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UCLA vs. UCSF

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ryanpahler, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. ryanpahler

    ryanpahler New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    This question has been asked as a side note in a few other threads, but hasn't gotten much attention. I've been fortunate enough to be accepted to both schools and am having the hardest time making a decision. It seems like most people who get accepted to both schools go to UCSF. Is this simply because UCSF has a higher ranking? Here's why I'm struggling so much:

    UCLA:
    students are very laid back/ no gunners
    p/f all 4 years
    I love Westwood!
    undergrad campus
    great sports programs
    arguably less prestigious program

    UCSF
    better ranking
    arguably will be easier to match into a better residency
    foggy weather
    SF - could be a pos or a neg, not sure yet
    only p/f first 2 years
    more gunners (this is the vibe I got. Please let me know if you have evidence otherwise)

    So basically if it weren't for the difference in ranking, I would go with UCLA. UCSF is just so hard to pass up! I'm very curious to hear from people who have been in this situation before, especially from people who ultimately chose UCLA over UCSF.
     
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  3. pyrois

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    Sounds like you just want a bunch of people to tell you it's okay to go to UCLA over UCSF so...

    It's okay to go to UCLA over UCSF.
     
  4. byong_soo

    byong_soo Member

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    first of all congrats!
    it's premature to assume that UCLA has no gunners.
    location-wise, SF is not too far behind, and as far as school goes, UCSF is a far better school (impeccable matchlist!)
    i think you ought to go to UCSF unless you fell in LOVE with UCLA.
    and if you can't decide, go to SF.
     
  5. pennybridge

    pennybridge Banned
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    some of us develop a rash and our skin starts sloughing off if we stay in norcal too long...



    so yeah, UCLA is pretty sweet if you have that.
     
  6. sagemedecon

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    I think you're kidding yourself if you think UCLA doesn't have gunners.
     
  7. monday_best

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    I gave up my UCSF acceptance, but I'm still holding on to my UCLA spot.

    I have a gut feeling, having to do mostly with the students and faculty I met and the location (LA weather >>> SF weather for me), that I would be a lot happier in LA than SF. As far as I'm concerned, doing well at either school (it's not like UCLA isn't one of the most prestigious schools in the country) will help me get to where I want to be. UCSF didn't have any special draw for me other than its reputation (or if I knew I definitely wanted to do research in certain areas). Go where you'll be happiest, and don't worry too much about what others think.
     
  8. jaydoc07

    jaydoc07 Junior Member

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    if you're good enough to gain acceptance to UCSF, then you are good enough to match wherever their people match. going to one school or the other most likely will not make you any better. if you like LA that much better, you should take UCLA and run with it.
     
  9. DMac84

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    Hey man,

    Thanks for starting this thread, as I'm currently faced with the same decision. I loved UCLA and I liked UCSF, based on the feelings I got from the interview days. I actually know a lot of people who chose UCLA over UCSF and they are very happy with their decisions. On the other hand, I also know a few people who chose UCSF over UCLA even though they liked UCLA better. One guy who did this said he has no regrets about his decision, but still has that feeling that he may have made the wrong choice.

    I definitely agree that UCSF is hard to pass up. But it's true that it will have more gunners. UCLA will have gunners (just like any med school in the country) but I think the students there are arguably more balanced. The Admissions commitee is very careful with their decisions.. they could easily choose people with high MCATs and high GPAs, but they don't (just check out the UCLA threads - there are tons of HIGHLY qualified individuals with amazing numbers who did not get into UCLA).

    Another factor that you should consider (although it definitely shouldn't be used to make or break your decision) is the prologue at UCSF. I've heard from several people that it's a brutal way to start med school. After this, it gets much easier, but it's something to think about.

    Anyway, keep us updated on your thoughts. I also want to make sure I have all the informaiton to make a well-informed decision.
     
  10. Fzma

    Fzma Alopthy

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    What is "the prologue" at UCSF? How long is it?
     
  11. OCPreMed

    OCPreMed Member

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    UCSF all the way... its the best school medical school in the United States hands down. UCLA is great, but not UCSF..


    what are you thinkin bud
     
  12. davee

    davee New Member

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    I agree, plus, I have lived in both cities, and SF>>>LA IMHO
     
  13. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    UCLA has hot undergrads that you can hit on, UCSF doesn't.:D
     
  14. Steve203

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    dude its not even close...UCSF wayyy over UCLA...like a previous poster said you'd have to be an idiot to pick UCLA over UCSF
     
  15. Steve203

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    and the only hot undergrads at UCLA are on north campus....you will never see any of them...south campus majors (where the med school is) are butt ugly dorks
     
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  17. pennybridge

    pennybridge Banned
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    that's why you don't go to your south campus classes ;)

    ps. walk around north campus in scrubs and see what happens :D
     
  18. monday_best

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    Care to elaborate on the reasons why? Otherwise, not a very helpful comment.
     
