10+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2008
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I have been interested in plastics but am a pretty avg applicant all around at the moment. I would be happy doing Gen surgery and then figuring out my fellowship options.

1) Would it hurt me in any way to gun for plastics (i.e. research/away electives) and see what happens?
2)Would it cause me to sacrifice a better gen surg spot when ranking?
3)Do you think it would even be possible to match with avg scores, or am i absolutely wasting my energy?


10+ Year Member
Sep 10, 2007
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I'm going to call you Sean, since I read your name as "Dr. Sean Live."

So Sean, if you check out Charting Outcomes you'll see that indeed, people with average boards scores have matched into plastics. In 2007, of US seniors:

*1 person <180 applied, did not match
* 4 people in the 180s applied, did not match
* 2 people in the 190s applied, did not match
* 2/8 people in the 200s applied, matched (25%)
* 4/13 in the 210s applied, matched (31%)
* 14/40 in the 220s applied, matched (35%)

*Of the non-AOA folks, 48% matched.

*The 25th %ile Step 1 score was 231, which is >1 standard deviation above the national mean.

There are two relevant pieces of info here: first off, the number of average folks *applying* is very small. Meaning there was most likely something about their applications that caused their Deans/home plastic PDs to think they had a shot. And even though those people were quite possibly "more than their numbers" (perhaps they had significant research, 4+ years of contact with their home plastics departments, excellent LORs, interesting CVs) their match rates were still pretty dismal.

Secondly, it does dispel the myth that matching into plastics is merely a numbers game.

So, if you honestly feel that you're more than your numbers-- and there is something very compelling about both your interest in and your aptitude for plastic surgery training-- why not give it a shot?

Arranging one of those crucial early months of 4th year for plastics instead of maximizing your general surgery chances will, more likely than not, hurt those chances in some way. You'll miss out on an away elective, you'll have a PRS sub-i on your transcript (the sight of which can cause some GS PDs to recoil with horror), and so forth.

It's best to meet honestly with your home plastics person (PD if you have one at your med school, otherwise any plastic surgeon) to go over your entire application in depth. Better to know your chances honestly and not waste your time if you're not competitive than go through the travail of not matching, in my opinion.

Edit: the Charting Outcomes data are for people who ranked at least one plastic surgery program-- meaning they got at least one interview.
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10+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2008
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Wow:wow: someone asks a legitimate question on here and actually gets a straight answer On the first reply without getting flamed with the typical cynical responses like do a search, be more realistic, or meaningless anecdotal data of "I know such and such and they did'nt get in so therefore you don't have a shot". What in the world is Student Doc coming to. But seriously I did'nt even ask the question and I appreciate that response BlondeDocteur
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Surgery Forum Mentor
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Mar 27, 2007
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Wow:wow: someone asks a legitimate question on here and actually gets a straight answer On the first reply

I'm sorry that you feel that way. I've always thought that most of the posts have been relatively well thought out and beneficial. Occasionally there is the "oddball" reply, but I don't think of this board as a flame fest.
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