rkaz

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How much influence does the quality of the program coordinator impact one's decision to rank a program? How much interaction will we have with PCs as a resident?

I am asking because I have seen both shades of PC. Almost every PC I have met have been truly wonderful and kind, and I know they'd go to bat for me if I needed it. I can't thank most of them enough for their kindness.

On the other hand, there was one program

[... Edit: this section of post removed for privacy]

Just wanted to ask. Thanks!
 
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inmyslumber

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Program Coordinators are sometimes more focused on residents and do not really invest time with medical students. This has been the case in my med school rotations and in my department. Don't let issues with the PCs change how you rank the Program. He/she may not even be in that position by the time you are a resident.

If he/she is still there when you are a resident, realize you will have to be on top of things that he/she "should" do. When I was a resident, I was hesitant to have my PC handle applications or exam registrations for me because I did not trust it would be done reasonably quickly. I usually did things myself or if I couldn't, I would follow up the next day to see if the task had been done.

It will be annoying to have a less-than-great PC, but hopefully the quality of the residency program is not dependent on the PC.
 
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MadHopsMD

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If PC is unfriendly, I would think there is something wrong with the program. They are like ambassadors of the program. And their unfriendliness could be a tick down attitude from the top. I would reconsider the who program if they are a "meanie", hard to believe since I have yet to met one.
 
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rkaz

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Every other PC has been super nice and helpful to me. It was just one single person who was unresponsive. I auditioned at another progran, and the PC there was awesome and totally on top of things.
 
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rkaz

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(double post)
 
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rkaz

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mommy2three

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I can only say that I have an interview coming up someplace with a PC that was notoriously hard to get ahold of for scheduling an interview
It makes me very nervous about ranking them or going there simply because I know that they are the ones that are supposed to be helping me keep things straight and organized.
It will be one of the questions I tactfully ask during my interview - I feel like it is a concern that needs to be addressed.
 

inmyslumber

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Please take my post above with a grain of salt...or whatever the expression is. I think the PC at my program now is OK but not great. I have met really great PCs. I wish our PC was more dedicated to making things run well but I have seen worse.
 

Law2Doc

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Once a resident, your degree of interaction with the program coordinator won't be all that significant. (Unless you are a habitual screw up). Really just someone chasing you now and then to take care of various administrative things.
 

SouthernSurgeon

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Once a resident, your degree of interaction with the program coordinator won't be all that significant. (Unless you are a habitual screw up). Really just someone chasing you now and then to take care of various administrative things.
Our PC is pretty involved. She handles the majority of the scheduling, vacation requests, licensing renewals, etc.

It would suck if she wasn't good at her job. Or if she didn't like me.
 

Winged Scapula

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Once a resident, your degree of interaction with the program coordinator won't be all that significant. (Unless you are a habitual screw up). Really just someone chasing you now and then to take care of various administrative things.
I agree with southernIM: our PC was involved, pretty much a surrogate mother. She handled our administrative tasks like case logs, licensing, DEA, CME, outside rotation requests, and of course, match related duties. For some residents she helped set up electronic payments for their utilities, reducing the number of times the electricity got turned off for non-payment; was emotionally supportive when I had a death in the family and rejoiced with others when they had new babies. She worked there for 30 years so was a big part of our lives.
 
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MadHopsMD

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Once a resident, your degree of interaction with the program coordinator won't be all that significant. (Unless you are a habitual screw up). Really just someone chasing you now and then to take care of various administrative things.
Law2Doc is also correct. But it really depends on the size of the program. Internal medicine with 30 residents, PC would not matter much. But smaller residency program, a PC could be the heart and soul of the place. You be surprised the power they have...
 
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SouthernSurgeon

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Law2Doc is also correct. But it really depends on the size of the program. Internal medicine with 30 residents, PC would not matter much. But smaller residency program, a PC could be the heart and soul of the place. You be surprised the power they have...
It's definitely variable. I think general surgery programs in particular have a reputation for the "den mother" type of PC. WingedScapula's PC sounds exactly like mine. Celebrates births and weddings and birthdays; is the emotional resource most of us go to when struggling with a personal crisis; etc.

I just wanted to give the counterpoint to L2D - it's not always easy to skirt by residency without interacting with the PC often. It depends on the program and the PC.
 
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Dral

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Law2Doc is also correct. But it really depends on the size of the program. Internal medicine with 30 residents, PC would not matter much. But smaller residency program, a PC could be the heart and soul of the place. You be surprised the power they have...
Respectfully disagree

The PC at my intern year program of ~60 interns was very involved with all of us. Two years later I STILL email her for things like copies of my certificate, and she still remembers me and is very helpful.
 
