AnnaLee

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Hi everyone,
I am a third year who would really like to stay in the bay area for my residency due to family reasons. I have good grades and scores, but my research is weak. I have heard that UCSF is huge on basic research... Do students even have a chance at a school like UCSF or Stanford without significant research? How much would a post-sophomore fellowship before my fourth year help?

Thanks for the advice!
 

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AnnaLee said:
Hi everyone,
I am a third year who would really like to stay in the bay area for my residency due to family reasons. I have good grades and scores, but my research is weak. I have heard that UCSF is huge on basic research... Do students even have a chance at a school like UCSF or Stanford without significant research? How much would a post-sophomore fellowship before my fourth year help?

Thanks for the advice!
If you have good grades and scores, I think you should be fine. You are right in that the two big programs in the bay area are "huge" on basic science research. Nonetheless, just because you don't have much basic research experience (like the majority of your fellow pathology applicants, by the way) does NOT mean that you are locked out from these institutions. For instance, yes UCSF wants to recruit a significant number of MD/PhDs and that applicant pool is a different pool in and of itself. However, their goal is NOT to recruit ALL MD/PhDs in their residency programs. They value a mix of folks--something like 1/3 MD/PhDs, 1/3 MDs who want to do academic pathology, and 1/3 MDs who want to do private practice path. Stanford also seeks a balance; although their residency program is smaller so who knows how the proportions play out at their program from year to year.

The post-sophomore fellowship can only help your application. What you need to ask yourself is, do you really need it? Most of us who apply to pathology have NOT done a PSF. Sure, once in a while you come across genius freaks with ridiculously insane Step 1 scores and PSFs under their belts (like a certain person who frequents this forum). Joking aside, I do know that UCSF does have a PSF program and if you're seriously considering this option, you should look into theirs. When I interviewed there, the chair of the department said that the one or two post-sophomore fellows who were working there would eventually join the program. So, my impression is that once you get into their PSF, you should be more or less a shoe-in for their residency program (of course, assuming you don't piss people off).

Lastly, if you are committed to living in the Bay Area...definitely let them know it. I'm from the east coast and so the question I got most frequently from almost all my interviewers was, "So why are you looking here." Honestly, I do love San Francisco and hopefully they believed my answer...but we shall see. Your desire to stay in the Bay Area can only serve to help you so make sure that you communicate this with them.

Addendum: PSFs won't make you a more attractive candidate from a basic science point of view. If that's your thing, go get a PhD (note sarcasm here). PSFs will make you a more attractive candidate in the sense that you will look like someone who has thoroughly investigated pathology as a career option. And the additional pathology experience will help in your applications.
 

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No one should do a PSF just to make their application look better. You should do it if you are interested in it and are trying to decide if path is the right career for you. I have talked to some residents who say that if they had known they were going into path, they wouldn't have done a PSF because basically it is like adding a year to your residency. It used to count towards your residency time but no longer does.

And you don't need to have a research background to get into a good program. After all, you can always get into research during or after residency.
 

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Logos' said:
I think some PSFellowships allow you to take significant time for research (not sure about UCSF’s) and this would further enhance your application to most top programs.

When I interviewed at UCSF I did get the impression that research was vital to a successful application, in fact the chair told me that they will try to take ¾ mudphud (which seems like a lot unless we have flooded the market this year). If that is true in future years then the remaining spots will be highly competitive and getting to know UCSF faculty members as a PSF (or visiting student) will likely be important.

Stanford’s mix seems more balanced and in my opinion the PSF/research would not have nearly as much impact if you have an otherwise strong application.

If you are happy with either Stanford or UCSF (and are willing to consider a few more schools) then I recommend applying without the PSF (but definitely complete an elective at one or both schools). If you really want to train at UCSF then I would strongly consider the PSF. From my perspective a year is not that much extra time as a student.
I agree with Logos. Big name programs want to produce academic pathologists and research makes a big difference in getting interviews. Stanford and UCSF are maybe the 2 most competitive programs to get into, so if you really want to stay in SF then do a year of research +/- PSF or somehow fit it in during med school. I have a friend applying to path who basically walks on water (top of the class, great recommendations, etc), but she has zero research experience or interest. She did not get interviews as some places that did offer interviews to lesser applicants. These other applicants, however, showed more promise in pursuing an academic career. I was told by an attending during one of my interviews that the ideal applicant was an MD/PHD, period.
 

