Hello, everyone. I am a third-year medical student interested in anesthesiology. I would like to go to one of the top anesthesia programs in California (top), though I will probably apply to all the programs in the west and east coasts. I am currently attending a mid-tier medical school on the east coast (top 50) with a USMLE STEP1 score of 255+ and Honors (surgery, OB/Gyn) and High Passes (Ped) from Clinical Clerkships - haven't received other clerkship grades yet. I have participated in clinical research while in med school and published a first author paper on one of the major journals. I also have extensive basic science research from NIH and have numerous publications, poster presentations, conference presentations, etc. Haven't taken STEP2 yet. I am interested in pain fellowship and hopefully stay in academics throughout my career. I would like to get into top programs in California, but as mentioned above, I would like to also apply very broadly. Here are some of my questions: 1. As a third-year medical student, what can I do to make myself more competitive to the top programs in the nation? 2. Any suggestions for the residency programs that will make you more prepared for future pain fellowship? (I am willing to go to a program if it's known for good pain fellowship). If somebody knows the list of programs that are good for pain fellowship, please let me know. 3. I have done a good amount of research but haven't done any specific research that is directly related to anesthesiology. Should I start thinking about doing research specifically for anesthesiology at this point? 4. Should I do away rotations in some of these top programs to increase my chances? I heard that if you have a good step score, it could actually hurt you. 5. I would really like to go to a program in Cali (Stanford, UCSF, etc.), but I do not have any regional attachments (eg. no family members). Do I still have chances matching into a program in California? If you have any other suggestions or tips, please share! Thanks in advance.