scores to get into top IM program and apply for cardiology fellowship

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Mar 15, 2006
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I am really curious at what is the average step 1 and 2 score in order to be competitive when applying for some of the top IM programs? Can a national average step1 score plus high step 2 score get you in? Personally I am trying to get into a good IM program so that I can apply for a good cardiology fellowship later. Any advice for an M3?

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Posting this for a friend:

"I go to a bottom 300 high school and scored a 27 on the ACT. What are my chances for an advanced GI fellowship in ERCP? I have a strong LOR from my History/PE teacher and some research experience (poster exhibit at science fair).

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Yes, you can definitely get in to a good enough medicine residency to get into cardiology fellowship.
Your scores sound like my Step 1 and 2 scores. I went to a well known medical school, which probably helped somewhat. I wasn't particularly that high in my med school class, but I did work my a-- off. I think my letters of rec were good and Dean's letter was OK, though one could definitely tell I wasn't AOA, etc.

Go ahead and apply to IM. You will be fine. You'll find out that places will roll out the red carpet for you. There are just a lot of IM spots and not that many people applying.

If you are asking if an only-average Step 1 score will keep you out of, say, Harvard, well it could, especially if you don't have publications and/or a famous faculty member at your institution to write a letter of recommendation for you. There are probably only a few medicine programs that screen people out based on Step scores (like throw out everyone under 230). I think your Step 2 score will help you.

For what it's worth, USMLE scores really aren't "where it's at" for cardiology fellowship application. My 2 and 3 scores are high and while I think it did help me somewhat at some places I applied, cardiology is more of a "who you know" type of field. Letters of recommendation and where you went to residency become important. Where you went to med school may help somewhat if it's well known/competitive, but if it's not you can still match to a good cards program, particularly if they like your residency program.

I suggest to apply to good academic programs in the region of the country where you want to live, plus your own medical school. Consider applying to a "short track" program if you have any interest at all in research and/or academics, because by doing that you can get a guaranteed cardiology fellowship spot. they will take off 1 year of the 3 of medicine residency and add a research year as a "cardiology fellow". It's a fairly good deal, though usually requires at least 2 total years of research.
Oh I forgot

I think doing residency at a place with a cardiology dept that is well known (among other academic medical centers/cardiology departments) is important also. In other words, if you have a choice between a solid academic medicine program without a large or well known cards division, vs. another academic hospital with a very well known cards dept, choose the latter. It can be hard to figure out when you are a medical student ,whether one hospital is better known for onc. vs. another well known for renal and cards, etc. However, you should try to do this during your residency interviews and/or by asking faculty at your medical school.