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Plastic Surgery - How do I make myself competitive for Carms?

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Hey guys,

 

Sorry for being THAT keener, but I just want to make myself as competitive as possible for residency.

 

I'll be starting med school at mac in september and I really want to go into plastic surgery. What are some things that I can start doing right off the bat to make myself a competitive applicant?

 

Any tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)

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Hey guys,

 

Sorry for being THAT keener, but I just want to make myself as competitive as possible for residency.

 

I'll be starting med school at mac in september and I really want to go into plastic surgery. What are some things that I can start doing right off the bat to make myself a competitive applicant?

 

Any tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)

 

Pre-clerkship years don't appear to be all that critical to matching to CaRMS, one way or the other, even for competitive programs like plastics. I'll pass along what I've been told about programs in general - hopefully someone in plastics can comment more specifically, but I seem to get these same general tips regardless of the specialty I talk to:

 

- Get involved in relevant student groups/programs available in pre-clerkship. Basically, show an interest.

- Do observerships, partially to gain exposure in the field, but mostly to develop contacts within the program.

- Try to get your hand in some related research. This seems to be the only major way to build your CV in a way CaRMS programs will actually care about. If you can't find research in the field, any research seems to be better than nothing.

- Take advantage of any networking opportunities, including conferences & workshops.

 

All pretty intuitive stuff, and again, none of this seems overly critical - even the research part. The main deciding factors for CaRMS come during electives and to a lesser extent, clerkship.

 

I'll also give the standard disclaimer: even if you have a specialty you'd like to aim for, spend some time exploring other ones that might be of interest. Most people don't lock down their final specialty choice until clerkship, so don't assume you're one of the few who will stick with the specialty they wanted coming into Med School. Better to try out some other specialties and confirm you don't want them than to gun for one and realize it's not your first choice late in the game.

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You definitely do not need to excel in medical school (in Canada anyways) to get into plastic surgery. A PHD student I know at western says some very average people he knows have got into plastic surgery over the last few years across Canada. This is mainly because canadian medical schools apparently don't really give marks, or even honours, in their courses. And there is no standardized test like the USMLE like they have in the USA. So all they have to go on is reference letters (which a charming person can get), electives, and research (finding the nice preceptor to finish off a project or two can be easy ways to get research - that's how i've got a few of my pubs). If you get a masters (usually because you couldn't get into meds in the first place), that can help a lot too in differentiating you. Then there is strategy - concentrating on smaller less desirable programs as opposed to Toronto or UBC or McGill - can also increase your chances a lot.

 

I looked at the CaRMS data - and quite frankly, compared to getting into meds, even the hard specialties look like decent odds.

 

Plastics seems like a great way to get prestige and maybe makes lots of money - but it does seem to be wrought with risks if you end up not being a visionary with aesthetics. The good money is private - but private always entails risks.

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You definitely do not need to excel in medical school (in Canada anyways) to get into plastic surgery. A PHD student I know at western says some very average people he knows have got into plastic surgery over the last few years across Canada. This is mainly because canadian medical schools apparently don't really give marks, or even honours, in their courses. And there is no standardized test like the USMLE like they have in the USA. So all they have to go on is reference letters (which a charming person can get), electives, and research (finding the nice preceptor to finish off a project or two can be easy ways to get research - that's how i've got a few of my pubs). If you get a masters (usually because you couldn't get into meds in the first place), that can help a lot too in differentiating you. Then there is strategy - concentrating on smaller less desirable programs as opposed to Toronto or UBC or McGill - can also increase your chances a lot.

 

I looked at the CaRMS data - and quite frankly, compared to getting into meds, even the hard specialties look like decent odds.

 

Plastics seems like a great way to get prestige and maybe makes lots of money - but it does seem to be wrought with risks if you end up not being a visionary with aesthetics. The good money is private - but private always entails risks.

 

It's true that chances of getting into a desired specialty are much higher than getting into med school - but why should it be that way? Unlike Med School, where it's a binary accepted/rejected, there are multiple different options that have different value to different students. Many "top" students want relatively noncompetitive fields and nevertheless work hard to be good candidates for them. The match process isn't about deciding whether a student should become a doctor - the MD comes with or without the match - but about what type of doctor that student should be.

