Mar 2, 2014
2
0
Status
Medical Student
I am a MS4 in the northeast. I submitted applications 9/15 to a competitive specialty. I am fairly certain, in retrospect, it was the wrong specialty choice for me, but I still made it due to pressure and deadlines. After doing away rotations and research, I felt I had invested too much work to turn back. Momentum carried me through, and now that the decision is made I realize that I'm not happy with it. The problem is, I don't know what my second choice would be. Ideally I would take a year to explore specialties I liked a lot during rotations-- since I was applying to a competitive surgical sub I put on blinders to everything else and saw them as a means to an end.

What kind of repercussions would I face if I withdrew my entire ERAS application from this cycle and reapplied next year? After talking with my dean, I would not graduate in May and would still appear as an MS4 should I reapply next year. If I change specialties entirely, would there be any evidence that I submitted an ERAS app this year?

No other red flags, no leaves of absence. Step 1 and 2 250s, AOA.
 

NeurologyHopeful2018

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
331
287
Status
Medical Student
I am a MS4 in the northeast. I submitted applications 9/15 to a competitive specialty. I am fairly certain, in retrospect, it was the wrong specialty choice for me, but I still made it due to pressure and deadlines. After doing away rotations and research, I felt I had invested too much work to turn back. Momentum carried me through, and now that the decision is made I realize that I'm not happy with it. The problem is, I don't know what my second choice would be. Ideally I would take a year to explore specialties I liked a lot during rotations-- since I was applying to a competitive surgical sub I put on blinders to everything else and saw them as a means to an end.

What kind of repercussions would I face if I withdrew my entire ERAS application from this cycle and reapplied next year? After talking with my dean, I would not graduate in May and would still appear as an MS4 should I reapply next year. If I change specialties entirely, would there be any evidence that I submitted an ERAS app this year?

No other red flags, no leaves of absence. Step 1 and 2 250s, AOA.
What you are doing is extremely common. There is no record of your prior app on ERAs.
 

Donald Juan

7+ Year Member
May 22, 2011
1,699
2,598
GA
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Shouldn't be a big problem. Better to change now than later, and if you were going for a surgical sub specialty I assume you're a pretty good applicant for any specialty.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sinombre and croak2
About the Ads

dadaddadaBATMAN

5+ Year Member
Apr 27, 2014
525
786
Umbrella pulled out
I am a MS4 in the northeast. I submitted applications 9/15 to a competitive specialty. I am fairly certain, in retrospect, it was the wrong specialty choice for me, but I still made it due to pressure and deadlines. After doing away rotations and research, I felt I had invested too much work to turn back. Momentum carried me through, and now that the decision is made I realize that I'm not happy with it. The problem is, I don't know what my second choice would be. Ideally I would take a year to explore specialties I liked a lot during rotations-- since I was applying to a competitive surgical sub I put on blinders to everything else and saw them as a means to an end.

What kind of repercussions would I face if I withdrew my entire ERAS application from this cycle and reapplied next year? After talking with my dean, I would not graduate in May and would still appear as an MS4 should I reapply next year. If I change specialties entirely, would there be any evidence that I submitted an ERAS app this year?

No other red flags, no leaves of absence. Step 1 and 2 250s, AOA.
The main thing that will still give you away is your date of matriculation. However, this is probably one of the better reasons to take an extra year. Others may feel differently, but to me it's good because it's of your own volition, demonstrates humility and self-awareness, and will give you time to develop a real interest in another specialty.

It may be worthwhile to hold off a few more weeks (say till October) to make sure you're not just burned out from away rotations. I know that I had serious doubts about my choices which in retrospect were unfounded. I just wasn't as good a personality fit at the places I did my aways, and I am a very happy intern (in relative terms).
 
  • Like
Reactions: DokterMom

NeurologyHopeful2018

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
331
287
Status
Medical Student
One drawback is do you still have to do a full 5th year after you made your specialty choice decision? Does your school waive your tuition for 5th year?
 

