Importance of undergrad for competitive specialties

Sep 2, 2020
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Given how competitive specialties such as orthopedic surgery, dermatology, and plastic surgery are, do most people who match into these specialties have an abundance of publications, connections, and other experiences which STARTED in undergrad or beforehand? Is it common for individuals who have had below-average undergrad experiences (ORM, no pubs, no connections, no significant clinical experiences) to do really well in medical school and match into these top specialties?
 
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Deltasidearm

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What you do and how you perform once into medical school matters a lot more. Think about how important your high school activities are for medical school applications. It's essentially the same thing (although significant experiences as an adult may still contribute to residency applications).
 
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gonnif

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A few thoughts
1) Where/why do you think that people who match in these ultra competitive specialties do so because of their record in undergrad? The only connection I can think is these people who outstanding UG records are in fact outstanding students is get into highly selective medical schools and do great work there. And there are applicants from state schools with solid but not outstanding records who also get to great residency
2) Applicants seem to have a belief that most undergrads in research must have a publication, presentation, or poster (PPP). While near 90% of applicants have laboratory and/or research experience, at max 20% have ANY form of PPP. This includes campus symposium, students groups, or small conferences/journals. Less than 5% have anything major as in significant journal or conference. And usually they are simply part of a team authorship. Very, very few have publication in major journals where it is their project or they are a lead author. And the few that I have seen are as much luck as anything else.
3) You need to focus on simply getting into medical school as that is the requirement for ANY residency
4) Every year I get applicants and their parents who say they ONLY want to be a neurosurgeon and they ONLY want to go to Harvard or JHU the others. And what I tell every applicant, if you arent ready to be a family practitioner in a midwest suburb, then maybe medicine isnt for you. Once you start medical school there is no guarantee you will get any particular specialty 4 years later.
 
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Sep 2, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
A few thoughts
1) Where/why do you think that people who match in these ultra competitive specialties do so because of their record in undergrad? The only connection I can think is these people who outstanding UG records are in fact outstanding students is get into highly selective medical schools and do great work there. And there are applicants from state schools with solid but not outstanding records who also get to great residency
2) Applicants seem to have a belief that most undergrads in research must have a publication, presentation, or poster (PPP). While near 90% of applicants have laboratory and/or research experience, at max 20% have ANY form of PPP. This includes campus symposium, students groups, or small conferences/journals. Less than 5% have anything major as in significant journal or conference. And usually they are simply part of a team authorship. Very, very few have publication in major journals where it is their project or they are a lead author. And the few that I have seen are as much luck as anything else.
3) You need to focus on simply getting into medical school as that is the requirement for ANY residency
4) Every year I get applicants and their parents who say they ONLY want to be a neurosurgeon and they ONLY want to go to Harvard or JHU the others. And what I tell every applicant, if you arent ready to be a family practitioner in a midwest suburb, then maybe medicine isnt for you. Once you start medical school there is no guarantee you will get any particular specialty 4 years later.
Understood. I am not set on any specialty yet, but I just wanted to know if it is possible for me who has had a rather lackluster undergrad. I've been looking up the academic backgrounds of those who matched into ortho, derm, and plastics, and they all seem to have had extensive pubs in those fields even in undergrad. Maybe there is sampling bias in this case?
 

EdgeTrimmer

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I've been looking up the academic backgrounds of those who matched into ortho, derm, and plastics, and they all seem to have had extensive pubs in those fields even in undergrad. Maybe there is sampling bias in this case?
That's true, but you can overcome that in medical school or consider gap year in medical school if you want to go into competitive fields.
 

Goro

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Understood. I am not set on any specialty yet, but I just wanted to know if it is possible for me who has had a rather lackluster undergrad. I've been looking up the academic backgrounds of those who matched into ortho, derm, and plastics, and they all seem to have had extensive pubs in those fields even in undergrad. Maybe there is sampling bias in this case?
First, get into medical school, and you can lust after the uber-specialties
 
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gonnif

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Understood. I am not set on any specialty yet, but I just wanted to know if it is possible for me who has had a rather lackluster undergrad. I've been looking up the academic backgrounds of those who matched into ortho, derm, and plastics, and they all seem to have had extensive pubs in those fields even in undergrad. Maybe there is sampling bias in this case?
1) there is no representative sample here in any controlled way. Making generalization from these few observable data points is a poor way to reach a conclusion
2) you are missing the chain of events or cascade. Perhaps these successes all start as successful UG so ask yourself why are you lacking in this?
 
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