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I was told by UCSF residents that the program only takes MD-only people who rotate there or do a PSF. The PSF there is like an R1 AP year--you have electives, but mostly do autopsy/surg path rotations, from what I understand. I don't know if you can do research too, but I think you probably could do small projects if you wanted (they seem to always encourage research.) But, if you do a PSF there, you are pretty much guaranteed a spot more for the connections than for any research you conduct, I would guess.
 

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Why not arrange a year of research at UCSF after you graduate from med school? The pay will be better than a PSF, and they definitely won't be able to question your dedication.
 

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I'm not sure a single year of research is really enough in their eyes. I think the perception is that if you are serious about an academic career, you would have done a PhD. (Perhaps that is true, I don't know.)

I don't know anything about a PSF...maybe that would get your foot in the door.
 

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cytoborg said:
I'm not sure a single year of research is really enough in their eyes. I think the perception is that if you are serious about an academic career, you would have done a PhD. (Perhaps that is true, I don't know.)

I don't know anything about a PSF...maybe that would get your foot in the door.
single year or two of research should be fine. judging from the number of straight MD's that do academic pathology, i don't think a PhD is any kind of prerequisite (however, with credential inflation, who knows ... in ten years ...)

again, from what i heard at UCSF, a PSF at UCSF would do more than getting your foot in the door...you'd get through the door and into the liquor cabinet in the resident room!
 
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AnnaLee

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Thanks for all the great advice everyone... I have looked into both UCSF and Stanford's PSF programs and both have 3-4 month research options. My difficulty is that I would really prefer not to defer my graduation by a year if I can swing it. I am very dedicated to doing academic medicine, but have really spent the majority of my extra-curricular time teaching. I haven't been able to drag myself into the lab except from a few months pre-med school at Stanford and two case reports I'm writing up (does that even count?). I am applying for an away rotation at UCSF late summer... So my question is do I need to take a year off for research just to improve my application? Sorry for all the detail but no one at my school seems to be able to help me on this.
 

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AnnaLee said:
Thanks for all the great advice everyone... I have looked into both UCSF and Stanford's PSF programs and both have 3-4 month research options. My difficulty is that I would really prefer not to defer my graduation by a year if I can swing it. I am very dedicated to doing academic medicine, but have really spent the majority of my extra-curricular time teaching. I haven't been able to drag myself into the lab except from a few months pre-med school at Stanford and two case reports I'm writing up (does that even count?). I am applying for an away rotation at UCSF late summer... So my question is do I need to take a year off for research just to improve my application? Sorry for all the detail but no one at my school seems to be able to help me on this.
to further qualify my previous comments...

This is Pathology. And Pathology is not derm, neurosurg, or other competitive fields where a year of research is typically needed to enhance one's application. My gut feeling is that to take a whole year off to do research may be a bit overkill. The away rotation should set you up nicely.
 

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You could always do something really novel, and contact the UCSF Dept. of Pathology residency program director (Patrick Treseler, MD, PhD) to try and get some honest advice.
 

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AndyMilonakis said:
This is Pathology. And Pathology is not derm, neurosurg, or other competitive fields where a year of research is typically needed to enhance one's application.
True, but this is also a pathology program that is considered upper tier, in one of the most desirable locations in the country, with a serious lean towards basic research and a spoken desire to recruit a significant percentage of MD/PhD's. Just being Devil's Advocate. Jeez, I kinda feel like a jerk now...
 

