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tavenan

Poor Undergrad - give up Derm?

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Hey,

I was working full time during my undergrad and for the first 3 years my average was in the 60-70 range with some courses with 50's and 1 failed class. Obviously I improved drastically in year 4 and 5 when I was able to work only part time with a near 4.0 in both years, which is why I managed to get into medical school.

 

It's come to my attention that there are a lot of Derm programs that require undergraduate transcripts, along with Radiology programs. I was very interested in Derm and otherwise have decent EC's on it so far, but the undergrad requirement makes me think my application will be filtered out by some clerk without any further consideration.

 

Should I bother doing any electives in Derm? Also, what other programs require undergrad transcripts usually? CARMS program descriptions are down right now so I can't check.

 

Thanks 

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Many derm programs ask for it, along with other specialties. Truthfully I don’t know what they use it for - the super competitive things like plastics and derm generally differentiate people by a lot more than their undergrad - things like numerous publications, graduate degrees, major ECs (not simple clubs and such) and importantly being tight with the faculty and residents will be more impactful in my view. 

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2 hours ago, ZBL said:

Many derm programs ask for it, along with other specialties. Truthfully I don’t know what they use it for - the super competitive things like plastics and derm generally differentiate people by a lot more than their undergrad - things like numerous publications, graduate degrees, major ECs (not simple clubs and such) and importantly being tight with the faculty and residents will be more impactful in my view. 

I understand but what I'm wondering is if I should even bother taking up electives on Derm when most of the programs require the ug transcript. It would be a waste of time for me to do that if my application is going to be screened based on my undergrad alone, and my research / achievements not even considered.

 

To be honest I'm not sure if it's a question that anyone here can answer, and I don't think even each school's derm faculty would answer the question if I asked them. It really sucks, I thought my undergrad struggles were behind me but it looks like they will continue to haunt me going forward. 


I will most likely have to give up on Derm to be safe.  

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1 hour ago, tavenan said:

I understand but what I'm wondering is if I should even bother taking up electives on Derm when most of the programs require the ug transcript. It would be a waste of time for me to do that if my application is going to be screened based on my undergrad alone, and my research / achievements not even considered.

 

To be honest I'm not sure if it's a question that anyone here can answer, and I don't think even each school's derm faculty would answer the question if I asked them. It really sucks, I thought my undergrad struggles were behind me but it looks like they will continue to haunt me going forward. 


I will most likely have to give up on Derm to be safe.  

And what I’m saying is that your UG transcript will likely be the least of your worries when applying to competitive specialties. Unless there was some professionalism issue at the time, it’s very unlikely that a lack lustre UG transcript would make or break an application. 

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1 hour ago, ZBL said:

And what I’m saying is that your UG transcript will likely be the least of your worries when applying to competitive specialties. Unless there was some professionalism issue at the time, it’s very unlikely that a lack lustre UG transcript would make or break an application. 

I'm not sure if you can answer this, but wouldn't it make sense that they're using the UG transcripts mainly to look for red flags? And going by that assumption, wouldn't it make sense that they would throw my whole application away once they see my ug transcript? That's the reason I have reservations about continuing to pursue Derm, the fact that they could throw my whole application away. Or at least the risk of that. 

 

It would help if I could talk to someone who successfully matched into a program like rads or derm with a poor UG transcript, but as you can imagine it will be pretty tough to find people in my situation as most med school students would probably not have the marks I did in my first few years. And I can't ask the faculties themselves because they won't answer these type of questions. So what it comes down to is I'm basically screwed. 

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Deem should remain one of your options. I applied to 3 fields where I felt I would be fulfilled professionally and personally, and I left the decision of my career up to the decision makers. Any of the 3 were equally acceptable. I got my interviews and then, it was out of my hands.

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21 hours ago, Bambi said:

Deem should remain one of your options. I applied to 3 fields where I felt I would be fulfilled professionally and personally, and I left the decision of my career up to the decision makers. Any of the 3 were equally acceptable. I got my interviews and then, it was out of my hands.