 

The tough specialties aren't necessarily easy to get into either. We don't have the full stats for this year, but last year Plastics was, by a good margin, the most difficult to match into. Slightly more than half the individuals going for plastics got it, which isn't great odds considering the vast majority of people get their first discipline.

 

Take what your PhD friend says with a grain of salt - they may have a very different perspective of what a "good" candidate is relative to those selecting the program's future residents. Certainly there's variation in quality of residents - in every specialty - but that doesn't mean people are slacking off or doing sub-par work and waltzing into a competitive field like plastics.

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You definitely do not need to excel in medical school (in Canada anyways) to get into plastic surgery. A PHD student I know at western says some very average people he knows have got into plastic surgery over the last few years across Canada. This is mainly because canadian medical schools apparently don't really give marks, or even honours, in their courses. And there is no standardized test like the USMLE like they have in the USA. So all they have to go on is reference letters (which a charming person can get), electives, and research (finding the nice preceptor to finish off a project or two can be easy ways to get research - that's how i've got a few of my pubs). If you get a masters (usually because you couldn't get into meds in the first place), that can help a lot too in differentiating you. Then there is strategy - concentrating on smaller less desirable programs as opposed to Toronto or UBC or McGill - can also increase your chances a lot.

 

I looked at the CaRMS data - and quite frankly, compared to getting into meds, even the hard specialties look like decent odds.

 

Plastics seems like a great way to get prestige and maybe makes lots of money - but it does seem to be wrought with risks if you end up not being a visionary with aesthetics. The good money is private - but private always entails risks.

 

No offence, but what your PhD friend says is stupid. PhD's generally don't have a good knowledge of the world of clinical medicine, unless they are an MDPhD. A ton of what you are saying is also untrue.

 

CaRMS matching is a different beast them med school apps. Stakes are way higher. If you don't get into med school, no big deal, apply next year. If you don't match to a competitive specialty, then essentially, you will never become that kind of specialist. Ever. CaRMS is a one shot, winner takes all, match system. That why med students worry about it so much.

 

Plastics attracts some of the best medical students because it is so competitive that the ones who are interested work really hard to make themselves good medical students.

 

A masters doesn't really help at all come CaRMS. Nobody cares if you know a bit more than average about plant biology or whatever your masters is in.

 

As for concentrating at less desirable places, that doesn't really work when most applicants do electives at almost all programs to increase the number of programs they will be considered for (most competitive programs don't like taking someone they haven't worked with).

 

As for UBC, UofT and McGill being the most desirable spots, this is again untrue. The location of the best programs vary widely among specialties. No one school consistently lands at the top for every program. Frequently, the schools you mentioned have moderate, or even low, desirability in a specialty.

 

So what matters for matching? I've been through the match and ranked candidates to my program (a competitive specialty at the most desirable program in the country). The following three things make up 99% of how we rank you, IMO:

 

1. Work ethic- this is far and away the most important.

 

2. Like-ability -simply put, if we don't want to work with you for 5 years, we won't take you.

 

3. Knowledge and judgement - you need to have good CLINICAL knowledge and judgement. You don't need to be a genius but you need to show that you have worked hard to learn a bit of the specialty as a med student, and that you have sound judgement. Basic science knowledge of the specialty is also good, but clinical knowledge is more important.

 

That's it. Those three things are the basis of most of ranking decisions. Other stuff: research, volunteering, conferences etc is window dressing.

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No offence, but what your PhD friend says is stupid. A ton of what you are saying is also nonsense.

 

CaRMS matching is a different beast them med school apps. Stakes are way higher. If you don't get into med school, no big deal, apply next year. If you don't match to a competitive specialty, then essentially, you will never become that kind of specialist. Ever. CaRMS is a one shot, winner takes all, match system. That why med students worry about it so much.

 

Plastics attracts some of the best medical students because it is so competitive that the ones who are interested work really hard to make themselves good medical students.

 

A masters doesn't really help at all come CaRMS. Nobody cares if you know a bit more than average about plant biology or whatever your masters is in.

 

As for concentrating at less desirable places, that doesn't really work when most applicants do electives at almost all programs to increase the number of programs they will be considered for (most competitive programs don't like taking someone they haven't worked with).

