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Here To Answer Any Questions On Omfs Residency Applications To The Usa

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Hoping to answer any questions people may have regarding OMFS applications for Canadian citizens. 

 

 

Things to consider: 

  • "Canadian-friendly" programs
  • CBSE materials/preparation/competitive scores
  • CV & PS 
  • Navigating the PASS Application
  • Externships
  • Interviews
  • The MATCH

 

Good luck to those applying in the next cycle.  

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(questions from a PM that I am posting here)

 

For McGill which is P/F all 4 years with med curriculum (for the CBSE) in years 1-2 and only lists if you're top 10% or 25% rank, would this be more advantageous for OMFS or would going to a traditional-style school like Toronto with grading, no rank, and no med curriculum?

The med school curriculum is definitely something that will help with prep for the CBSE. But that's not to say going to a non-med school curriculum puts you at any kind of disadvantage; just more self teaching. Go to the program where you will have the opportunity to develop interests, whether it be general dentistry, OMFS or any of the other specialities.

 

What is a good CBSE score for P/F schools and for ranked schools?

What is defined as a "good CBSE score" is not dependant on if the school is p/f or ranked. A good score is a a good score; a bad score is a bad score. As a Canadian you should aim to ace it. You're competing against US citizens and so you'll really need to stand out to programs for them to rank you high. A great CBSE score is one critical way to do that. Remember that there is a fair bit of paperwork and money spent by the program on dealing with your visa if you are to match at that program.

 

The number that is considered 'good' is going up every year. When the CBSE was first implemented, it almost was just a formality. Its not like that now. People will match with scores that are 67+. But I'd recommend aiming for at least a 70+ if not a 75+. Break 80, and you put yourself in a great position. 

 

How many externships would suffice?

Exterships are a great was to get an understanding of what OMFS residency is like. It can draw some people in and deter others. At the minimum I would aim for 5-6 weeks total. Break it up and go to 3-4 different programs with different scopes. Maybe one that's heavy on cancer (such as Maryland and Michigan), one thats more private practice oriented (such as Montefiore), and maybe one that's more of a traditional scope (such as UNC, Medstar). You will be asked about your externships during your interviews: What you learned, What you liked, What you disliked, and Why you chose the placed you did. 

 

Would writing the CBSE and doing well be an asset for 4-year programs?

Yes. The CBSE remains a critical part of the OMFS application along with things like GPA and Class Rank (if applicable). However, it is true that some 4y programs my put slightly less emphasis on it than the majority of 6y programs. Remember, the CBSE is an indicator of the applicant's potential ability to pass the USMLE Step 1. Furthermore, some (if not most) 6y programs now have cut-offs for the minimum CBSE score needed for interview. They do not advertise this info and you wont find it on their websites, but believe me, there are 6y programs out there that wont even turn a page on someone's application if they see a score less than 70. 

 

 

Why OMFS?

Loaded question. Lots of reasons. Everyone has their own. Here a couple major points to consider:

  • Broad scope (orthognathic, benign path, tmj, trauma, cosmetics, cancer, etc)
  • Hospital based environment
  • Interdisciplinary Care 
  • More of a team-based environment than dental school ever was 
  • The sheer impact OMFS procedures can have on people's lives

Check this out: http://www.aaoms.org/education-research/dental-students

 

I'm doing OMFS-ortho research in the summer before D1 (hopefully D1!) that may result in abstracts/publications. Does this play a role in OMFS matching?

Well it depends. Research tends to be more of a conversation piece for the interview, but certain programs historically have an affinity to applicants with some research experience. If it's OMFS related, thats great. My advice generally is that if you genuinely enjoy research and you have the time to do it, then go for it. But don't feel obliged to do it for the sake of it. Of the people that matched in my year i would say that 3/4 had done no research in dental school.

 

Thanks for the questions.  

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(another question from a PM that I am posting here)

 

I'm planning to write CBSE this summer (July 29). So far, I've been using First Aid and Pathoma along with school coursework and I'm planning to get USMLE QBank soon. Do you think this is enough? Do you mind sharing resources you used and how you approached this beast? 

