VCU vs Rush

eclecticorange

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Oct 14, 2012
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    Very torn between these two, similarly ranked schools that have a similar CoA (OOS) and would appreciate any input!

    Long term goals: mixed specialty (derm, OB/GYN, ENT), northeast residency (but open to Chicago or west coast) , potential interest in research/academia

    VCU
    Pros:
    - True unranked pass/fail (with potential for AOA)
    - Beautiful facilities, well-designed space for learning
    - 1.5 year preclinical curriculum
    - Step 1 prep (3 months)
    - Match list seems better than Rush's with lots of students matching to strong programs; consistently 2+matches in derm
    - Students genuinely seemed happy to be here while acknowledging it's still a tough program

    Cons:
    - Small city (always lived in large cities and I feel a little trapped at the thought of living in a quieter place. Sadly no option to explore the city due to coronavirus)
    - Need a car for M3/M4 clinical rotations and really wanted to avoid this added cost
    - Mostly unfunded summer research
    - Step 1/2 scores are slightly lower than Rush; a bit concerning since the students get 4 weeks extra to prepare?
    - (?) No specialty elective rotations until M4

    Rush
    Pros:
    - Hospitals are better ranked nationally, diverse population that I was looking for. I really liked RUMC and Stroger and could envision myself staying here after medical school
    - Located in Chicago; would be more comfortable living here, is a shorter flight to parents+loved ones (the colder weather doesn't affect me)
    - No need for car, reliable public transportation
    - Appreciated how they emphasize community, both in terms of learning and service
    - (?) Easier to find research since there's many institutions in Chicago
    - Funded summer research fellowship that a decent amount of students receive
    - Option for an elective rotation in M3

    Cons:
    - Flipped classroom (while I actually prefer learning at home as opposed to lectures, the thought of completely doing away with them is very foreign)
    - Match list doesn't have many strong northeast programs; very few (0-1) matches in derm but 2020 seemed to be an outlier with that UCSF match. BUT I think I would be okay matching to a program in the Chicago area
    - Students internally ranked into quartiles (unclear if participates in AOA)
    - Library without books was a bit jarring (doesn't really mean anything but it was a bit strange to see)
     
    D

    deleted850921

      It looks like between Chicago vs northeast, you really would prefer staying in the northeast. Personally looks like you’re leaning towards VCU from the way you write, but to address some things:

      Is VCU by any big cities nearby? Idk how much being in a small city is thaat much of a con. Also idk how much lower the VCU average step score is, but my opinion is that it’s a personal effort and if you have the drive to do well then it’s not the curriculum that’s necessarily going to bring you down.

      I’ve done tons of research on Rush and can say students seem genuinely happy there as well, even with flipped classroom. Also yea if you wanted to do research at UIC or Northwestern or something, that’s very common from what I’ve heard talking to current med students in Chicago. But then again, idk how strong research is at VCU so is this really a point?

      With the true pass/fail as well as the way you describe VCU though, I kinda think you’re leaning that way.
       
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      Aug 13, 2019
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        Being closer to your support system is a huge advantage, your first pro for Rush is a huge reason I would say choose Rush. They're very similar, I love VCU but with the plethora of research opportunities in Chicago you'd set yourself up for a great choice in a competitive speciality (and you said you like big cities).

        VCU matches great but with the step 1 change, research and clinical rotations are extremely important, and Rush sets you up with that PLUS gets you closer to family.

        Slight edge to Rush in my opinion but you can't go wrong either way.
         
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        mdloading

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          I would say go with location since all other points seem to be bit of a wash. I've lived in Chicago for a while, and it's definitely easy enough to get around the city if needed once or twice a week to do research at another institution. Additionally, there may be options for research between M1/M2 at other institutions (not saying there isn't great research at rush, there is, but you definitely may have some other choices). I also think if you're open to matching in the chicago area for residency, it kind of makes it a better choice to do Rush.

          Overall they seem pretty equal, but I definitely feel you on the small city thing, and I guess for me that would be a big deciding factor in it. In fact, I ended up choosing my school for this very reason (school in major city that I liked fractionally less than school in small town) because I realized I just really couldn't do the small town thing for 4 years lol
           
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          rdyotz

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            Disclaimer: on waitlist at Rush, but would need significant financial aid there to consider.

            VCU is around 2 hours to DC if you need some city time and Richmond is around a quarter of a million portions, so I would not say small (well, perhaps compared to major cities), but still has many opportunities. I have heard bad things about Richmond (20 years ago), however it seems like it is thriving now and improving.

            How much shorter of a flight? Are we talking 30 minutes or 2 hours? And are you really going to be flying home every month where it makes that big of a difference?

