theprince911

2+ Year Member
Oct 21, 2014
43
15
Status
Medical Student
Hey all, I posted this in the allopathic forum, and was told that I could get some advice here as well.
I've been a long time lurker on this forum, and have seen that many of you are very helpful. It's nice to see such a close community. This will be a long post, but if you could bear with me, I would really appreciate it.
I need some guidance about my path. I'm a US citizen in my final year of medical school in Asia. I didn't come here because I couldn't get into medical school in america - I was in a well reputed Biomedical Engineering program with plans to attend medical school. Financial issues and a desire to attain my goal drove my decision to attend this program and end up as a doctor.
I had difficulty adjusting to the system here and my gpa was quite low.. I pulled myself together in the last two years, but my gpa is still not ideal. I have, however, scored very well on most of my rotations. I feel like my basic sciences (except anatomy and pathology) are weak, but I can somehow work around all of my weaknesses on the wards. I never studied as hard as a few of my classmates have, as I've found that I learn better with hands on experience. That shows with my low basic sciences gpa and my relatively higher clinical grades. I want to start at square one. I want to understand all of medicine (I learn by understanding, not by memorizing.. everything I have learned I have done so by understanding. I haven't memorized a word throughout my 5 years here, and it's worked for me so far)..
my goal is to end up as a general surgeon initially and later to pursue a fellowship in colorectal or cardiothoracic since integrated programs are near impossible for IMGs. I can't see myself doing anything else. I don't care where I end up or if it's a community program, but that is what I want to do.
I feel like surgery is the right fit to me because it all just makes sense. I read our entire textbook once for surgery, and did amazingly on my exams. Everything just clicked. And I loved it. I love surgical patients, the whole thought process that goes into treating them, and of course I love operating. I've scrubbed in many times with the head of surgery as a first assistant (which is generally prohibited here for students). I have walked residents through procedures under his supervision. I have presented for many surgical conferences at his request.. it's my passion, to say the least.
So now that you know a bit about my background, the following are the issues I need help with:
-I'm studying for my internal medicine and pediatrics finals at the moment.. I've scraped by in my internal medicine rotations with high grades but I feel like I never understood the material.. I never felt comfortable with it, and honestly I feel like I've been cheating myself because I've gotten through it with little effort whereas others have had a harder time and not scored so well but know so much more than me. As such, studying for this final is difficult. Where reading the surgery textbook was a pleasure, I can't understand internal medicine at all. I can't visualize medicine mentally like I could surgery. I don't know how to study for it and feel satisfied with my knowledge.
-I need to take a year off after I graduate to do my steps.. I want to minimize the chances of this hurting my chances of matching into general surgery. I'm going to try to knock out step 3 as well so that I have even more of a fighting chance in the match.
-I have 2 electives lined up in general surgery, and may be doing a third. One of them may be with an osteopathic attending. Would a letter from a DO hurt my application for an allopathic residency?
-last but not least.. how do I start at square one? I want to study for the steps in such a way that I cover everything and understand it. I want to be more than proficient in anything that I study. I'm not asking for a schedule, more an approach. I don't take notes, for example, as I find that reading the text or listening to the lecturer is better for me and I remember these things longer. The problem is that whereas with surgical topics (including gynae/obs, ent, ophtho, etc) I still remember things I learned 3 years ago that I only learned once, I forget medical topics in about a month or so.. the interest is there, but since I can't visualize anything for those topics I don't remember. 90% of my learning depends on me making these mental images and I just can't do that with medicine because I don't understand it.

I don't know how to overcome these hurdles.. but I will do anything I have to to end up doing what I love for the next 50 years.

Thank you very much for your time. I hope that you can help me out with these issues. I look forward to being a contributing member of the SD community.
 

Pruthvi

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2012
46
5
somewhere i should be
Status
Medical Student
take my advice with a grain of salt as am yet to give any of the steps..just finishing med school..

steps come first..we need to score very high to be competitive as u know..just look at the link above, download the pdf and you will get an idea of how to score well as it is written by a US IMG..once steps are done , then research ,publications, externships ,great LOR's, possibly a prelim year or two is necessary for us..

long n tough road in store for us..hope this helps :)
 

Pruthvi

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2012
46
5
somewhere i should be
Status
Medical Student
and a final note..no one here can give you an approach for how to study..based on what you've written in your post , i guess you are a visual learner..there are many prep plans ..just go through the step 1 experiences thread and you will find one that caters to your style of study..i posted the link above because its similiar to my style of study..

lets take one step at a time..so as of now , focus on getting high scores in your steps..start from there..thats what am planning to do..General surgery is very competitive for us..give ur best shot at it and just have a back up plan in case ur not able to match..thats what i keep telling myself..:)