If we look at the 2020 Charting Outcomes for US Seniors, we see that of the 55 applicants who had a Step 1 Score between 231 and 240, 43 matched, for a match rate of about 78%. Unfortunately, it's worse for step 2 scores in the same range, with only 22 of 36 matching (61%). No data is given for whatever subset of applicants has similar scores for *both* tests.Dear experts,
I am in a sticky situation and I would love to get your honest advice!
I am a US MD/MPH candidate who is between MS3 and MS4 right now. I have been planning to apply to derm since 1st year. did a lot of research, have good mentors. But my step 1 score is not competitive for derm (Step 1 232). After step 1 I was told to do a research year and try to get a good score on step 2, and I'll have a lower but okay chance. So I worked very hard on step 2, however just recently (after I just started my derm research year) I got my score back and scored 20 pts lower than my practice tests predicted and got a 235. I have average grades and now with very average step 1/ below average step 2 I m worried that derm may not be realistic anymore. And since I can also see myself in surgery, despite the harder lifestyle, I am wondering if I should just give up on derm and try to maximize my chance with surgery for the rest of the research year. It's been a hard decision though because I ve done so much work for derm already that I feel like it's a pity to throw it all out.
Should I still apply for derm OR cut my losses and spend the rest of the years on research for surgery?
Heres more stats for your reference:
Things I have for derm:
1. 2 great mentors I can potentially get letters from
2. 13 publications so far (4-5 are chapters)
3. research year set up for derm
4. MPH degree
Cons: Step score/grades, alot of my research is in Mohs (i was told this is not favorably looked at by dermatologists)
Things I have for surgery:
1. maybe 4 publications (3 of which are book chapter that over lap w derm cause some of my work was in dermatologic surgery, 1 was pure surgery paper)
2. MPH degree
3. Extracurricular: president of woman in surgery group
Cons: only have 1 mentor I can ask for LOR, less research, scores also not great for surgery?
I would really appreciate any advice you can afford!
The overwhelming majority of derm applicants had 5 or more Abstracts, Presentations, and Publications - and the mean number for a successfully matched applicant was *19* (which personally I find ridiculous, but it is what it is). I can't speak to the quality of either your publications or those, because of course the only thing reported is the numbers.
A non-PhD graduate degree did not seem particularly helpful, with 81% of people who had one matching as opposed to 86% of people who didn't have one.
At this point, I would probably estimate your chances at matching derm, on the standpoint of numbers alone, as closer to 50/50. That is - not zero - but not as high as you might like.
The problem is this - you can coapply and have surgery as a backup, but everything but the personal statement and the letters of rec must be the same for all programs you apply to. That is, your derm-focused activities would be front and center. You'd still be a fine candidate for a surgical program - but you may get fewer interviews coapplying because they'll see they're clearly a backup.
At this point, there's no 100% right or wrong answer here. Many people would go all in and see if they can be in that upper half and match derm. Others might cut their losses. What does your home derm PD say?