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Feb 22, 2010
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I know there is a similar thread on here, but I was hoping for some fresh perspectives.As a preface, I want to express how lucky and ecstatic I am to be accepted to two very fine medical schools, especially after such a long, anxious, sometimes mysterious process. However, I'm having a bit of trouble deciding on a school. I'm going to put forth a few categories, and I welcome comments, opinions, corrections, and clarifications (as some information is based on hearsay).

1. Curriculum: Both have impressive curricula, and both focus on early clinical training. I've heard that there is a high esteem for residents that come out of both programs (probably OHSU grads are better prepared clinically, although not to a game-changing degree, plus this makes sense because they have a focus on primary care).
However, there seems to be an “anti-Step I prep” culture at OHSU, as in they refuse to be known as a school that teaches toward the Step I test (they consider their mission to train fine clinicians). I've heard that OHSU doesn't provide any sort of official Step I prep, and on top of that you get ~6 weeks between MSII and the start of MSIII to study for the test. In OHSU's defense, students do extremely well on Step II and III (good clinical skills). Average Step I: about national average – 218.
Keck's curriculum, however, seems to be designed to help you with Step I: there are cumulative exams at the end of 1st and 2nd year (so you see most information 3-4 times before you even start studying for Step I), exams have been transitioned to computer so they are similar to Step exam conditions (I believe), and while you don't have three months off between MSII and MSIII (does anybody know how long you do get?) I'd think you wouldn't need as much time given how much review you've already seen. Average Step I: 233!
In terms of student:faculty ratio, OHSU kills. How important is this?
Does anybody know if either school allows non-MD candidates to take MD classes?
2. Research: Both excellent, well-renowned; similar NIH dollars. Keck has goals of becoming a research powerhouse (and they probably have the money to make it happen). OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute just received 100M, so in terms of research goals and money available, I feel these are pretty equal. The only possible tipping point may be that Keck carries the USC Trojan community atmosphere which basically translates to a bolstered willingness to help med students and relative ease in obtaining research opportunities (I was told by my student interviewer that it basically takes 1 email or 1 phone call, no chasing). I’m not sure about the culture at OHSU in this regard, although I feel they are pretty open to research opportunities for MD students. Any thoughts here, any experiences from current MD-only students at OHSU?
3. Location: Love Portland. Family here, great culture, tons to do, beer, outdoors, fresh air, CHEAPER city, killer public transportation (I have a car, but don’t really need it). I grew up in LA, so I’m well aware of what it’s like, and I would seriously be happy there, but compared to Portland, I’m afraid there’s little competition: lots of activities, lots of interesting neighborhoods to choose from, WAY better museums, lots of friends still there, probably better networking opportunities, but you must have a car and use it daily, traffic is awful, rent is expensive, and everything else is expensive.
4. Cost: Including the cost of living, my liberal estimates come to about 50K (38K IS tuition + 12K living) for OHSU/year, 74K+ (54K tuition + 20K living) at Keck. Now, cost has always mattered least to me (not because I have a lot of money, but because med school will be expensive period, and I should be able to pay it off). There is a clear winner here.
5. Any other factors I should consider?

Thanks for any input!
 

alibai3ah

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You seem to have a pretty good idea of the pros/cons of each school. After reading your post, I would probably go with OHSU. The only advantage that USC has over OHSU is the location (in my opinion). But if you have family and love Portland then stay there! It's the cheaper school also.....

Additionally if you want to practice in Oregon in the future, then OHSU would be your best bet. If you want to come to California for residency though, I think USC might be a bit better in that regard.
 

hobbes23

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1. P/F grading at Keck for the first two years.
Better study space for students at Keck.

The early clinical experiences at OHSU are one-on-one vs. small group at Keck.

Larger class size at Keck (~170 vs 120)-- probably doesn't matter much.

The patient populations are different. I think at USC+LAC, you will learn to take a HX in Spanish. OHSU is a very academic hospital.

3. I love Portland too, but I also like the sun.

4. OHSU's COA is $58k (In-State) vs. Keck's $72k. Not too big of a difference in the scheme of things. Keck might give more scholarships than OHSU.