  19. ryanpahler

    ryanpahler New Member

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    The last few posters have expressed a similar sentiment to what I've been hearing from a lot of people. Namely, that UCSF is a much better choice than UCLA. However, the main issue is that no one can really back this up with concrete reasons. US News says that UCSF is a better school, but other than this, why is it a better school? In other words, why would I be crazy to pick UCLA over UCSF?
     
  20. Steve203

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    geez....can't you mind your own business monday_best?

    I'm trying to get people to give up their UCLA acceptances...I'm on the waitlist!
     
  21. monday_best

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    Hm, alright... well, good luck to you.

    The OP said that he has gotten a lot of one-liner responses to his question about choosing between the two schools and was looking for more specific info. I was just curious too. Even though I've made the decision SF is not for me, understanding what people have against UCLA is helpful when deciding between there and other schools.
     
  22. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    Or you can go to wooden center and workout w/your scrubs on, or even better cut off the sleeves like Dr. 90210 and workout at wooden.

    Again, when I was an undergrad UCLA had some of the hottest girls of any campus. When the weather got warmer in spring and summer, man there was alot of tone tight bodies around. You can't get that kind of eye candy anywhere, well maybe miami, but that's about it.
     
  23. OneDayDoc

    OneDayDoc Member

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    When I interviewed at UCSF, I felt this sentiment was pervasive. Most students I asked about why they chose UCSF or where else they got in and why they chose UCSF over other places got a nearly uniform answer of: because UCSF is a great school (with a smattering of San Fran is my favorite city). No doubt it is true, but, in my mind, no doubt this also contributed to what seemed like a much more dour campus feeling than at UCLA. It seemed that UCSF students, for the most part, the ones who chose to go to the most prestigious med school they got into rather than the ones who chose what seemed like the best med school for them. I wonder what kind of student body and educational experience that makes for.

    (Of course there are exceptions, but this was my general impression when I visited the two schools).


    UCLA, I found, I got a wide range of supporting opinions: great weather, P/F, want to live in socal, good research in such and such a dept etc. I also sensed that the students were generally much happier at UCLA than at SF. I wonder how much that correlates to a student body that, generally of course, really liked to school as opposed to those that chose the biggest name they could.

    When there are responses above that say things like UCSF is the best med school in the US or UCSF trounces UCLA without any sort of supporting evidence (excepting the notoriously iffy US News data), this only supports my impression of the schools. For those that are so US News focused, I would posit that UCLA has been named the Best in the West hospital for the past 6 or so years.

    I'd also say the 11 derm residency matches, yes 11, from UCLA this year certainly imply that the quality of the students and the esteem of residency directors are second to none.

    That being said, UCSF waitlisted me and UCLA accepted me. So, of course, I could be biased.

    To the OP, you would not be crazy to choose UCLA over UCSF. Choosing a medical school is a complex decision and many things need to go into it. Prestige, location, curriculum, grading, your "feel" about the place, affiliated hospitals, match list, research opportunities are only a few of the variables to consider and I seriously doubt that UCSF beats UCLA hands down on all (if any) of these. I met plenty of UCLA (and UCSD and SUNY Downstate, Michigan, UNC etc.) students who chose their school over Harvard, Hopkins, and UCSF students and were perfectly satisfied with their choice.
     
  24. monday_best

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    Hey! You're a UCLA MS4, right? Any comments on other reasons why UCLA is a good place to study medicine? And the whole vs. UCSF thing (e.g., whether UCLA is significantly less competitive in residency directors eyes)?
     
  25. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    Dude at UCLA you only have 2 hours of lecture a day and normally out by 3 pm tues-thurs, and on mondays and fridays you get out by noon. You'll have all the time in the world to go check out the hotties on north campus. During my first 2 years of med school I went clubbing in LA every thurs-sat, and you can bump into Paris, Linsey, and Britney or better yet you can bump into jenna jammison, tera patrick, jessica darling etc. Can't find those hotties in SF.:D only in SF (san fernando) valley.
     
  26. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    Yeah you tell them 11 in derm, (me being one of them :D ) no school can say that. And the places we matched derm ain't no joke ether.;)

    Okay I have to much time on my hands, waiting in clinic for my patient to show up. Well looks like my 1 o'clock appointment is a no show.
     