 

This how I approached it: 

 

For materials I used:

- First Aid (aka the bible)
- Pathoma (I primed myself with this before diving into FA. Sets up a good foundation, but do not delay starting FA.)
- Uworld (I got it a month out and got through about 40% of it. Ideally I'd recommend getting it more than just a month out.)
- Sketchy Micro (Having a good micro foundation can really help your score. This subject is super HY for the CBSE.)

 

I started off with Pathoma. Watched the lectures. And made notes in the pathoma book and FA. This is awesome to establish a foundation before actually diving into FA. Concurrent to pathoma, start SketchyMicro lectures for microbiology prep. CBSE loves micro and after going through sketchy a couple times you'll be set for virtually any micro question. 

 

Buy UWorld and start doing questions. Do as much at you can and annotate in FA so when you reach FA you also re-emphasize concepts from UWorld. Uworld will really help focus your studying within FA. This is probably the most critical resource. I know people that have used this solely and have scored 75+.  I cannot emphasize enough how critical Uworld is. It's not too important to get through all of it or get good scores. Rather make sure you understand the questions that you do.

 

Review things over and over. Especially for things like pharm, repetition is critical. It's remarkable how quickly the mind forgets things.

 

 

 

Also what kind of extracurricular activities did you do and how important do you think they REALLY are besides externship? I've been hearing from upperclassmen that Canadian residency cares more about ECs and research while US places far more emphasis on your rank/CBSE.

I did not have very many other major ECs. Just typical dental school stuff. Get involved a bit with your OS Club and stuff like that. I can't speak to Canadian programs as I did not apply to any. With US ones, CBSE/GPA/Rank reign supreme. 

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(more PM questions)

 

So which are the Canadian friendly universities?

May be semantics, but many OMFS are not university affiliated. Some are, but the universal thing is that they are all hospital affiliated (usually at least 2-3 affiliations). Of the 60+ programs in the USA, there are some that are considered Canadians friendly as they have had a history of matching a Canadian here and there. Here is the list based on when I applied, but keep in mind that things change from year to year, so the best thing to do is to contact programs yourself during your application cycle to get a confirmation.

 

(The ones bolded are ones that I can provided some specific information on)

  • Cornell
  • UNC
  • UConn
  • Columbia
  • UPenn
  • Beth Israel/Jacobi
  • Jefferson
  • BU
  • Tufts
  • St. Joseph's
  • Montefiore
  • Medstar
  • Rochester
  • MGH
  • Loyola
  • Carle
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • Phoenix
  • VCU
  • Maryland 

 

 

As a fourth year dental student going into a GPR, who developed interest in OMFS and did not have a competitive GPA/class rank, what do you recommend doing to do help my case?

Try to get as much exposure to OMFS during that GPR. Focus on things you can do to make your application better for OMFS. Your GPA and rank are set in stone. But a solid CBSE score can do wonders with regards to getting interview invitations. Look into doing a 1 year non-categorial internship at a program. You would function virtually identical to a PGY-1 (minus off service rotations) and get invaluable experiences in an actual OMFS residency.  Many programs will have non-categorial internships. Look around on program websites. Doing an internship shows program directors your genuine interest in OMFS. Good luck to you. 

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How difficult is it to get into a 1-year non-categorical internship for OMFS? And what is the likelihood interns match into OMFS the following year?

There a fair number of positions. I'm not sure on the application to acceptance ratio.  Applying usually requires you sending the program a CV, personal statement and CBSE score (if you have taken it). Many interns match every year. They can match to the program they interned some times (even though there are some programs like UT-Southwestern that has a policy of not taking their interns). 

 

Are there any differences between the 4 and 6 year programs besides the latter being able to pursue fellowships?

The MD track is essentially a necessity for the large majority of fellowships in microvascular/onc, craniofacial, cosmetics. Some will say that having the MD also makes going into academics much smoother. That is true, but there are many 4y people that go into academics as well. The MD just tends to open some doors at times. 

 

My Opinion: If private practice is your goal and you have no actual interest in medical school education then a 4y program is your best bet and you'll get great training. But 2 years in the grand scheme of things is not that long and if you have drive to learn + have a bit of an ego , then a 6y program will never hurt you. The way I see it, you'll never regret getting more education. 