 

As for UBC, UofT and McGill being the most desirable spots, this is again untrue. The location of the best programs vary widely among specialties. No one school consistently lands at the top for every program. Frequently, the schools you mentioned have moderate, or even low, desirability in a specialty.

 

So what matters for matching? I've been through the match and ranked candidates to my program (a competitive specialty at the most desirable program in the country). The following three things make up 99% of how we rank you, IMO:

 

1. Work ethic- this is far and away the most important.

 

2. Like-ability -simply put, if we don't want to work with you for 5 years, we won't take you.

 

3. Knowledge and judgement - you need to have good CLINICAL knowledge and judgement. You don't need to be a genius but you need to show that you have worked hard to learn a bit of the specialty as a med student, and that you have sound judgement. Basic science knowledge of the specialty is also good, but clinical knowledge is more important.

 

That's it. Those three things are the basis of most of ranking decisions. Other stuff: research, volunteering, conferences etc is window dressing.

 

I have A LOT of family/family friends in medicine - so I usually hear their unfiltered commentary about modern day medical education without any pretence about how special it is to be in medicine.

 

People do transfer quite a bit in specialties. Yeah - opthalmology won't be easy, but many surgery programs do a lot side transfers from one subspecialty to another. I know that as fact. Doesn't always work out, but often does. Matching for most specialties seems to be way over 85% - including competitive ones...and even plastics and opthalmology are in the 50%+ range usually. Not too shabby. If you want one of those specialties and concentrate on a small program - not so hard. But I guess that some of them feel like Toronto or Vancouver is where it's at - so put their eggs into just a few baskets.

 

TRANSCRIPTS for medical school are useless. There really is nothing in there (from family I hear) that shows marks or capability - other than general comments. There is no way to objectively pick out the 'best' students. Clerkship evals help - but are generic and most students get good ones. Electives are probably the money shot - but that is only a select 2-4 weeks where a good impression can override objective evaluation. And MASTERS often gives you research creed and WILL help (at least for large programs that may want residents to train as clinician scientists). Of course research matters too - that is heavily dependent on getting the right faculty advisor.

 

For the record, not a single gold medalist at Western supposedly has picked plastics or opthalmology over the last 10 or so years. This isn't the USA where the objectively best apply to the highest paid specialties - there is no USMLE knocking off pipe dreams of overly ambitious students. Some overly ambitious med students probably never find out that they are really average for med students in Canada. The biggest complaint I hear is that it is impossible to fail a medical student on clinical incompetence. Other things (like professionalism), yes.

 

Not too sure about like-ability for Plastics. Didn't McMaster take in a rapist as a pgy1 a few years ago? It's still over the news with a big trial. Not to mention some of the unsavoury people getting into it in recent years. I guess - presenting yourself as like-able even if a psychopath is fine.

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I have A LOT of family/family friends in medicine - so I usually hear their unfiltered commentary about modern day medical education without any pretence about how special it is to be in medicine.

 

People do transfer quite a bit in specialties. Yeah - opthalmology won't be easy, but many surgery programs do a lot side transfers from one subspecialty to another. I know that as fact. Doesn't always work out, but often does. Matching for most specialties seems to be way over 85% - including competitive ones...and even plastics and opthalmology are in the 50%+ range usually. Not too shabby. If you want one of those specialties and concentrate on a small program - not so hard. But I guess that some of them feel like Toronto or Vancouver is where it's at - so put their eggs into just a few baskets.

 

TRANSCRIPTS for medical school are useless. There really is nothing in there (from family I hear) that shows marks or capability - other than general comments. There is no way to objectively pick out the 'best' students. Clerkship evals help - but are generic and most students get good ones. Electives are probably the money shot - but that is only a select 2-4 weeks where a good impression can override objective evaluation. And MASTERS often gives you research creed and WILL help (at least for large programs that may want residents to train as clinician scientists). Of course research matters too - that is heavily dependent on getting the right faculty advisor.

 

For the record, not a single gold medalist at Western supposedly has picked plastics or opthalmology over the last 10 or so years. This isn't the USA where the objectively best apply to the highest paid specialties - there is no USMLE knocking off pipe dreams of overly ambitious students. Some overly ambitious med students probably never find out that they are really average for med students in Canada. The biggest complaint I hear is that it is impossible to fail a medical student on clinical incompetence. Other things (like professionalism), yes.