5. OHSU has two gyms on the main campus and Keck doesn't have a gym on the med school campus.
OHSU has an older student population.
Aerial Tram vs. bus "tram" -- no contest.
 

hobbes23

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1. Also, Keck has a systems based science curriculum while OHSU has a kind of a hybrid systems-/discipline- based curriculum.

OHSU has the rural rotation which could be a plus or minus for you.

5. OHSU seems to have better spousal/partner support. At OHSU, spouses can use the student health center. Both schools have (or will have by next fall) on-campus child care.


EDIT: check out a similar discussion from last year:
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=585552
and from 2005:
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=197766
 
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Sep 22, 2009
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Keck student here.
You seem to have a good understand of Keck.

Having family close by is extremely nice. So I would think hard about leaving them. OHSU is also cheaper which is nice.

Aside for those...
"Teaching towards the boards" is a good thing. The boards will determine everything. However, I have no clue if they are teaching us towards the boards or not. They have never mentioned the boards. They just teach us like any other school.

A few of the pluses:
99% of the lectures are webcasted
Attendance is only required for the clinical stuff and for the professionalism lectures.
Notes for each lecture are provided.
True Pass/No Pass grading, no hidden grades. We do get a % grade for the cumulative exam at the end of the year.

Someone above mentioned the 1-on-1 clinical versus our group of 6 students per 1 doc. Actually, I think our way is better. Because the 1-on-1 is usually just shadowing at the doc's office. Which means you need to drive to the office and you end up shadowing the same person for the whole semester. (At least that is how it is done at other schools).
Here the doctor comes to us. We meet on our campus and walk over to either County or University Hospital. New patient floors every time, so variety in the patients you see. Plus the doc isn't doing anything else during the time. They aren't seeing patients, they are there solely for us. With the 1-on-1 stuff at other schools the doc usually sees patients so they are kind of busy.
 

URHere

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I'm a student at OHSU, and I'll answer your questions as best as I can:

I've heard that OHSU doesn't provide any sort of official Step I prep, and on top of that you get ~6 weeks between MSII and the start of MSIII to study for the test.
We actually only have 4 weeks of dedicated Step 1 study time, but the school is trying to implement some sort of Step 1 prep program. We have monthly meetings with the deans where we talk with panels of older students about boards study, listen to tutorials, etc. I don't find them very helpful, but that's just because I believe that boards are a personal endeavor - not something that a school can really train you for.

Does anybody know if either school allows non-MD candidates to take MD classes?
We have non-MD students in our classes quite regularly. First years take anatomy and clinical medicine classes with students from the PA school. Second years take neuro with clinical psych students from Pacific university, and both years have OMFS fellows in their classes (oral maxillofacial surgery). Masters and postdoc students also take certain MD classes. No undergrads and no randoms, though.

Any thoughts here, any experiences from current MD-only students at OHSU?
Med students have no trouble finding research opportunities. Several faculty members actually email the med school list-serve looking for interested medical students for summer research, and just about any PI would be open to talking with a student.

Any other factors I should consider?
My two favorite things about OHSU are:

1) Our flexible curriculum - we only have class from 8-noon three days each week (the other two are 8-5ish), leaving plenty of time for extra clinic work, electives, research, etc.

2) We have amazing access to faculty. Many department chiefs volunteer for our small groups, anatomy sessions, etc and there is a true open-door policy here. If you want to work in a certain part of the hospital, and you email one of the attendings, they will almost always take you on.

My least favorite thing is that the school administration can be somewhat disorganized. At OHSU you need to keep track of your own electives, deadlines, etc because they might slip through the cracks otherwise. Our lectures are also not video recorded. My class implemented audio-recording, but it has yet to take off for the other classes...

And to respond to some of the other comments...

The patient populations are different. I think at USC+LAC, you will learn to take a HX in Spanish. OHSU is a very academic hospital.
Although Oregon is fairly racially homogeneous, you can have experiences like this in Portland. Many of my classmates have medical preceptorships at homeless shelters, native american hospitals, and free clinics. On the flip side, you are also required to do a clerkship in rural Oregon. You definitely do not spend all of your time at OHSU up on the hill.

