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Discussion in 'Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties' started by bankingdom, Mar 18, 2004.
I have a better idea. Stop being a moron and apply to all the programs you'd like or be willing to go to. Go interview, rank them as you prefer and see where you end up.
WTF, like you wouldn't apply to someplace just because some guy matched there with amazing numbers? Or would you assume you are a shoe-in just because someone got in with worse numbers than you? What good does that do for you? Believe me that people get suprised all the time.
Without being as blunt...I agree with tsj. Numbers are only part of it. I have friends (non-AOA) who beat out others in my class (who were AOA) at very good programs, ie they ranked the same program #1. The explanation must lie in the letters of recommendation and the interview. It's the whole package. Surgery did get more competitive this year but it's still not as bad as ortho or plastics. Good luck.
In defense of bankingdom, I think there are a lot of applicants who would be interested in hearing this stuff... I highly doubt that anyone is going to use the experience of one or two people in order to draw any conclusions about a particular program. At the same time, there are some trends that you will be able to pick up from these types of posts. Some programs put a huge emphasis on scores, AOA, grades, letters, research and/or rotating at that institution, in varying proportions, and if you have a large enough sample size then you may be able to pick up on these subtleties. And, you may get a feel for how competitive various programs are. If you graduated near the bottom of your class at a not-so-great med school, with mediocre recs and scores, then it would be a total waste of time to apply to MGH or Hopkins surgery unless you have some other "connection."
why pick my post from orthogate and post it on here?
that is really weird
Don't we all hope that someone like this will be in our residency class for 5-7 years.
It would be interesting for a non-AOA/no honors/average Step I student to know that a particular program has matched only AOA applicants with 90% percentile board scores for the past 5 years.
While it is prudent to apply everywhere you might want to go, it isn't prudent for many people to spend $300-700 to interview at each of several programs where they have very little realistic chance of matching. The OP's question is a fair one...I'm sorry that I can't help.
Who gives a S. WTF harm can come from applying? If they don't interview you because you are not AOA, than they don't interview you. Rank them #1 if they are your first choice, but just rank a lot of programs that you would be happy with. It is so god damn simple rather than always worrying if you are "good enough". Just f'n play the game and go on with your life.
I had a friend this year with 220 board scores, not AOA from, 50 percentile student from a bottom tier US program and he matched at a "top ten" program because he rotated there and is incredibly likeable!
Keep it F'n simple. Stop being a Moron and do your best and see how it works out. That is all you need to do for christ's sake.
If programs interview you I think it is reasonable to believe that you have a decent shot at ending up there. Programs aren't interested in wasting a day interviewing applicants which are not desirable to them. Don't they say that 85% of applicants match at one of thier top 3? That is because if you are getting an interview you got a fair chance unless you are a total choad with zero social skills.
Don't worry it seems this guy is going into path, they only communicate with dead patients and not exactly competitive . . . Everyone has their favorite anecdote about who matched and who didn't, but I agree with the orthogate system. It is nice to know the numbers of people who matched and where they matched to get a feel for where you stand.
Malignant SOBs aren't very helpful.
while I agree that there is no need for malignancy in this thread, and that while it may be nice to know what scores other people had, it does not provide a lot of helpful information.
The bottom line is that it is not that expensive or time consuming to apply to every where you want to go. Also, if they offer you an interview it is because you have a fair chance. Most places (especially the top tier ones) do not have a lot of interview spots and will not throw away interviews on people who have no chance.
Additionally, it is very difficult to incorporate the necesary information in this thread.
Not only do programs see your board scores, publications, and grades, but also they see the histogram for each grade and where you lie in that histogram. They see the comments that were written about you (through the dean's letter), they see what people said about you in the LoR's and LoR's have different meanings to different people. If one of your residencies knows one of your LoR writers, they may be able to take special meaning from the letter that may help or hurt you. Finally there is the personal statement which sets every application apart from the next.