  27. DMac84

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    Thanks for providing all the great input Long Dong. I also noticed the 11 derm residencies in 2007. In 2006 there were only 2 derm residencies at UCLA though. Is the 11 a fluke?

    Since all 4 years are P/F, how do students distinguish themselves? Is there added pressure to do a lot of extracurriculars?
     
  28. photo_girl07

    photo_girl07 Western Blot Queen

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    UCLA VS UCSF?

    I am facing the same decision. I like both schools for different reasons.

    UCLA- I interviewed here first and fell in love. (My first love, eh?) The students seemed really friendly, p/f (yes), less lecture time, more sun (the real sunshine), UCLA undergrad campus, the new Reagan health center, housing guarenteed for first 2 years....etc

    UCSF- Everyone keeps telling me pick UCSF hands down...and I guess it has a lot to do with reputaiton. But I really also liked UCSF. The opportunity for research and internation health experiences, the location, the students seemed really nice.

    So, I'm probably going to go to both second looks- meet students, faculty, and see the area again before I make a final decision. Right now, I'm leaning towards UCSF (b/c it is closer to my family), but I could see myself going to either place.

    The choice is yours....go with your gut and choose the place where your would be most happies :)
     
  29. acf11

    acf11 Junior Member

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    Like many others, there was just a feel I got from UCLA during my interview. UCSF has an amazing program, and I'm sure it's the right place for tons of students, but there was something lacking there for me. Hope to see you at UCLA next year!!!:D
     
  30. shadoctor

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    UCSF is the Johns Hopkins/Harvard of the west coast. They are routinely among the highest rank in almost every possible field. Although UCLA is great, its probably a lot easier to match into XYZ residency at UCSF by going there. Simple way to find out which is better is to speak to doctors you know and ask them how they feel about students that graduate from UCSF and UCLA. While UCLA is a great school, UCSF has an edge. San Fransisco is a clean, beautiful city and the name of UCSF carries more weight than UCLA. This will be a factor wherever you go for the rest of your career.

    In the end, it probably comes down to the smog and traffic of LA vs fog of SF. Both cities are awesome and have great night life. If I had the choice, Id probably pick SF. :luck:
     
  31. shadoctor

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    On a side note. I dont think its fair to judge a school by what you saw/felt during the interview day. There are so many factors that go into the interview day. What if the students you met and interacted with were the happy crowd (or the depressed crowd or the nerdy crowd). What if not a lot of effort goes into interview day. What if you clicked with your interviewer and felt like a million bucks and "felt" like you fit in. The best way to judge it is to get in touch with students that go there, or read the allo forums etc.

    Basically, dont judge a book by its cover...
     
  32. Dr. Dodger Dog

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    I was faced with the similar decision 4 years ago when I was trying to decide between UCLA, UCSF and USC. I was born and raised in LA and went to SC for undergrad. It was a hard decision, but I ultimately chose UCSF and will never have any regrets-- in fact, i signed up for a few more years here :) In fact, in the typical year, 1/3 of the graduating class stays for residency.

    I chose UCSF because I felt it had the most balanced student body. Contrary to what people have posted on this thread, I feel that UCSF really strives to put together a very diverse class-- in fact, when I was applying, UCSF was known to have the most non-traditional students. It was actually a negative for me at the time because I was traditional and was worried that I'd be much younger than everyone else in the class!

    I chose UCSF because I felt that the curriculum was really cutting edge. Prologue is NOT a rough way to start medical school. It was a lot of fun and an easy transition from undergrad. Systems based curriculum is now in its 5th or 6th year of existence so very much tested and overhauled. I hear that it's really working well.

    I chose UCSF because it does have the "bigger" name and more "prestige." When going on residency interviews, people always commented that "UCSF students are so great" etc etc. Definitely played a huge factor in the whole interview and residency application process.

    I chose UCSF because I had a "gut" feeling that I'd be happy here-- and I'm glad to say that my gut was right! I turned town UCLA and a scholarship at USC and have ZERO regrets. These past 4 years have been the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life and I feel this is in large part due to the atmosphere here at UCSF. From your fellow students to the pre-clinical professors to the attendings in the clinical setting, everyone is focused on medical student education in a very supportive and collegial environment. If I had known just how dedicated the faculty at UCSF is to the medical students, it would have made my decision a lot easier!

    Some people say that UCLA has the advantage because the undergraduate campus is there-- for me, that would have been a disadvantage since I hate the Bruins. However, that being said, I too was concerned by UCSF's lack of an undergraduate campus when I arrived. But to be honest, I haven't missed undergrads at all-- most of the time, you are hanging out and studying with classmates. You wouldn't interact with undergrads anyway. There are plenty of other students here- dental, pharm, nursing, grad, etc.