Because the 1-on-1 is usually just shadowing at the doc's office. Which means you need to drive to the office and you end up shadowing the same person for the whole semester. (At least that is how it is done at other schools).
OHSU's preceptorships are definitely more than just shadowing. We are assigned to a primary care provider one afternoon per week for one year, and we switch between 3 different specialists duting the other year. The experience is what you make of it. Most of us see patients independently and write our own notes (double-checked by attendings, of course). We also scrub into surgeries, deliver babies, place IUDs, and perform simple procedures (nail removals, mole biopsies, etc) long before third year.
 
Feb 22, 2010
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I'm a student at OHSU, and I'll answer your questions as best as I can:



We actually only have 4 weeks of dedicated Step 1 study time, but the school is trying to implement some sort of Step 1 prep program. We have monthly meetings with the deans where we talk with panels of older students about boards study, listen to tutorials, etc. I don't find them very helpful, but that's just because I believe that boards are a personal endeavor - not something that a school can really train you for.

We have non-MD students in our classes quite regularly. First years take anatomy and clinical medicine classes with students from the PA school. Second years take neuro with clinical psych students from Pacific university, and both years have OMFS fellows in their classes (oral maxillofacial surgery). Masters and postdoc students also take certain MD classes. No undergrads and no randoms, though.

Med students have no trouble finding research opportunities. Several faculty members actually email the med school list-serve looking for interested medical students for summer research, and just about any PI would be open to talking with a student.

My two favorite things about OHSU are:

1) Our flexible curriculum - we only have class from 8-noon three days each week (the other two are 8-5ish), leaving plenty of time for extra clinic work, electives, research, etc.

2) We have amazing access to faculty. Many department chiefs volunteer for our small groups, anatomy sessions, etc and there is a true open-door policy here. If you want to work in a certain part of the hospital, and you email one of the attendings, they will almost always take you on.

My least favorite thing is that the school administration can be somewhat disorganized. At OHSU you need to keep track of your own electives, deadlines, etc because they might slip through the cracks otherwise. Our lectures are also not video recorded. My class implemented audio-recording, but it has yet to take off for the other classes...

And to respond to some of the other comments...



Although Oregon is fairly racially homogeneous, you can have experiences like this in Portland. Many of my classmates have medical preceptorships at homeless shelters, native american hospitals, and free clinics. On the flip side, you are also required to do a clerkship in rural Oregon. You definitely do not spend all of your time at OHSU up on the hill.



OHSU's preceptorships are definitely more than just shadowing. We are assigned to a primary care provider one afternoon per week for one year, and we switch between 3 different specialists duting the other year. The experience is what you make of it. Most of us see patients independently and write our own notes (double-checked by attendings, of course). We also scrub into surgeries, deliver babies, place IUDs, and perform simple procedures (nail removals, mole biopsies, etc) long before third year.
I really appreciate your input! I totally agree that the boards are a personal endeavor, but giving 4 weeks to study seems to put students at a disadvantage. I've heard that it's basically a short-term memory exam so you don't want to be studying for 3 months or anything, but I'd be more okay with 6 weeks. Do you anticipate any change to the 4 weeks given to study for it? I've heard there's an option to use one of your 3rd year rotations as a "free" rotation that let's you have more time to study for the test. Any truth to that, and how does it work?

Have you taken the Step 1 yet? If so, how did you study/how much time did you give yourself? If not, have you heard good strategies for approaching Step I as an OHSU student?

That's really good to hear about OHSU's "open door" atmosphere, I was a little worried about that.

Do you have any issue with non-MD's being in your classes?

Thanks!
 
Feb 22, 2010
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Keck student here.
You seem to have a good understand of Keck.

Having family close by is extremely nice. So I would think hard about leaving them. OHSU is also cheaper which is nice.

Aside for those...
"Teaching towards the boards" is a good thing. The boards will determine everything. However, I have no clue if they are teaching us towards the boards or not. They have never mentioned the boards. They just teach us like any other school.

A few of the pluses:
99% of the lectures are webcasted
Attendance is only required for the clinical stuff and for the professionalism lectures.
Notes for each lecture are provided.
True Pass/No Pass grading, no hidden grades. We do get a % grade for the cumulative exam at the end of the year.