It's pretty hard to backup derm with anything other than fam, which I would be OK with doing as a career. I'm just not sure if I should waste electives on Derm and continue to pursue Derm-related research if programs will throw my application away based on the poor 3 years on my UG transcript, which would constitute a "red flag" in their eye. If I'm going to do fam any way I'd much rather just enjoy my summers for the next 2 years, or start to pursue something else.

 

It's just impossible to know what they do with the UG transcript, and what sucks is there is literally no way to find out and no one to ask since my situation is so unique. 

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If you are an otherwise good candidate that they honestly want more than other people, they aren't gonna throw you away based on a few undergrad courses. 

No program would ever select an inferior candidate because that person had a better math 1000 grade. 

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5 hours ago, Bambi said:

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I was the least qualified on paper of all candidates for my surgical specialty. My soft skills were my strength. I would not give up before it starts!

Great advice.  Best chances are always where you do electives - which under the new universal cap could also help you, if you target some programs.  

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On 7/5/2019 at 6:20 PM, tavenan said:

Hey,

I was working full time during my undergrad and for the first 3 years my average was in the 60-70 range with some courses with 50's and 1 failed class. Obviously I improved drastically in year 4 and 5 when I was able to work only part time with a near 4.0 in both years, which is why I managed to get into medical school.

 

It's come to my attention that there are a lot of Derm programs that require undergraduate transcripts, along with Radiology programs. I was very interested in Derm and otherwise have decent EC's on it so far, but the undergrad requirement makes me think my application will be filtered out by some clerk without any further consideration.

 

Should I bother doing any electives in Derm? Also, what other programs require undergrad transcripts usually? CARMS program descriptions are down right now so I can't check.

 

Thanks 

just to comment - first it is not a lot of radiology programs, it is actually a rather small handful. Plus you may be excluded from those schools by "bad grades" but that probably has less impact than you think - some people can only get into particular schools which means the don't go to other schools leaving those spots open. (also good job in pulling up your socks there - a remainder to others that recovery may be hard but it is also possible). 

Very few other programs ask for transcripts. The CARMS people themselves actually really frown upon the practice even those some programs really stand by it (some people really just want some objective measure of your academic skill - since they are denied access to your med school grades they go further a field for it. I have been told that since Quebec often requires it in general though the request cannot be blocked ha. 

While your path may be more difficult in derm (mostly because some do ask for transcripts and overall there are just so few programs) I would hate for you to think this is going to be some huge issue that is going to block you everywhere you turn. 

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

Very few other programs ask for transcripts. The CARMS people themselves actually really frown upon the practice even those some programs really stand by it (some people really just want some objective measure of your academic skill - since they are denied access to your med school grades they go further a field for it. I have been told that since Quebec often requires it in general though the request cannot be blocked ha.

Even the French-speaking schools have gone P/F.  McGill has been on P/F for a while (most med students start with the equivalent of 1-2 yrs undergrad in QC) .  

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Just now, tere said:

Even the French-speaking schools have gone P/F.  McGill has been on P/F for a while.  

ha, I am not sure on the details and would welcome someone's input that knows this better - it wasn't the med student grades I was referring to. Somehow they were getting part at least of the university grades as a part of the residency applications. Someone at least one of the program directors used that fact to resist the suggestion they should stop asking for undergraduate grades. 

 

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3 hours ago, rmorelan said:

just to comment - first it is not a lot of radiology programs, it is actually a rather small handful. Plus you may be excluded from those schools by "bad grades" but that probably has less impact than you think - some people can only get into particular schools which means the don't go to other schools leaving those spots open. (also good job in pulling up your socks there - a remainder to others that recovery may be hard but it is also possible). 

Very few other programs ask for transcripts. The CARMS people themselves actually really frown upon the practice even those some programs really stand by it (some people really just want some objective measure of your academic skill - since they are denied access to your med school grades they go further a field for it. I have been told that since Quebec often requires it in general though the request cannot be blocked ha. 

