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USMLE Step II

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by DO2be2002, May 21, 2001.

  1. DO2be2002

    DO2be2002 Junior Member

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    I am currently a fourth year DO student, getting ready to apply for residency, and I need some advice. I would like to know how important USMLE Step II scores are for granting residency interviews to DO students. I am going into OB/GYN and would like to stay on the west coast. My Step I score is 225 and I am in the top 10% of my class. I have an opportunity to do OB/GYN research at an institution that is high on my residency list during my June vacation. If I decide to take the USMLE, I can't do research because I will need that month to study for the test.

    I have called all of the institutions that I am interested in for residency to ask them about the importance of Step II, but I always talk to the secretary and they all tell me that numbers don't matter. I don't believe this.

    My major concern is that I will score lower than a 225 on Step II and this will look bad on my residency applications. I guess what I am asking is will a Step II score make me a more competitive DO student for interview invitations, or is research more important?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
     
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  3. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire
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    West coast OB/GYN? NUMBERS are more important and don't let anyone tell you differently. Right now you're in great shape, but you'll need to do well on step II to maintain your edge. However, you may be able to have your cake and eat it too! Find out if you can do an elective rotation in research (many schools allow this). If that is an option, try to schedule a research month at the school you mentioned. Just tell them why June isn't an option (the secretary won't understand, but the DME will). Also, you can GREATLY increase your chances by doing a clinical elective at your program of choice. I did electives at each of my top 3 choices and KNOW that it made a big difference (I matched to my first choice). Just make sure you schedule the electives as early as possible so that you can get letters of rec in time for applications. Good Luck!
     
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why take Step 2 BEFORE the match?

    It isn't required (for most programs) and you face the same dilemma most US allopathic students face: good Step 1 score, potential for blowing that "lead" with a mediocre Step 2 score. However, that said, I doubt you will need a month to study for the exam - its actually easier to do well on it because so few people really study hard for the exam.

    Doing a clinical or research rotation at some of your desired programs will give you a definite advantage.

    I would think the best advice would be to do the rotations at the places you are considering for residency and take Step 2 after the ROL goes in (therefore, not affecting your match potential). Since your school does not require it for graduation you only have the residency program requirements to worry about which probably only entail having Step 2 done and passed by July 1, 2002 (residency start date). Thus, taking it nearer th end of your 4th year might be the best option.
     
  5. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire
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    Kimberli,

    Unfortunately, at least at some schools, passage of step II IS a graduation requirement and I have heard that more and more schools are adopting this rule. Also, during my interviews, many programs DID want step II scores (either USMLE or COMLEX). Maybe it was because I was a DO applicant or maybe it was just the group of programs I chose...I don't know.
     
  6. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Neurogirl...

    I had assumed since the original poster was a DO student that neither Step 1 or 2 would be required for graduation. Is this now changing or did you mean that Step 2 is now becoming required at most ALLOPATHIC schools? I was not aware that osteopathic schools were regularly requiring all of their students to take the USMLEs. :confused:

    I further assumed that allopathic residency programs would likely require USMLE scores for application although I have heard of some which will accept COMLEX scores (probably those with a history of taking DO applicants and the ability to know what specific COMLEX scores mean). I just thought they would want Step 1 and not necessarily Step 2.

    Even if it were required for graduation he could still take it AFTER the match, provided it wasn't required for the program. I had heard from another Neuro applicant that it was required at several of the programs he applied to as well, but at least for my friends and I, it was not required for Gen Surg, Plastics, Peds or IM programs we applied to.

    At any rate, he would be well advised to check with some programs he's interested in to see if it is required for application. If not, then consideration could be given to taking Step 2 during the winter/early spring - before graduation but after some core audition electives.
     
  7. DO2be2002

    DO2be2002 Junior Member

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    Neurogirl and Kimberli,

    Thank you both for your replies. To let you know, only the COMLEX part one is required at my school to graduate. I am taking part two of the COMLEX in January.

    I have spoken to all of the residency programs that I am interested in attending and all of them, except for UCSD (University of California San Diego), said that they interview and rank students with only Step I scores.

    However, as a DO student I don't know if I will be more competetive with a Step II score, and I don't know how important that score is to residency directors. I know that I will take Step II, I just don't know when the best time to take the exam is. I also am planning to do at least four Sub-I's in OB/GYN at the programs that I am most interested in.

    I guess my question is will I have a better shot at interviews and matching with a Step II score, or does it really not matter in the end?

    (P.S. Kimberli, I am female :) )
     
  8. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    A thousand pardons my dear lady! ;)

    While the best application is probably the one that provides the MOST information (ie, including Step 2 scores) if the decision is between an audition rotation (and the LOR resulting from it) or taking Step 2, IMHO the former is more important in those programs which don't require Step 2.