 

Not too sure about like-ability for Plastics. Didn't McMaster take in a rapist as a pgy1 a few years ago? It's still over the news with a big trial. Not to mention some of the unsavoury people getting into it in recent years. I guess - presenting yourself as like-able even if a psychopath is fine.

 

So you are taking hearsay from family and friends and passing it off as truth? Are you even in medicine?

 

Please stop offering advice to people regarding CaRMS, career selection and med school. You simply aren't qualified on any level.

 

I'm not gonna pick an argument with you about this. It's not worth my time. Other people can decide who they want to listen to: A premed with no experience or someone who has been thorough CaRMS, as an applicant and as someone helping to rank applicants.

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From the program's perspective, the match is about finding the candidates who are the "best fit" - hard workers who have easygoing personalities and acceptable clinical knowledge. It's not about who memorized the most basic science minutiae from pre-clerkship. As you say, programs don't really know much about academic performance, but they see all your evaluation comments from clerkship, and they most certainly get a good chance to form an opinion of you during interviews and, crucially, electives.

 

In my program, the undergrad director keeps track of every clerk coming through our service, and already makes decisions about where someone might be ranked after the core rotation. Or whether they would never be ranked at all. When I'm working with clerks, I'm looking for people who are reasonably personable, fun to work with, and hard-working. I don't expect them to know everything by any stretch, though there are certain minimal expectations I have. My concerns come when they seem disinterested, fail to follow suggestions for improvement, consistently perform incomplete or lower quality assessments, or display any professional problems (ranging from not showing up to teaching, being hard to reach, failing to complete tasks in a timely way, etc.).

 

CaRMS is a job interview, and it's the record of your work in clerkship that matters for a successful match. You also have to make sound application and elective decisions, which is where many who don't match falter. (If you want to get a job, applying to 2 positions rather than 10 is unlikely to give you a better chance but people do for a variety of often legitimate reasons.) And if you have red flags - like failing a block or rotation - this will make you "stand out" in a most undesirable way. It doesn't happen often, but med students can and most certainly do fail rotations.

 

Otherwise, you haven't been through CaRMS, so nothing of what you say should be trusted. And no one should trust more than about 50% of what people say about it who have been through it.

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Yes, most of the information on this forum is good, but one should always think twice about advice directed towards others potentially interested in competitive specialties that they don't need to try to excel in medical school.

 

Well I'm not even in medical school yet. So no direct competition. Obviously one should work hard and do well in medical school. But aside from maybe a few awards available per year at some medical schools - there is no way to prove that you are excelling in med school in Canada. No grades on transcript. No H/P/F system. Very little constructive criticism or valuable praise. Really the transcripts are garbage. This is very different than the USA where students are ranked on each course and rotation they take - and the transcript is supposedly VERY detailed. It is easy to evaluate Canadians that went to US schools trying to come back - BUT because people are realistically ranked, they often are at a disadvantage. Compare to MAC, where there is virtually NO objective evaluations on the transcript. Transcripts are so garbage, apparently some programs are now requesting UNDERGRADUATE marks as a way to evaluate graduating medical students.

 

DO well in electives to get strong references, GET research, and GET connections. But you do not have to be the smartest person in the class, or even really above average. If you are really bad as in the bottom 10% - sure you won't probably get into something competitive (though there are lots of cases of that too). But there is no meritocracy when it comes to Canadian medical students trying for residency. The USA, or for that matter, most other countries in the world, there is.

 

To some degree, this lack of marks and proper fair evaluation seems to have been pioneered by McMaster in general. Even their health sciences program co-ordinator eventually wants to abolish marks for undergrads (ultimately). In his view, evaluations deter from learning. In my mind, he has nice intentions, that make no sense when applied to reality.

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The real world does not operate on the basis of marks and exams. Programs are looking for people that they feel will successfully sit Royal College exams, but that's about work ethic and acceptable knowledge at baseline - someone they can teach and who will take their training seriously. That is not coincident to having the best NBME scores, though there may be some correlation.

 

You seem to be arguing from the false premise that CaRMS somehow ignores "merit", when the reality is that programs consider many other factors as well. Sure, having some sort of objective score like marks or USMLE results might help them figure out who to invite to interview, but they're not looking to match people solely on the basis of impressive numbers.

