What does it really take?

Discussion in 'Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties' started by Job Bluth, May 27, 2008.

  1. Job Bluth

    7+ Year Member

    May 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Medical Student
    Hello everyone. Brand spanking new to the SDN. I've been cruising around the forums for a bit, and I've got a question that has probably been asked before, but i couldn't find a prior thread on it, so here goes.

    In your experiences on the interview trail, what does it take to have a realistic chance at a well-respected academic institution? I mean, do you need to take a year-off for research? Do you need a rec letter from a Big Dawg in academic surgery? Are all the people interviewing at Mass Gen/ Michigan/ UCLA (from previous threads, these seem to be highly competitive places) 240+ step 1 scores? Publishing papers in surgical journals? Or, did some of the people interviewing at these places get less than honors in their junior surgery clerkship? The occasional blip in their academics?

  2. IcedTea

    IcedTea Nuthin But A G Thang Baby
    2+ Year Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Other Health Professions Student

    Step 1 - try for a 230+
    Letters of Rec from a surgeon preferrably and others
    You don't need to take a year off for research, however if you are willing to get really into some research then take a year off if you want.
    Good clinical grades - especially on Surg rotations
    AOA if possible
    And in interviews, try to sound as cool as possible, but willing and passionate about what you're doing. Show that you're someone responsible, dependable, and hard-working.

    Good luck:thumbup:
  3. TrojanDoctor

    TrojanDoctor Member
    10+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    Likes Received:

    I'm only a third year myself and not yet been on the interview trail, so I don't know how much help I can be. But, I've heard that an Honors or your school's equivalent in the surg clerkship is near a "must" for top academic institutions. I've also heard the 230+ for step 1. I don't know if a high step 2 can less than stellar clinical grades or an avg step 1 score for top programs. Keep in mind though that just because a program has a great reputation doesn't necessarily mean its the place for you.
  4. SocialistMD

    SocialistMD Resident Objectivist
    15+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    Some programs use different cutoffs to filter the applicant pool on ERAS. Some use AOA status, others use Step 1 scores (the numbers I've heard are >220 or 230, depending on the program). Most look at the entire application and decide from there. Obviously, the better you do on your surgical clerkship (and during the first three years of med school in general), the higher your step 1 score and the better your letters of recommendation, the more competitive applicant you will be.

    That said, no one is absolutely perfect. What I was told by my med school's surgery program director is that you don't want to have gaps on your application on ERAS. There are sections for volunteer activities, publications/presentations and hobbies (along with a lot of other randomness that I can't remember at this point). The more you have in each of those categories, the stronger your application appears and the more well-rounded you seem to be.

    Previous research experience is also a plus at the big-time academic institutions (though by no means imperative), as they are looking to train future academic surgeons and having previous experience shows you have an interest and may be who they want. If you don't have any yet, you can always go to a surgical faculty and (tactfully) ask if there is anything they want written (even better if you have an idea for something to write). Most have plenty of chart reviews or small clinical trials they'd love to do but just don't have the time, and it will ensure a much stronger letter from that individual if you can pull it off.

    In the end, it is kind of sad the hoops we jump through to get where we want to go, but there are people who do all of this and have better grades than you, so doing it will at least keep you in the playing field.

    Best of luck.

Share This Page