ertepnf

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jul 16, 2007
7
0
1
Status
Medical Student
Hey, I'm currently an MS3 and I've decided to go with pathology, which is actually what I came into medical schol thinking I wanted to do. Anyways, I would like to stay in Texas and am trying to decide between UTSW, Methodist, Baylor, and UTHouston. At this time I know little to nothing about Texas programs (despite being a frequent stalker here) and was hoping so of you who may be more experienced may have something to say. At this point my choices are based entirely on location and familiarity. Anyways, a bit about me -

1)I have actually really enjoyed my clinical rotations, I've worked hard, and I've appreciated being inspired by and being involved in the treatment of some of my patients (I assure you all, I've had plenty of frustrating and irritating patients as well!). My choice isn't out of a reflexive dislike of patients, but rather because I am passionately interested in pathology, and I knew it everytime I visited surg path or hemepath sign out on certain rotations of mine (as well as my prior shadowing experience in pathology). It simply felt exactly where I should be. I wanted to do radiology for a little while - for money - but realized I simply wouldn't be as happy doing it. I considered surgery and medicine (I liked heme/onc a lot) but those would be less exciting for me even if I got to interact with patients. The idea of a path residency sounds exciting and calming. Thinking of internal medicine leaves me less excited and more worried about how happy I'd be overall. Same with surgery.

2)I got a B on medicine and B+'s since then my third year. Its a little damaging to my self esteem! Medicine was my first rotation and it took a lot to get used to presenations and build confidence to not stammer and mumble. I'm now on pediatrics and my presentations flow well, I'm finally getting what attendings want and stuff. Other than that, I've been very enthusiastic about patient interaction, I've studied, and my evaluators have always been positive (there are no red flags that I can see) about me. Part of the reason I'm mising A's is that I simply can't look up a paper to bring in to discuss during rounds. It just feels like a really gunner move, its awkward, and I cannot fathom that my residents and attendings want to drag out rounds a little longer. I'm more of a "get the work done" type of person. Worst case senario: I won't get A's this year, and I'm okay with that, but how much will that hurt me as I apply next year? I go to UTSW, based on how few people I know getting A's I just feel like the curve is set to avoid grade inflation.

3)Despite my lack of A's this year, my first and second years were great. I'm just under the cut off for first quartile, but I doubt I will be able to get up to the first by the end of the year.

4)Step 1 = 246

5)Limited research experience in undergrad, and I plan to spend a couple months of elective time next year doing path-related research

6)No significant extracurriculars other than occassional meetings in a couple groups. I don't hide away, but I prefer socializing with friends in...non university sanctioned ways, I guess. The last time I volunteered was the summer before MS1, a few hours a week helping with giving out food to needy at a nearby church. Other than that, I love playing piano and am quite good. I'd like to start violin and oboe in the next few months. I study art history and philosophy in my spare time..eh, and I watch plenty of TV. I swear I'm not a complete nerd. I have introverted interests, but I enjoy socializing with random crowds as well.


That about sums me up. Am I competitive enough for places in the med center or southwestern? Should I consider other things to help improve my application or what? Obviously I'll spend a couple months on path rotations as well. I'm just starting to get a bit stressed about next year because I haven't had to think about the next step in several years, and its starting to come up fast. I'd like an honest idea of how my clinical grades will hurt me with more competitive programs. I'll have good letters, and am incredibly certain that I will be an excellent pathologist someday, and I need to go somewhere whether my colleagues are as excited and interested in truly becoming great pathologists. My personal statement will be killer (I already started portions of it. Its probably the first application-related essay that I'm enthusiastic to write and won't involve any BS. The same wouldn't have applied if I did radiology :p).
 
Oct 28, 2009
63
0
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Hey Ertepnf,

Just like you, I was pretty nervous about applying for pathology residency, but it turned out it wasn't as stressful of a process as I expected. Although the competitiveness of pathology has increased over the past few years, it's still not considered a super competitive specialty compared to say, Dermatology.

Your Board score is great, when you take Step 2, just try to keep up the good work. In terms of clinical grades, I attended a school with strictly pass/fail system, so can't comment, but I wasn't the type of person that gets high honors in every rotation either, and I still matched fine.

USMLE matters a lot at some top programs, so does research. However, you'll find a lot of top programs that will be fine with people with no/little research experience, because their focuses are not on just training academic pathologists.

I know the UTSW, Methodist Houston, and Baylor Programs, and interviewed at all 3 places. Didn't apply to UT Houston. Here's what I thought:

1. UTSW: I like it the most out of the 3. The environment is relaxed and people are friendly. It's a rather big program which is good because if someone's sick/on leave, you have more people to cover for that person. All their rotations seemed to be located around the Parkland Hospital area, which reduces commuting time. They have all the major fellowships available. I felt warm and welcome as an interviewee, and they're certain family-friendly as quite a few residents were married. The PD really goes out of his way to make a good impression (Make phone calls to interviewees, sending out nice emails/letters). Some people on this forum also commented that they thought this is the best Texas Program for pathology.
2. Methodist: My experience there was not good. They were able to retain a lot of big names who used to work at Baylor or MD Anderson (As you may know, they split off from Baylor a while back). However, some faculty were rather unapproachable to me, although the PD was a nice lady. They're trying hard to make themselves into a strong academic institution, so I got the sense they do want people to do research. Also, it's a rich institution, so resource is plentiful for research and attending conferences. Because of the big names faculty, some of their residents are able to get fellowships at other prestigous places (One went to Brigham, another's heading to Emory). Note that their affiliation with Cornell really doesn't mean much to a resident...the residents don't rotate at New York Presbytarian usually.
3. Baylor College of Medicine: Some feel that after the split with Methodist, this has become the weakest of the 3 major Texas programs. I didn't like the fact that residents rotate at Ben Taub, VA, and Texas Children's, and they're all spread out and not within walking distance...conferences are rotated through the 3 hospitals I think, so you drive around a lot. Didn't get the same sense of excitement I got at UTSW. They also seem to have some troubles with certain fellowships (Apparently GI Path was put on hiatus). However, BCM's med school does have a good reputation, so that's the biggest draw. Baylor's building its new hospital but not sure how that's doing or how it'll affect residency training.

At the end, although I have connections to Texas, I wanted to go to a different geographical area. The way I ranked the Texas programs were: UTSW, Baylor, Methodist. Good luck with your choices!
 
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ertepnf

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jul 16, 2007
7
0
1
Status
Medical Student
Thanks for your response. I know the PD here at UTSW and he really is an incredible guy, I've gotten a lot out of meeting with him as I've decided what to do in the future. All the residents have been happy, and I've had a chance to see them outside of interview days. My interest in Methodist and Baylor is purely based on a desire to return to Houston, and I suspect it will be very difficult to decide between UTSW and any location in Houston if/when I need to do so. And of course, there are plenty of good locations out of state, so its a bit early for me to focus on just a few sites. At any rate, I appreciate your comments.