    As for facilities, UCSF has two AWESOME gyms. One on the Parnassus campus and one at Mission Bay. Plenty of recreational resources and you never have to compete with pesky undergrads to use the gym. UCSF has its own newspaper as well. Basically, we are a self-sufficient university. San Francisco has enough social scene to keep you occupied-- you don't need frats and sororities for that. For good measure, however, UCSF Pharm students do have frats and they throw a few big parties every year! :D

    Of course everyone has their priorities and their own reasons for their medical school decisions. UCLA is an excellent institution-- I have friends who are very happy there. But I will never regret trading in the LA sunshine for the SF fog :) .... and going back to LA these days, I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT stand the smog and traffic!

    UCSF is a great choice and you won't be disappointed if you choose to come.
     
  33. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    First of all you can't loose ether way both great schools and all the great things Dr. Dodger Dog said about UCSF can also be said about UCLA. So I just cut and pasted what Dr. Dodger Dog said about UCSF and just inserted UCLA instead: balanced student body, very diverse class, the curriculum was really cutting edge, on residency interviews, people always commented that "UCLA students are so great" etc etc, these past 4 years have been the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life, your fellow students to the pre-clinical professors to the attendings in the clinical setting, everyone is focused on medical student education in a very supportive and collegial environment, I love the Bruins, there are plenty of other students here- dental, pharm, nursing, grad, etc, UCSF is an excellent institution-- I have friends who are very happy there.

    As to whether UCLA is significantly less competitive in residency directors eyes, I wouldn't say significantly less, but maybe a little less, given all things being equal. If 2 students given the same exact stats, applying for same spot, having gone to the bigger name/higher ranking school would help, but I think charming them at the interview would be a bigger tie braker.

    As for 11 derm this year, it's not a fluke. You can't get much when comparing/looking at match lists cause it doesn't tell you how many people were interested in applying to that field that year. In 2006 only 2 derm but I heard only 3 applied, and as for this year 11 derms but 12 applied. A better measure is where did people match, and then taking into regional biasis and preferances.

    Yes all 4 years is p/f which is a good thing, and we have letters of distinctions in year 3 for which there is no quota for how many students can get them, in essence =to honors, but w/o the limit how many students can recieve them.

    These are quotes from the derm board from people who don't go to ucla:

    http://p220.ezboard.com/fdermatologyfrm35.showMessageRange?topicID=627.topic&start=21&stop=27

    "ucla's deans letters do not distinguish students from each other very well. it is my understanding they don't use code language like outstanding vs. excellent vs. very good. also, they have "letters of distinction" instead of honors, and the deans letter does not say what percent of students got the letter of distinction in a particular rotation. thus, it may sound really impressive that you got a letter of distinction, but it may be that 90% of students got it (or it may be that only 10% got it). "

    "i agree that clinical grades and dean's letters are bs. however, the way ucla does it puts their students at an advantage compared to students at other schools, because ucla's students don't directly compete with each other as they do at other schools. for example, an applicant from a school who was deemed to be "excellent" vs. an applicant at a school who was deemed to be "outstanding" would have been seen as a worse candidate (even though we know this is probably not true). or an applicant from a school who didn't receive honors when 25% of the class did would have looked worse than an applicant who did receive honors. it is harder to distinguish applicants when reading ucla's deans letters, so the "worst" applicants don't get weeded out as easily as they do at other schools."

    There is no added pressure to do alot of ECs, I didn't do any except my research. Research is gonna be a big deal in any of the more competitve fields or even the none competitive fields at the big name institutions. I actually did my derm research at UCSF and the big name guy I got my letter of rec from actually helped me alot and was talked about at every interview.

    So now back to the more important stuff like where are the hotties and dopest parties, I say in Los Angeles/OC and only Las Vegas and Miami can come close.:D
     
  34. ryanpahler

    ryanpahler New Member

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    Long Dong, you're my hero. Your advice has gone above and beyond anything I could have expected. How did you do research at UCSF if you went to UCLA? Was it over the summers? I'm actually interested in dermatology. I'm leaning towards UCLA now and I'm wondering what sorts of advice you have for how to get ahead in dermatology at UCLA.

    Also, could you talk more about the girls? Were you kidding about wearing your scrubs to attract the ladies? haha. Does that really work? At my undegrad campus, we used to make fun of med students who did this. How's the nightlife in Westwood itself? Did you hit up O'hara's a lot? The clubs are actually kind of far away from campus aren't they? Did you just have a designated driver when you went out or did you take taxis? Do you hang out with other grad students? Do they throw parties? Do you go to undegrad parties?
     
