Advice for 2011 Applicants

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Anonymous (not verified)
Letters and 4th year research month

I don't get any 3rd year electives at my school. Next year I'd like to do a month at home, a month of research at home, and 1-2 away rotations. I was wondering after the home rotation in July, should I do a month of research then one or two away rotations? Would a September away rotation be too late to get a letter that would complete my application?

I was also thinking about not doing the research month until September, but I don't know how much that would add to my application that late. (I don't have any uro research). Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks and congratulations to those that matched!

Sept is not too late for an

Sept is not too late for an away rotation. You'll still have a chance to get a letter that many programs will see before they start offering interviews. As for your research month, I'm not sure how much its going to add. Research isn't worth much unless you get published, and those wheels turn too slow to count on anything that late. You say that you don't have any uro research, so I'm assuming you've done some other research, which I think can be just as good.

My Take

Here's my take.

Med School: Mid tier for Urology, strong Gen Surg.
Class Rank: Top Quarter and AOA
Step 1: 237
Step 2: Not taken at time of interviews.
Research: Minimal non-uro, no pubs.

Letters from Chairman at home program (no well known) and away rotation (mid tier program) in July (well known chairman), transplant surgeon I did my research with, and a gen surg attending at my home institution. All were strong letters especially chairman from away.

Applied to 45, 19 interview offers, attended 16, ranked 16, matched at #1 (mid tier program).

I second the fact that they're just looking for people who want to train there and are normal people, at least at mid tier programs. Probably different at top 5-10 programs...but I didn't even apply to those programs as they don't fit my personality.

1 year funded Research fellowship at Harvard

Robotics Research Fellowship at Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard,
Department of Urology
About 1 year. Funded.

Flexible start time (March/April/May 2010). The earlier you start the better for the next application season. You can network and produce more for your file. Adult and Peds exposure, either will help tremendously with getting into urology.

The robotics research fellowship offers a well-rounded and in-depth exposure to both translational and clinical urologic research as well as the opportunity to coordinate the robotics research and training center. With the only da Vinci robot dedicated to research and training in Massachusetts and a full-fledged vivarium and animal surgical facility, this is a unique environment to innovate and discover new robotic surgical applications using animal models. The fellow will also be trained to serve as a certified da Vinci robotics training specialist, hosting live, animal training sessions for visiting surgeons.

Other additional opportunities include industry/biotech collaborations, NIH grant and protocol writing, journal publication, clinical research IRB processes, funding proposals, and pediatric grand rounds/radiology conferences weekly.

If you are looking for a phenomenal educational opportunity as well as the chance to improve your residency application, please contact, Dr. Hiep T. Nguyen, Assistant Professor in Surgery (Urology), Harvard Medical School, and Director of Robotic Surgery and Research, at: for more information.

Please include your CV and a short paragraph statement regarding your goals and interest in urologic research.

Anonymous (not verified)
Took the other path to the match

I am probably the only person who decided not do an away rotation anywhere
My stats: Honors in most 3rd year clerkships, Step 1 235 Step 2 260; AOA, research (basic science and clinical), presented at conferences etc... I had lots of extracurriculars and leadership activities. Went to a solid school with a well known urology chairman, got recs from another well respected attending and a community urologist known by faculty where I interviewed at.

45 apps / 18 interview offers/ went to 16/ Ranked 16

Matched at my #1

Here is my take on aways: people say do the "big name" away for a letter or go to a "middle tier (whatever that means) if you want to match there; but some places had too many people (up to 25) do aways there. I decided that my time and app would be better served by doing couple months of clinical research, which paid off in abstracts/pubs. The places I was interested in going to, my attendings had great relationships with their faculty, and I was fortunate to get interviews without doing an away. I am probably in the minority, but depending on your institution and whether you dot have an obligation to family, I would hesitate in doing an away rotation. If you need to be in a certain city, trying to get to the other coast, or have a "dream" program then by all means go ahead, but aways can at time do more harm, you can make a bad impression, rub somebody the wrong way, or come during a month where other students may take away from your experience and exposure (such as the lames running to get gloves for the residents)

As to the Step 1 being the 230s, I did not feel that I was ever at a disadvantage, probably because I felt I had a solid application across the board. I got interviews in all "tiers." I am sure some programs excluded my app, but I cant do anything about that

In the end I think the keys to matching for me were to first be honest that I wanted to do urology as a career, applying AND interviewing at both well known and not as well known programs, and being honest with programs about what I was looking for. I knew my research, extracurricular activities backwards and forwards. I made sure to be myself, never forced myself to talk to people for the sake of talking. If you have to force yourself to fit in the a group of residents hoping to get higher on the rank list, your next 5-6 years might suck

Good luck

Posted this after my aways last year

So I wanted to share my experience so far after completing my away rotations. Feel free to follow with your opinions and own experiences.

My first rotation was at a big name program and had an overall great experience. The residents and staff were all great. The residents seemed really happy and the experience there both in the OR and in the clinic was top notch. It lived up to it's rep. I did though feel like a fish out of water there, the department runs real smooth with out med students so trying to get in to see patients on your own and help with charting and stuff was awkward for both me and the staff. I feel like when I was there I worked my butt off, up real early and in the hospital before any of the residents studying the days cases and patients. I rotated with three of there services and with the first two I hard a real good experience. The last one the experience was alright but I never really seemed to connect with the attending (not saying I expect too with all of them). I really had little interaction with him and him and the resident seemed to forget I was even around half the time. I left there feeling good about the rotation. Unfittingly I just found out the one attending grading me was, of course, the one who barely noticed me. So I ended up with a HP and not honors. Not sure if this is a sign that I will not be back in the fall or not, I did get along very well with the other attendings' and residents. I guess this goes to show that when you do an away rotation there always runs the chance that you will be matched up with an attending who you just don't match up with (personality etc.). I was feeling that this place was a good fit for me but now I have second thoughts and question everything I heard and said there, not fun.

