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Quark

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  1. You’re right, I looked it up to be sure and stand corrected. Edited my original post accordingly.
  2. People successfully apply and match to derm every year with a "late" interest in the specialty, but "late" is usually relative and refers to discovering their interest sometime during clerkship-- when you still have flexibility in terms of organizing electives and potentially making connections and getting some research onto your CV. I really don't want to discourage you, but I think this year may be an even tougher year to have a late interest, since you have no access to away electives. IMO electives are one of, if not the #1, metrics for derm applicants, because 1) it's such a small specialty so facetime is extremely important but also 2) it's incredibly competitive so you want to maximize your chances of matching across the country, and the best way to do that is if programs know you. 4 weeks is low for a derm applicant, considering that most of your competitors will have maxed out their electives to 8 weeks. If you're set on this path, you'll need to lock in those home electives and absolutely knock them out of the park. It'll be an uphill battle since you need to use your personality and clinical acumen to hopefully outshine people with a longtime interest in the specialty, who have spent the past 3-4 years already building connections, working on research, and making a strong impression on your home program. In the past students could more easily achieve this by rocking their electives and getting solid references, but that's another challenge this year. Derm requests a high number of letters (3-5 *mandatory* letters depending on school), preferably from derms, and so it's a scramble even in a normal year to get that all together. With only 4 weeks (1-2 electives), it may be challenging, though of course not impossible, for you to find staff who will write you strong letters. I would second other commenters who have suggested that you reflect on the reasons that you want to apply to derm, and which aspects overlap with other specialties! If you particularly enjoyed peds derm, remember that completing a pediatrics residency still leaves the door open to pursue the peds derm fellowship at SickKids in the future.
  3. Have you considered that maybe your personal strengths just happened to align more with your arts degree than your science degree? It's freaking HARD to get as as good a GPA in arts/humanities courses than in the sciences... in STEM, it's fully possible to get a 100% perfect mark in most courses. Obviously most people aren't going to achieve this, but at least it's doable. This is very much not the case in the vast majority of arts and humanities courses. There are so many wildly subjective aspects to the grading-- not to mention to huge volume of reading and critical analysis skills required to do well, vs. rote memorization which can get you through a pretty significant portion of a typical Life Sciences degree. Yes, medicine is absolutely nepotistic and still favours privileged applications in many ways. But don't conflate this with your apparent disdain for the arts (or people who study them), and how they're apparently supposed to be less academically rigorous.
  4. School Interviewing at: Toronto Specialty: IM Current interview date: Jan 21 PM Date would like to switch to: Jan 27/28 would be very grateful for a trade as I tried to plan out flights and will have major timing issues!
  5. Yes, there are always the 1-2 people everyone talks about who did a single elective and somehow managed to match derm/other competitive specialties, but that isn't at all the norm. Certainly, those people have something about them or their application that stands out, whether it is exceptional research in another field, exceptional extracurriculars/other facets of their application, exceptional people skills, or exceptional connections. If you're really interested in derm, why would you not set yourself up for the best possible chance of success by doing a reasonable number of electives in the specialty? There's an eight-week cap anyways, so you couldn't do more than 4 even if you wanted to. Particularly since it seems like your school gives you many more elective weeks compared to other schools (I assume UBC). The regional bias is real, and perfectly good candidates struggle to get interviews every year.
  6. Absolutely possible to get a stellar LOR, and preceptors in general really do understand that we are there to get letters. I would still go forward with the elective if it’s something you want to do. Probably one of my strongest LORs was from a preceptor I had for one week on an IM subspeciality rotation split in half. The residents were super key and absolutely went to bat for me; try to ask around and see which of your supervisors is more likely to write you a letter and if there are any opportunities you can set up to get more face time (switching clinics, doing consults/call, etc.). Other friends had similarly split electives and went with the option of requesting a joint letter. Ultimately I’ve asked for letters with even less exposure (think a few half days of clinic lol) out of necessity, and still managed to do ok. You never know what’s going to happen on electives unfortunately, sometimes you only find out close to the date or even on-site about some scheduling shenanigans, and there’s not a whole lot to do but make the best of it. Don’t lose hope!
