Picking a Med School

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ForceField, Nov 10, 2002.

  1. ForceField

    ForceField Impervious

    Aug 24, 2002
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    Well I have two choices right now, and I am really torn between the two. I have been accepted to my state school (UIC-Chicago Campus) and to Vanderbilt. I was equally happy at both schools during my interview day, and have weighed the ups and downs of each (Location, Price, Prestige, etc.), and I still can't come to a decision. :confused:

    My question for you guys regards this. I am not sure that I am interested in academic medicine, however, I do know that I want flexibility in choosing a specialty once I finish medical school. I realize that grades and USMLEs are important factors in gaining a competitive residency, but would it be much easier to obtain a residency like oncology/dermatology if I go to Vanderbilt instead of UIC, or if I do well at UIC would I still be able to gain those residencies? Please let me know, I would like to think that I would do well at both schools. Thanks. :)
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  3. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

    Jul 22, 2002
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    Resident [Any Field]
    Good question. I'm wondering the same thing. Not that I have multiple acceptances right now, but I do hope to be in your situation soon.

    Where's Optho-Mud-Phud when you need him?
  4. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member

    Oct 27, 2002
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    I too eventually want to do an oncology/hematology residency. I really think that cost and comfort are probably your two main issues here. Both of these schools are great.

    Just to put this in perspective, you have two good choices. That is why your decision is so tough. Just know that either way you choose, you will have chosen well because both of those choices are so good (wow i have used the work choices about 10 times, i need to work on my word choice [badum tshh]) ok i need to shut up now.

    good luck and congrats
  5. TroutBum

    TroutBum Senior Member

    Jun 15, 2002
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    ForceField I understand--I'm in the same situation, trying to pick between my state school and a private school. I thought the decision would come to me when the time came, but it's driving me nuts.

    I think that you may have a very slight edge at a more prestigious school, but I don't think it would be enough to make that the basis of your decision. I've spoken to lots of docs that I work with and they say the same thing. One doc put it an interesting way--he said that most residencies might look favorably upon the top 20% of graduates from a big-shot school, but look at the top 5% of graduates from a school with a lesser name in the same light. So it might help some, but either way you'll have to bust your hump.

    Hope that helps. Now, any advice for me? :D
  6. Rapid Decomposition

    Feb 28, 2002
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    Check out the residency reputation factor of the US News rankings. If UIC is not too far behind Vanderbilt, I would think that it wouldn't be worth the extra money for Vandy's reputation. But if UIC is significantly farther behind, and you think you may want to enter a competitive residency, I'm pretty sure it will be a LOT easier for your later on if you go to Vanderbilt. But hey, I'm still trying to get into med school, much less residency, so I don't really know either way.
  7. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
    Moderator Emeritus

    Jun 9, 2002
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    Medical Student
    wait till you get vandy's financial aid package before deciding anything for certain............
  8. First of all, you're going to be a med-student with an income of $0. So cost of living in Chicago vs Nashville and tuition are going to be a big factor for the next 4 years. Financial aid will be important. It's tough to study when you're worrying about earning money.

    Another important thing to consider is where do you think you'll like to do your residency and practice? If you have a strong interest to stay in the Chicago area, going to UIC will probably give you strong contacts and influential letters of recommendation from faculty who have trained at or with people at the surrounding residency programs. Likewise with the Tennessee area. Making the right connections can is more often much more important that school reputation; and it's not like UIC is a weak school.

    Board scores are very important, especially for specialties like derm. Call the schools and find out how their students do on both USMLE step 1 and 2. Class rank and clinical grades are just as important. So consider how competetive of a student you think you'll be at Vandy vs UIC. Pre-clinical courses are less important, which will be just lectures and exams. Where you'll need to shine is on the wards in your clinical rotations. And don't forget extracurricular opportunites; ie. volunteering.
  9. ForceField,

    First off: congrats!!

    Second: your specialty choices will not be appreciably affected by your choice of medical school (and UIC has a great rep in the Chicago area, where I'm from). However, from all indications, your more prestigious schools will help *but not guarantee* academic placements. You know, the best thing to look at with regards to academic positions are the lists of docs at any given med school. Just thumbing through that huge book they gave you at Vandy should help you see that there are docs teaching at Vandy who went to all manner of state schools/private schools.

    Third: The amount of money that you will make has no correlation to where you attended medical school. My parents are accountants, and all of their clients are doctors, so I have enough knowledge to be sure about this point. This concept, however, eludes most people and they continue to correlate financial security/well-being with where they went/will go to school.

    Bottom line: For derm, or heme-onc, you will probably need to be AOA with an amazing GPA/board score to stand a good chance of getting in ANYWHERE regardless of where you went to school. IMO you will be the most successful if you choose the school that you felt the most comfortable at.

    Hope some of this helps!


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