    Your Step 1 score is excellent. While OB-Gyn is not necessarily highly competitive, it can be on the West Coast (factoid: most of the Ob-Gyne residents at UCSF-Fresno are IMGs for what its worth). At least in Surgery, I was told that personal knowledge of an applicant (ie, via a rotation) or recommendation from someone personally acquainted or known by reputation to the PD is more valuable than Step 2 scores. I do not know if this is the case for Ob-Gyn programs but would assume it to be for most specialties.

    Perhaps the best source of information is from the horse's mouths. However, programs are unlikely to spill any beans or give useful advise to applicants. Do any of your faculty have knowledge of or are friends of faculty in allopathic Ob-Gyn programs? I would suggest that if one of your faculty (who supports you and your career plans and would be willing to do you a favor) were to call an allopathic program with a hypothetical situation (ie, should I advise my students to take Step 2 or concentrate on visiting electives before the match and take the USMLE after the match), just asking for advise to give to DO students interested in an allopathic match, he/she might get further than if you were to call. It might be worth asking around your school to see if anyone has any connections or would even be willing to "cold call" some West Coast programs for ya.

    Anyway, best of luck to you and let us know what the final word turns out to be so that we can better advise others in the future. :)
     
  9. Rusty

    Rusty Member
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    I think that you may be referring me, Kimberli. I had a very small number of program directors inform me after the fact that they usually will not consider an applicant for interview unless they have taken Step II. That being said, I think the number of programs that require Step II is very small. From my experience, I cannot overestimate the importance of doing an elective rotation at the programs you are most interested. The key to making this experience work for you is to work extremely hard, read everything you can get your hands on (including prior research articles by attendings you are/will be working with), take extra call (I was scheduled for q7 but I took q3 call) as long as they appreciate it, and be the most easy to get along with person they have ever met. Almost all programs will tell you that you do not need to do a rotation there to be competitive for a residency spot. While this is true, if you do a rotation at a program and perform exceptionally, they will remember you and you will have a significant advantage when it comes time to rank applicants.
     
  10. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire
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    Kimberli,

    Sorry for the confusion. At my school, passage of COMLEX II is not only a graduation requirement, but we are also required to take the test at the end of the 3rd yr! :mad: I was told by the folks in administration that other schools were in the process of implementing such a rule but was not told which schools would be doing so.
    Since the people who are taking both tests tend to take them together (who wants to study twice!) I was basing my statement on the assumption that the poster also had such a requirement (since he said he was taking the test in June). Sorry for the misunderstanding.
     
  11. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    No worries Neurogirl - I figured we just had a miscommunication! :)

    Rusty - you are right, I was referring to you; just didn't feel comfortable about drawing you into the conversation without permission. I strongly agree with you - doing an audition rotation can definitely help you. I am positive without having done some my senior year I would NOT have received some of the interviews I did; I would have simply been just another applicant with average USMLE scores, LORs, etc. Instead I became a face: a friendly face, a hardworking face, a team-playing face.

    Obviously no one can rotate at ALL the programs they are interested in, but a great performance at one of these places usually results in a great letter which will look good on your apps elsewhere. And IMHO, that is much more valuable than Step 2 scores should the decision be BETWEEN those factors.

    Should the original poster decide to take the exam before the match then obviously a strong performance would aid his application. But if he is afraid of doing worse on it, I see little reason why (with the exception of some programs which might require it) it cannot be put off until after the ROL.
     
  12. Kiddiedoc1

    Kiddiedoc1 Member
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    Must add my $0.02...A friend of mine applied for OB/GYN at programs on the east coast. She had not taken Step 2 at that time and was told by the PD that he does NOT rank applicants that do not have scores available. This was her experience at ONLY this program. I believe she applied to quite a few programs. It was not a problem anywhere else and she matched at her first choice. She took Step 2 in April...As for me, I matched in Peds and although not a requirement, I wanted Step 2 scores available to provide the programs with as much info as possible. Of course, I did take the chance that I would do well enough, but I was willing to take it...I agree though that being KNOWN (doing some sort of elective there) is probably the best strategy. For me, I did not do electives at my top 3 choices and chose not even to rank the places where I did (by being there for a month or more, you can get a good feel for a program as well as the PD and faculty getting to know you and your work)...Good luck to you
     
  13. DO2be2002

    DO2be2002 Junior Member

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    Thanks to all for your replies :). It helps to get advice from people who have "been there". I think that I am going to concentrate on doing well at my audition rotations and then worry about the USMLE in December. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again.
     
  14. codeguy

    codeguy Member
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    Neurogirl may I ask which DO school you attended?

    Thanks! :p
     

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