more smoothly and/or make ourselves more competitive. Obviously, at this stage not too many things can be changed (ie grades, board scores, etc.), but are there any little things we can do in the next several months to make ourselves more attractive to programs? I am trying to set-up elective rotations at 2 out of my top 3 programs in the early fall.
When you said that most of the things on your CV can't be changed at this point, you've hit the nail on the head. However, there are some things you CAN do from now til the match. If you can, try to do pathology rotations early. Does your school allow for students to do path rotations during 3rd year? See, here it's exclusively a 4th year rotation. If anything, try to do your pathology rotations during the first 2-3 months of your 4th year. At my school, we were unfortunately discouraged from doing our path rotation during our first month of 4th year since the new PGY-1 were getting their feet wet and we would be largely ignored (not all the PGY-1's here did PSF, go figure).

During these pathology rotations, you will need to secure letters of recommendation. As you can imagine, some people take FOREVER to write these letters. This becomes a problem as you get your ERAS application together and uploaded to the ERAS post office. My first letter got into the ERAS post office I think around 3 weeks after I submitted my ERAS application. You can imagine how nerveracking this was. So, do you path rotations early...get letters early. I would say 1-2 path letters are sufficient. The other letters...get them from any research mentor and one or two from clinical faculty who thought you were da bomb.

So clearly LORs, a very important part of your application, is something you have FULL control over now. The other aspect, which I consider optional, is step 2. If you did well on step 1, take step 2 late and pretend they don't exist. Hell, if you can, take step 2 after Match Day (but take the Step 2 CS as early as possible because this exam sucks, it's only pass/fail, and you can get this outta the way).

Other than that, focus on doing the best you can during your remaining clinical rotations (reasonably...don't go balls out like some of your derm-wannabe or neurosurg-wannabe classmates); just learn your stuff.

BTW, apply as early as you can. You will maximize the chances of getting all those interviews you want and will have the luxury of having a variety of dates on which you can schedule them. The whole thing with interviewing at your top programs later in the game...kinda overrated from personal experience. Obviously don't do those interviews first but you don't have to wait until January. If they like you, that means they like you regardless of if you interviewed in November, December, or January.

Peace out and good luck.
 

yaah

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Aug 15, 2003
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Andy is right - the best thing to do is to try to set yourself up for some good LORs. What makes some people stand out in the application process is how much exposure they have to path and whether their LORs can state this. Not everybody with good or decent grades is necessarily going to succeed in path, there are some personality traits, etc, that LORs can often attest to.
 

cytoborg

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Aug 11, 2004
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Get plenty of early exposure to path...surg path for sure, but also maybe also heme, cyto, or transfusion...show that you're committed and have a good idea what you're getting yourself into, and not just doing it cuz you're not sure you'll match in optho. :rolleyes: Plus, path is such a broad field, it might clarify your interests to get some exposure to different areas, and will flesh out your personal statement and give you stuff to talk about on interviews...beyond "Um...yeah...I like looking at slides." I recommend 2-3 path rotations early in 4th yr. This also gives plenty of opportunity for good letters. Also, be sure to talk you your program director AND the department chair on a regular basis, even if you don't think you need to...they might surprise you in the connections they have, and can help you out.
 
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