 

 

How will the ADAT be used for matching?

As of now and for the foreseeable future the ADAT will not be a major part of OMFS applications. Even though some programs have said they require it, i don't believe it was ever enforced. 

 

Here is the AAOMS position on the ADAT as of March 2016: 

" The AAOMS strongly encourages programs to include the National Board of Medical Examiner’s Comprehensive Basic Science Examination (NBME CBSE), as administered through the AAOMS, as a validated and reliable measure of medical basic science knowledge and its clinical application. This measure is particularly useful in assessing applicants whose predoctoral record does not include GPA or class rank information. Although the American Dental Association is developing a new examination intended to perform a similar assessment (the Advanced Dental Admission Test, ADAT), this examination has not yet been fully developed, piloted, or psychometrically validated. It is therefore not recommended for use in selecting oral and maxillofacial surgery residents."

Source: http://www.aaoms.org/docs/education_research/edu_training/statement_on_resident_selection.pdf

 

Does the number of CBSE re-writes affect chances of matching?

No. Not at all. Take it as many times as you want. Only the score you submit with your application will be seen. Most people take it 2 times. You'll also have some that only take it once and others that take it 3+ times.  

 

When is a reasonable time to take the CBSE?

I'd suggest to take it the first time the summer after 2nd year of dental school. That would still leave you with 2 more shots at it before your application cycle starts. That being said, as of recent, I've seen students take in as early as the summer of 1st year. Not a terrible idea really. Just keep in mind that most dental school curriculums haven't covered the majority of the basic science that is applicable to the CBSE at that point. But if you are in a non-med school curriculum dental school, you end up teaching yourself virtually all the material anyway. Just don't let your dental school grades suffer in the process of preparing. 

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How does the match work? 

Basically, after your interviews you rank the programs based on where you'd like to go. Use no other tactic to rank places otherwise it can burn you. Programs create their own rank lists based on who they interviewed. An algorithm is applied to the lists and you match (or don't match). 

 

Refer to these to get a better understanding:

https://www.natmatch...utoverview.html

https://www.natmatch...s/aboutalg.html

 

Is it important that I rank certain schools higher? 

Again, always rank based on where you would like to go, not where you felt your interview went better or worse, or where the PD told you they will rank you high. The match will always defer to the applicant, so it will always take into consideration your preference over a program's. 

 

Should I apply for a VISA this year or is that only done by the schools?

​No. If you match, programs will help you with that process. Don't worry about it now. 

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What dental school GPA is competitive for OMFS? 

This really varies. Obviously, the higher the better. Generally speaking though I would really recommend trying your best to stay above the 3.7 mark. But even then, I know people that matched with 3.6 but had good CBSE scores (70+). A good CBSE can make up for mediocre GPA, but only so much.

 

But with that all being said, I would say that at least 50% of the people that applied to OMFS from my year had GPA 3.9+ and CBSE scores of 75+. Things get competitive for OMFS applications. 

 

 

Is undergraduate GPA an aspect that could be brought up in OMFS interviews?

To a certain degree, yes. It may not come up during interviews as a question per se, but the PASS application will require you to upload a copy of your UG transcript and some schools may even ask for official copies to be sent to them directly (this can get annoyingly expensive). The 6-year programs are the ones by far that care most about UG grades since it plays a role in the 'Medical School Admissions Committee' side of things.

 

 

Does going to a more "well-known" school help with matching?

There is really no answer to this question. Certain dental schools tend to pump out a lot of people that go into specialties. The age old question is: Do these schools just attract people interested in specializing from the outset?

 

Personally, just based on the way programs directors and faculty speak about certain schools, I do believe there is a certain edge (minimal), but its all heavily debated. I feel that school name helps an applicant that already has a solid application; it just adds that "extra punch", if you know what I mean.

 

You'll see in the interviews, schools like Harvard, Columbia, UCLA, UPenn, etc. will dominate the applicant pool. It's really hard to dismiss the sheer number of students those schools put in OMFS interviews and subsequently, residencies . That being said, there are always applicants from all over the country, but the aforementioned pattern is hard to miss. I know that really does not answer your question, but that's the best I can do. 