So the solution is not that easy, and posting the information should neither discourage or encourage any application. We all have the stories of the people who got 190's on there Boards and are now residents at MGH we also have the stories of people who got 250's on the boards and did not match. So the game of trying to guess what the programs want is a dangerous one.
You should apply (with the assistance of your program's PD or chairman) to a small number of safety programs, a good number of good match programs, and a small number of reach programs.
If you get invited to interviews at your reach programs be happy, don't second guess them. They saw something in your application that they liked. You now have the same chance as anyone else who interviewed there. So go to the interview, be yourself, and if you like the place rank them. If you really like the place rank them number one. You have nothing to loose.
*yawn*...quit being a tool. It is a good idea for people who care about that sort of thing, and is a nice thread on orthogate. Essentially, it serves to give people hope that they can get an ortho spot without all the bells and whistles that they assume every candidate has. Dont be a dickhead.
Well hope is tough to come by. I just looked at the orthogate threads and it is chock full of 250+ AOA superstars. I'm months from MS1 and I'm already depressed.
I didnt get that impression last season. Maybe things have changed...
learn to read...
look at my credentials as posted here by someone else
they are good, but not great.
i matched in NYC at a great program from a school with an ok rep in the midwest.
just do your best for now; worry about applying in a few years
Easy there soudes. There were 10 superstars on orthogate for someone with your fine credentials.
This thread is becoming very entertaining. I think that people posting how they are AOA, with 250+ on step 1, 4 publications, etc is a form of self praise and masturbation. Obviously these things help. I think it would be more helpful for people to hear stories about more borderline candidates who do get good, competitive residencies. The match is very unpredictable after all.
I know one girl who didn't get any honors during her third year, only high passes. She ended up matching in optho at Cornell.
I know someone who was junior AOA, 250+ boards, multiple publications etc. who didn't match
Several people who were not AOA with above average but non-stellar boards scores and a few honors there third and fourth years matched into both ortho and radiology. Granted they matched in 2nd tier programs but still.
Letters are huge. I think letters are as important as AOA, and more important then 3rd year grades and board scores. This is my humble opinion. I think the right letter from a friend of the program director or chair can get a mediocre or above average cadidate into a top program.
If you know what you want to go into, find a mentor in your field with some clout and influence and get to know them. Maybe do a research project with them and then rotate with them your fourth year. You will not regret it.
i agree... in the end it is who you know...and perhaps more importantly who knows you....a bunch of schools don't even hand out AOA until post-match and/or don't even have AOA (i.e. harvard), and many people have "good board scores" or "honors".... i think letter of recs and significant research set you apart to get the interview (assuming you have the baseline required scores and grades), and out of all the applicants interviewing i think the selection to match is based upon those who make their mark on interview day and have support called in from faculty...
Great advice. As a soon to be MS1 I appreciate your clear advice. Here is a question for you. When I look for a mentor to do research with how would I know that the person has clout? Should I look for a mentor at my home school or should I go to a bigger name clinic or hospital?
Finding a mentor is tough. A good place to start is your departmental chairman. They are up on who is hot at your school and what projects they are involved in. If you find one in your school it is easier to forge a longterm bond, however I've known people to go to other schools as well. If your school is strong in the area you are interested in, then staying is fine. If they are weak, then you may want to look at other places and spend some away time doing research and/or rotations. It is a good idea not to take this too far. Someone who is at the top of their field may not have time to take on another student protige, so setting your sites too high could backfire. Anyway I hope this helps.
One more thing I forgot to mention. An away rotation at your top choice can really help you get in, especially for ortho. If you already are an AOA superstar it might not be as important. However if you are a less stellar candidate it can definitely help. Again be realistic and don't overshoot as a audition for ortho at MGH is probably less helpful for a borderline candidate then an audition at a 2nd tier program.
If you are a third-year or earlier medical student who is interested in matching in General Surgery, there are some things that you can do to improve your chances.