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The real world does not operate on the basis of marks and exams. Programs are looking for people that they feel will successfully sit Royal College exams, but that's about work ethic and acceptable knowledge at baseline - someone they can teach and who will take their training seriously. That is not coincident to having the best NBME scores, though there may be some correlation.

 

You seem to be arguing from the false premise that CaRMS somehow ignores "merit", when the reality is that programs consider many other factors as well. Sure, having some sort of objective score like marks or USMLE results might help them figure out who to invite to interview, but they're not looking to match people solely on the basis of impressive numbers.

 

In many countries, the real world does operate on the basis of marks/exams - at least for getting into residency. Just not in Canada.

 

I am fortunate that through family connections, when I get into medical school, I will have a HUGE advantage for certain competitive programs, if I so choose. This has been told to me by face ('If you want to do so and so, we can hook it up'). In this world, I do benefit, and some so called competitive specialties may not be so competitive for me (and others in similar situations). There are families of ophthalmologists throughout this country. There are clusters of plastic surgeons that come from very small ethno-relgious groups. That is not by accident or merit. A-Stark and Nlengr, if you are both residents, know this to be true. Not in every specialty nor in every location - but in many of the large centres it is completely true. Taking away the objective aspects makes such things, which are not fair, easier to do. I think medical schools giving marks to their students would help with this.

 

Anyways, the only point is that the competitive specialties in Canada don't require you to be a great medical student per ce (I think most are great), but rather someone that can play Game of Carms with a healthy dose of luck and hopefully some family connections. And despite all that, the majority of applicants, even to the more competitive specialties, do eventually get their first choice. And yes, I know not everyone does.

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In many countries, the real world does operate on the basis of marks/exams - at least for getting into residency. Just not in Canada.

 

I am fortunate that through family connections, when I get into medical school, I will have a HUGE advantage for certain competitive programs, if I so choose. This has been told to me by face ('If you want to do so and so, we can hook it up'). In this world, I do benefit, and some so called competitive specialties may not be so competitive for me (and others in similar situations). There are families of ophthalmologists throughout this country. There are clusters of plastic surgeons that come from very small ethno-relgious groups. That is not by accident or merit. A-Stark and Nlengr, if you are both residents, know this to be true. Not in every specialty nor in every location - but in many of the large centres it is completely true. Taking away the objective aspects makes such things, which are not fair, easier to do. I think medical schools giving marks to their students would help with this.

 

Anyways, the only point is that the competitive specialties in Canada don't require you to be a great medical student per ce (I think most are great), but rather someone that can play Game of Carms with a healthy dose of luck and hopefully some family connections. And despite all that, the majority of applicants, even to the more competitive specialties, do eventually get their first choice. And yes, I know not everyone does.

 

And exactly how does you taking advantage of nepotism help those without that advantage improve their chances for competitive specialties? We've side-tracked pretty far from the original question.

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And exactly how does you taking advantage of nepotism help those without that advantage improve their chances for competitive specialties? We've side-tracked pretty far from the original question.

 

It doesn't help at all. It's an unfair advantage that I have because of family I suppose. And that's the point. Competitive specialties are not as much about being a stellar medical student as it is about making connections or having a bit of luck. As long as you are an average or so medical student in terms of knowledge/procedures.

 

I think having a usmle equivalent, and better medical transcripts would make the whole process a lot fairer - and would totally be able to weed out the smooth talking scammer types. I have actual examples. If you have over 750 posts (so I can trust you), I can message you real life examples than can be verified by yourself.

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I think having a usmle equivalent, and better medical transcripts would make the whole process a lot fairer - and would totally be able to weed out the smooth talking scammer types.

 

How would a USMLE equivalent weed out those who are not at the top of the class in personal characteristics but are good at standardized tests? - unless your definition of an excellent medical student lies only in academic ability.

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It doesn't help at all. It's an unfair advantage that I have because of family I suppose. And that's the point. Competitive specialties are not as much about being a stellar medical student as it is about making connections or having a bit of luck. As long as you are an average or so medical student in terms of knowledge/procedures.

