What are my chances

Discussion in 'Radiation Oncology' started by ninini, 09.28.14.

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  1. ninini

    ninini 5+ Year Member

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    I am a third year medical student at a top 10 medical school. My step 1 score is 235, which I am worried about (10 points lower than my avg practice test scores :(:( ) . I am planning to take a year off to do research. What are my chances of matching? Is there anything additional I should be thinking about?
     
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  3. laserbeams

    laserbeams 2+ Year Member

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    Your Step 1 won't preclude you from a successful match. You will, however, have to do other things such as completing research (with publications), get strong letters of recommendation, perform well on away rotations, get good clinical grades, and interview well. Of course, all of these things also apply to applicants with Step 1 scores that are above average as well. The term "the whole package" comes to mind.

    Taking a year off can help you with the LoRs and research, but isn't required by any means. Just be sure you want to spend a year out of med school doing research so that you're going about it in an enthusiastic and productive manner.

    Good luck!
     
  4. kristofer

    kristofer 7+ Year Member

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    There is no need to do a year off for research simply because your step 1 score is only a 235. From a top medical school you very likely will match somewhere with that score if you apply wisely and can demonstrate interest in the field through some 3rd and 4th year research and away rotations. So if your goal is to simply match, it doesn't make much sense. If you have some other requirement, like you absolutely must stay in the state of California or something, then I guess it might be reasonable, but still wouldn't be a sure thing and the expectations on you would be higher regarding productivity in that year off. My step 1 score was well below yours and I got in without a year off (although it wasn't exactly easy).

    Rad-onc programs are extremely regionally biased when it comes to interviewing and ranking. Programs nearby your medical school, your hometown, and places you did away rotations/got LORs from will choose to interview and rank you with a 235 over somebody from the opposite coast with a 255 and no connections. There are enough people with scores in the 240s and 250s that programs could only interview these people and fill all of their interview slots. But there aren't enough of these people to fill all the seats. Programs don't want to risk going unmatched or matching somebody who doesn't want to be there and will interview people with 220s and 230s. As a PD once told me, "we all know that your score is fine to actually be a radiation oncologist, it's just competitive." Use this to your advantage when applying.
     
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  5. thecarbonionangle

    thecarbonionangle 2+ Year Member

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    I am almost certain you could get in now by just doing away rotations. I know people in 220s who matched.
     
  6. Isradoc16

    Isradoc16 2+ Year Member

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    Does this also hold for someone coming from a "good" international school, and a Step 1 in the mid 240s?

    I'm an MS3 doing research in the field this year, but realistically I'm not optimistic about getting much published before applications are due next year. From everything I have read (mostly SDN, but also NRMP's charting the outcomes), the research requirements in rad onc are huge. Is it really enough to just show interest in research in the field (e.g., poster at astro)? I am beginning to feel like without a prior graduate degree, taking a year off to do research is a must. I'd love to be proven wrong on this one.

    Away rotations are a given, but could you elaborate on the regional bias? In one of the other threads here they recommend doing a rotation at programs in different regions just to cover your bases for applications, but it doesn't really make sense me... wouldn't it be better to pick a region and do multiple rotations in that region to show it's really where you want go?
     
  7. kristofer

    kristofer 7+ Year Member

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    There is also a huge bias towards US seniors. I'm assuming you go to med school in Israel and not in the Caribbean, but still there are very few (like you can count them on one hand) students who match from non-US med schools. Doing multiple away rotations would definitely benefit you, but would by no means seal the deal. A mid-240s step score isn't that great for a FMG. It's a good score, but FMGs are expected to have higher step scores because they don't have the time constraints for studying and can spend years prepping them. I still wouldn't take extra time off and would just apply and see what happens. There's a decent chance you wouldn't match, so it would make sense to apply for some legit, funded research fellowships in the US at the same time. The other pathway would be to train as a rad onc in Israel and come to the US for a fellowship. See here: http://theabr.org/ic-int-ro
     
  8. Isradoc16

    Isradoc16 2+ Year Member

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    Thanks for the response! Doing my residency training here isn't really an option for me this point, but I didn't know about and hadn't thought of specific research fellowships that I could do post-graduation as a backup. Do you mean the grants that are listed on the astro site https://www.astro.org/Research/Funding-Opportunities/Other-Grants-and-Fellowships/Index.aspx , or are there specific programs for doing research as an MD before residency?

    Why would taking a year off between MS3 and MS4 be worse than that option? I have been given the opposite advice, that doing research after graduation instead of residency is assumed to have failed to match, and that PDs would prefer to go for someone who hadn't gone unmatched. So the suggestion was to take the year off to add to the research portfolio in order to increase the odds on the first shot.

    Thanks again, I do appreciate the feedback
     
  9. evilbooyaa

    evilbooyaa 5+ Year Member

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    To OP - I think if you do the research year you should be more than fine about matching. Even without the research year as long as you are above average in rotations, LoRs, and interview capabilities, you'll likely match.

    To Isradoc16 - I would take a year off for research between MS3 and MS4 (preferably doing the research in the US with a lab that has a rad onc residency) so you can set up connections along with being prolific in your research. The ability of IMGs/FMGs to get rad onc residencies is very unlikely in recent years, given how competitive the residency has become.
     
  10. ninini

    ninini 5+ Year Member

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    Thank you so much for all of your replies! Time to work hard in rotations and look into research!
     

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