            As for matching NE, the match lists would say go to VCU. However, that is often self selecting. Students who got a med school likely applied there because there are from the area or want to live in the area. Unless the school has true connections to that residency (either rotations fine there or residency director is a grad) then you won't get much of a benefit.

            Car issue would be annoying. I'm not sure how far rotations are?

            For rush library, so you still use books?

            Sorry, I wrote this on my phone and it could very well be a jumbled mess. Also, I don't think i was much help....
             
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            eclecticorange

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            Oct 14, 2012
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              I appreciate the responses so far! VCU is definitely near some cities like DC. I appreciate the point made on how the match list can be a little self selecting. In terms of flying to see my family and SO, each journey would be 2-2.5 hours longer because of the need to make connecting flights. From Chicago, it'd be a very cheap and easy flight to visit my folks and SO. My father's health took a turn this year which is why it's a little more important to easily visit if there's an emergency. Other than that, I know that on weekdays and most weekends I'll be busy with school/studying so it's not like I'm missing out on much. I really do like the program at VCU but given that I'm an older matriculant, being in a city that I feel most comfortable is important to me. Chicago offers that. Lots to think about :)
               
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              mcatstudent1

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              Nov 7, 2011
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                Very torn between these two, similarly ranked schools that have a similar CoA (OOS) and would appreciate any input!

                Long term goals: mixed specialty (derm, OB/GYN, ENT), northeast residency (but open to Chicago or west coast) , potential interest in research/academia

                VCU
                Pros:
                - True unranked pass/fail (with potential for AOA)
                - Beautiful facilities, well-designed space for learning
                - 1.5 year preclinical curriculum
                - Step 1 prep (3 months)
                - Match list seems better than Rush's with lots of students matching to strong programs; consistently 2+matches in derm
                - Students genuinely seemed happy to be here while acknowledging it's still a tough program

                Cons:
                - Small city (always lived in large cities and I feel a little trapped at the thought of living in a quieter place. Sadly no option to explore the city due to coronavirus)
                - Need a car for M3/M4 clinical rotations and really wanted to avoid this added cost
                - Mostly unfunded summer research
                - Step 1/2 scores are slightly lower than Rush; a bit concerning since the students get 4 weeks extra to prepare?
                - (?) No specialty elective rotations until M4

                Rush
                Pros:
                - Hospitals are better ranked nationally, diverse population that I was looking for. I really liked RUMC and Stroger and could envision myself staying here after medical school
                - Located in Chicago; would be more comfortable living here, is a shorter flight to parents+loved ones (the colder weather doesn't affect me)
                - No need for car, reliable public transportation
                - Appreciated how they emphasize community, both in terms of learning and service
                - (?) Easier to find research since there's many institutions in Chicago
                - Funded summer research fellowship that a decent amount of students receive
                - Option for an elective rotation in M3

                Cons:
                - Flipped classroom (while I actually prefer learning at home as opposed to lectures, the thought of completely doing away with them is very foreign)
                - Match list doesn't have many strong northeast programs; very few (0-1) matches in derm but 2020 seemed to be an outlier with that UCSF match. BUT I think I would be okay matching to a program in the Chicago area
                - Students internally ranked into quartiles (unclear if participates in AOA)
                - Library without books was a bit jarring (doesn't really mean anything but it was a bit strange to see)

                Just finished medical school like a week ago lol from my state school. Lots of stuff on your list does not matter in retrospect. Look at five+ years of match lists because the home med school and places on those lists are where you are most likely to end up-they like to interview the same people. Take your hometown (or parents current address), college state (s), med school states or regions and there is a 2/3 chance you’ll be in one of those three regions/ places, and that’s a low estimate. If you want northeast, ideally the med school is in the northeast. VCU is on the right coast to match a northeast or DC residency. Derm/competitive specialty is largely your step score (step 2 now), clinical year honors/grades, research/LOR/who you/they know + away rotations (at your expense) and a hefty dose of luck. Locale of school is less important as med school takes a lot of studying and leaves less time to enjoy the city. DC is not too far away from VCU for a long weekend. For some people not being in the biggest city is a deal breaker, but for most in end school it’s fine and all med schools give you this amazing community with 200 new best friends and at least 20 people you’ll be in touch with forever. I would pick VCU for best all around because you don’t know your specialty. I’ve heard Rush is weaker in Research for most specialties aside from a few and is expensive. You may need a car, although preclinical driving is limited aside from random clinical introductions here and there and m4 is basically off for interviews/aways so basically only for the clinical year you may drive a lot. I don’t believe in telling you what school to pick, but I wished I understood how the match lists worked especially thinking about competitive specialties when I was in your shoes. Good luck! Have fun while you can and remember sleeping, exercising, family, friends, and a hobby or two will get you through!
                 