 

I think having a usmle equivalent, and better medical transcripts would make the whole process a lot fairer - and would totally be able to weed out the smooth talking scammer types. I have actual examples. If you have over 750 posts (so I can trust you), I can message you real life examples than can be verified by yourself.

 

In my experience, we have never been in a situation where my program wished for a Canadian USMLE equivalent. We evaluate our elective students adequately to get top notch candidates.

 

I would put forward that if a program is having that much trouble evaluating a candidates medical knowledge (USMLE is not testing work ethic or like-ability), they need to revamp how they eval candidates during elective. You can't smooth talk your way past constantly getting questions wrong or being unable to make a reasonable plan for a consult you are asked to see.

 

I agree however that Canadian transcripts are garbage, and we have moved too far towards having no effective evaluation.

 

USMLE's wouldn't eliminate nepotism. Programs would just ignore the results as needed.

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It doesn't help at all. It's an unfair advantage that I have because of family I suppose. And that's the point. Competitive specialties are not as much about being a stellar medical student as it is about making connections or having a bit of luck. As long as you are an average or so medical student in terms of knowledge/procedures.

 

I think having a usmle equivalent, and better medical transcripts would make the whole process a lot fairer - and would totally be able to weed out the smooth talking scammer types. I have actual examples. If you have over 750 posts (so I can trust you), I can message you real life examples than can be verified by yourself.

 

As NLengr says, having a USMLE-type test here doesn't prevent nepotism from working, but that's all beside the point. You said in your first post that it unexceptional people match to difficult programs like plastics and, as it turns out, your primary rationale for that is nepotism.

 

How does telling the original posters that having family contacts is the way to matching to a competitive specialty help them be better candidates for these specialties if they don't necessarily have your level of family connections? You not liking the current residency matching system in no way helps people succeed in that system - which was the point of this thread.

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No offence, but what your PhD friend says is stupid. PhD's generally don't have a good knowledge of the world of clinical medicine, unless they are an MDPhD. A ton of what you are saying is also untrue.

 

CaRMS matching is a different beast them med school apps. Stakes are way higher. If you don't get into med school, no big deal, apply next year. If you don't match to a competitive specialty, then essentially, you will never become that kind of specialist. Ever. CaRMS is a one shot, winner takes all, match system. That why med students worry about it so much.

 

Plastics attracts some of the best medical students because it is so competitive that the ones who are interested work really hard to make themselves good medical students.

 

A masters doesn't really help at all come CaRMS. Nobody cares if you know a bit more than average about plant biology or whatever your masters is in.

 

As for concentrating at less desirable places, that doesn't really work when most applicants do electives at almost all programs to increase the number of programs they will be considered for (most competitive programs don't like taking someone they haven't worked with).

 

As for UBC, UofT and McGill being the most desirable spots, this is again untrue. The location of the best programs vary widely among specialties. No one school consistently lands at the top for every program. Frequently, the schools you mentioned have moderate, or even low, desirability in a specialty.

 

So what matters for matching? I've been through the match and ranked candidates to my program (a competitive specialty at the most desirable program in the country). The following three things make up 99% of how we rank you, IMO:

 

1. Work ethic- this is far and away the most important.

 

2. Like-ability -simply put, if we don't want to work with you for 5 years, we won't take you.

 

3. Knowledge and judgement - you need to have good CLINICAL knowledge and judgement. You don't need to be a genius but you need to show that you have worked hard to learn a bit of the specialty as a med student, and that you have sound judgement. Basic science knowledge of the specialty is also good, but clinical knowledge is more important.

 

That's it. Those three things are the basis of most of ranking decisions. Other stuff: research, volunteering, conferences etc is window dressing.

 

 

So, since it must be quite difficult to accurately determine whether a candidate has a desirable work ethic for the program based solely on an interview, is this factor primarily based on performance during electives? Otherwise, how else do adcoms evaluate this quality? LOR?

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So, since it must be quite difficult to accurately determine whether a candidate has a desirable work ethic for the program based solely on an interview, is this factor primarily based on performance during electives? Otherwise, how else do adcoms evaluate this quality? LOR?

 

Performance on electives is king when it comes to CaRMS.

 

In my specialty at least, the interview doesn't hold much water. The rank order is pretty much determined before the interview. Pretty much all you can do on the interview is completely blow it and fall off the list. It's hard to change the impression you left from your elective.

