Jan 19, 2015
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Medical Student
I'm applying for neurology residencies this year. Wondering about any advice on where to apply. I'm looking at northeast schools (especially schools in NYC) but open to applying anywhere. I'm also wondering about my chances at matching at some of the top schools without much research experience. I'm very interested in neuro-onc, also neuro immunology and neuromuscular.

Stats: Usmle step 1 261; taking step 2 in September; almost all Honors in 3rd year except a random pass in IM (still no idea how that happened, had great comments and 91st percentile on the shelf; I'm in the top 20% of my class and AOA eligible but I think this kept me from getting AOA), honors in my 4th year neuro ai and honors in my 2 other AIs. Good ECs/volunteering. Was involved in a cards research paper that I will be listed as an author on. I'm getting involved with neurology research at my home school this month. I decided on neuro a little late in the game which is why I didn't start research in the field earlier. I've heard that some of the top schools only want Md/Phds or people that have done lots of research already. I'd like to hear from anyone who didn't do much research prior to residency but was able to get involved during residency and fellowship? Did you feel like you were behind your peers because you had less experience before residency?

Lots of questions but any thoughts/tips would be helpful! thank you
 
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Jun 22, 2015
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I think you're set
I know these types of threads don't go over well here and the FAQ says not to ask but I think OP has a legit question. Of course someone with those stats will match somewhere but I'm also curious how much the top handful of neuro programs value research and whether an excellent Step 1 will do anything to offset a research deficiency.


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typhoonegator

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High ranking residencies value meaningful research. Full stop. They have the luxury of choosing among a pool of people with both excellent step scores and excellent research backgrounds. Many have PhDs. It's not an either/or phenomenon.

However, residencies also value some degree of diversity, and every year there are applicants that get into great residencies with at least one part of their application that could be considered lacking. Sometimes its a great personality, or another intangible, or a humanitarian angle, or something else that pushes them from the maybe pile to the yes pile. Remember that the top residencies tend to consider it part of their mission to train academic leaders, which basically sustains their stature among peer programs. A good step score means you're likely not going to be a liability in your clinical work, but it doesn't say much about your ability to advance the field.

That said, I don't think the current arms race among medical students to get their names on as many papers as possible says much about their research skill set either, but that's the game we're playing these days.

Finally, the pool of applicants that check all the boxes (i.e. not crazy, not socially inappropriate, great scores, great research, great letters) is not actually that large, and a bunch of programs fight for those folks. So even if a program wants to fill with all Harvard-trained MD-PhDs with 260 step I scores and great leadership characteristics, they almost never can. That's good news for people who shine in several but not all domains.
 
Sep 23, 2015
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Medical Student
I interviewed at most of the most competitive programs last cycle and you see the same people over and over at lets say the most competitive (prestige + location) 8-10 programs. They all interview the same small group of applicants and its interesting to see that every year good programs don's fill because they are all competing for this small group.

Last cycle I felt 3 things over and over helped, what medical school you go to, what research you did, and whome your letters were from. Neurology is a small field and I had two letters from people well known in their area. I got asked all the time how so and so was doing.
 
Last edited:
Jun 22, 2015
521
711
I interviewed at most of the most competitive programs last cycle and you see the same people over and over at lets say the most competitive (prestige + location) 8-10 programs. They all interview the same small group of applicants and its interesting to see that every year good programs don's fill because they are all competing for this small group.

Last cycle I felt 3 things over and over helped, what medical school you go to, what research you did, and whome your letters were from. Neurology is a small field and I had two letters from people well known in their area. I got asked all the time how so and so was doing.
Hmm... 3 things I do not have. Average med school, no neuro research (doubt they will care about my previous pubs), and no letters yet. The latter two I can work on so I guess I better get cracking and not rely on scores.

Good information.
 

ImmunoGuy2011

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Does it seem to matter in what the research was in? I have a strong research background, however it is not neuro related.
 

bigloley

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I matched at a top program last cycle. Didn't have any neuro research and I went to a small med school without much name recognition. I focused on my stronger parts of my application and what I could bring to a program - I have a lot of experience with underserved populations and work with healthcare disparities. I did 3 away rotations and got great letters from top neuro programs. So you can definitely match at a top program but your entire application should try to focus on a unique strength or perspective you can bring to a program