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Research project at Bascom Palmer vs. Unite for Sight international experience

sameer

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    I am in the process of preparing for my step 1 exam. I took the first rotation off which I will make up in the fourth year in order to buy some more time for the exam. I'm taking my exam August 8th and will be starting rotations September 11th so I'm trying to find something meaningful to do in this one month time period.
    I was looking into one of Unite for Sight's programs where I can volunteer in an eye clinic in India for a couple weeks and a couple of my friend's did the same program but did it for a month. Would this experience help me as an ophtho applicant even though its only for two weeks? The other alternative would be for me to contact my old lab chief at Bascom Palmer and see if I can work on my old project or something new for the month. I worked there last summer and wasn't able to publish anything but I've maintained correspondence with my boss and she thinks I still did a good job when I was there. Ofcourse going down there will not guarantee myself anything in return, I may get enough data to produce a poster, or I may not. The benefit here is that no matter what I can show my face and get a better recommendation letter.
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
     

    rubensan

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      i think the question that you need to ask yourself is: which of these 2 experiences would i rather do? your PI at BPEI is correct in that there is no guarantee that in one month you will generate enough data to publish an ARVO abstract. you are also correct in thinking that 2 weeks is a relatively short period of time to learn a lot of ophthalmolgy in India. both experiences would enhance your ophto application. one more than the other? i am not so sure. if your heart is set on BPEI, then a contiued presence and interest in a research project there will certainly not hurt you and can only help you.


      sameer said:
      I am in the process of preparing for my step 1 exam. I took the first rotation off which I will make up in the fourth year in order to buy some more time for the exam. I'm taking my exam August 8th and will be starting rotations September 11th so I'm trying to find something meaningful to do in this one month time period.
      I was looking into one of Unite for Sight's programs where I can volunteer in an eye clinic in India for a couple weeks and a couple of my friend's did the same program but did it for a month. Would this experience help me as an ophtho applicant even though its only for two weeks? The other alternative would be for me to contact my old lab chief at Bascom Palmer and see if I can work on my old project or something new for the month. I worked there last summer and wasn't able to publish anything but I've maintained correspondence with my boss and she thinks I still did a good job when I was there. Ofcourse going down there will not guarantee myself anything in return, I may get enough data to produce a poster, or I may not. The benefit here is that no matter what I can show my face and get a better recommendation letter.
      Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
       

      Jokestr

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        I somewhat agree with rubensan....If you dream of doing your residency at BPEI, then do more research their, meet more people, try and get something published/postered, and work on your letter of rec. That being said, if you would be happy doing your residency at many different locations, do the international work. I've done a lot of it, and although you may not learn a ton of ophtho in two weeks in India, you will learn far more about life through your experience of third world medicine! Either way, experiences like this do look great on apps and give you something really interesting to talk about on interviews. Good luck, and most importantly, nail step I!
         
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        JJMD

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          i vote for the trip to india. how many other applicants will have done that? now consider the number that toiled thanklessly in a lab. it will be a helluva lot more fun, too.
           

          lilybriscoe

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            I agree with JJMD. International experience is irreplaceable!!!

            My ophtho interviewers talked to me mainly about 3 things:

            My experience living in France, my work as an interpreter for victims of foreign torture and my planned rotation in Guatemala (which was rad, by the way).

            Besides the advantage it will give you in the interviews, you are likely to have a great time and come away with a new perspective on life & medicine.





            JJMD said:
            i vote for the trip to india. how many other applicants will have done that? now consider the number that toiled thanklessly in a lab. it will be a helluva lot more fun, too.
             

            rubensan

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              i think lily brings up an important point: different applications highlight different experiences. my interviews focussed a lot on the research i had done in medical school, grants, publications, etc because it was what i highlighted in my personal statement. in contrast, lily's international experience seems like it was a big part of her application. again, one is not better than the other. they are 2 very different paths. so again, the question falls on you. which of these experiences would you rather do? bottom line, don't base your future on what you think some program director or dept chair will want to read in your personal statement. afterall, there are no guarantees in life. rather, do things because you really want to do them.

              best of luck,
              ruben

              lilybriscoe said:
              I agree with JJMD. International experience is irreplaceable!!!

              My ophtho interviewers talked to me mainly about 3 things:

              My experience living in France, my work as an interpreter for victims of foreign torture and my planned rotation in Guatemala (which was rad, by the way).

              Besides the advantage it will give you in the interviews, you are likely to have a great time and come away with a new perspective on life & medicine.
               

              sameer

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                I've decided to go to Thailand through Unite For Site for three weeks starting mid August. I emailed my old lab chief at Bascom and she suggested that the volunteering would be a great way to see firsthand how ophthalmologists can make substantial contributions to humanity and will demonstrate a genuine interest in the field of ophtho. I think it will be a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and help improve people's lives. I'll give some feedback on the trip when I get back. Thanks for all the advice everyone.
                 
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