Someone above mentioned the 1-on-1 clinical versus our group of 6 students per 1 doc. Actually, I think our way is better. Because the 1-on-1 is usually just shadowing at the doc's office. Which means you need to drive to the office and you end up shadowing the same person for the whole semester. (At least that is how it is done at other schools).
Here the doctor comes to us. We meet on our campus and walk over to either County or University Hospital. New patient floors every time, so variety in the patients you see. Plus the doc isn't doing anything else during the time. They aren't seeing patients, they are there solely for us. With the 1-on-1 stuff at other schools the doc usually sees patients so they are kind of busy.
Antibodies, thanks for your input as well! Can I ask how many weeks you get between MSII and MSIII to study for Step 1?
 
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Antibodies, thanks for your input as well! Can I ask how many weeks you get between MSII and MSIII to study for Step 1?
I am not sure about the exact number of weeks but there is a ton of time to study. Starting from the end of March there is a system called "Integrated Cases". So we go through tons of cases. Pretty much like problem based learning. During these cases you are putting together all your knowledge since you have already finished learning all the systems (it is a big review). This continues for 7 weeks. Then there is a cumulative exam. So all that runs until mid-May. Then from May until the start of rotations you do your own studying. It seems that rotations start early July. So as you can see there is a *ton* of time to prep for the step 1. Hence, the nice board scores.

All of our professors are also pretty open about meeting with students. However, I don't think you will have the time or need to meet with them. But they are available.

There is also something called MSP. Here the second years summary all the lectures for the first years. So they pretty much present a much more concise version of the lecture. They do this for almost every lecture. So if you are shaky on some subject then you can just attend those. There is usually about 3 of those (2 hours each) per week. They are right after class. You can also just download their powerpoints if you don't want attend. (This isn't required, just something extra if you need it).

The big question you should be asking yourself is if you want to move away from family. Having family close by is a big plus.
If you are okay with moving then the next question is: What type of learner are you? Do you like attending lectures, reading the book ...
Because having available webcasts (audio and video) is a tremendous plus.

http://medweb.usc.edu/index.html
On the left side it has the years. There you can find the calendars for all the systems so you can get a better idea of what our days are like.

Feel free to ask/message me with more questions.
 

JJMrK

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OP, according to your first post, USC would cost you 100k more in total. IMO, no school is worth that.
 

hobbes23

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OP, according to your first post, USC would cost you 100k more in total. IMO, no school is worth that.
The OP's math is a bit off. The difference is closer to $55k rather than $100k.

Does that change things? At what point should $ make a difference? Why? Where are you in the becoming-a-physician-game ?
 

JJMrK

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The OP's math is a bit off. The difference is closer to $55k rather than $100k.

Does that change things? At what point should $ make a difference? Why? Where are you in the becoming-a-physician-game ?
For me, that wouldn't change anything. I bet it'd be closer to 100k than 50k, though.
 

URHere

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Do you anticipate any change to the 4 weeks given to study for it? I've heard there's an option to use one of your 3rd year rotations as a "free" rotation that let's you have more time to study for the test. Any truth to that, and how does it work?
I don't think the 4 week thing is going to change anytime soon, although the exact amount of study time is somewhat up to the students. My classmates all voted on which days of the week we wanted exams, and if we would prefer more time for boards vs. free days off between exams. We voted for more boards study time (the students the year before us had fewer than 4 weeks of devoted study time).

As for the "free rotation", I've never heard of it, but I don't imagine it would work well even if it does exist. All third years are required to take the transition to clerkship course during the last week of June regardless of their rotation schedule. Even if you could opt for more study time, you would need to fit that hectic transition week into the middle of it.

Have you taken the Step 1 yet? If so, how did you study/how much time did you give yourself? If not, have you heard good strategies for approaching Step I as an OHSU student?
I'm taking Step 1 in June. My class has set up a pretty good system for ourselves, I think. We're privately screening review videos for 4-5 hours every Monday until crunch time. We also have packets from third years of suggested study techniques, and full access to the deans anytime we need advice. My personal plan is to focus on my coursework for now, go to review screenings for my weak subjects, and then buckle down in late May.