DokterMom

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
Mar 1, 2013
5,284
11,773
Status
Non-Student
I am a MS4 in the northeast. I submitted applications 9/15 to a competitive specialty. I am fairly certain, in retrospect, it was the wrong specialty choice for me, but I still made it due to pressure and deadlines. After doing away rotations and research, I felt I had invested too much work to turn back. Momentum carried me through, and now that the decision is made I realize that I'm not happy with it. The problem is, I don't know what my second choice would be. Ideally I would take a year to explore specialties I liked a lot during rotations-- since I was applying to a competitive surgical sub I put on blinders to everything else and saw them as a means to an end.

What kind of repercussions would I face if I withdrew my entire ERAS application from this cycle and reapplied next year? After talking with my dean, I would not graduate in May and would still appear as an MS4 should I reapply next year. If I change specialties entirely, would there be any evidence that I submitted an ERAS app this year?

No other red flags, no leaves of absence. Step 1 and 2 250s, AOA.

ONE question -- Are you habitually indecisive and self-doubting? If you are, then consider that it could just be nerves. But honestly, from what you've said, it doesn't sound like it, so --

:bow:

Kudos to you for having the maturity and insight to put the brakes on and take the time to reexamine your options and re-explore various specialties. With two strong step scores and AOA behind you, your options are wide open and you can explore without blinders on. Please do that, and rock the experience.
 

ACSurgeon

Acute Care Surgeon
10+ Year Member
Jun 8, 2008
1,915
2,019
Status
Attending Physician
I worry the extra year in school would hurt your application next cycle. If you reapply to the same surgical specialty, saying you needed an extra year to be sure won't help. If you decide on something else, especially if much less competitive, then fine.

I know you said you had blinders on going through until this point, but you should be able to reflect and decide what aspects you liked from different rotations and have a very short list of things you might be interested in.
 
OP
M
Mar 2, 2014
2
0
Status
Medical Student
Thank you, everyone, for your input. I would be able to do salaried research in a lab affiliated with my medical school. By this point I have good relationships with a lot of departments so I think I would be able to shadow without much difficulty and avoid paying a 5th year's worth of tuition.

My concern is if this extra year doesn't buy any clarity, and I am back to the same surgical sub next year, but perhaps with some bridges burned, as ACSurgeon said. It is very daunting to not have a well defined backup specialty, but more daunting to commit to a specialty that I'm lukewarm about.

Burning out is also a consideration, although it is hard to untangle being burned out from true disinterest in a given specialty.
 

ortnakas

DO PGY-2
5+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2013
3,022
4,338
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Another option may be to apply to traditional years (or whatever the MD equivalent of the DO TRI is). You can still graduate on time and eliminate any questions you might get in that regard, and also quit paying tuition, then apply to whatever specialty you've picked as an intern the following year.

I honestly have no idea if this is a better or worse option than staying in med school for a 5th year-- there are people on this board far more knowledgeable than me who can answer that-- but I figured I'd throw it out as an option.
 

NeurologyHopeful2018

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
331
287
Status
Medical Student
Thank you, everyone, for your input. I would be able to do salaried research in a lab affiliated with my medical school. By this point I have good relationships with a lot of departments so I think I would be able to shadow without much difficulty and avoid paying a 5th year's worth of tuition.

My concern is if this extra year doesn't buy any clarity, and I am back to the same surgical sub next year, but perhaps with some bridges burned, as ACSurgeon said. It is very daunting to not have a well defined backup specialty, but more daunting to commit to a specialty that I'm lukewarm about.

Burning out is also a consideration, although it is hard to untangle being burned out from true disinterest in a given specialty.
Shadowing does not allow you to gain much insight. You need to do actual rotations at a SubI level. Maybe do half a year's worth of research and then do more rotations for another 6 months? I think extra semester's worth of tuition is no big deal in the long run if you can find a specialty you are certain you are happy with.
 