  35. kesariwallah

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    hey all, I am an MS1 at UCSF and i somehow stumbled upon this...after seeing how distorted the impressions are, I just signed up on SDN to post my 2 cents. First is to talk about choosing a med school in general, and second is defending UCSF :)

    1) Most top-tier med schools (especially the ones you mention) are good choices. People become unhappy for reasons beyond what they could forsee. It's frustrating, but you really can't predict what your next four years will be like during an interview, a 2nd look weekend, even after the first two years of med school. classes change year to year, some years will be 11 derm (i was surprised to see this too), some years you'll see little derm. So there is no one school that will be perfect. i'll make some teeny tiny exceptions if you're absolutely sure you want to go into a competitive field like derm/rad/optho/surg specialty (and know the progam and faculty), have a very specific research interest (stem cells here), or a specific patient community you want to work with (HIV/AIDS here), but then there wouldn't be any hesitations in making up your mind. in the end it all comes down to the initiative you take, not the rep the school gives for you. Look at top residency programs and you'll see people from the all sorts of schools. Sure there will be an accumulation from schools in the US News top 10 lists, but residency directors aren't stupid. They know coming from a certain institution doesn't automatically guarantee you will be up to snuff. I truly believe that you have to be self-made and have the initiative to take what opportunities at your disposal (readily available at most med schools) and prove you are interested and dedicated to pursue a certain specialty. Don't over-focus on the rank of the schools, we're all about even in the top-tier in quality of student body, didactic instruction, clinical and research opportunities. The differences will be subjective, in flux, and unpredictable. So in the end, read all you can and speak to all the med students at each school, but you'll be going off your gut.

    2) I chose UCSF because I had a good gut feeling: I liked my student interview, I loved the city (i went to undergrad in Claremont and lived in westwood last year, so still have much love for SoCal), but otherwise that is it (no 2nd-look weekend). I knew things would remain a mystery but that I will find my way through these next four years and come out a passionate and well-qualified candidate for a certain specialty (like most, I'm undecided but leaning towards a few choices). To answer your specific UCSF questions/assertions: Prologue is so not hard at all, our curriculum eases us in, and i really enjoy the organs/integrative approach. compared to my friends at other schools, i think I'm having a very relaxed time. definitely am loving pass/fail, the low frequency of exams (1/Month). Lastly, UCSF people are gunners?? And we're ugly? What? HAHAHA, please that is the funniest thing i've heard! I can't speak for UCLA students (but i'm sure they're cool peeps), but I've never made closer friends like at UCSF, and never known such sincere and driven people. But not gunner. I feel camaraderie and spirit of cooperation across the aisle from everyone. we are diverse, we are all ages, we all have different interests. As you can tell, I'm really proud to be here. And to plug how cool we are, let me tell you how we all hang out! We constantly throw parties with half the class showing up. And damn, do we like to get down...when we go out, we fill up a club in force and take over the dance floor. Check out this hip hop performance by all MS1s at a recent talent show/fundraiser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix3CUd5EVZs

    Oh, and the woman in the red boa? she a professor and course director.

    if you're still hesitating, reply, send me a message, or come to our 2nd look weekend and talk to some more people. Ok, I should go study for my final exam tomorrow (if there's any indication of laidbackness, this is it).
     
  36. njcaldwell

    njcaldwell Mr. Banana-Grabber

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    UCLA vs. UCSF was never an issue for me.

    My reasons for picking UCSF over UCLA are:

    1) I detest, utterly loath the intesne traffic in LA = Point UCSF
    2) I like the Weather better in LA = Point UCLA
    3) I am passionate about UCSF, and they have not only an area of concentration but will be starting up an MS in Global Health (First of its kind, and will prolly be free to the first couple years students) = Point UCSF
    4) Prestige = UCSF
    5) Closer to family = UCSF
    6) The faculty are utterly devoted to the students at UCSF. Such an amazing enviroment to have th leaders in a specific field be passionate about not only teaching the students, but partying with them as well!


    UCSF wins, hands down.
     
  37. UCLAstudent

    UCLAstudent I'm a luck dragon!

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    17 years, but who's counting. :)

    I picked UCLA over UCSF and do not regret my decision at all. The atmosphere is really laid back/non-competitive because it's P/F. The undergrad campus is a major plus! Also, the new hospital will be opening this year!
     