Do you have any issue with non-MD's being in your classes?
Personally, I love having the non-MDs in our classes. The PA students, for example, lend us a great perspective and it's great to get to know the people we will probably see once we get to the wards.
 

pietachok

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So, I didn't apply to OHSU. But:
P/F grading is extremely nice if OHSU doesn't have it.

Whoever wrote that Keck's clinical experiences are small group only is incorrect. We are assigned to an instructor in groups of 6. We have our clinical contact one on one. We then re-convene in the group of 6 to discuss our experience. We learn to do skills (i.e. parts of a physical exam) in our group of 6, initially, but begin using those skills on patients in the hospital the week after they are taught to us.

I would hazard a guess that the demographic of patients seen at Keck and some of the educational exposures are more varied. On campus we have one of the busiest public hospitals in the country (LAC), a private hospital (+ a cancer center + a top eye institute), and we have ties w/ Kaiser & some other specialized, private care centers, so you aren't limited to public hospital exposures and the plusses/minuses that come with them. For a variety of reasons, you are more likely to see more unique cases of disease (whether rare disease or rare severity/manifestation) in big cities. Additionally, the huge underserved & immigrant populations seen by county mean you'll see things that are prevented in any community with access to better prevntative care.

And regardless of having a slightly bigger class size (I think we have 159 first years), I can't imagine any school offering more support--whether or not you think it's worth it, that's something we definitely get for paying more, I suppose. If you do have problems, the administration etc. *wants* to help you.

Again, I don't know much about OHSU, other than it's a good school, so i'm not comparing the two or making any statemnts about OHSU.

1.
P/F grading at Keck for the first two years.


The early clinical experiences at OHSU are one-on-one vs. small group at Keck.
 
Feb 22, 2010
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There’s a lot of really helpful information here. Thanks so much to the current students Antibodies, pietachok and URHere! I think my biggest issue with OHSU was the fact that they don’t give you much time to study for Step 1. Let’s face it, USC does a much better job setting you up to succeed with Step 1. However, plenty of students at OHSU do very well on this test, so there’s a way to kill it. I love both of these schools, so I’m going to wait to see financial packages, then decide. Gut feeling is OHSU. Thanks again, everyone, and if you have anything else to contribute, please do!
 

hobbes23

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A few more questions for both OHSU-ers and those at Keck...

For those at Keck...
How do those with an interest in Family Medicine fit in? Is specialty and tertiary-level care over emphasized? How much public health and community medicine do you guys learn?

How many people do rotations off campus? Where at? (LA Children's Hospital for Peds, right??) -n/m, saw pietachok's post

How many people come from low-income backgrounds? It seems from the average debt numbers that a lot of people get a significant amount of help from mom and dad.


OHSU...
How often are exams? are they paper or computer based? How quickly do you get them back?

Do many students go off-campus for their preceptorship during MS1? Getting off the hill is a good thing, but having to run around town too much isn't. - n/m, it sounds like they are mostly off-campus

How are the lectures and lecturers?

What's the online learning stuff like? Is it cumbersome or helpful?
 
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For those at Keck...
How do those with an interest in Family Medicine fit in? Is specialty and tertiary-level care over emphasized? How much public health and community medicine do you guys learn?

I have not experienced any pressure to pick one specialty over another. All specialties are represented at County so you can get guidance easily. The career counseling office is actually amazing. For our summer plans we just filled out an online survey with what we were interested in and the career office e-mail back with contact info. They pretty much set everything up for us. It is pretty awesome.


How many people do rotations off campus? Where at? (LA Children's Hospital for Peds, right??)

Haven't started rotations.

How many people come from low-income backgrounds? It seems from the average debt numbers that a lot of people get a significant amount of help from mom and dad.

I don't know the exact stats on this but yeah a good number come from well off families.

(I will answer these for Keck)
How often are exams? are they paper or computer based? How quickly do you get them back?

Exams at the end of every system. Long systems have midterms. So probably every ~4-5 weeks. Paper based but starting computer ones too. There are 2 brand new computer labs for this.
After the exam you can check your own answers. So you get a rough estimate right after. In about 2 weeks you get the official score.

How are the lectures and lecturers?
Pretty good.

