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Preliminary year - good or bad idea?

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ManOntheRun

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I'm a 4th year and undecided between neuro and anesth. I would like to apply for a prelim year in medcine at this point, until I decide which area I like better. Will I have difficulty getting a position in either field applying as a PGY1? My main concern is that anesthesiology will get very competivitve within the next 2 years and there will be limited open spots...I feel like I should secure a position now so I don't lose out. Any suggestions ???

Also, my rotations in neuro and anesth are in Sept and Oct. Is this too late in the year as far as the application process goes?


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Winged Scapula

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Things are nearly always easier doing them the right way the first time. Thus, you may find that it is indeed more difficult to find a 2nd year spot in either Anesth or Neuro next year (especially Anesth). However, every year there are PGY-2/CA-2 spots which do open up and would be available to you for applying during your Prelim internship. You will not have the luxury of applying once - saving money - and the relative depth of options as compared to what you may find next year.

I do not know the typical application deadlines for either Neuro and Anesth - my only concern would be that should you desire LORs from supervisors on those rotations, you may find yourself (and the letter writer) in a bit of a pinch come application deadlines.

These are two fairly disparate fields. However, if you cannot possibly make up your mind before application time, it seems to me that you have little choice but either sit out a year, chose one over the other or take a Prelim year and hope to make up your mind then (BTW, a Prelim year will typically not include any Neuro or Anesth so I am unsure as to how it will aid you in your decision, unless all you need is time). If you choose to do a Prelim year, you will make things insignificantly harder for yourself than if you sat out a year (unless that year was spent doing something really interesting medically).
 
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