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Havarti666 said:
True, but this is also a pathology program that is considered upper tier, in one of the most desirable locations in the country, with a serious lean towards basic research and a spoken desire to recruit a significant percentage of MD/PhD's. Just being Devil's Advocate. Jeez, I kinda feel like a jerk now...
Well UCSF is a pretty big program and they do want 3/4 of them to be MD/PhD's. But if you look at their current list of residents, you don't see these proportions (although they do have a hefty # of MD/PhDs).

No need to feel like a jerk. Look, here's the thing. If a PhD is what they really want, then a year of PSF isn't gonna be a substitute. But for applying to pathology, at least now, PSF can only serve to help one's application. To re-iterate yaah-man, doing a PSF just to make oneself attractive to path programs is probably overkill. But who knows? Maybe the rise in pathology competitiveness will continue in the next few years to come :eek:

Havarti666 said:
You could always do something really novel, and contact the UCSF Dept. of Pathology residency program director (Patrick Treseler, MD, PhD) to try and get some honest advice.
Seriously though, Dr. Treseler is a cool guy. He seems very approachable and I'm sure he would be happy to answer questions.
 

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AndyMilonakis said:
Well UCSF is a pretty big program and they do want 3/4 of them to be MD/PhD's. But if you look at their current list of residents, you don't see these proportions (although they do have a hefty # of MD/PhDs).
Dr. Abbas, who I feel is fueling the program to become more Harvard-esque, has been the chair there for what, 2 or 3 years? I think it remains to be seen how successful he will be at snagging MD/PhD's. Indeed, the two residents who took me to lunch were both MD's heading straight for private practice, and they sounded a tiny bit sheepish about their lack of academic aspirations.

AndyMilonakis said:
No need to feel like a jerk. Look, here's the thing. If a PhD is what they really want, then a year of PSF isn't gonna be a substitute. But for applying to pathology, at least now, PSF can only serve to help one's application. To re-iterate yaah-man, doing a PSF just to make oneself attractive to path programs is probably overkill. But who knows? Maybe the rise in pathology competitiveness will continue in the next few years to come :eek:
The only thing that will substitute for a PhD is 5 years of concerted self-flagellation. Seriously, though, I agree that a PSF for AnnaLee is probably a waste of time, but she is still proposing to match in one of only two programs in a single area of the country. Both of them are competitive, and on paper at least her background is not congruent with UCSF's dream candidate. I hope she just applies and gets in, but if not then a year or two of research at the desired institution might advisable.

AndyMilonakis said:
Seriously though, Dr. Treseler is a cool guy. He seems very approachable and I'm sure he would be happy to answer questions.
True dat!
 

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AndyMilonakis said:
But who knows? Maybe the rise in pathology competitiveness will continue in the next few years to come :eek:
Fred Silva gave an interesting talk here a number of months ago. The data since about 1970 show that interest in pathology waxes and wanes on about a 10 year cycle, with '70, '80, '90, and '00 being low points. While past market performance is no guarantee of future success, if the cycle holds we should be peaking this year or soon after. The elimination of the 5th year might serve to increase the basal level of interest for the long term, though. That, and the seemingly increasing recognition that clinical medicine does, indeed, suck donkey balls.

I'm anticipating that in a year or two people will start freaking out about the job market again, in mass hysteria, and folks will be frightened off.
 

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Havarti666 said:
the cycle holds we should be peaking this year or soon after. The elimination of the 5th year might serve to increase the basal level of interest for the long term, though. That, and the seemingly increasing recognition that clinical medicine does, indeed, suck donkey balls.
G'damnit! WTF? When I applied to med school back in 1998, supposedly that year was near the peak of competitiveness or maybe it was the most competitive year. Applications at an all time high. And now when I apply to pathology, pathology has to be near its peak of competitiveness.

Somebody take me out the pasture and shoot me.
 

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AndyMilonakis said:
Somebody take me out the pasture and shoot me.
I'd prefer to donate you to a non-profit organization that supports unwanted and unloved pathologists and allows them to live out their lives in blissful peace on a farm in the Adirondacks.
 

