HOOAH

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Hello all,

My situation may be unique compared to most, however I am sure some folks out there have experienced similar situations and may offer me some guidance/advice. A little background: I am an Osteopathic Physician who completed medical school in 2007 from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. That was followed up by a Transitional Internship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA which I successfully graduated from in June 2008.

Due to shortcomings in my application (i.e. poor board performance on all 3 steps) I chose to wait on applying to residency and, instead, decided to pursue Operational Medicine as a General Medical Officer in the United States Army. Thus I was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team - 25th Infantry Division (Airborne) out of Ft. Richardson, Alaska. My title position was Battalion Surgeon (Primary Care Provider for a Battalion of Paratroopers). Shortly after arriving to my unit we deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and my unit was sent to Eastern Afghanistan from Feb. 2009 - Mar. 2010. In Afghanistan I was in charge of and ran one of the busiest clinics in the country, with over 5,000 patient encounters in the year long deployment. I was also responsible for Trauma support with the Combat Hospital that was stationed in the same location. I was involved in several high profile trauma events in Afghanistan. During my deployment, I was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for delivering life sustaining medical care while under direct fire from the enemy, and I also received the Bronze Star Medal for all my accomplishments throughout the deployment.

Now, I am not listing those things to blow my own horn, Lord knows I have my shortcomings. What I am interested in, is if anyone out there has there hand on the pulse of any Anesthesia Residency programs that will overlook the shortcomings of my boards and focus more on the things I have accomplished as a General Medical Officer?

My military obligation is coming to a close in the next year and residency training is the next step. I am not concerned with location, because, in my opinion most places are better than Alaska and all places are better than Afghanistan! I already have a knock against me as a Osteopathic Physician seeking training in an Allopathic Residency program, but unfortunately my boards score also leave a bitter taste to Admission Committees. I just want to find a program that will happy with me as an Osteopathic Physician, that can look more at my record and my worldly experience, instead of a group of test scores that proves I am a poor test taker!

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Allen
 

tracheatoedoc

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Why don't you seek a DO anesthesia program?
I think you can also do a program in the armed forces, maybe not gas.
Incidentally, if I was in your shoes, I would consider doing a military residency and staying in the military.
 
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HOOAH

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Thanks for your comment - I have in no way ruled out the military as the source of my residency training. Unfortunately, the military has not recently been friendly to me or my family, so increasing my time in the service is something that requires some serious consideration, and the increase in service time would guarantee more all expense paid trips to unsavory 3rd World Countries where people shoot at you! I have considered Osteopathic Residencies in Anesthesia, however from the research I have done, Osteopathic training, unfortunately, limits the jobs and states that are available to work in. I am definitely leaving all the options open for consideration.
 

karizma098

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Hello all,

My situation may be unique compared to most, however I am sure some folks out there have experienced similar situations and may offer me some guidance/advice. A little background: I am an Osteopathic Physician who completed medical school in 2007 from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. That was followed up by a Transitional Internship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA which I successfully graduated from in June 2008.

Due to shortcomings in my application (i.e. poor board performance on all 3 steps) I chose to wait on applying to residency and, instead, decided to pursue Operational Medicine as a General Medical Officer in the United States Army. Thus I was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team - 25th Infantry Division (Airborne) out of Ft. Richardson, Alaska. My title position was Battalion Surgeon (Primary Care Provider for a Battalion of Paratroopers). Shortly after arriving to my unit we deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and my unit was sent to Eastern Afghanistan from Feb. 2009 - Mar. 2010. In Afghanistan I was in charge of and ran one of the busiest clinics in the country, with over 5,000 patient encounters in the year long deployment. I was also responsible for Trauma support with the Combat Hospital that was stationed in the same location. I was involved in several high profile trauma events in Afghanistan. During my deployment, I was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for delivering life sustaining medical care while under direct fire from the enemy, and I also received the Bronze Star Medal for all my accomplishments throughout the deployment.

Now, I am not listing those things to blow my own horn, Lord knows I have my shortcomings. What I am interested in, is if anyone out there has there hand on the pulse of any Anesthesia Residency programs that will overlook the shortcomings of my boards and focus more on the things I have accomplished as a General Medical Officer?