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Law2Doc

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Clearly it's variable. Some programs are much more resident run, with the chief handling all the schedules/vacations. In that case, the PC is mostly in charge of recruitment/interview days, licensing and ACGME issues. Not stuff that matters to residents on a daily basis, although sure it's nice if they actually remember you when you need a certificate years later. Den mother is a nice analogy, but much like in scouts where you only interact with a den mother for maybe an hour every Tuesday evening, the role is not always going to be as involved as some are suggesting.
 

Dral

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I interact with my Current PC on at least a weekly basis. We are getting emails from her often and is our point of contact for all the hospital related things we need to take care of. I'd consider that significant contact.

I don't believe it is correct to make blanket statements about this topic.
 

Law2Doc

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... We are getting emails from her often and is our point of contact for all the hospital related things we need to take care of...
This is precisely the kind of contact I'm saying really isn't significant enough to make residency decisions over. I get weekly emails from quite a few people and really consider that insignificant contact. Significant contact is where the person is involved in or in some way impacts your day to day life. Your PD, your chief resident etc. Now if the PC oversees schedules or is the person who decides if you can take vacation, or trade calls etc, I'm sure that's a bit more significant, but as I've mentioned, this isn't really a universal role for PCs.
 

SouthernSurgeon

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This is precisely the kind of contact I'm saying really isn't significant enough to make residency decisions over. I get weekly emails from quite a few people and really consider that insignificant contact. Significant contact is where the person is involved in or in some way impacts your day to day life. Your PD, your chief resident etc. Now if the PC oversees schedules or is the person who decides if you can take vacation, or trade calls etc, I'm sure that's a bit more significant, but as I've mentioned, this isn't really a universal role for PCs.

That sounds "insignificant" until the person responsible for those insignificant tasks either routinely screws them up or doesn't do them at all. Just because you don't have to chat with them everyday doesn't mean things aren't going on behind the scenes.

I never said a PC should make or break a ranking decision - but at my program at least, she is involved on a daily basis with making our program run smoothly
 

Law2Doc

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That sounds "insignificant" until the person responsible for those insignificant tasks either routinely screws them up or doesn't do them at all. Just because you don't have to chat with them everyday doesn't mean things aren't going on behind the scenes.

I never said a PC should make or break a ranking decision - but at my program at least, she is involved on a daily basis with making our program run smoothly
Way to misquote me. I didn't in any way suggest their role was insignificant. Please. We were talking about how significant one's contact would be with the PC when in residency -- totally different concept

And I'm not suggesting it wouldn't be a problem if they can't do their job well, I'm saying there are about 40 other people in the hospital who are more able to make your day to day life great or miserable before you'd get don to the PC on the list. That not a dig on PCs or their worth, that's just the way they tend to be integrated in residents day to day lives. Somebody has to keep the interview days running monthly and make sure the ACGME gets what it needs each month. But none of that impacts me if I don't miss a form due date or forget a time sheet.

And yes, when this question is posed by a med student talking about whether a PC will go to bat for them etc, I have to think the inference is that this is about whether this should factor into a residency decision. It shouldn't. Or at least not significantly.
 
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Law2Doc

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Way to misquote me. I didn't in any way suggest their role was insignificant. Please. We were talking about how significant ones contact would be with the PC -- totally different concept.

And I'm not suggesting it wouldn't be a problem if they can't do their job well, I'm saying there are about 40 other people in the hospital who are more able to make your day to day life great or miserable before you'd get don to the PC on the list. That not a dig on PCs or their worth, that's just the way I see it play out personally. Somebody has to keep the interview days running monthly and make sure the ACGME gets what it needs each month. But none of that impacts me if I don't miss a form due date or forget a time sheet.

And yes, when this question is posed by a med student talking about whether a PC will go to bat for them etc, I have to think the inference is that this is about whether this should factor into a residency decision. It shouldn't. Or at least not significantly.
 

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As if people need more things to hyper-obsess over, now we are going to critique the program secretaries?

Will you get a lot of emails from this person? Sure, but who cares. I could not imagine having let this impact my ranking decisions. The only way the PC can greatly influence you is if you are a jerk to them as an applicant, and then watch yourself plummet on the programs rank list.
 

SouthernSurgeon

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Way to misquote me. I didn't in any way suggest their role was insignificant. Please. We were talking about how significant one's contact would be with the PC when in residency -- totally different concept
Was not intending to misquote you or misinterpret. But you seem very bent on taking the hardline that PC's don't really affect the day to day life of residents and that residents' contact with them is very limited.

At my program, this is decidedly not the case. I have no evidence to support this besides anecdote, but I believe at a lot of other similarly sized programs, the PC is similarly integral.
 