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can you tell us a little bit more about the canadian friendly programs if possible? thanks!!

 

 

Sure. What exactly did you want to know? That list is a good place to start. I'd recommend first reading what you can about the programs based on their websites and the "OMFS Programs Overviews" thread on SDN. Also, like I mentioned earlier, check to see if they are indeed Canadian-friendly during your application cycle. Things change from year to year. 

 

If you have specific questions regarding any of the bolded programs, ask away. 

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I don't know of many OMFS externships in Canada other than McGill. Is it difficult for Canadian dental students to be accepted into externships in the US?

 

Also, when is a good time to start externing? I want to start early, but want enough dental education under my belt to be able to talk to residents about what's going on.

 

Thank you, Disintegration!

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can you tell me more about medstar, jefferson, loyola, maryland, thanks!

 

Medstar: A fantastic 4year program. Traditional scope training in a nice part fo DC. Fantastic group of residents. A great faculty as well. Lots of trauma and the on-call schedule is pretty demanding but not a single resident complained about it. Maybe 8-10 call days a month. Very approachable faculty as well. Both the chair and PD seemed like great people to work with. I would consider this one of the top (if not the top) 4y programs in the country. 

 

Jefferson: Solid program with both 4-year and 6-year spots. A very faculty-driven program. Philly is a great city. Residents seemed like a good group of people. The new med school curriculum now requires residents in the 6y track to do about 6months more of medical school. This is a trend not exclusive to Jeff. A fair number of med schools are undergoing curriculum changes and the impact on the 6y tracks can be significant at times. 

 

Loyola: Great 4y program. Faculty and residents all were very approachable. This program tends to go under the radar at times, but its a very good program. A traditional scope training and probably has one of the best VA affiliations I have come across. Residents are placing implants there at an insane rate. 

 

Maryland: UMMC is a beast. Extremely busy program with two 6y spots and one 4y spot. OR cases throughout the week and weekends. Associated with UMMC’s R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma for which OMFS covers face trauma every Thursday and alternates with ENT and Plastics for over the weekends. OMFS has a very strong presence at this hospital. Externs should take trauma call. An oncology heavy program. Lots of benign and malignant path cases. Multiple neck dissections per week. Glossectomies, maxillectomies, mandibulectomies are common. They also do about 2-3 free flaps per week, with 2 of the 6 faculty dedicated to microvascular reconstruction. Residents and faculty are very eager to get externs involved. Case conferences every Wednesday 8am-12pm. Residents were all very friendly and accommodating. Rising chiefs seem like a great group of people. Take 3 non-categorical interns per year.

 

 

I don't know of many OMFS externships in Canada other than McGill. Is it difficult for Canadian dental students to be accepted into externships in the US?

 

Also, when is a good time to start externing? I want to start early, but want enough dental education under my belt to be able to talk to residents about what's going on.

 

 

I wouldn't think would be that hard for Canadians to extern at American programs. I came across many Canadians that had externs at American programs. Look up on the websites and contact the programs to get a better idea of how to apply. 

 

The best and most practical time to extern would be in the summer after your 3rd year of dental school. But you'd have to gauge how your dental school curriculum is, when you plan on taking the CBSE, NBDE, etc. Try to do 5 weeks at 2-3 different places. If you can do a week here and there earlier that would a good idea too just to get your feet wet with how OMFS residency and externships works. 

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I don't know of many OMFS externships in Canada other than McGill. Is it difficult for Canadian dental students to be accepted into externships in the US?

 

Also, when is a good time to start externing? I want to start early, but want enough dental education under my belt to be able to talk to residents about what's going on.

 

Thank you, Disintegration!

Its very easy to get a US externship. I'm doing 5 this year. Want to do these in third year as many schools won't accept second years. However getting in as an OMFS resident is another story. There were only 8 positions accepted for 2017 for non US students WORLD wide, as posted on the website!...  So I'm guessing about 4 Canadians will get in this year to a US school. You need to ace the CBSE exam ( top 5% ) and be in the top 5% class standing at your Canadian Dental University.  Americans only need to be in the top 33% to get in. They are held to a MUCH lower standard. Also the CBSE exam is VERY hard if you want to ace it. Start studying in first and second year and write it July between second and third year. I spent more time preparing for that exam than my whole second year studying combined!