While your path may be more difficult in derm (mostly because some do ask for transcripts and overall there are just so few programs) I would hate for you to think this is going to be some huge issue that is going to block you everywhere you turn. 

 

 

 

From what i’ve seem its around half the rads programs that ask for it, nearly all of the derm programs, and a few of the emergency med programs are starting to ask as well. 

 

I wouldnt mind if we could somehow release our med school grades to them if it meant they didnt screen based on ug grades, ha.

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This grade business is scaring me hahaha, at what point should I not worry about my undergrad grades, 4.0,3.9,3.8, etc. If they're gonna pull up my past like that they might as well pull up my grade school report cards as well lol

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Wow, I am still in undergrad but reading this is super disheartening,  had know idea residency programs could screen based upon that.  Considering students are allowed to apply to medical school with any undergrad degree, I wonder if difficulty of the undergrad degree and relevance (this is limited obviously) to the specialty of choice will be factored in.  

Moreover, this seems to just defeat the whole point of admissions to med school.  Applicants may have done poorly one year, but could have had a high GPA for every other year.  Why should someone be penalized for learning how to study properly and improve their grades how many years later at the point of CARMS?  They already proved they were capable by jumping through all the hoops to gain admission to medical school.  It seems so unfair to penalize people for something so long ago after they have already gotten into med.

Furthermore, if they screen based upon undergrad grades, why stop there?  Why shouldn't they look at old MCAT scores, and see who has taken the exam more than once and such?

I am just blown away that a largely irrelevant metric can be used to differentiate applicants for competitive CARMs residencies, espicially when other factors from the undergrad time aren't observed (MCAT, ECs, finances etc.).  As someone who didn't do so hot in their first year, and someone with a less traditional undergraduate degree, I don't know if I should even bother trying for anything competitive if I get into med.  My grades are good for the most part, but I don't have straight 4.0s.   

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3 hours ago, garceyues said:

 

I am just blown away that a largely irrelevant metric can be used to differentiate applicants for competitive CARMs residencies, espicially when other factors from the undergrad time aren't observed (MCAT, ECs, finances etc.).  As someone who didn't do so hot in their first year, and someone with a less traditional undergraduate degree, I don't know if I should even bother trying for anything competitive if I get into med.  My grades are good for the most part, but I don't have straight 4.0s.   

Again, try not to worry about it. 99% of matching is elective performance. Outperform everyone else on elective and you are gonna get whatever program you want. 

As for why programs ask for transcripts, it's a consequence of all the med schools going to a touchy feel nobody gets grades P/F system. 

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13 hours ago, ysera said:

From what i’ve seem its around half the rads programs that ask for it, nearly all of the derm programs, and a few of the emergency med programs are starting to ask as well. 

 

I wouldnt mind if we could somehow release our med school grades to them if it meant they didnt screen based on ug grades, ha.

last time I checked it was 4 but it may have increased further. Looks like we are getting feature creep here. That is not optimal. 

I really do get why the schools are doing this - as random as the process can seem to applicants it really is worse for the schools. On paper a small handful of applicants look amazing, a small handful look terrible and then something like 80% of people all look exactly the same. Basic clones - nothing at all to help you rank them. All the LORs are glowing, all the med school transcripts are the same, all did similar ECs and have similar UG backgrounds, and all the personal statements are pretty similar to and you can argue that really shouldn't be using those to rank people but rather use them to just help spark conversation. You interview roughly a 100 people for even smallish by most standards programs and somehow you are suppose rationally rank everyone. Honestly good luck - it is really really challenge task and it is very hard to figure out if you are actually doing it right 

We haven't given schools much to work with basically - and they are looking for alternatives. I really don't like UG grades as a proxy for academic skill but we haven't given them anything else really to measure it and of course many programs view that as a critical component of any applicant. 

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5 hours ago, garceyues said:

Wow, I am still in undergrad but reading this is super disheartening,  had know idea residency programs could screen based upon that.  Considering students are allowed to apply to medical school with any undergrad degree, I wonder if difficulty of the undergrad degree and relevance (this is limited obviously) to the specialty of choice will be factored in.  

