Another MSIII in need of advice

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jsuro
Another MSIII in need of advice

Congrats to all those who recently matched!  I will be starting my fourth year in a few months and was wondering if you could give me any advice.Step 1 mid-220s, likely around the middle of  my class at mid-tier medical school.  First author on one paper in major journal; planning on starting a Urology research project.  Any advice on how to improve my application other than doing well on Aways and taking Step 2 early?  When applying to programs in September, is there a way I can find out which schools would likely screen out my application?  Are Step 1 cutoff values common knowledge to most Program Directors? (i.e. would my Program Director know what these values are at certain schools or could they find this out?)  Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by: nicky on 05/11/2015 - 19:50 Reason: Updated by FeedsNodeProcessor
Anonymous (not verified)
You can definitely talk to

You can definitely talk to your program director about this, though he probably won't have good information on what other programs will use for a cutoff.  He will have an idea of what programs you will be competitive for and where candidates from your school with your stats have gotten interviews and positions.  Assuming you have decent grades you should be somewhat competitive at most low to middle tier programs.  Your JHU's and Harvard level places are going to be out of reach, so don't apply to more than a couple of them.

Anonymous (not verified)
reply

You need to take step 2 as early as possible and have your score back by the time you turn in your application.  If your step 2 score is not around 240 or above, you probably wont get too many interviews and that is the truth.  Sorry.  Im a chief resident and have helped pick who we interview at our program for four years and if you dont have a board score or average above 230 or so we wont interview you more than likely. And Im not at one of the top programs in the U.S. As for aways, you need to go somewhere big and impress someone with a lot of muscle who will write you a good recc.  Research is always good but honoring surgery and urology are big musts and good board scores as well.  It is super competitive out there now and that's the only way to get your foot in the door so you can impress them on the interview.  Good luck

Anonymous (not verified)
Step 2

I'm not adding much to what has already been said, but I know a few applicants who matched this year at decent programs with Step 1 scores in the 220s. As has already been mentioned, the key for them was killing Step 2 and getting really good letters of recommendation from very well known Urology faculty. If you are planning to take Step 2 in July, it will be close enough to the end of third year that the material will still be fairly fresh in your mind. That certainly works in your favor. Good luck.

Anonymous (not verified)
i know people who have

i know people who have matched at top places with 220s, usually with a research year, or a subi at that instutution.

Anonymous (not verified)
You can definitely match at a

You can definitely match at a top program with a score in the 220s, it simply isn't true that you automatically won't get alot of interviews.  HOWEVER, you do have to work your ass off to get those interviews by killing on your away rotations and getting a great letter fom a prominent chair, which will open doors at other programs.  The way to do that is by getting there early/staying late, knowing your patients, not being annoying, getting along with residents, etc.  Most programs would love to have someone they have seen in action and can trust vs. an unknown with high board scores.

Anonymous (not verified)
Prominent chairs

Anonymous User wrote:
You can definitely match at a top program with a score in the 220s, it simply isn't true that you automatically won't get alot of interviews.  HOWEVER, you do have to work your ass off to get those interviews by killing on your away rotations and getting a great letter fom a prominent chair, which will open doors at other programs.  The way to do that is by getting there early/staying late, knowing your patients, not being annoying, getting along with residents, etc.  Most programs would love to have someone they have seen in action and can trust vs. an unknown with high board scores.
I'm just an MS1 interested in the field of urology, but I am curious which doctors are considered prominent chairs in the field of urology? 

Anonymous (not verified)
aways, cultivating relationships, research

Your application would be improved by away rotations and getting to know people at those insitutions well.  You may even be able to piggy back on a resident's research at an away site, if you play your cards right.  You will be a known entitiy where you do your aways and likely end up in the top 10-15% of their list if you do a good job (ie be affable, able, available and never an annoying, leg humping know it all--I know one applicant who was too overly formal and too accommodating and this is just as annoying as appearing to not care by leaving early, dodging patient care duties, bitching about scut, etc). Your presence at regional urology society lectures and meetings (and being in with a faculty member who will introduce you around) would also go some distance to putting you on people's radar (ie they will have seen your face twice, once on interview day, once at the meeting and possibly a third time if you do a second look).  Second looks are debatable, but some people this season did "second looks" tacked onto the interivew (either the day before or after) as in spent time with residents  and in the OR.  It is also not a bad idea to contact residents ahead of applying (get research resident or chief resident emails from the admin) to ask what the program is looking for and what they would recommend.  I got one interview out of my region in a place known to focus on its local region by letting a chief know I was interested.  People with scores in the 220s have matched at top programs and it's due to LORs, aways and being a "known entity." I would also start attending things like grand rounds, journal clubs, etc with your own department and introduce yourself as a med student doing research with so and so.  Try to cultivate good relationships in your home dept so that you'll have a great shot at staying there if all else fails (which it will not). Also, this is just one person's advice (an incoming intern) who did 1 home and 1 away, scored in the 240s, published 1 basic paper and 1 clinical came out during interview season.  Most of this advice is just stuff that I tried to do and in this sample size of 1 seemed to work.  Generally, just try to keep in mind that you're going into uro because you love the people, the culture and the operating room and the challenging stuff  (fatigue, uncertainty, step 1 score anxiety, etc) should be easier.  If you're easy to work with residents will get your back, make you look good on your aways and root for you in the match and at some programs this makes a big difference.You might also consider 1 first author paper and being tangentially involved in some aspects of other projects that are closer to completion (as others have said in other posts) so that you increase your odds of something getting pushed through in time.