What's the online learning stuff like? Is it cumbersome or helpful? (it is Sakai for somethings, right?)

Online stuff is great. Mymedweb is pretty easy to use.
 

tamarino84

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I just wanted to thank lobsterpus for starting this thread and also everyone who has contributed. I was unfortunately waitlisted at USC and still waiting to hear back post-interview from OHSU, but this thread has been extremely helpful to shed some light on the pros/cons of the schools. I could only be so lucky to get to choose between the two!
 
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To answer your questions about Keck-USC: In addition to having good tertiary care, there is solid primary care -- 15 students this year went into Family Med, and the Family Med Student Interest Group is very active.

There are lots of opportunities to do rotations off campus. For peds, you get to choose between the County Peds Wards or CHLA (free-standing children's hospital). For psychiatry, there are 5 or 6 practice settings. For Family Medicine, you can go anywhere in the 50 united states, so long as you are working with an FM MD. For neuro, medicine, and OB, there are community hospital options in addition to the county facility and university hospital. Lots of options.

Plenty of students from all backgrounds -- socioeconomic diversity as well as diverse interests and experiences.

Graduating this year, and I have been VERY happy during my time at Keck-USC.
 

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Both very good schools, and given that they seem relatively equal in other departments I would go based on cost and gut feel. In this case, OHSU clearly owns on cost (though wait to see if you get any finaid from USC), and only you can say what gut feel was.
 

URHere

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Didn't even see these questions until today. Oh well, better late than never, right?

OHSU...
How often are exams? are they paper or computer based? How quickly do you get them back?
We generally have exams every week and a half to two weeks. They are all paper based - generally scantron. Some of the courses do have short answer or identification sections (anatomy practicals, some histology practicals, the blood course, etc).

The turnaround is usually quite rapid - anywhere from a few hours to a few days. I think a week is the longest I've ever waited for grades.

Do many students go off-campus for their preceptorship during MS1? Getting off the hill is a good thing, but having to run around town too much isn't. - n/m, it sounds like they are mostly off-campus
There are preceptors both on and off campus. My impression is that most students end up off of the hill for their primary care preceptorship but on the hill for specialties. When you enter school they do ask you to fill out a sheet with your preferences, and that sheet includes questions about personal modes of transportation, how far you can easily travel, etc.

How are the lectures and lecturers?
This varies by class. Some things are notoriously well taught (neuro, renal, blood) while other are more poorly taught.

What's the online learning stuff like? Is it cumbersome or helpful?
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "online learning". We do have a website where powerpoints, practice slides, etc are posted but you are definitely not required to use it. All course materials are also handed out in a giant paper packet every couple of weeks, so it's easy to avoid the online realm if you want to.
 

searun

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There’s a lot of really helpful information here. Thanks so much to the current students Antibodies, pietachok and URHere! I think my biggest issue with OHSU was the fact that they don’t give you much time to study for Step 1. Let’s face it, USC does a much better job setting you up to succeed with Step 1. However, plenty of students at OHSU do very well on this test, so there’s a way to kill it. I love both of these schools, so I’m going to wait to see financial packages, then decide. Gut feeling is OHSU. Thanks again, everyone, and if you have anything else to contribute, please do!
I was accepted to both OHSU and USC but I do not attend either med school. I was born and raised in Oregon and applied to OHSU as an Oregon resident. I currently am finishing my third year of med school on the East Coast.

In terms of cost, the OP needs to compare financial aid packages. OHSU generally just offers a package of loans without any grants. USC does offer grants and scholarship aid to some of its students. USC did offer me a grant that made the cost of attendance only slightly more expensive than OHSU.

I would have chosen USC over OHSU, given the parity in cost for me. I have taken Step 1 now, and understand that it is primarily based on individual effort - but the fact that OHSU only allows 4 weeks of prep time between second and third year would be of concern to me. 6 weeks is optimum in my opinion. USC students perform much better than OHSU students on Step 1 as a group. I attribute some of this to the structure at USC that is more helpful for Step 1 preparation. Your Step 1 score is huge if you want to enter a competitive specialty.

That said, I like OHSU and love Portland. I will be apply to OHSU, among other programs, next fall for residency in the surgical specialty that I plan to enter.
 
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