Moreover, this seems to just defeat the whole point of admissions to med school.  Applicants may have done poorly one year, but could have had a high GPA for every other year.  Why should someone be penalized for learning how to study properly and improve their grades how many years later at the point of CARMS?  They already proved they were capable by jumping through all the hoops to gain admission to medical school.  It seems so unfair to penalize people for something so long ago after they have already gotten into med.

Furthermore, if they screen based upon undergrad grades, why stop there?  Why shouldn't they look at old MCAT scores, and see who has taken the exam more than once and such?

I am just blown away that a largely irrelevant metric can be used to differentiate applicants for competitive CARMs residencies, espicially when other factors from the undergrad time aren't observed (MCAT, ECs, finances etc.).  As someone who didn't do so hot in their first year, and someone with a less traditional undergraduate degree, I don't know if I should even bother trying for anything competitive if I get into med.  My grades are good for the most part, but I don't have straight 4.0s.   

couple of points - some places that use transcripts do look at the program difficulty and grades in specific courses (speaking from personal experience during my application cycle - I don't think it has changed since then). Also just because they look at the transcript doesn't mean they also take things like bad years into considerations. Doesn't mean they are looking for perfection either - part of the problem about using UG grades is that it is another black box but this is only one part of the application package and some intelligence to it. In most cases I think they are looking for red flags. You cannot let this become too big a distraction here - it is just one part of the application and at most places not a major one.  

Ha you joke but one school did propose looking at MCAT scores because they were more standardized than UG grades. Didn't advance that far I suppose. None of these schools really want to use any of these suboptimal proxies - they just don't know what else to do. 

 

 

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Honestly all the fuss here about UG transcripts is too much and I think this is going to perpetuate some wrong ideas.  It’s honestly such a small piece of the application, I can only see it being used as a flag to capture any past professionalism issues. I don’t know about rads, but I can guarantee you that in ultra competitive specialties like derm it will be your lack of publications/PhD, lack of stellar ECs, lack of outstanding elective and general clerkship performance (both medically and professionally), lack of “knowing” and being liked by the residents and staff that spoils your application loooooooong before that C/D/F grade in first year undergrad comes back to haunt you. 

 

EDIT: just to add, rmorelan above mentioned that on paper 20% of applicants look amazing and stand out, 20% look terrible and 80% look good but the same. In derm, plastics etc, if you’re outside of that top 20% your chances are already very slim since not much more than that gets accepted every year. Which is why I say that for these programs, your UG grades won’t matter since the top 20% are not being differentiated from the rest on the basis of their undergrad grades. 

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On 7/8/2019 at 9:11 AM, ZBL said:

Honestly all the fuss here about UG transcripts is too much and I think this is going to perpetuate some wrong ideas.  It’s honestly such a small piece of the application, I can only see it being used as a flag to capture any past professionalism issues. I don’t know about rads, but I can guarantee you that in ultra competitive specialties like derm it will be your lack of publications/PhD, lack of stellar ECs, lack of outstanding elective and general clerkship performance (both medically and professionally), lack of “knowing” and being liked by the residents and staff that spoils your application loooooooong before that C/D/F grade in first year undergrad comes back to haunt you. 

 

EDIT: just to add, rmorelan above mentioned that on paper 20% of applicants look amazing and stand out, 20% look terrible and 80% look good but the same. In derm, plastics etc, if you’re outside of that top 20% your chances are already very slim since not much more than that gets accepted every year. Which is why I say that for these programs, your UG grades won’t matter since the top 20% are not being differentiated from the rest on the basis of their undergrad grades. 

Ya but what if you’re inside that 20% like this OP might be and get screened because of your ug transcript any way? Seems to me that is a distinct possibility when someone has 3 poor years in their UG which is definitely a red flag if theyre looking for red flags. Then at that point it looks like you shouldnt even bother trying to be within the top 20% for these specialties if youll get screened anyway.

