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I feel that I am losing sleep over this, but I completely can't make up my mind, or better yet, come up with what specialty to match for! I see my classmates getting ready for the match, and everyone I run into, has already decided. I am very worried.

I had a recent change of heart in terms of specialty of interest, and it has been really tough over the past month. I had to make last minute elective arrangements and plan things completely differently just to try out a couple more rotations during the months of Aug and Sep. The two specialties I am trying out are radiology and rad onc, and I am also thinking of med onc. The first two specialties are super competitive, and I am worried I don't have much background in either. My clinical grades are decent, and my USMLE score is good (~235), but probably not great for radiology or rad onc. I do have 2 good LORs,though.

I haven't told my current assigned advisor about my potential change in specialty interest. However, I am afraid she might tell me that I won't have a good shot at good radiology or rad onc programs, esp since I am applying late and have not demonstrated long term interest in either fields by now. Even if I could get a letter right after my rotation, we are looking at mid-Oct already. I am just wondering if I am better off waiting for another year, and add more research directly related to the field I decide. I can even study for step 2 and try to get a better score. Or if anyone thinks I can still have a shot if I apply late this year. I am not super interested in general IM, but I think I would enjoy med onc. So I guess that would be an option since applying a bit late to IM doesn't seem that big of a problem.

Any 4th years out there as confused as I am now? Any recommendations? I can't believe I am doing this to myself, but I don't really have the peace of mind to settle on a specialty right now. Any suggestions?
 
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MrBurns10

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I'm just a 4th year student so take this with a grain of salt, but based on what I've heard you're absolutely competitive for radiology. You don't need a rads letter to apply, and your scores/grades are good. Go for it if thats what you want.
 
OP
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I'm just a 4th year student so take this with a grain of salt, but based on what I've heard you're absolutely competitive for radiology. You don't need a rads letter to apply, and your scores/grades are good. Go for it if thats what you want.

You don't need radiology letters?! That's very surprising to know, given it's such a competitive field. Thanks for your post, though. The biggest problem I have now is I can't make up my mind about specialty choice until the end of September, when I am done with my rotations in radiology and rad onc. I heard it can take up to 4 wks to get a LOR. By then, chances for interviews might become dismal.

Anyone can comment on rad onc?

It's just tough seeing friends gathering LORs and writing up PS, while I still can't find a specialty to apply for by now. I am meeting with my med school advisor soon. Maybe he'll have something promising to say. I hope not finding a specialty by now is not so uncommon.
 

gutonc

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You don't need radiology letters?! That's very surprising to know, given it's such a competitive field. Thanks for your post, though. The biggest problem I have now is I can't make up my mind about specialty choice until the end of September, when I am done with my rotations in radiology and rad onc. I heard it can take up to 4 wks to get a LOR. By then, chances for interviews might become dismal.

Anyone can comment on rad onc?

It's just tough seeing friends gathering LORs and writing up PS, while I still can't find a specialty to apply for by now. I am meeting with my med school advisor soon. Maybe he'll have something promising to say. I hope not finding a specialty by now is not so uncommon.
Why not put out apps to both specialties? You can have individual PS' for each specialty and get some generic LORs going (both require a prelim year so an IM letter saying you'll make a great doctor would be helpful). Get your Step 1 score and transcripts out there. You may get invites based on that alone. Also, keep in mind that the MSPE doesn't go out until Nov. 1 so a lot of places won't offer interviews before then anyway so you won't be at much of a disadvantage. I think you're making too much out of this and more than likely, you will be fine.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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I feel that I am losing sleep over this, but I completely can't make up my mind, or better yet, come up with what specialty to match for! I see my classmates getting ready for the match, and everyone I run into, has already decided. I am very worried.

I had a recent change of heart in terms of specialty of interest, and it has been really tough over the past month. I had to make last minute elective arrangements and plan things completely differently just to try out a couple more rotations during the months of Aug and Sep. The two specialties I am trying out are radiology and rad onc, and I am also thinking of med onc. The first two specialties are super competitive, and I am worried I don't have much background in either. My clinical grades are decent, and my USMLE score is good (~235), but probably not great for radiology or rad onc. I do have 2 good LORs,though.