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Dral

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At my program, this is decidedly not the case. I have no evidence to support this besides anecdote, but I believe at a lot of other similarly sized programs, the PC is similarly integral.
Agree. I'd be kinda miserable if my PC was a jerk. Although it may mean less than other factors, I believe it should factor in to the overall gestalt of a program.

Similarly, some of what made me choose my med school was the quality of the financial aid staff.

I guess that stuff is more important to me. *shrug*
 
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IM2GI

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Agree. I'd be kinda miserable if my PC was a jerk. Although it may mean less than other factors, I believe it should factor in to the overall gestalt of a program.

Similarly, some of what made me choose my med school was the quality of the financial aid staff.

I guess that stuff is more important to me. *shrug*
Why? Are you a chief? I cant imagine, even if the PC was a horrible dingus, that it would impact my life enough to change my feelings about a program. Other than reminder emails, duty logs, forms and evaluations, it wasnt like I was talking with these people on a regular basis.

*shrug* as you say.
 
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rkaz

rkaz

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As if people need more things to hyper-obsess over, now we are going to critique the program secretaries?
I asked the original question, though I had removed part of my post, because it contained too much personal detail.

For the most part, I agree with you. Of my 16 interviews, I was only planning to factor into consideration the PC for 2 of them. One of the 2 seemed exceptionally good, and the other of the 2, was the... er, opposite. The other 14 PCs have all been nice (at least, of the places I've interviewed thus far), and won't affect my decision making one bit.

My only concern was that the PC who I had significant frustration with, is the PC at one of my prime locations. The program is decent, but I do really like that city most preferentially. I had been interested in the program enough to do an audition rotation there. Had I not scheduled my audition rotation at the site, I would have never known how unresponsive the PC could be, as she was nice enough on interview day. Her unresponsiveness cost me, as it disrupted the scheduling of another audition rotation (which I was forced to drop because of this PCs lack of response), and caused 3 months of frustration, as I tried for months to contact her, and she wouldn't return her voicemail or emails. (And no, I did not leave too many messages as I was trying to be as non-annoying as possible.) While I still have some interest in the program, my experiences with that PC dampened my mood considerably. I don't know if it should or not, since I'd really love to live in that city.

So I don't think I'm hyper obsessing about PCs, as it's really the ends of the spectrum that concern me enough to matter.
 
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IM2GI

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I asked the original question, though I had removed part of my post, because it contained too much personal detail.

For the most part, I agree with you. Of my 16 interviews, I was only planning to factor into consideration the PC for 2 of them. One of the 2 seemed exceptionally good, and the other of the 2, was the... er, opposite. The other 14 PCs have all been nice (at least, of the places I've interviewed thus far), and won't affect my decision making one bit.

My only concern was that the PC who I had significant frustration with, is the PC at one of my prime locations. The program is decent, but I do really like that city most preferentially. I had been interested in the program enough to do an audition rotation there. Had I not scheduled my audition rotation at the site, I would have never known how unresponsive the PC could be, as she was nice enough on interview day. Her unresponsiveness cost me, as it disrupted the scheduling of another audition rotation (which I was forced to drop because of this PCs lack of response), and caused 3 months of frustration, as I tried for months to contact her, and she wouldn't return her voicemail or emails (and no, I did not leave too many messages as I was trying to be as non-annoying as possible). While I still have some interest in the program, my experiences with that PC dampened my mood considerably. I don't know if it should or not, since I'd really love to live in that city.

So I don't think I'm hyper obsessing about PCs, as it's really the ends of the spectrum that concern me enough to matter.
Sounds like she either a) Sucks at her job b) Doesn't like dealing with medical students.

Why as a medical student were you going through the internal medicine residency coordinator? Shouldn't that have all been handled by internal medicine clerkship people? I never did an away rotation, but it seems odd that the residency coordinator would be in charge of you.
 
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I am not applying IM. This program coordinator handled the medical student audition rotations as well. She is fairly new. Maybe she was overwhelmed and found medical students to be pesky and draining, but it was no excuse to not return communication for months (or not at all).

But yes, at the another program I auditioned at, the PC was different from the med student coordinator.
 

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The problem you had with that particular Program Coordinator was when you were a medical student and she was still new in the job. To point out the obvious, you won't be a medical student when you are a resident and she will be at least a year into the job. Also, if the Program Coordinator prioritises communication with people inside the program over those outside the program, will that still matter to you once you are inside the program?

People often make life-changing career decisions on what can turn out to be pretty flimsy evidence, and there is often nothing that can be done to improve the quality of the evidence available before you make the decision. In the end, the best way to make an otherwise impossible decision is to choose what you think you will regret the least and then make the best of whatever happens.
 

