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g4m3r2

Having diverse electives vs showing interest

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Hi everyone,

Currently, I'm interested in psych and derm, but I haven't completely ruled out family medicine yet.

Reading the CaRMs website, most of these programs want diversity in their electives.

However, how do you balance showing interest in the program by taking the max number of electives in one specialty (8 weeks) vs having diversity in electives?

For the 20 weeks of electives we are allowed, I'm thinking of taking 6 weeks in each of psych and derm, 4 in family,  and 2 weeks IM and 2 weeks emerg, or 4 weeks emerg.

I would still enjoy a short rotation in IM or emerg and would not be taking them just for the sake of showing diversity. I would not pursue either specialties as a career though.

I have also thought about 8 weeks in psych and derm, and then 4 in family, but wonder how much difference two additional weeks in each specialty will make and whether it is better to use the extra four weeks to explore careers/show diversity.

On the other hand, I would assume that for a competitive specialty like derm, schools would prefer (some more explicitly than others) that you have taken electives at their location. Taking 8 weeks in derm would let me take derm electives at more schools.

Also, I would assume it is ideal to take an OOP elective in a specialty you're interested in applying to, but how much does it matter if you take an OOP elective in another specialty? Is taking an OOP elective at another school enough to show interest?

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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FWIW I've had a difficult time getting interviews (in a competitive specialty) outside of places I did electives at... 

In retrospect I may have done shorter electives at more schools in the specialty.

On the other hand, my diverse strategy gave me a lot of FM interviews that colleagues who went all out on competitive specialties didn't get.

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I'd do the two additional weeks in each specialty. Psych is increasing in competitiveness year over year and derm has always been one of the most competitive, so it could feasibly become tough to get interviews in those specialties without the full 8 weeks to demonstrate interest. I'd imagine a lot of the "diverse electives" talk (FM notwithstanding) originates from programs that didn't want students doing all their electives in those specialties, which happened occasionally prior to the creation of the cap. 

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On 12/20/2019 at 7:34 PM, insomnias said:

Eh, that's not that much. My university apparently gives 18 weeks over years 3+4, and we have the option to take 6 weeks over the summer between 2-3 (which are counted as pre-CaRMS electives)

Just curious what school is that  and is this something unique to just your school or would others have this too? How may I find out? Thank you.

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On 5/18/2020 at 12:50 PM, Total Gunner said:

Just curious what school is that  and is this something unique to just your school or would others have this too? How may I find out? Thank you.

Sorry for the late reply. U of A, although recent curriculum changes to deal with covid19 have brought this down to ~15 weeks total (with no y2 summer electives allowed, at least for this year). Only time will tell if that number increases for future years

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On 12/20/2019 at 3:43 PM, g4m3r2 said:

Hi everyone,

Currently, I'm interested in psych and derm, but I haven't completely ruled out family medicine yet.

Reading the CaRMs website, most of these programs want diversity in their electives.

However, how do you balance showing interest in the program by taking the max number of electives in one specialty (8 weeks) vs having diversity in electives?

For the 20 weeks of electives we are allowed, I'm thinking of taking 6 weeks in each of psych and derm, 4 in family,  and 2 weeks IM and 2 weeks emerg, or 4 weeks emerg.

I would still enjoy a short rotation in IM or emerg and would not be taking them just for the sake of showing diversity. I would not pursue either specialties as a career though.

I have also thought about 8 weeks in psych and derm, and then 4 in family, but wonder how much difference two additional weeks in each specialty will make and whether it is better to use the extra four weeks to explore careers/show diversity.

On the other hand, I would assume that for a competitive specialty like derm, schools would prefer (some more explicitly than others) that you have taken electives at their location. Taking 8 weeks in derm would let me take derm electives at more schools.

Also, I would assume it is ideal to take an OOP elective in a specialty you're interested in applying to, but how much does it matter if you take an OOP elective in another specialty? Is taking an OOP elective at another school enough to show interest?

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

With the 3 specialties you are thinking of, you are already diversified enough. I wouldn't do IM or emerg if you aren't interested because it could be misconstrued as not being as sure what you want to do. 

Every specialty you listed will want to see some dedication and maxing out is the best way to show it. Not only that, but if you want 3 letters for each specialty, keep in mind that you may not get letters from every elective. Sometimes, the electives aren't set up well, your preceptor is away, not interested, or you are bounced around and so keep that in mind as well. 

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