I haven't told my current assigned advisor about my potential change in specialty interest. However, I am afraid she might tell me that I won't have a good shot at good radiology or rad onc programs, esp since I am applying late and have not demonstrated long term interest in either fields by now. Even if I could get a letter right after my rotation, we are looking at mid-Oct already. I am just wondering if I am better off waiting for another year, and add more research directly related to the field I decide. I can even study for step 2 and try to get a better score. Or if anyone thinks I can still have a shot if I apply late this year. I am not super interested in general IM, but I think I would enjoy med onc. So I guess that would be an option since applying a bit late to IM doesn't seem that big of a problem.

Any 4th years out there as confused as I am now? Any recommendations? I can't believe I am doing this to myself, but I don't really have the peace of mind to settle on a specialty right now. Any suggestions?
What draws you to each? Given that you're interested in rad onc and med onc, it sounds like you have an overarching interest in cancer as a disease process, or dealing with cancer patients. I don't understand how radiology fits into this. The lifestyle is certainly good and much more controllable than med onc, but otherwise I see few similarities between them.

Do you have a physics background and a special interest in its applications? Because that's the only commonality I see in radiology and rad onc.

I think you like (or do not detest) patient contact, and have an interest in cancer, so, if I were in your place, I would apply to rad onc and IM > med onc.

Rad onc likes research. Can you take a year off now, before you finish med school? It will look better that way than not matching in your 4th year, since there may be an assumption that you failed to match, even if you didn't even apply.
 

aProgDirector

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A 235 is fine for both fields.

When you do your rads elective, consider asking for a letter half way through the rotation, or even right at the beginning. You didn't realize how great rads was until xxxxx, so now you're a bit behind the usual schedule. Mention that you'll be wanting a letter for your application, and that you apologize for the time crunch. Most fac will understand, and will start working on your letter during your rotation, and finish it right afterwards.

Agree with above, you can apply to both rad and rad-onc. if after both rotations you really fall in love with one or the other, you can always cancel any interviews you don't want.
 
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Thank you all for your response. They are very helpful. I didn't consider applying to 2 specialties at the same time, as I thought it would look bad. On the other hand, putting together 2 separate PS, and gathering the 2 IM LORs seem the most beneficial thing to do for now. I am certainly interested in cancer, and I don't detest patient care. Yet, I have to say, the radiology lifestyle past residency is certainly very appealing.

I will follow aProgDirector's advice and mention about asking for a LOR as soon as I start my radiology & rad onc rotations. If I really can't make it this year, let's hope not, I will then look at the possibility of radiology- or rad onc-related research for a year, and take my step 2 in the meantime.

Thank you all for the excellent suggestions.
 

gutonc

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Thank you all for your response. They are very helpful. I didn't consider applying to 2 specialties at the same time, as I thought it would look bad.
Nobody but you (and anyone you tell) will know that you're applying for 2 different specialties so that's not a problem. It's more work for you of course but not that much and it gets you that much closer when you finally decide what you want to do.
 
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Sorry to bring up another question. After doing some search and asking around, I think putting together 2 application packages now makes the most sense. Given these are both competitive specialties, it's probably best if I submit everything else and wait for the radiology or rad onc letters when I am done with my rotation. I am just wondering, if I do end up applying to 2 specialties, do I need 2 separate dean's letters? I am making appointments with the dean's letter writers for radiology and rad onc soon just to get some sense about the application process specific to each field. Should I tell them I am considering 2 specialties now?
 

Ashers

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Sorry to bring up another question. After doing some search and asking around, I think putting together 2 application packages now makes the most sense. Given these are both competitive specialties, it's probably best if I submit everything else and wait for the radiology or rad onc letters when I am done with my rotation. I am just wondering, if I do end up applying to 2 specialties, do I need 2 separate dean's letters? I am making appointments with the dean's letter writers for radiology and rad onc soon just to get some sense about the application process specific to each field. Should I tell them I am considering 2 specialties now?
I believe you can only get 1 dean's letter. At my school, the way they explained it is that they say something like "I highly recommend Bob Loblaw for a residency in this specialty" or "I highly recommend Bob Loblaw to pursue graduate medical education" and not specify any specialty.
 
OP
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Thanks everyone.

I will meet with both dean's letter writers and see how that goes. Maybe I won't bring up the 2 specialty issue up front then.

Changed my title from "very depressed" to "undecided"...

Thanks everyone :)