  38. Hednej

    Hednej ***** Level 60

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    Damn, you guys have hot students and hot professors. What else could anyone ask for?:cool:
     
  39. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    1. I did my research at UCSF during the summer between years 3 and 4. At ucla you have 6 weeks of research elective time, and it can be done at ucla or other institutions. I choose SF cuz the big name guy was there who had a track record of getting people published.

    2. Don't pick LA cuz of all my talk about the hot girls. Most of them don't even give me the time of day. For me it's like reading a magazine and dreaming about that car you want. You might never get it but it sure is fun to look.

    3. Yes kidding about wearing scrubs to workout or hit on girls. Only tools like myself would do that. :D I admit I did wear scrubs to the gym a few times cause I got out of the hospital really late and was to lazy to change.

    4. Nightlife in westwood is hella fun. At the begining of the year all the undergrad frats a tryin to recruit so I'd just crash the parties and free dinners (steak and lobster at some), but just don't tell them your a grad student just be vague about being new to ucla.

    5. No didn't go to O'hara alot but went to house/apartment parties in westwood at least once a month in first year of med school. Kind of grew out of it and more into clubs of LA.

    6. Clubs in LA are in hollywood mostly and about 15-30 minutes away. Normally have a designated drive or can take a cab. In LA get used to driving. I've actually seen Lindsey and Paris at some clubs a few times, but not like they give me the time of day.

    7. Yes I've hung out with other grad students. I was actually hitting on this dental student, but she didn't give me the time of day. Seems to be a reoccuring theme, huh? But yeah the dental students have some hotties in there class and I've partied with them at club Ivar a few times.

    8. Kind of grew out of the undergrad parties, but I still crash the frat recruiting parties for the food. If it's free, it's for me.

    And yes I have way to much free time on my hands only seeing 1 patient in clinic this whole afternoon, don't get me wrong not all clinics are like this. It's good to be a 4th year.:)
     
  40. agscribe

    agscribe Padawan

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    I hear a lot of people saying that UCSF has the bigger name that is going get people into the better residencies. I wanted to know the answer to this myself when I posted a similarly titled thread a while ago. I wrote to the residency directors of the top programs in ER, OB/GYN, ortho, Medicine, and Neurosurg. I told them that I had been accepted to both and that I was having a hard time choosing between the two. All five of them unanimously said that they placed no weight on the name of the school whatsoever. They said that they might have a little bias if it was between Ross and Harvard, but not at the level of UCSF and UCLA. Name is nothing, they all said it. Nobody's opinion matters more than those of the residency director's because they make the choices of who gets in and who doesn't. I see a lot of people cheerleading for one school or the other without any real reasons. And I see a lot of people saying that UCLA has P/F and that makes for a more relaxed atmosphere. Well, the two grading systems are almost identical. They are P/F the first two years only, both schools. Then they use a grading scale to differentiate people for the purpose of residency. It is reflected in the letters. Here is a list of what I have found in comparing the two schools.
    1) UCLA has over ten points higher on average for step 1 than UCSF. I have heard many people say that they believe this is partially due to the substantially longer break before the boards that UCLA has.
    2) UCLA has weather advantage.
    3) UCLA has traffic disadvantage.
    4) UCLA housing is cheaper.
    5) UCLA has stronger Cardiology, ER, and Neuro programs-according to those residency directors I emailed.
    5) UCLA has the disadvantage in electives. They have about one-third the electives of UCSF, but for myself, the electives at UCLA are all the main ones that most people are going to want to be taking anyways.UCSF has a lot of oddball classes.
    6) UCLA is more socially renowned-not relevant to medicine, but to the rest of the world it is.
    7) UCLA is supposed to have some of the most accessable teachers in all of medicine.
    1) UCSF has more connections worldwide. Their global health network is second only to Harvard, and maybe not even second in some people's opinion. They also have more funding to throw at students for international programs. That being said, several of the top programs that UCSF uses are actually UCLA programs that SF is piggybacking. But I think they are just getting out there any way they can.
    2) UCSF has everything close by the school, minimal driving according to the students. UCLA 3rd and 4th year students are all over the map and a car is a must beyond 2nd year.
    3) UCSF pushes their students into research more than UCLA. This ends up in better applications for those students who might be tempted to spend their first year surfing at UCLA. Contributing to the MARGINALLY better matchlist.
    4) UCSF is rumored to have dismal career counseling. You are pretty much on your own there.
    5) UCSF has one of the best setups for feedback from the students. Some programs have been implemented one year after being suggested by the students.
    6) Infectious Disease and overall Internal Medicine is better at UCSF.
    7) UCSF financial aid packages are usually a little smaller than UCLA.
    8) UCSF has a better matchlist. They are one of the only schools in the country( along with Washington University) that only has like one person a year have to go into a transitional year. Even harvard is like 4 or 5 a year. Most of the top ten schools on the us news lists in both categories average about 7 people a year that have to do transitionals. UCSF is like 1. Some people attribute this to the school being better, but the residency directors said that it is not so, it is because the more motivated students like to go for the higher unmbered schools. UCSF generally has more "gunners" if you will and they are more likely to succeed in medicine. UCSF also has a tendancy to pick older students, those with more life experience. Their average age of matriculation is like two years above the other top med school's. Those type of factors are much more likely to contribute to UCSF's good match list than the name of the school.

