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year of research?

minterr

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    I'm in middle of a very confusing decision right now: whether to take a year off to do research with my great mentor or to continue through fourth year and do research during 4th year (I'd essentially be able to do 8 months of research as my school's 4th year is completely elective and we're allowed 3 months of research time, 2 months of special study time, 1 month of reading time, and two months I plan to do easy rotations - ones that meet for about 4 hours a week. I feel like either way I'd get a good chunk of research in, and I have other issues weighing on both sides (family, finacee, etc).

    My question to you all is: how much do you think a year of research affects residency placement? This plays some part in my decision and I can't seem to get a good answer from anyone.

    My current stats are: 253 on step I, unsure about AOA but fair chance at it as I know I one of the top students in my class last year (recieved the best female student in first two years award, and the year before that won the cell bio/physio award for first year students). Research: did some in college with no publications, did it the summer after first year with no publications, and plan to do some next year (hopefully with publications). Grades: Honors in everything so far except pediatrics (HP) -- I have two more rotations left in 3rd year.

    How much would a year of research change my residency chances? While this won't decide what I do, I might lean more in favor of taking a year off if doing a year of research would greatly increase my chances of matching into a top program.
     

    4424

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    Feb 15, 2005
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      i dont think you will need the year off for research. start the research and be able to talk about it during interviews. your stats are terrific obviously, the rest will come down to your interview
       

      Pinkertinkle

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        I think you'll be able to match into ophthalmology just fine but if you're itching to go to Bascom Palmer or Wilmer having a few publications is definitely going to make things easier.
         
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        V05

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        Apr 3, 2007
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          You do not need to take a year off unless you need the time for something else. You will be a competitive candidate without publications.

          You should start doing research or work closely with someone clinically to get good letters of recommendation (more important than publications). Contrarary to what most people believe, publications are helpful but not necessary to get accepted into top programs.
           

          rubensan

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            My question to you all is: how much do you think a year of research affects residency placement? This plays some part in my decision and I can't seem to get a good answer from anyone.

            you are right, and i never got a good answer from anyone when i was in your shoes. my board scores were about 10 points lower that yours. i did 2 years of research with great mentors and matched at my number 1 choice for ophthalmology residency. that being said, the most important advice that my mentors gave me was to do research "if and only if i was interested in research." within 3 months of being in the lab, my goals changed from simply "matching at doheny" to getting my project off the ground, getting things like Western Blots and Real Time PCR to work on a consistent basis, writing grant proposals and publishing manuscripts. i'm sure some of the MD/PhDs on this forum will agree that in a way, being productive in lab is just as consuming as medical school or residency because no one cares about your project but you. and it is quite frustrating when experiments don't work ir you get that first manuscript back from the editors with a million revisions to be had, etc. however, those 2 years were some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. i think my publications and grants impressed the more academic programs when i was on the interview trail, but i must warn you that some of the middle and lower tier programs could have cared less.

            so bottom line: do a year of research if you are interested in research and think you can be productive. it sounds like you have a great mentor but 1 year goes by quick! i think it does and will help at the more academic programs.

            Good luck!
             

            aliehs321

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            Dec 16, 2007
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              Hi, I am in a similar situation as the first person on this post. I am a third year medical student at a top 15 medical school (top 5 ophtho program), step 1 257, honors in the two rotations that I have completed, and 1 case report published in optho and one paper submitted (rejected twice, now on third round! arggh) (these were not with someone at my home institute though). i am torn as to whether or not to apply for a year off for research or go through with it and try to make ties where i am.

              my goals for the future are to stay at my home institution for residency, if at all possible. it being a top 5 optho program though, i recognize that this is tough. i also know that it's a very academic program and that most of its residents have numerous publications before residency.

              so my question boils down to, should i stay at my home institution and try to make ties there for the rest of third year and the early months of third year? (i have about a year for that, since interviews are at the end of 2008) or do i take a whole year off, go away to either nih or a DD school (my home institution is not one) and make connections there that may help here? how good are connections made through those programs? what is the likelihood of publishing in those programs? More importantly, are the mentors available in the programs people who are considered nationally reputable?

              any input would be great
               

              7ontheline

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                Boy, you guys aren't going to get a lot of sympathy from some of the applicants on this forum. "My application is really, really good, but I want to guarantee a spot at ONE certain top program, woe is me!" LOL.