  7. I would still try to get a home school elective if possible. For you I think it may be more advantageous to come back at the end and do a post-CaRMS elective, since it sounds like you'll be at peak skills at that point & your medicine block sounds well structured to provide you with multiple LORs (if you're consistently good you could walk away with even 4+, covering all your CaRMS needs in one go). I would probably try to get it in a different subspecialty to show diversity/exploration of IM as a specialty. A different site would also be a good idea if your school has multiple main teaching sites.
  8. Hey @Taco_shell, just wondering re: Calgary-- did you get an actual interview invite, or just the status update?
  9. Shit happens, and it may not be as noticeable as you think. I read through my essays a few dozen times and still ended up having 1 or 2 typos in there. Didn't catch them until much later... when I was preparing for interviews, so clearly the typos didn't become a red flag or anything.
  10. I guess my question for you is simply: why? Why would you not take every opportunity you have to sell yourself and portray yourself in the best possible light? I understand if you simply didn't have an experience that connected with the prompt, in which I'd agree that you shouldn't force fit your experiences into the essay. But if even you feel like you have ABS items that work well with the essay topic, why would you not take the opportunity to expand upon your experiences with more words than are allotted to you in the paltry title/description boxes? Also, if you don't include your experiences as evidence in your essay, do you have something better? There are definitely people who get in without including direct ABS experiences in every essay-- but you can bet they have other forms of evidence in their essays instead, such as other texts, anecdotes, current events, whatever.
  11. Honestly... I'd probably say yes. You'd have only held this position for what-- maybe max a month? by the time you're submitting this application. That demonstrates next to no commitment or dedication, and doesn't reflect positively on your ABS in any way. The one exception if it's like a culmination of something you've spent the past few years doing-- e.g. you've always been an athlete, and you became part of the national team in August. Extreme example obviously, but that showcases what I think is the only kind of last-minute EC that might benefit your profile in any way.
  12. You're probably overthinking things. I filled out all 48; many of my friends who applied and got in this cycle also had full or near-full ABSs. Clearly this wasn't an obstacle for any of our applications. And at no point was I grilled about the fact that I'd had 48 meaningful experiences over the past 4-5 years. I also included a number of items from high school that I felt were important or relevant; I wasn't questioned about those either and in fact brought them up when they felt relevant during interviews. That said, I didn't put activities that I recently started on my ABS, as I did not think those were meaningful. By "earlier this year", what exactly do you mean? If you did the activity throughout the summer and will be continuing, that's probably important. If it's a school position that you're starting now and continuing, I would view that as padding.
  13. I abbreviated like crazy because I tend towards wordiness and as you said, there was no way for me to fit all the description I wanted for most of my ABS items otherwise. The titles also have character limits, so I had to use abbreviations there too. I pretty much always used the common shorthand such as w/ or b/w. Like MathtoMed suggested, I would give each description to someone else (usually my parents, because I figured younger people are more comfortable with random abbreviations and shorthand) and see if they still understood what I was saying. If they highlighted an abbreviation as being incomprehensible, I would go back and try something else.
  14. I think the questions are interesting! #1 in particular is going to be a fun one. Couldn't figure out what cluster it was designed for at first.
  15. I hope this doesn't come off as too harsh, but I think that if you already believe you won't do well on the MCAT... you probably won't. Look, it's a seven hour exam, early in the morning, long and stressful as hell, and even with the most positive of attitudes your brain will still probably feel fried by the end of it. Approaching it with such a pessimistic outlook will probably just make you feel more stressed and anxious going into the exam. Your GPA is excellent and I assume you're a science student? Most fellow science majors I know who put in the effort did very well in the science sections. Your undergrad coursework prepares you a lot for the MCAT, so if you paid attention in 1st/2nd year and actually learned how to apply the material instead of just memorizing it like crazy, you'll probably do okay. Honestly, GPA is what wrecks most third-year applicants and yours is fantastic... it may actually round to a 4.0 in OMSAS so you're really just missing a trip to Africa. Tbh your ECs seem pretty good to me, varsity athletics is always good and you have volunteering and research on top of that lol. There's not much you can do at this point, just focus on crushing the MCAT and spend a decent amount of time figuring out how to present your extracurriculars and such in the ABS/essays. Loads of third-years get in, all with very different profiles and strengths. Since grades are not an issue, you are at no more of a disadvantage than a typical fourth-year applicant.
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