My military obligation is coming to a close in the next year and residency training is the next step. I am not concerned with location, because, in my opinion most places are better than Alaska and all places are better than Afghanistan! I already have a knock against me as a Osteopathic Physician seeking training in an Allopathic Residency program, but unfortunately my boards score also leave a bitter taste to Admission Committees. I just want to find a program that will happy with me as an Osteopathic Physician, that can look more at my record and my worldly experience, instead of a group of test scores that proves I am a poor test taker!

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Allen

Hi Allen, sounds like some cool accomplishments.

i'm only a med student ( also DO ), so take what i have to say with a grain of salt, but i'd say the road ahead of you is tough. it's great that you've got some unique experience, but the fact that you performed poorly on not 1, but all 3 board exams is not a good indicator of your clinical acuity. yes, they're just exams, and bombing 1 can be recoverable by doing better on step 2....but poor performance on all 3 works against u. did you take the usmle or just the comlex?

the DO thing won't work against you as much as the exam performance. you'll have better luck staying within the military for a residency program than pursuing one outside, i think. it's nearly impossible to match allo anesthesia as a DO with a step 1 / comlex 1 more than 1-1.5 SD below the average, according to the nrmp.

i don't know of any anesthesia programs that are 'favorable' to military officers or unique applicants. from my knowledge, most programs may prefer fresh grads/pgy1 applicants.... i might be totally off here, but just my .02 from what i've seen/heard.

i think your chances for matching an army residency are better because they will be more appreciative of your accomplishments than a civilian program may be. have you talked to anyone at walter reed or brook?

my military classmates tell me with even below - average scores it is possible to match 'somewhere' in military anesthesiology, but once again, they prefer pre-selected ms4's. anyone can correct me if i'm mistaken.

in either case, good luck. and thanks for serving our country, glad you're back here safe. :thumbup:
 

neutro

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the best way is probably via a surgical pre-lim year, in a program which also has anesthesia residency program...

get to know the anesthesia PD...or do an anesthesia rotation as a surgical pre lim...and then get a couple of letters from the same program...

if they reject u solely on the basis of scores, like the secretaries reading your file will do...email them back or talk to them and make ur case...it will be easy if u are there and they can observe you...thats the only way to trump bad scores and get an interview and possibly match or better yet, get a pre match.


best of luck.
 
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HOOAH

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Karizma098 - Thanks again for your comments - I am well aware that having 1 bad board score can be a deal breaker with a program, with 3 it is almost a guarantee for a denial. However, I know there are programs out there, that merely require, taking and passing. The medical world is slowly realizing that "board scores" don't make good physicians! Sure, they do help to quantify a person's individual's personal knowledge, but hard work and commitment is what truly separates the good from the bad. You are correct that the military will likely be the programs that give me a fair shake - but military life can be taxing, so I am exploring other options, outside the constraints of Uncle Sam. Good luck with your future plans - I wish the best for you!

Neutro - Thanks for the advice, but unfortunately doing the things you mentioned are almost impossible from my current position. I am currently located in Alaska which has no Anesthesia residency to cozy up to. Also, my current job is that of a Primary Care Provider and doesn't allow me to rotate with a program. I dearly wish I could, but interviewing rotations is unfortunately something ends after medical school. I do agree with you though on not giving up with an upfront rejection. Pre-Match or Outside of the Match programs are what I am looking at mainly! Good luck to you as well!
 

old_boy

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it's nearly impossible to match allo anesthesia as a DO with a step 1 / comlex 1 more than 1-1.5 SD below the average, according to the nrmp.
If it is "nearly" impossible, surely a guy who spent two years in the Army as a flight surgeon, served his country with distinction in a war zone earning a bronze star, and gained what sounds like a lot of critical care experience is the exception who has a chance.

To the OP: I have no idea how many DOs with barely passing steps have matched into allopathic programs, but I wouldn't bet against you. There are over 100 anesthesia programs in the country and your experiences are sure to win over your poor test scores for at least a few. It's worth a chance.
 

Frank Rizzo

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I don't have any advice to give you, except to apply broadly. What I would like to do is say 'thank you' for your service.
 

sethco

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I have had several GMO friends that have prematched into Anesthesia over the past 2 years. Some of them had prior Anesthesia experience, but some did not. Some had had good board scores, but others did not. However,(and this might just be my opinion) I felt they were made more competitive by their GMO experience than if they had just applied straight out of med school. There are several programs (some even with former GMOs as PDs) that look very favorably on military experience. There is more to an application than just board scores. If you apply broadly like the above poster suggested to do, I have confidence that you will be able to secure a non-military slot.