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Performance on electives is king when it comes to CaRMS.

 

In my specialty at least, the interview doesn't hold much water. The rank order is pretty much determined before the interview. Pretty much all you can do on the interview is completely blow it and fall off the list. It's hard to change the impression you left from your elective.

 

This; I have heard from multiple people, including residents involved in the process, that rank orders are strongly set pre interview and you have to **** it up/BLOW them away for that to change. This is very much anecdotal but I felt that my interviews for many programs I interviewed at, including the one I ultimately matched to, seemed to be a very much secondary element of the process and that they had already matched me to a specific rank.

 

How you do on your electives and the resulting LOR are the absolute most important element of your application. Going across Canada and getting LOR and leaving good impressions with notable plastic docs, especially PDs, is vital. I always thought for smaller specialties like plastics that a good LOR went further than in larger specialties since the PD/ppl doing the evals for plastics were more likely to know each other.

 

Research will likely help and if it is directly linked to something plastics related then sure, it will help more than some other random topic. So will showing an early interest in plastics via plastic student groups. However, many of the metrics for these are fairly subjective; even research can be as not all publications are equal. It's even more difficult if the research is an area that isn't related. How can a PD assess the impact or applicant contribution of a study on leptin in diabetes or cell signaling cascades? Ditto with student interest groups. T

 

A masters/PhD sure is nice but of the people I know from my class who got into plastics, I am pretty sure none of them had either.

 

TL DR: If you have a PhD/Masters, it can help. So can research/groups etc. But it means nothing without awesome LOR and program experience. I will bet my LOC that the latter will beat the former every time.

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Well I'm not even in medical school yet. So no direct competition. Obviously one should work hard and do well in medical school. But aside from maybe a few awards available per year at some medical schools - there is no way to prove that you are excelling in med school in Canada. No grades on transcript. No H/P/F system. Very little constructive criticism or valuable praise. Really the transcripts are garbage. This is very different than the USA where students are ranked on each course and rotation they take - and the transcript is supposedly VERY detailed. It is easy to evaluate Canadians that went to US schools trying to come back - BUT because people are realistically ranked, they often are at a disadvantage. Compare to MAC, where there is virtually NO objective evaluations on the transcript. Transcripts are so garbage, apparently some programs are now requesting UNDERGRADUATE marks as a way to evaluate graduating medical students.

 

DO well in electives to get strong references, GET research, and GET connections. But you do not have to be the smartest person in the class, or even really above average. If you are really bad as in the bottom 10% - sure you won't probably get into something competitive (though there are lots of cases of that too). But there is no meritocracy when it comes to Canadian medical students trying for residency. The USA, or for that matter, most other countries in the world, there is.

 

To some degree, this lack of marks and proper fair evaluation seems to have been pioneered by McMaster in general. Even their health sciences program co-ordinator eventually wants to abolish marks for undergrads (ultimately). In his view, evaluations deter from learning. In my mind, he has nice intentions, that make no sense when applied to reality.

 

In my experience I found many of uwopremeds arguments to be incorrect.

 

I agree with nlengr's advice.

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Performance on electives is king when it comes to CaRMS.

In my specialty at least, the interview doesn't hold much water. The rank order is pretty much determined before the interview. Pretty much all you can do on the interview is completely blow it and fall off the list. It's hard to change the impression you left from your elective.


yeah this is basically the point - people ask how they figure out how to get accepted and think the interview or grades matter in some fashion (well of course they do a bit) - but they don't have to worry as much about that because they have the best possible way of selecting someone for a job - they can effectively put you in the junior role of that job for 2 weeks and see how you do. In other jobs HR departments would figuratively kill for that ability. They want to see if they can work with you, can you work hard, are you a jerk etc, etc. Two weeks is a long time - hard to "fake things" particularly to people that are extremely skilled in their area. This is why electives and LOR (your elective score in effect) matter so much.

Similar with long term research and those sorts of electives - if you can work with a solid clinical researcher in the same area and they actually support you that says something about who you are. These are people that don't like to waste time so if you are productive with them you have some good qualities.

How you become good at electives is by working hard in preclinical to know your stuff, do observerships...basically get out there, learning things and respect the system. Edited by rmorelan

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