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Research for CaRMS application for competitive specialties

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Hi everyone,

I'm a second year med student and I'm interested in a quite competitive speciality, ( not surgical)  and I've made several connections in my field of interest and I'm currently involved in the publication of  4 papers in my field of interest and 3 others in a different field.  I have no publications prior to med school.  My publications will  mostly  be systematic reviews  and retrospective studies. I've not done any case reports yet.   Although I will have few publications before Carms, I don't think I would be able to compete with applicants who have had Phds prior to med school and I was wondering if I should pursue a Phd prior  Carms to improve my chances if I'm set on a competitive specialty?

I feel that I'm hard working student but I was admitted to medicine before I had a chance to pursue a Phd, and I'm worried that this may make me a less competitive applicant when going through Carms when compared to older med students who have had a chance to pursue Phds.

The reason I ask this is because I know another person in my med school who is quite interested in my field of interest and she is 18 years older than me and has had 1 Phds and 2 Msc degrees prior to getting into medicine and has had more publications than I do. 

Will pursuing Phd prior to medicine make me a more competitive applicant? 

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Most medical students do not have PhDs before starting med school. Most medical students still match into competitive specialties, both surgical and non-surgical. If not having a PhD significantly decreases your chances of matching to a competitive specialty, then I'm pretty sure about 75% of current med students would be in trouble.

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CARMS result is part of work and part of luck. 

You have research experience, it is a good start! You can try CARMS then start a PhD if you go unmatched and don't see yourself practicing any other discipline.. Many people change their mind during 3rd and 4th year so I would not delay graduation to complete a PhD as even a PhD in the field you are interested in don't guarantee you a spot with CARMS... 

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I wouldn't compare yourself to someone with 18 years on you. In general, if people are going to compare research it's more about research productivity ( x publications in y years in z quality of journals) as opposed to gross numbers. Depending on the speciality and on the school, certain programs will emphasize research more than others but you seem to be off to a great/above average start. Don't sweat it, work hard on the project (i.e. don't bail on them) and understand that a lot of CaRMS is luck. 

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From the sounds of things, you've got a very strong background in research; probably more than most students in medical school -- myself included. Having spoken with residents and newer attendings in competitive (surgical) programs, research is often a requirement, but the extent to which how much research experience you have compared to others may be less important. It's important to consider that being a well-rounded applicant with experience in a number of areas will likely yield better results than trying to get as much research as you can; unless, of course, you're very interested in research. Being familiar with the projects you have been involved in, and why they were important to the field and your personal development, I would hope, would impress a committee more than pumping out endless research. Take this with a grain of salt, however, as my University doesn't have as strong a research program as other larger Universities. Long story short, it sounds like you're well on your way to having a competitive residency application. If I were you, I would now focus on gaining experience in other areas,  getting as many related electives as possible, and excelling in those.

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Two classmates applied to a hyper competitive specialty. The one who on paper was a much better candidate(MD/PhD) excellent knowledge and clinical acumen matched lower on their list in a less desirable province, whereas the other who had no research and relatively less strong skills matched the top spot for them, because he just got along better with staff.

Research and CaRMs is hit or miss by a landslide. Doesn't matter.

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Honestly carms is about having a decent enough app that you get selected for an interview. After that it's really about whether they like you enough to take you on for the next 5 years. If you do an elective there and really click with people that have input into the ranking decisions that's probably the most beneficial thing, other than that, you better really get along with all of the residents and be very affable, sociable, and smiling the entire interview day. Apply broadly and attend all interviews if you want something really competitive.

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I agree that a PhD is not necessary to match, but it’s certainly not detrimental to have one. Matching is 100% NOT a reason to do a PhD though. I have noticed that some specialties/programs seem to have more PhDs but whether that’s the program selecting them, or the PhDs wanting that program I don’t know. Check with your specialty/local program I guess to see if/how many of the residents have done grad degrees. Either way, people match to every specialty without grad degrees so I wouldn’t worry about that aspect as much as I would impressing on electives and interviews. CaRMS will happen the way it’s supposed to happen. 

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5 hours ago, ZBL said:

I agree that a PhD is not necessary to match, but it’s certainly not detrimental to have one. Matching is 100% NOT a reason to do a PhD though. I have noticed that some specialties/programs seem to have more PhDs but whether that’s the program selecting them, or the PhDs wanting that program I don’t know. Check with your specialty/local program I guess to see if/how many of the residents have done grad degrees. Either way, people match to every specialty without grad degrees so I wouldn’t worry about that aspect as much as I would impressing on electives and interviews. CaRMS will happen the way it’s supposed to happen. 

Agree - having demonstrated interest in research could be part of a fit for some programs/specialties.  But, like others have said it's not at all necessary, nor close to the highest priority when applying to CaRMs.  Plus it's more like a domain that may be looked for rather than being hired on the basis of research skills - so diminishing returns on having some research vs PhD.

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I don’t think adding any more research would help your carms app. I ESPECIALLY don’t think a PHD would help. You already have enough research to get the “research points” you can get in carms—anything additional will very likely mean nothing, I suspect the advantage you get from research has already plateaued in your case. Work on other stuff.

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