One of the posters (I think Il Destrio) had great suggestions on how to make your application stand out for current military GMOs. Maybe he can chime in on this.
 

Sergio99

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...military life can be taxing, so I am exploring other options, outside the constraints of Uncle Sam...
Hello,

Yes, I understand. You have earned the right to do that, more than anyone else. Thanks for your service to this country.

I have two very important things to tell you:

First, don't give up. Keep applying to as many places as you can, and sending letters to them and calling them. If they say no, wait a few months and write or call again. If they get a little annoyed, don't worry; maybe the next time they won't be annoyed. Remember we are all human, and humans change their minds often. They may say no today and yes tomorrow. Maybe a different secretary picks up your next letter and shows it to another faculty member who says yes. And if they keep getting annoyed, you have nothing to lose anyway, because if they were going to say no, what worse thing can come out of it? They are not going to shoot you.

Second, keep studying. I hope you didn't stay with the knowledge of your low test scores and kept reading and studying. This is very important, because your whole life from now on will have to be one of constantly studying, reviewing and learning.

Going back to your schooling and test experiences, it makes me think you may have some problems with study techniques and test taking techniques. I would suggest you take some time to look into that and try to solve whatever issue may be at play there. Even if you are OK with those things, it doesn't hurt to get better at it. Review and improve your study techniques, memorizing techniques, test taking, and even a speed reading course may help.

One thing you might consider is applying to some sort of research fellowship, for the time being, until you succeed in convincing someone to take you as a resident. Getting involved in some interesting projects and publishing a few papers will give you a little more leverage for future applications, not to mention the boost in self-respect and confidence.

But whatever you do, don't forget to continue reading and studying and making it a strict discipline for the rest of your life.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Hello all,

My situation may be unique compared to most, however I am sure some folks out there have experienced similar situations and may offer me some guidance/advice. A little background: I am an Osteopathic Physician who completed medical school in 2007 from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. That was followed up by a Transitional Internship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA which I successfully graduated from in June 2008.

Due to shortcomings in my application (i.e. poor board performance on all 3 steps) I chose to wait on applying to residency and, instead, decided to pursue Operational Medicine as a General Medical Officer in the United States Army. Thus I was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team - 25th Infantry Division (Airborne) out of Ft. Richardson, Alaska. My title position was Battalion Surgeon (Primary Care Provider for a Battalion of Paratroopers). Shortly after arriving to my unit we deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and my unit was sent to Eastern Afghanistan from Feb. 2009 - Mar. 2010. In Afghanistan I was in charge of and ran one of the busiest clinics in the country, with over 5,000 patient encounters in the year long deployment. I was also responsible for Trauma support with the Combat Hospital that was stationed in the same location. I was involved in several high profile trauma events in Afghanistan. During my deployment, I was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for delivering life sustaining medical care while under direct fire from the enemy, and I also received the Bronze Star Medal for all my accomplishments throughout the deployment.

Now, I am not listing those things to blow my own horn, Lord knows I have my shortcomings. What I am interested in, is if anyone out there has there hand on the pulse of any Anesthesia Residency programs that will overlook the shortcomings of my boards and focus more on the things I have accomplished as a General Medical Officer?

My military obligation is coming to a close in the next year and residency training is the next step. I am not concerned with location, because, in my opinion most places are better than Alaska and all places are better than Afghanistan! I already have a knock against me as a Osteopathic Physician seeking training in an Allopathic Residency program, but unfortunately my boards score also leave a bitter taste to Admission Committees. I just want to find a program that will happy with me as an Osteopathic Physician, that can look more at my record and my worldly experience, instead of a group of test scores that proves I am a poor test taker!

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Allen
I can tell you that your service record counts for more than you think. When you come to a forum such as this one, you will be met by a large number of med students who score 95% on their exams. Do you know why these exam scores hold as much weight as they do? It is because there is almost no way for programs to figure out which students are good and which students are not so good. Most med schools are pass/fail. All letters of rec say similar good things about applicants. Deans letters all look the same. YOU happen to have something that stands out in your application and that will go a long way.

Something else that will help you is connections. I can promise you that if you went to med school with a guy who happens to be a chief resident at a program in the Northeast, he will certainly help you out in any way that he can ;)