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                mcatstudent1

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                  Just finished medical school like a week ago lol from my state school. Lots of stuff on your list does not matter in retrospect. Look at five+ years of match lists because the home med school and places on those lists are where you are most likely to end up-they like to interview the same people. Take your hometown (or parents current address), college state (s), med school states or regions and there is a 2/3 chance you’ll be in one of those three regions/ places, and that’s a low estimate. If you want northeast, ideally the med school is in the northeast. VCU is on the right coast to match a northeast or DC residency. Derm/competitive specialty is largely your step score (step 2 now), clinical year honors/grades, research/LOR/who you/they know + away rotations (at your expense) and a hefty dose of luck. Locale of school is less important as med school takes a lot of studying and leaves less time to enjoy the city. DC is not too far away from VCU for a long weekend. For some people not being in the biggest city is a deal breaker, but for most in end school it’s fine and all med schools give you this amazing community with 200 new best friends and at least 20 people you’ll be in touch with forever. I would pick VCU for best all around because you don’t know your specialty. I’ve heard Rush is weaker in Research for most specialties aside from a few and is expensive. You may need a car, although preclinical driving is limited aside from random clinical introductions here and there and m4 is basically off for interviews/aways so basically only for the clinical year you may drive a lot. I don’t believe in telling you what school to pick, but I wished I understood how the match lists worked especially thinking about competitive specialties when I was in your shoes. Good luck! Have fun while you can and remember sleeping, exercising, family, friends, and a hobby or two will get you through!

                  Also the 1.5 preclinical year at VCU. Leaves more time to take elective and core and study for step 2 and get that back in time to see if you should apply to the competitive specialty or get research to help the app! Shortened preclinical is more important now with step 1 Pass fail.
                   
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                  eclecticorange

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                  Oct 14, 2012
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                  1. Pre-Medical
                    Just finished medical school like a week ago lol from my state school. Lots of stuff on your list does not matter in retrospect. Look at five+ years of match lists because the home med school and places on those lists are where you are most likely to end up-they like to interview the same people. Take your hometown (or parents current address), college state (s), med school states or regions and there is a 2/3 chance you’ll be in one of those three regions/ places, and that’s a low estimate. If you want northeast, ideally the med school is in the northeast. VCU is on the right coast to match a northeast or DC residency. Derm/competitive specialty is largely your step score (step 2 now), clinical year honors/grades, research/LOR/who you/they know + away rotations (at your expense) and a hefty dose of luck. Locale of school is less important as med school takes a lot of studying and leaves less time to enjoy the city. DC is not too far away from VCU for a long weekend. For some people not being in the biggest city is a deal breaker, but for most in end school it’s fine and all med schools give you this amazing community with 200 new best friends and at least 20 people you’ll be in touch with forever. I would pick VCU for best all around because you don’t know your specialty. I’ve heard Rush is weaker in Research for most specialties aside from a few and is expensive. You may need a car, although preclinical driving is limited aside from random clinical introductions here and there and m4 is basically off for interviews/aways so basically only for the clinical year you may drive a lot. I don’t believe in telling you what school to pick, but I wished I understood how the match lists worked especially thinking about competitive specialties when I was in your shoes. Good luck! Have fun while you can and remember sleeping, exercising, family, friends, and a hobby or two will get you through!
                    Also the 1.5 preclinical year at VCU. Leaves more time to take elective and core and study for step 2 and get that back in time to see if you should apply to the competitive specialty or get research to help the app! Shortened preclinical is more important now with step 1 Pass fail.


                    Thank you for the very detailed messages!!! I wish I knew someone who graduated earlier to better understand the match process, but I had suspected similar reasons for regional matches at each school. I had just chosen VCU prior to your post, and your words reaffirm my decision. DC is a fantastic city that isn't too far away, and I may grow to love Richmond. I'm moving for school and I honestly believe I'm better suited to excel at VCU. The folks there seemed super happy and fulfilled and I will make a ton of friends there. Neither my folks nor I necessarily have a sustained home state which is probably why my state schools weren't interested in me heh! Let's see where life takes me in 4 years (but hopefully the northeast) Congrats on graduating, doctor!
                     

                    Skittsie13

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                      Thank you for the very detailed messages!!! I wish I knew someone who graduated earlier to better understand the match process, but I had suspected similar reasons for regional matches at each school. I had just chosen VCU prior to your post, and your words reaffirm my decision. DC is a fantastic city that isn't too far away, and I may grow to love Richmond. I'm moving for school and I honestly believe I'm better suited to excel at VCU. The folks there seemed super happy and fulfilled and I will make a ton of friends there. Neither my folks nor I necessarily have a sustained home state which is probably why my state schools weren't interested in me heh! Let's see where life takes me in 4 years (but hopefully the northeast) Congrats on graduating, doctor!
                      .
                       
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