                Seriously though, no one can tell you for sure whether that extra year of research would help. There are too many variables. Maybe you don't interview well - NO amount of research is going to get you into your dream program. Maybe you can do enough good research in your 4th year and impress the important faculty in your program and not need an extra research year - how are anonymous internet dwellers going to be able to assess that? People get into good programs all the time without extra research years, and for some people it's that extra little "oomph" of a research year that makes their application stand out.

                I also think the most important thing you can do is engage in a little self-reflection and really understand your own goals. Why do you want to do the extra year? Is it because you really like research and it will help your application? Or is it only because you want to get into a top program? For that matter, why do you want to get into a "top" program? Simply for the prestige/ego? Or do you have academic aspirations? You can for sure get into a good fellowship or get a good job out of many residency programs, not just "top" ones. Do you think you will be very unhappy anywhere else besides your most-desired program? Understand that your training will be decent almost anywhere, and very good at a number of places. What role are family, geographic location, etc. playing in your plans?

                I think the best sources for answers to your questions are already at your program. Talk to the residents there - they just went through the same process you are going through now. How much research did they do? Talk to the program director if you can. At my old program, the program director was happy to give an honest assessment of your application and let you know if any areas were deficient. There's no harm in letting them know of your interest early. It just shows you're motivated. The program director sees hundreds of applications a year, surely he will be able to at least tell you how yours compares.
                 

                rubensan

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                  :thumbup::thumbup:excellent advice!

                  Seriously though, no one can tell you for sure whether that extra year of research would help. There are too many variables. Maybe you don't interview well - NO amount of research is going to get you into your dream program. Maybe you can do enough good research in your 4th year and impress the important faculty in your program and not need an extra research year - how are anonymous internet dwellers going to be able to assess that? People get into good programs all the time without extra research years, and for some people it's that extra little "oomph" of a research year that makes their application stand out.

                  I also think the most important thing you can do is engage in a little self-reflection and really understand your own goals. Why do you want to do the extra year? Is it because you really like research and it will help your application? Or is it only because you want to get into a top program? For that matter, why do you want to get into a "top" program? Simply for the prestige/ego? Or do you have academic aspirations? You can for sure get into a good fellowship or get a good job out of many residency programs, not just "top" ones. Do you think you will be very unhappy anywhere else besides your most-desired program? Understand that your training will be decent almost anywhere, and very good at a number of places. What role are family, geographic location, etc. playing in your plans?

                  I think the best sources for answers to your questions are already at your program. Talk to the residents there - they just went through the same process you are going through now. How much research did they do? Talk to the program director if you can. At my old program, the program director was happy to give an honest assessment of your application and let you know if any areas were deficient. There's no harm in letting them know of your interest early. It just shows you're motivated. The program director sees hundreds of applications a year, surely he will be able to at least tell you how yours compares.
                   

                  aliehs321

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                    Thanks, I appreciate your responses. I have engaged in quite a bit of self-reflection to even get to wanting to do ophthalmology; I always had it in the back of my head, but honestly, had hoped that I would like something less competitive, for my own sanity. I am seeing now that that is not the case, and so am gearing up, presumptively, for ophthalmology, which is why I am in fact doing what you said: speaking to people at my program, thinking about my own priorities, and simply getting more information about this whole process, which is where the research bit came up. Again, I appreciate your input and will certainly take it as a complement to the other information that I have been getting.
                     

                    DOapplicant

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                      To the OP:

                      I don't think taking a year "off" to do research will greatly increase your chances of matching, because your chances are already excellent.

                      Unless you attend an unranked school that doesn't have a dept of ophthalmology, the utility of dedicating a year to research would lie in allowing you to decide early in your career how great a role you'd like research and academic medicine to play in your professional career.

                      Are you posting under two different usernames?
                       

                      aliehs321

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                        no i am only posting under this name. thanks to everyone for their replies. i have decided to go ahead and apply to the CRTP program and the let the dice fall as they may. i've also set up a preceptorship with an ophthalmologist at my home institute so hopefully i can make some connections there. happy new year!
                         

                        FrankMD

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                          Aliehs, CRTP is a great program, I'm sure you'll have valuable experiences there as well as meet great people.

                          Let me know if you have any questions about the program, I went through CRTP a few years back and will be happy to offer any advice.
                           

                          aliehs321

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                            thanks! i really appreciate your offer to help =) i did have one question: when it asks for a "cover letter" with your goals/interests/etc, do they just mean a personal statement, or do they want something in a letter format?
                             
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