1. Score as best you can on USMLE Step I. I know many middle tier programs that will not interview anyone with USMLE Step I scores less than the mean so do well on this exam.
2. Get a good faculty mentor in General Surgery, put your credentials in front of this person and get some good advice. Give your advisor a list of programs (at least 30 if you are not a strong candidate) that interest you. Be sure to apply to your home school program even if you are not going to rank it.
3. Get to know the chairman of Surgery at your school. Surgery chairmen make poor faculty advisors but they should know of your interest in surgery. After you and your surgery faculty mentor have pared your programs down a good solid number, you should allow your surgery chairman to look at that list. Often the chairman can make a phone call in your behalf to the chair of your dream program that will open a door.
4. Do well in your general surgery rotation. You should get Honors here and Honors in Internal Medicine won't hurt your application either.
5. Do an away rotation at a highly ranked program and be prepared to work hard. You may not match there but you may catch the attention of a nationally known surgeon who can write a letter that will open doors for you. This can backfire if you screw up so don't screw up.
6. If you are a first or second year medical student, join your surgery interest group and be active. This gets you in touch with surgical residents and faculty members who can give you good advice, offer you research projects etc.
7. If you are a third-year medical student who had a mediocre USMLE Step I score and grades, take a surgery research elective and write a good paper. Do this elective early fourth year and at least get a published abstract out of your work. This is where having a good relationship with surgery faculty can be golden. You are going to need to do well on USMLE Step II and you are going to need to do some audition rotations if you want to match up.
8. Do well in every rotation. If you have a string of honors during third year, you can greatly improve your chances of matching well. Be sure to get good letters of recommendation from surgeons at your institution who know you well. I have a friend who failed USMLE Step I but is now a categorical resident at a solid academic program. He worked very hard during third year and he posted honors in every required clerkship. He also had the backing of the surgery chairman.
9. Dont' apply to General Surgery programs without a solid letter from the Chairman of General Surgery at your school. If this letter is not in your folder, you won't get many interviews.
If you have good grades, AOA and stellar USMLE scores, don't rest on your laurels. You may not have to do as much work to match well but you still have to present yourself well.
Good luck to all my "bros" that will be working on matching in the future. Categorical surgery went back into the competitive category this year(totally opposite when I applied two years ago). Do some solid planning and get the career that you want.
The above advice is really good for general surgery. Audition rotations for general are less critical then for ortho and ENT. A letter from a "big hitter" is a great thing to have. Just so noone freaks out though, you can still get a good general surgery residency without getting an honors in surgery. I know several who got high passes in surgery and landed some solid academic programs. The USMLE is used as a screen for many good programs. If you have a low score, your chairman will have to make calls to get you some interviews. Definitely do not get a pass in any surgical rotation if you can avoid it, as this will haunt you during your 4th year.
I must say, that although i agree with a majority of what njmbd writes, i would have to disagree about the points concerning the chairperson's letter. Let me explain . . .
While yes, a chair's letter can look great (some places actually require one), do not fret if you can not get one. Only get a letter from them if they truly know of you! You want to present yourself in the best possible way to each school you apply to; letters are too important. For example, at my school (which i also matched at for Gen Surg), our chair was the recent president of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery - this is a pretty big deal! However, many know that his recommendation letters follow a standard format (i.e. fill in the blank with student's name). To me, that is not the letter i want - i would rather have someone write a letter that comes from experience, etc. Now, if you have a relationship with a chair and you think you would get an excellent letter, bonus for you! Just make sure they don't have a letter already typed with spaces to fill-in with your name!
This is fabulous advice and I've not yet seen it better summarized. Can you please post it to the surgery FAQ sticky, because it's much more useful than what is there right now. (And I had really stopped reading this thread, but and very glad I opened it this evening.)
njbmd - excellent post! Thanks for all the info and advice.