What electives should I take if I don't really know what I want to do??

nope80

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Hi everyone,

We are starting to schedule electives and I really don't know what to choose. We can take 2 electives in our third year (or vacation). I'm not sure of what I want to go into yet (one field definitely interests me but its super competitive and I am already doubting I would be able to match) so I'm not sure what to pick. One of our administrators was telling us today that we don't have to do an elective in the field we want to match into - the real goal is to just get good evals.

I am wondering, should the approach be to do some general rotations like cardio or renal that are important to one's overall knowledge or should I just take a chance with something I think I may have a remote interest in? At the same time, we have one elective right after surgery and I'm not sure if I will need that time to recover and not want to do a more demanding elective. Any advice?? Thanks!
 

Ashers

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Hi everyone,

We are starting to schedule electives and I really don't know what to choose. We can take 2 electives in our third year (or vacation). I'm not sure of what I want to go into yet (one field definitely interests me but its super competitive and I am already doubting I would be able to match) so I'm not sure what to pick. One of our administrators was telling us today that we don't have to do an elective in the field we want to match into - the real goal is to just get good evals.

I am wondering, should the approach be to do some general rotations like cardio or renal that are important to one's overall knowledge or should I just take a chance with something I think I may have a remote interest in? At the same time, we have one elective right after surgery and I'm not sure if I will need that time to recover and not want to do a more demanding elective. Any advice?? Thanks!
1st off, you get 2 electives M3 year? That's awesome. We get 1 M3 year and 4 M4 year.

There are different ways to approach electives, and you named quite a few of them.

How positive are you that you're not competitive for what you may want to do? You could still do the elective any way, see if you like it, and possibly get some letters out of it.

What other fields interest you? Look at it basing it on stuff you learned M1/M2 years. I had plenty of electives that I would've been happy with based on the subject material.

Is there any other field that other schools have as cores that yours doesn't? I found out when doing an away that not all schools have anesthesia as a required M3 class. The M4s at the away site doing anesthesia as an elective said (even if they weren't going into it) that they wished they had it M3 year.

I'd suggest not to take an elective just for the general knowledge, unless you've also got some interest in it. Electives give you a chance to either explore fields you may want to go into, or if you've already decided, to experience a field that you'll never get to see in residency. If you have no interest in a specific elective, you might be miserable for a month. My electives this year have nothing to do with what I'm going into (aside from my away), they're specialties that I wanted to see, and they'll expand my knowledge in general.

Also, if you go with what your admin suggests and look for a good eval, what's the scuttlebutt around your school for the rotations that give out lots of good grades? I know of some electives at my school that are notoriously hard to honor and others where if you show up, work hard, are enthusiastic, and try to learn, you honor.

Oh, another consideration -- at least at my school -- some electives have exams or presentations, and others have neither. If you want to avoid an exam for a month, look into one with neither.

I hope this makes sense.
 

gouda

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Taking ID is good learning experience since all fields have a little ID in them and you'll feel more comfortable w/AB's. It also gives you exposure to medicine and surgery and the hours are typically good.
 
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themudphud

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I would go with radiology if you are just going on practicality. ID is good but little more than looking in a little book to see what the antibiotic sensitivity is in your area. Of course, I oversimplify--but not by much :). Cardiology is good, but again on most rotations, you will not be looking to identify and work-up new onset cardiology issues. If such issues occur, you will probably call a cardiology consult (probably just based on your hospital or departmental policy).

I would actually suggest that you consider doing a rotation in that field you are interested in. Even if it is a competitive field. At least you can meet faculty with whom you might be able to do research (which would boost your application), get the skinny on whether or not you are a realistic candidate, and who knows, if you nail the rotation, you could be right back in the game. If you do take this option, I would really be as proactive as you can with meeting faculty and work hard too.
 

silas2642

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Hi everyone,

We are starting to schedule electives and I really don't know what to choose. We can take 2 electives in our third year (or vacation). I'm not sure of what I want to go into yet (one field definitely interests me but its super competitive and I am already doubting I would be able to match) so I'm not sure what to pick. One of our administrators was telling us today that we don't have to do an elective in the field we want to match into - the real goal is to just get good evals.

I am wondering, should the approach be to do some general rotations like cardio or renal that are important to one's overall knowledge or should I just take a chance with something I think I may have a remote interest in? At the same time, we have one elective right after surgery and I'm not sure if I will need that time to recover and not want to do a more demanding elective. Any advice?? Thanks!
Well what rotations have you done so far and what have you thought about them? Were there any that you were like, "hell no!" or any that piqued your interest? What kind of lifestyle do you want? Are your at least somewhat competitive in everything? Aren't you supposed to do a rotation in the field that you're going into?
 

Ashers

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Radiology? Everyone uses imaging (except psychiatry I guess).
They use it occasionally, but for obvious problems, I guess.

When I was on gen surg, my team consulted them for a patient with mental status changes. Psych suggested a CT, and it turned out the patient had a ginormous meningioma.

OP, I didn't suggest specific electives since I agree with silas. Look at all their questions.

The electives I've chosen to do that aren't related to my field are Dermatology and Allergy/Immunology.

Another general elective that I've heard is helpful for just about every field in pathology.
 

PeepshowJohnny

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Jun 28, 2007
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They use it occasionally, but for obvious problems, I guess.

When I was on gen surg, my team consulted them for a patient with mental status changes. Psych suggested a CT, and it turned out the patient had a ginormous meningioma.

OP, I didn't suggest specific electives since I agree with silas. Look at all their questions.

The electives I've chosen to do that aren't related to my field are Dermatology and Allergy/Immunology.

Another general elective that I've heard is helpful for just about every field in pathology.
Oh definitely, I've definitely seen psychiatrists order imaging studies. However, in my experience, I've never seen them actually, you know, look at at the brain MRI like a neurologist would, or how a pulmonologist or CT surgeon examins his own chest CT's. However, a good radiology elective DOES teach you the ideal tests to order for different concerns, so that even may be useful for every doctor, even if they're not going to read their own films.

But yeah, I've heard some really positive things about pathology rotations from lots of different fields.
 

markrivers

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This was how i approached electives a few years ago.
50% on fields i'm interested in.
50% on fields i WILL NEVER encounter during my residency.
 
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