    Another thing that I found is what happens in 4th year. At UCLA they kinda push you into one of a few colleges that head off in one direction or another. For example, there is an acute care one, primary care, medical science, MDMBA/MDMPH, and applied anatomy. In the middle of the third year, the student chooses which college he or she wants to enter. Then they are kinda heading down that alley once phase III starts. At UCSF, they have four colleges as well, but they are not based on interest at all. They are made alphabetically and just kinda act as general guidance for students as opposed to pushing you in one direction. I was told there is room for movement withing UCLA's. So UCLA's might look good if you know kinda where you are heading, but if you were unsure, you might not like being forced to make that decision.

    Then there are the peripherals like family and stuff. Most of my family is in the LA area and I personally hate San Francisco. I have spent a lot of time in both cities and LA wins no contest. I was actually leaning towards SF until I really put everything down on paper. Then I saw that most of what I liked about SF was name (which was shot down by the residency directors with whom I talked, the guy at Harvard Ortho actually had me call him at his office and chat for a while. Super cool guy.) , and a bunch of classes and opportunities for international stuff that I am not going to use. So I would be giving up all the things I like (fishing with my uncle, bruin football games, not having to make a 6 hour drive for the multitude of yearly family gatherings) for a bunch of things that I won't use anyways. Not to mention I would have to live in San Francisco and deal with that cracked out driving and butt-smell that the whole city has. They seriously need to invest in a new sewage system. I also have a free place to live in Santa Monica so LA is pretty much a slam dunk for me.
     
  41. Chulito

    Chulito El feucho

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    I too looked into the question of school rankings and prestige and the degree of effect that they have on eventual residency placement, and got the same answers from directors that you got. You seem to have spoken with a lot more high-powered people from all over the country than I did, however, so it's nice to hear that their opinions reinforce those of the people who spoke with me.
     
  42. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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    Great thought out post, but I'd only like to say that transitional year is not a bad thing. Transitional year is actually competitive to get into, check out the stats:

    http://www.nrmp.org/matchoutcomes.pdf

    It is because transitional year in general is seen as cushy (aka MS5), and derms, rads, rad oncs and opthos like transitional year for internship because it is cushy. Where as prelim medicine for intership can be harder.
     
  43. Auscultate

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    I wanted to correct the misconception about Transitional year. The transitional year is usually done as a prerequisite for another specialty such as Anesthesiolgy, Radiology or Ophthalmology. In these specialties you can choose to do a transitional year or a preliminary year for the first year. So having people on a matchlist doing Transitional is not a weakness....and a Transitional spot is actually more difficult to get than a prelim spot.
     
  44. lot_commotion

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    I've gone through the residency application process and graduating from a top 10 school. Between UCSF and UCLA and other top 15 schools, school name doesn't make a huge difference. If you're at the top of your class at either school, no doors are going to be shut.

    However, it's complicated. Let's say we have a student at UCSF and one at UCLA who are both in the middle of their class, applying for an Internal Medicine residency. We'll say their extracurrics, grades, board scores, and letters of rec are roughly the same. I know from experience, and from talking to friends at both schools, that the UCSF student has a better shot at getting into the top places for Internal Medicine (UCSF, MGH, Hopkins, Stanford, etc.). There are intangibles, such as having bigger name faculty at UCSF making phone calls and backing you up. Also the top places have a history of accepting UCSF grads who end up doing very well as residents, becoming chief residents, etc. Again, UCSF vs. UCLA, not a giant difference, but it can potentially affect your chances in this competitive application process.

    No residency director will admit to your face that school name matters. They would be seen as unfair if they did. But the reality is it does matter when you're comparing a top 15 school with one barely cracking the top 50. If you are number one at almost any US medical school, the doors will still be open. It's if you can't quite be at the top of your class is when school name makes the key difference.

     
  45. Chulito

    Chulito El feucho

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    That makes sense to me, and it's what I've always imagined to be the case. The word Harvard adds a bit of luster to any document that it graces, and all other things being equal, it may lead to the bigger payoff. But how often does it happen that two applicants are so equally matched in all areas that it comes down to this?
     