Law2Doc

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I asked the original question, though I had removed part of my post, because it contained too much personal detail.

For the most part, I agree with you. Of my 16 interviews, I was only planning to factor into consideration the PC for 2 of them. One of the 2 seemed exceptionally good, and the other of the 2, was the... er, opposite. The other 14 PCs have all been nice (at least, of the places I've interviewed thus far), and won't affect my decision making one bit.

My only concern was that the PC who I had significant frustration with, is the PC at one of my prime locations. The program is decent, but I do really like that city most preferentially. I had been interested in the program enough to do an audition rotation there. Had I not scheduled my audition rotation at the site, I would have never known how unresponsive the PC could be, as she was nice enough on interview day. Her unresponsiveness cost me, as it disrupted the scheduling of another audition rotation (which I was forced to drop because of this PCs lack of response), and caused 3 months of frustration, as I tried for months to contact her, and she wouldn't return her voicemail or emails. (And no, I did not leave too many messages as I was trying to be as non-annoying as possible.) While I still have some interest in the program, my experiences with that PC dampened my mood considerably. I don't know if it should or not, since I'd really love to live in that city.

So I don't think I'm hyper obsessing about PCs, as it's really the ends of the spectrum that concern me enough to matter.
If the program is decent and the location is desirable, rank it as highly as you would if the PC was a different person. This person shouldn't really influence your decision IMHO. I think it's clear on this thread that the PCs involvement with residents is pretty variable, and really may not be a day to day kind of involvement. Despite our different views, I think very few residents on this thread are suggesting that this should be a real factor in ranking programs. Heck, if they are really bad at their job, you probably aren't the only one who sees it, and they may not even be there by the time you are deep in residency.
 

Law2Doc

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Was not intending to misquote you or misinterpret. But you seem very bent on taking the hardline that PC's don't really affect the day to day life of residents and that residents' contact with them is very limited.

At my program, this is decidedly not the case. I have no evidence to support this besides anecdote, but I believe at a lot of other similarly sized programs, the PC is similarly integral.
It's very different to suggest that contact with residents is insignificant versus saying that someone's job is insignificant -- Your interpretation sought to make it seem like I was demeaning their job/career choice and I really wasn't. In fact i never even suggested the PCs role isn't "integral". They have a very important role, I totally agree with that. HOWEVER, I would say at many programs their role is heavily skewed toward interview days, ACGME compliance, licensing issues, and that those functions, although they impact the residency, are not a day to day areas of concern for most residents at most programs. Hope that clarifies my position. I'm sure there are programs like yours where they do additional things like scheduling, vacations, but that certainly isn't universal, and likely not even at the majority of places.

As is clear in the prior post, the OP is asking to what extent the PC should be a factor in his ranking. I personally think probably not that much.
 

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The quality of a program coordinator is probably one of the biggest, if not biggest, surrogate markers for determining overall program quality.

In my experience, a poor program coordinator means that the department does not wish to use its better secretarial staff for the residency program, opting instead to save them for other uses within the department. It also means that resident feedback, and potentially even staff feedback, is probably not valued there (residents definitely bring up concerns about bad PCs to their PDs).

If a program coordinator is bad, it may indicate that the chief or head of the department is not dedicated to resident education and does not listen to the PD when concerns are brought up, or that the PD wants to tread as lightly as possible to secure academic promotion and feels that the PC is not worth commenting on.

A bad program coordinator means that the program probably does not value the residency program beyond its function of providing GME funding dollars and padding the call schedule.

Bad program coordinators make life very difficult for residents in the program, with stupid little administrative tasks being missed or botched on a regular basis which eats into the off-duty time of residents. The chief residents in such programs essentially have to do the job of the PC in addition to their other clinical and chiefing duties.

I recommend that all students pay attention to the program coordinator at each program, and ask residents about them. Take heed of late emails and other correspondences, and the tone of them. Evaluate the PC as much as you would the PD.
 

Dral

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I am not a chief. I DO talk to my PC on a regular basis. That is fine if you don't. My point in this thread is:

1. OP asked if PC is important to consider ranking program
2. Posters alluded to the fact that there isn't much interaction with PC (and we are to assume giving the advice that PC shouldn't be much of a factor in choosing a program).
3. Other posters, such as myself, state that our PC's DO have a bearing on things we do and that we feel it may be worth considering in ranking a program.

Of course, one should take into consideration residency type, specific program, program size, etc.

However, my point stands that making blanket statements about interactions not mattering is probably not the best advice to the OP, since while true for some or probably even most, is not true for all.

As always OP, take things on this forum with a grain of salt (including my posts).

...and Substance summed things up beautifully, btw. Couldn't have explained it better myself.
 
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