 

I can understand derm but its funny that rads is doing this considering last year they didnt even fill all of their spots in the first round.

 

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22 minutes ago, ysera said:

Ya but what if you’re inside that 20% like this OP might be and get screened because of your ug transcript any way? Seems to me that is a distinct possibility when someone has 3 poor years in their UG which is definitely a red flag if theyre looking for red flags. Then at that point it looks like you shouldnt even bother trying to be within the top 20% for these specialties if youll get screened anyway.

 

I can understand derm but its funny that rads is doing this considering last year they didnt even fill all of their spots in the first round.

 

If you are in the top 20%, they aren't even gonna bother to look at, or care about, your undergrad grads. They are gonna want you anyway. Again, no program is gonna take someone who is an inferior candidate on other metrics (especially elective performance) based on the fact that they had a good undergrad transcript. Outperform your med student competition and you don't need to worry about it.

They should just bring back med school grades. People are already competing quite hard for residency positions (electives, research, conferences, ECs, sucking up etc). Now they are worrying about undergrad transcripts which are by and large useless but the programs are forced to use them due to P/F if they want to look at academic performance. Seems to me that med school grades wouldn't the levels of med student anxiety because everyone is already shitting bricks about matching and electives.

Alternative would be to move the LMCC part 1 earlier and use it like USMLE type 1 grades in the US match. Or make a Canadian USMLE type 1 equivalent. 

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2 hours ago, NLengr said:

If you are in the top 20%, they aren't even gonna bother to look at, or care about, your undergrad grads. They are gonna want you anyway. Again, no program is gonna take someone who is an inferior candidate on other metrics (especially elective performance) based on the fact that they had a good undergrad transcript. Outperform your med student competition and you don't need to worry about it.

They should just bring back med school grades. People are already competing quite hard for residency positions (electives, research, conferences, ECs, sucking up etc). Now they are worrying about undergrad transcripts which are by and large useless but the programs are forced to use them due to P/F if they want to look at academic performance. Seems to me that med school grades wouldn't the levels of med student anxiety because everyone is already shitting bricks about matching and electives.

Alternative would be to move the LMCC part 1 earlier and use it like USMLE type 1 grades in the US match. Or make a Canadian USMLE type 1 equivalent. 

I think bringing grades back would be the greater evil. While there is anxiety and stress about matching I would have to say that my experiences as a student and my observations as a instructor reveal general collegiality between students. I think if you put in a number or grade that helps stratify students which can impact their job prospects then we will approach to how law school is which can be cutthroat and competitive. I think the stress of medicine comes from the subject material right now and if we bring grades back I worry that students will start being antagonistic towards each other which is another level of stress they don't need. 

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15 minutes ago, blah1234 said:

I think bringing grades back would be the greater evil. While there is anxiety and stress about matching I would have to say that my experiences as a student and my observations as a instructor reveal general collegiality between students. I think if you put in a number or grade that helps stratify students which can impact their job prospects then we will approach to how law school is which can be cutthroat and competitive. I think the stress of medicine comes from the subject material right now and if we bring grades back I worry that students will start being antagonistic towards each other which is another level of stress they don't need. 

While I agree evaluation of med students can be challenging without formal grades or scores, I think grades and exam scores are probably not the best metric to evaluate who will be a good resident anyways. Anyone in med school can learn content - they had to in order to get into med school, and if any of those people put in the time they could learn whatever they wanted at full capacity, regardless of specialty. As it is now though, the P/F system allows people to put in a “good enough” effort to pass, be safe on the wards as an R1 and simultaneously focus more time on ECs and research, which I think ultimately bring more value to a residency program and specialty as a whole than being an encyclopedia. 

I’d much rather recruit someone who has the potential to one day give back something significant to the specialty through teaching, volunteering, leadership or research than recruit someone who just knows some things. “Things” can be taught in residency - leadership, professionalism, collegiality and passion/interest cannot. This same mentality applies to why it’s so hard to get an academic position - it is insufficient to simply be a good/smart clinician, and board scores are not used for hiring. 

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