  46. lot_commotion

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    It happens often. The way the match works, there's the top top candidates (MD/PhD's, AOA + ridiculous board scores) who are ranked to match. Then there's the vast majority in the middle who have virtually identical stats, level of research, and praising letters. Keep in mind that for most people, medical school doesn't allow time to do many extracurrics to distinguish yourself. Everyone does research. Any little thing from school name to a person expressing interest to having a big name chair, who's buddy buddy with the residency director, make a phone call for you can bump you into match territory.

     
  47. Hednej

    Hednej ***** Level 60

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    Yes of course where you go does matter and no residency director will admit this. It matters even when you're comparing #1 to say 8 or 9. Otherwise, if it doesn't matter, why are the programs at MGH and BWH loaded with Harvard and Hopkins kids?
     
  48. Chulito

    Chulito El feucho

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    While what you say seems reasonable, you guys are asking me to trust your understanding and insights over those offered by actual residency directors who were talking to me 1) as an informed and professional adult who is as old as they are, 2) as a pre-med who is 5 or 6 years away from applying for residency, 3) as either their friend, teacher or neighbor at a BBQ in many cases. I realize that a residency director might be reticent to be completely forthright with an unknown person about the dirty little secrets of insider pseudo-nepotism, ivy-incest and politicking; but would these people, who knew me well, trusted me and stood nothing to lose by revealing these sordid details to me, really be so monolithic and unwavering in their insistence across the board that the ranking of an applicant's med school plays very little role in the ultimate decision? Why? And what of the fact that agscribe was uniformly told the same thing by numerous people, including the ortho director from Harvard, who encouraged her to call up to discuss the matter over the phone? They are just too consistent in their message for me to simply dismiss it. I suspect that school name is a factor, but a small one. I suspect that people who can make phone calls for you is a large factor, but if there are 115 truly big names at UCSF and only 105 truly big names at UCLA, are you really going to have a more difficult time making useful connections at the latter?
     
  49. lot_commotion

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    Again, there's not a huge difference between UCSF and UCLA...we're making comparisons between places like UCSF and lower tier schools.

    It doesn't matter what the residency directors tell you or me. Look at the results. How do you explain Yale sending 6 people to UCSF for Internal Medicine this year, while so many of the other top 30 schools only have one maybe two people even get interviews there? This happens year after year.

    Also, how does one explain that students at the bottom of the class at Harvard and Hopkins, for instance, are still able to match at decent places in Ophtho and Radiology and top tier places in Internal Medicine? Students at the bottom of USC's med school, for example, do not have the same flexibility in that regard. Pick a few schools from each tier and study their matchlists going back 5 years, and see if you still believe what a few residency directors said about name having absolutely no bearing.

    Reputation and pedigree matter in the medical profession. I don't agree with it, but it's the reality. Hardly anyone would deny this when applying for cardiology fellowship. Yea you have superstar residents from podunk program getting into cardiology. But for the most part, coming from podunk program will get your application immediately tossed out, whereas a mediocre resident from Hopkins gets an interview. It's the same game. Why's this such a debate with the residency match?

     
  50. Chulito

    Chulito El feucho

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    Well, others were actually saying otherwise. Hednej has explicitly opined that the difference between #1 and #8 is significant.

    Isn't that just a matter of the original selection process? The schools that are able to attract and sign the applicants with the most intellectual potential and ambition will also end up with more students matching competitively. But, if one of those applicants with lots of potential were to turn down Harvard and UCSF in favor of USC, don't you think that said person would be just as likely to make important contacts there (with a bit of effort), to excel in class and rotations, and to match just as well as he or she would have from either of the other two schools? Am I being hopelessly naive and idealistic? (I don't discount that possibility, mind you.)
     
  51. lot_commotion

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    It's probably a combination of factors. Every medical school has spectacular students. You're right, lots of people turn down Harvard and Hopkins to be close to home, for scholarship money, or because they simply liked another school better. If a person truly excels and gets the best grades at any of the top 100 US med schools...yea, they can match extremely well.

    But medical school is not a linear process, and just because a person is smart and ambitious in college doesn't mean that person will have stellar clinical evaluations and letter of rec later on. Plus there's a lot of randomness with clinical evaluations. Things happen in med school that you can't predict. Going to a top ranked medical school cuts down the variability...that is, there might be fewer question marks about your application because a residency program director trusts that Harvard or UCSF trained you well, regardless of where you stood in the class.

     
  52. Chulito

    Chulito El feucho

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    Hmmm, I buy that.
     

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