My second rotation was at another strong program closer to home. I really liked all the residents, I mean they were all people I would be friends with outside of residency. The program was well run and had great experiences for the residents. I felt that they may have some lacking experience in the early years of their residency (less OR time, less big cases) Also the hours sounded a bit harsh, but hey its residency right. The attendings' were all really great. I found them very personable and you can tell they connected well with the residents and often hung out outside of the hospitals. My evaluation there was reassuring after feeling like maybe a screwed up some way (not sure how?) at my last rotation. Again I felt I worked hard the whole time and got a lot out of the experience.

Looking back I would have only done one rotation. I feel now that going away to see a different program other than your home programs is all that is really needed, two was a little over kill. Second after three uro rotation, you get tired of waking up everyday and putting on your interview smile and up beat attitude. It's like going on an interview everyday for three months! Also I was under the assumption (ignorantly?) that because of my hard work ethic, good social skills, good fundamental knowledge that I was would surely never make a bad impression doing my away's. I think now I know clearly that not everything is in your control and that something's may happen that could make you come off as not the perfect applicant (which you are trying to be everyday!).

So if you're starting a rotation or already in one then here are some of my opinions (just opinions):

You can't make everyone happy all the time, so don't get to worked up when you don't feel like everyone's 1#
Picture yourself as a resident there, from intern year all the way up to chief, would you be happy?
Write thank you's
Do a presentation, offer too if no one tells you too.
Try as you might there will be some attending and/or resident's that you will never be able to read or figure out their impression of you or your work.
Be nice to the staff in the OR, ask about their lives too, don't just share your's. Not sure if this will help you with getting in to a program but it surely will hurt you if they decide they don't like you so much and walk around like your entitled to something.
Read about the cases and know if any of the attendings' are big in a research field ( i.e RPLND's, Kidney tumors, etc) then read there papers.

Sorry for any spelling or grammar errors.

2-0 Chromic
My experience was a good one

My experience was a good one despite my low scores. Step 1 226, Step 2 240, Top 1/3 of class. 5 years of research experience not Urology. I had an outstanding extracurricular activity list. It was quite funny/hard for many to envision a girl like myself doing many of the activities I had listed. My 3rd year evaluations were outstanding. I was told some of my letters were some of the best they had seen. My personality is very likable. My hard work ethic that my father instilled in me got me really far. I felt overall I was an intriguing surprise to most of my interviewers and residents. All but maybe 3 interviews talked to me about my activities and then decided to ask me a standard question once they got the knock on the door. I loved shooting the skeet with them.

It's very important to be yourself during these interviews. I ranked a lot of my favorites on resident personalities, autonomy, and whether the chairman had an interest in the residents. Once you snag an interview, the interview/matching game starts all over. If you interview well and make a good impression, they will most likely overlook your scores. Lots of place want to be able to work with you and make sure that you will mesh well with the rest of the team.

Applied: 29 Interviews: 18 Attended: 15 Matched at my #1!!!

I wouldn't recommend applying to as few as I did. I was very picky about where I wanted to live. I also wasn't worried about not matching. I felt this was my path in life, and that everything I've done up to this point was just a stepping stone to the bigger picture. It was my gut feeling!!!

I did one away rotation, and I'm glad that I only did one away. This is a very tiring and expensive process. When doing an away, consider some where you'd like to go, but I also recommend sitting down with your chairman and going over your chances at certain places. Some places base everything on your scores and don't care about your personality or hard work ethic. Some programs won't offer you an interview even if you do an away there. So, please sit down with your chairman and discuss these things.

Anonymous (not verified)
what kind of activities?

what kind of activities?

2-0 Chromic
Activities included:

Activities include:
--Being President of one of the school medical clubs.
--Training for and participating in 8 half marathons through my course of med school. Doing 4 more this year. They absolutely loved talking to me about running. It also shows dedication to a specific plan/schedule. Sticking with your goals. I used this to my advantage. Residency is like a marathon...
--Hunting or going to shooting range...some places will invite you to interview based on similar interests. I'm a girl so this was interesting.
--I love to volunteer not bc of the CV material...I just love to do it.
--I also tutor M1s and algebra 2 students.
--Played on a State and Regional championship flag football team, went to Nationals to place 5th.
--Play summer league softball
--Hosting networking socials with the faculty at my school.

There are more things I could talk about, but I'll stop because no one cares.

Once you write your Personal statement, you should always include some hobbies or interests you have. Many attendings pick up on this and love to find out exactly what type of person you are. Do you have a life outside of medicine? Could I spend time with this person in the OR? Like I said most of my interviewers talked to me about running because they were runners themselves. I had one Chairman ask me how fast I could run. He told me he never gets beat by his residents in any race. I gave him my time and he said you'd be a first, and I don't know how I feel about a resident beating me.

In interviews, the interviewer loves to find a common bond with you. Let your interest be known in your personal statement or even CV.

2-0 Chromic
The funny part was them

The funny part was them reading my interests and looking at girl in front of them. First impression by looks alone...prissy little city girl.