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Thinking plastics after 5yr Gen Surg, need advice...

shureshure

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Jan 30, 2005
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    Hello,

    I'm entering a 5 yr gen surg program next year at a large university program. I just began considering plastics as a field.

    1) How competitive is it to enter a program after my 5th year and what is the timeline for applying / interviewing for such a spot.
    2) How many programs are there?
    3) What do they look for in candidates? What are the criteria used to choose candidates? Do they care about Step I scores from med school after gen surg?

    Thank you so much!
     

    GSresident

    PGY4 on July 1, 04
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    Jun 22, 2004
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    www.plasticsmatch.blogspot.com
      I am in the process of applying right now. You apply during your fourth year for a spot that starts after you finish your GS residency. Unfortunately it is now extremely competative and will only get worse as more and more programs switch to the combined/integrated model. The other thing that is making it ridiculously competative is the astonishing number of applicants. There are just under 100 spots available and there are about 400 people in the match. I wish I had better news for you.

      I am not sure if I will be able to match. I have been getting a lot of interview offers but the problem is that they interview like 40 people for 1 or 2 spots. If I don't match this year I will have to arrange a hand fellowship and reapply.

      If you want more detailed information on the timeline of the match etc I started a blog (online journal) of the process. I think there is a link to it in my signature.

      I am not sure how USMLE scores figure into the mix but I know that your ABSITE (In-service exam) scores are very important so you will want to start studying as soon as you get to your program. Best of luck.
       
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      GSresident

      PGY4 on July 1, 04
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        shureshure said:
        Thank you for the reply. What specifically did you do to make yourself a more competitive candidate? (tons of research, do well on absite, what else?) thanks again.

        The problem is I don't really know that I am that competative of an applicant. I have gotten enough interviews, but like I said it doesn't really mean anything. I have met some people who didn't match last year and all of them had >10 interviews. One guy went to 17 interviews and still didn't match.

        As far as research I have a couple of basic science papers but nothing too crazy. Its not like I published in science or nature. I did fairly well on the absite (top 20% all three years) but I didn't get like 99th percentile or anything too crazy. I got good letters. One was from our chair of plastics who is fairly well known. Another was from our previous chair of surgery, who is likewise well known (on the cover of the American College of Surgery Textbook). I also got the obligatory one from our program director but no one has even mentioned it so I am assuming it was average to hypoimpressive. But again, that is pretty standard for the people who are getting interviews.

        If I match I will hopefully be able to give you some perspective on what made a difference. So far the thing that seems to have been most important is the letter from the plastic surgery chairman. A close second would have to be the absite scores, as they have been mentioned as a strong positive at every program. I'll keep you posted through my blog.
         

        GSresident

        PGY4 on July 1, 04
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          The thing is, hand surgery is a huge part of any plastic surgeon's practice unless that surgeon does only cosmetic or chooses to limit his practice because he doesn't like hand.

          The timeline of finding a fellowship is such that if you apply for programs for the 2005 match, your program will start July 1, 2006. So if I don't match in the 2005 match, the next available fellowship spot won't be open until July 1, 2007. That leaves 1 year of time between when I finish GS and when the plastic surgery fellowship starts. For that 1 year I would rather pursue something that will add to my practice later on than do locum tenens or something. I don't know if you are any more competative with a hand fellowship but at least I will be a hand surgeon at the end of the year, and it certainly doesn't hurt you to have a hand fellowship arranged when you are re-applying for a plastic surgery fellowship. The bottom line is, it is much better to match the first time than to have to mess around arranging another fellowship in the meantime. The general consensus is that if you don't match the first time it is much more difficult to get a spot the second time around. I am not sure why it is that way, but most people I have talked to are of that opinion.
           

          surgerydoc

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          May 14, 2004
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            Being a IMG i think it is almost impossible for me to get even interviews at this time even though i am willing to go to any place in the country. I am trying to get some papers but even if i get them i think they are not going to be that good.
            I am debating btwn going to research or applying to hand surgery. Which one do u think would be a better way to go?
             

            GSresident

            PGY4 on July 1, 04
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              That question would be better put to an advisor. Do you know anyone in academic plastic surgery who would answer that question? I haven't matched yet and I am so far away from being matched that it hurts. My opinion on that matter should not even be given because it is a very important decision.

              You should have hope though. At every program I have interviewed at there has been at least one fellow with your circumstances. I can tell you that universally they got their spot through persistance. If you want it bad enough you will get it eventually.
               
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