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stormjen said:
I'd prefer to donate you to a non-profit organization that supports unwanted and unloved pathologists and allows them to live out their lives in blissful peace on a farm in the Adirondacks.
Just shoot me. I beg you.
 

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deschutes said:
Just shoot me. I beg you.
I can't personally shoot you for moral reasons, but I am sure we can find someone on this board to do it. Any takers?
 

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Havarti666 said:
The only thing that will substitute for a PhD is 5 years of concerted self-flagellation.
:laugh: There is truth to that statement. Andy may not believe it but 1-2 yrs of research is still not as good as a PhD in their eyes. (Damn him and his PhD too... ;) ) Matching there without this prerequisite seems to involve the luck of the match. I suppose if one were truly serious about that program, they would get a PhD to pad the ol' CV. :cool:
 

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Logos' said:
Is it an option to complete a PSF after graduating from medical school? If so that might be the original poster’s best bet since she could try next year and just rank UCSF/Stanford and if she did not get a spot she could then arrange a PSF with one of them (not sure how the timing would work out though). Any thoughts?
I think this would be a feasible option if the PSF year could count towards residency requirements. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. If the OP does a PSF after med school, it would be redundant with residency and probably a waste of her time. Again, this goes back to a question I brought up earlier in my first post in this particular thread.
Logos' said:
Also, I wonder how many UCSF will take next year. NRMP says 13 this year so, as with MGH, it may be less next year?
The rumor is that UCSF is taking 13 spots this year because of some screwup that happened last year. I heard that they will not be offering that many spots in next year's match (unless there is a screwup this year too).
Logos' said:
As far as the value of a PhD, I think it is a bit overstated. What matters is creative research published in good journals (the more the better). If you can accomplish that (in whatever time-frame) then physician-scientists will take you seriously as an MD only applicant.
I agree with this. One word of caution...research is fraught with uncertainty and is very serendipity-dependent. PhDs even have a hard time publishing in the good journals. But hey, if anybody gets a high profile paper, then the degree after your name doesn't matter. If the paper is judged to be of superb quality, then you should be regarded highly. I remember meeting an undergraduate a few years ago at a conference who was invited to do an oral presentation at a minisymposium. I believe the dude was a first author on a Science paper. Very impressive young man...nobody cared that he didn't even have a bachelors degree. :laugh:
 

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Havarti666 said:
I'm anticipating that in a year or two people will start freaking out about the job market again, in mass hysteria, and folks will be frightened off.
Gawd. I should put up a sticky now to ward off the threads. The stickie would read:

1) Don't pick a field because of job opportunities.
2) You are a doctor and good doctors find jobs. It's not like you are an IT worker.
3) You will be paid much more than the average american worker.
4) The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Get out while you still can and go work at a movie theater where they will appreciate your MD because they won't have to contract with an ambulance company.
 

deschutes

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Whoa. It seems to have fallen off the edge of the world.

We can now devote that space to more timely questions like - will doing dermpath allow me to retire when I'm 40?
 

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Logos' said:
As far as the value of a PhD, I think it is a bit overstated. What matters is creative research published in good journals (the more the better). If you can accomplish that (in whatever time-frame) then physician-scientists will take you seriously as an MD only applicant.
I seem to recall that both you and Andy are mudphuds, no? It's a different world for "MD-onlys" (as if we are deficient in some way?! :mad: ) even those who have done good research. We will see how it plays out....
 

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cytoborg said:
I seem to recall that both you and Andy are mudphuds, no? It's a different world for "MD-onlys" (as if we are deficient in some way?! :mad: ) even those who have done good research. We will see how it plays out....
Who? What? somebody say my name?
 

cytoborg

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AndyMilonakis said:
*shakes head*
*walks away*

mommy told andy to not fight. settle the conflict by conversation or walk away.
Well aren't you the gentleman. We now must mudwrassle.
 

cytoborg

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AndyMilonakis said:
why would it be heavy? it's a normal sized thesis.
Thesis v. lightsaber. I could slice that puny thing in two. Then we'll see who calls me "MD-only." :D