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Stanford and UCSF thoughts/opinions

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gogiants

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hey folks, hope you are all winding down on the interviews as i know i am officially burnt out on them and broke.

Stanford and UCSF are 2 of my top choices and I am really interested in any opinions people might have on either or both of the programs from interview day, away rotations, friends that go there, etc. I did not rotate at either place and am regretting that now. I know residents at both places work hard but in general it seems that Stanford has the "happier" reputation. I've basically heard almost nothing but negative opinions on UCSF which is really a bummer because it is such an amazing program. Based on things I've heard I was surprised by how impressed by it I was when I interviewed there. The residents were incredibly nice and fun people who were offended by the idea that their program was malignant (as the rumor mill says). They seemed to genuinely pleased with the program although they did not try to claim that it was a walk in the park or anything. Also, it seems that not filling last year really shook things up in a good way. Already added more didactics and are hiring CRNAs. Dr. Miller's motto for the day was "the status quo is not acceptable" which said to me that they are very open to change and reviewing what is wrong and right about the program. I liked this too. I'm certainly glad I went to the interview and can't believe I was so put off by the rumors that I almost cancelled it.

Anybody with fact/experience based opinions on either program I would love to hear them. Thanks.
 

Leto

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Hi, I'm one of the CA-1's from Stanford. I was in a similar spot as you a couple of years ago, so here's my take on the Stanford/UCSF debate. First off, if you wind up at either program, you're doing just fine. The fact that you are interviewing at both places (notoriously stingy for their interview spots) in such a competitive year means you're a solid candidate. Both UCSF and Stanford are top notch programs with world-class faculty, research, and more than enough experience in every sub-specialty area. The rumor mill of what program is "malignant" etc has been grinding it out for years and is usually largely due to an individual's personal expectations/experiences rather than the actual program, i.e. two different people with different backgrounds can look at the same program and have two dichotomous opinions. The real differences between the two are smaller than some would lead you to believe, and then it is really up to you to decide how important those differences are. I can testify to Stanford's half of the following- perhaps a UCSF CA-1 would kindly help us out with the other half.

Location
- Palo Alto/Mountain View is not San Francisco in terms of all things "city." Then again, it's not San Francisco similarly in the department of traffic/congestion either.

Workhours
- After 6 months here, I'm averaging 55hrs/week (including call). In the Stanford Main OR (the majority of your time here), your first CA-1 month has no call, and your 2nd month has no overnight or weekend call. After that point, in the Main OR, I'm personally averaging 4 calls per 4 week block, one 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd, and one 4th. The VA and Valley work differently and each has their pros and cons. I was fortunate enough to go my first 4 months of residency with at least 2-day weekends every week. w00t.

Clinical experience
- You really can't go wrong here. I would venture that the majority of patients I've worked with thusfar have been ASA-III or higher. Even after 6 months, the CA-1's are doing cranis, major trauma, kidney transplants, vascular, OB, and peds. We definitely have elective time- some of my co-residents are already doing OB/GYN, Peds, and Pain.

Resident Cohesiveness
- The biggest factor for me when I was applying. The people here seems genuinely happy (as far as I can tell) and are fun people to hang out with. Speaking from personal experience, the CA-1's (the single ones anyway) hang out on a weekly/biweekly basis for dinner/drinks/movies as our call schedules allow.

Misc
- The department here really loves us (yes, Janine, we know you do, so don't deny it!). We get constant appreciation in many forms- a bunch of free stuff, annual Tahoe retreat, and most importantly, when the residents were staying later due to higher surgical volume, a day-off program was instituted that you can accumulate time towards.

Bottom Line
- Pick the program that suits you best. Don't let other people's labels of malignancy disuade you if you feel like that's where you fit in. Overall, based on my personal values/opinions/experiences, we have it nicer here at Stanford. If you're a hardcore antisocial I-didn't-match-in-Neurosurgery type, you're probably not going to fit in here too well- and I doubt your hardcoreness would be appreciated at UCSF either...
- I highly recommend doing a 2nd look visit if you still have uncertainties.
- If all else fails, use the Force.

Feel free to PM me with any questions,
-Leto

[Original post edited for some irrelevant material]
 

xjohns1

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i'm one of the ca-1's at ucsf, so i can try to give some first-hand info about what it's like here.
as to the malignancy question, i think many of us at ucsf aren't sure what people who label us as that mean. we do work hard: in the ucsf (moffitt-long) or's (thought to be the most intense of our 4 major hospital rotations), my days average 12 hours m-f. there is no predictable relief at the end of the day, however there is a $75 dinner reimbursement if you stay past 1900 on a non-call day. almost all of my weekends have been completely free so far this year. however, call responsibilities, although very light as a ca-1, increase significantly during ca-2 and ca-3 years. clearly, the ca-2's and ca-3's are working harder than the ca-1's. the department has recently hired several crna's to work at the moffitt-long hospitals beginning early 2007, and it is unclear exactly how they will be used. although the days can be long and stressful, the reward is doing large, complicated cases on very sick patients even as a ca-1: truama, ob, craniotomies, huge prone spine operations, kidney transplants, liver donors, minor peds cases, etc.
i think our work hours are the only way we could be considered malignant. the faculty i've worked with so far have almost uniformly been supportive, helpful, engaged, and bright. there are field-leading experts in almost every aspect of anesthesiology here that you will work with starting from day 1. the department has considerable respect and influence in the medical school which can make your day-to-day work a little easier.
didactics are not as heavily emphasized here as at some places i interviewed at. we have recently added new sessions, but even mark rosen, the pd, says this is not a spoon-feeding program.
i think a major distinguishing feature of the program at ucsf is that we have only 1 month of elective time during the entire program. if having elective time is important to you, this is something to carefully consider.

there are many other aspects of the program and department that i could write about, but i think this most directly addresses the orginal question. i, too, am happy to answer other questions.
 

greets fr. nyc

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nice, real solid replies from two awesome places.


see you next year, leto.
 

gogiants

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Wow. Those were great posts. Very lucky to have 2 CA-1s on this website. I really appreciate the help from both of you guys and will be PMing you with questions in the future. Thanks.
 
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