NeurologyHopeful2018

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
331
287
Status
Medical Student
Another option may be to apply to traditional years (or whatever the MD equivalent of the DO TRI is). You can still graduate on time and eliminate any questions you might get in that regard, and also quit paying tuition, then apply to whatever specialty you've picked as an intern the following year.

I honestly have no idea if this is a better or worse option than staying in med school for a 5th year-- there are people on this board far more knowledgeable than me who can answer that-- but I figured I'd throw it out as an option.
Problem with this route is as follows:

1) You are no longer a US senior - so you are immediately disadvantaged in that regard.

2) How are you going to find time to go on 12+ interviews for a competitive specialty?

I think it is best to take some time off and sort out what you are going to do during medical school.
 

DokterMom

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
Mar 1, 2013
5,284
11,773
Status
Non-Student
It might help if you name the field and what your doubts are. That way others can chime in with insight into the validity of your concerns. Of course, your concerns and perceptions are yours, so others' views might only muddy the waters.
 

luckrules

7+ Year Member
Nov 11, 2011
53
16
Status
Medical Student
Hi mufluc. I am in a pretty similar situation (although not a very competitive specialty). As I've already sent in ERAS, my current plan is to go through a couple of interviews and let that guide my way. I feel like the experience of interviewing in the field will be telling. If the interviews confirm my choice - great - otherwise I will withdraw my application and scramble for a backup plan. Ideally I'd do rotations in a couple of other fields I'm interested in and then look for a lab job for the remainder of the year into fifth year.

It is very overwhelming. I spoke with my dean, and it sounds like my school does not charge tuition for >8 semesters. If you need someone to talk to about it feel free to PM me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DokterMom

BigSkyMontana45

2+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2017
47
11
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I am a MS4 in the northeast. I submitted applications 9/15 to a competitive specialty. I am fairly certain, in retrospect, it was the wrong specialty choice for me, but I still made it due to pressure and deadlines. After doing away rotations and research, I felt I had invested too much work to turn back. Momentum carried me through, and now that the decision is made I realize that I'm not happy with it. The problem is, I don't know what my second choice would be. Ideally I would take a year to explore specialties I liked a lot during rotations-- since I was applying to a competitive surgical sub I put on blinders to everything else and saw them as a means to an end.

What kind of repercussions would I face if I withdrew my entire ERAS application from this cycle and reapplied next year? After talking with my dean, I would not graduate in May and would still appear as an MS4 should I reapply next year. If I change specialties entirely, would there be any evidence that I submitted an ERAS app this year?

No other red flags, no leaves of absence. Step 1 and 2 250s, AOA.
@mufluc - I am in the EXACT same situation as yours. Unable to decide on a specialty after my M3 year. My peers urged me to go into IM because how you can later specialize in many other areas afterwards. I am glad I didn't follow this advice since I hated tedious primary care/primary management and the frustrating paperwork associated with IM. There is reason why it is the specialty with the least amount of satisfaction - many people go into it by default since they don't really know what they want to do and they just assume a pure medicine specialty is appropriate.

After speaking with my dean, we decided the best option is to take a 1 semester LoA for research - and then begin my M4 year in Janurary - now having 9 months to do rotations before deciding on a specialty. You do NOT want a prelim or transitional PGY-1 year because very few programs in ANY specialty has an open unfilled PGY-2 spot. The logistics of going on many interviews as a resident is also a problem. Since you are no longer a U.S. senior - programs will automatically assume that you didn't match as the reason why you only took a prelim/transitional year.

It is best to figure out your specialty choice during medical school rather than later - your options are way limited once you graduate.
 

Dr G Oogle

2+ Year Member
Mar 8, 2017
225
272
One other option is...you already paid for eras...wait and see what interviews you get, maybe go on a few close to you and see if you feel the same way as you now. You can withdraw from ERAS all the way up to day your list is due. 2 people in my class did what you are proposing and ended up in high quality specialties, I also had 2nd thoughts and ended up switching specialties after a couple of years, i often envy those people and wish I had more courage to do what they and you did.
 
About the Ads