AT_surf12

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Dec 25, 2015
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Looking for a little insight..

Fourth year student still unsure about a decision for residency. Is it possible to apply for only a transition year or prelim year and than apply for specialty the following year? Or possible to apply transition/prelim year and match into specialty but reapply and change the following year if you end up feeling strongly about something else? I know these are not ideal situations but just wanted to get some info on worst case scenario.. thanks in advance.
 

hallowmann

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Looking for a little insight..

Fourth year student still unsure about a decision for residency. Is it possible to apply for only a transition year or prelim year and than apply for specialty the following year? Or possible to apply transition/prelim year and match into specialty but reapply and change the following year if you end up feeling strongly about something else? I know these are not ideal situations but just wanted to get some info on worst case scenario.. thanks in advance.
Hey, I mean anything's possible. The real question should be is it advisable to do that.

Most people I've talked to that have done it recommend against it. It might even be better to get an LOA for "research" and use it to get more exposure to different fields, and then apply as a 4th year graduating a year late.

That all said, again if you apply to something, hate it, you absolutely can switch to something else, but it closes doors compared to just applying now. Obviously you can also do an intern year only to reapply.
 

RangerBob

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It's possible, but applying/interviewing for residency programs during intern year is really tough. And a pre-lim isn't that helpful to explore new specialties unless you are set on an IM sub-specialty (pre-lim IM) or surgery (pre-lim surg, but you likely won't get any real exposure to surgical specialties--you just manage floor patients and do any grunt work needed). If you do a TY, then you can spend time in radiology, peds, neurosurgery, ID, PM&R, derm, psych...

Still, you need to ask yourself if another year will help you figure out what you want to do--what rotations will you do in a TY that you didn't do in medical school? If it's just repeating the same rotations, that may not be as helpful. If you want to take specific electives, you'll need to make sure the program offers them and that you can schedule it before next year's application cycle. (And you need to match into a flexible TY that actually has good clinical rotations--it's hard to match into a TY, and some of those are just really laid back years whereas some actually have good learning).

Still, it's ideal to apply to residency programs while you're in medical school. The LOA for "research" the above poster mentioned might be the next best choice, though I suppose if you did match to a good/flexible TY that might be better (it's usually not as hard to take time off in a TY vs a prelim, since TY's have more electives which allow vacation time). If you go that route, you'll need to apply to a lot of TYs, particularly applying to TYs that are also less competitive (generally the ones not in or near big cities). TY's in big cities tend to be notoriously competitive (unless they're really rigorous programs). Still, there's not a whole lot of feedback on SDN on good TY programs (mostly just which ones are really light years), so there's still an element of a crap-shoot on whether you'll get the exposure you want. A TY could offer the elective you want, but who knows if the elective is any good? What if it's just pure shadowing? You won't accomplish anything in that month you couldn't accomplish right now.
 
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You should completely forget about only applying to prelim spots. That basically brands you as someone who failed to match and is a huge red flag. You need to pick something. If you end up not liking it you can switch. It's tough but possible and doesn't leave programs wondering what's wrong with you. What specialties have you narrowed it down to?


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
 

atomi

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That was the original intent of the transitional year. But those days long since passed and nobody views it as such anymore. You need to pick something and commit to it.
 

Donald Juan

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I'm curious how undecided you are. IM leaves many options open, you can do a fellowship and tailor your career to either more procedural, more clinic based, more hospital based, etc., however you want. But if you're not narrowed down at all, like you're floundering between doing family, ortho, pathology, or peds, then you might want to do the research year like suggested above and figure out what you want to do.