 

The US board exam is trivial. I spent a few days preparing for that and its just pass fail.

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Its very easy to get a US externship. I'm doing 5 this year. Want to do these in third year as many schools won't accept second years. However getting in as an OMFS resident is another story. There were only 8 positions accepted for 2017 for non US students WORLD wide, as posted on the website!...  So I'm guessing about 4 Canadians will get in this year to a US school. You need to ace the CBSE exam ( top 5% ) and be in the top 5% class standing at your Canadian Dental University.  Americans only need to be in the top 33% to get in. They are held to a MUCH lower standard. Also the CBSE exam is VERY hard if you want to ace it. Start studying in first and second year and write it July between second and third year. I spent more time preparing for that exam than my whole second year studying combined!

 

The US board exam is trivial. I spent a few days preparing for that and its just pass fail.

 

 

There are a fair number that will still accept 2nd years, but it's better to just do them after at least finishing 2nd year of dental school. This cycle, 7 matched from non-US dental school of which 4 were from Canadian dental schools.  Remember, that this number does not include all the Canadians that are at US dental schools as they fall into the 212 that matched from US dental schools. Here's a link to the stats for those interested. 

 

I wouldn't say that American applicants are held to a "much lower standard". People not matching with a 70CBSE and 3.8GPA doesn't seem like a low standard and that happens more often than you would think. But like I've mentioned in a post above, Canadians need to do their best to stand out. That includes not only Canadians in Canada but also ones in US dental schools. 

 

Is the CBSE a tough exam? Yes. But is it possible to do well (70+) by studying smartly and efficiently? Yes, without a doubt. It's all a matter of focussing on HY material and learning the information in a certain way; a way that using UWorld helps emphasize. 

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If I were to do my OMFS in Canada, how difficult/what is the process to practice in the US? Thanks.

Not sure on that. I'd think the difficulty would be compounded if you were to also try to get hospital privileges. It can get messy. 

 

How would the process work if you are a Canadian citizen with a green card? I should hopefully have mine by the time I apply in 4th year dental school so would that mean I'm a "local" in both Canada and US?

 

That's huge for you. Basically, you won't have any restrictions on applying to programs since you're treated the same as a citizen. Good luck bud. 

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Let's say you get mid 70 on CBSE, how helpful is that for a 4 year program (since it doesn't have the MD component)?

 

 

It's very helpful. The CBSE, like mentioned before, is a critical component of applications (some may argue the most important) regardless if its a 4year or 6year program. 

 

In my graduating year, of the people that matched, the large majority had 70+, and of that, many had 75+. We had a mix of people some applying to 4, 6 or both. On the interview trail, scores below 70 were relatively uncommon in the grand scheme, regardless of 6y or 4y. 

 

With that being said, it really depends on when you are applying. Average applicant scores tend to be going up year by year. 

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"...if you can recommend how many months of studying would be necessary for a non-medical school based dental school student to get 205-220 (72-80 CBSE) on Step 1, that would be great."

 

There isn't a straight answer for this. I know people that studied for 1 month and scored 94 and some people that studied 12 months and scored 62. The main question is not necessarily "how many months", but how efficiently you use those resources I mentioned in a previous post.

 

The notion that "more time = better score" is not true. You may come to realize this in dental school, because I know I did. To be quite honest, I don't think I learned how to actually study until dental school. 

 

Personally, I probably studied for a total of about 4-5 months. 

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Do you believe it's pretty much impossible for a Canadian dental school graduate to match into a US omfs program? 

Get over 75 on the CBSE.  Finish in the top 5-10% of your class. Do 4 to 5 externships in third year.  Volunteer. Show that you are well rounded- play sports... Make sure the residents like you. Then you have a good chance to get in. Last year 4 Canadians were accepted.

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Would you say its harder to get into an American omfs program as a canadian grad, or a Canadian omfs program?

 

Not sure. I think its harder to get into the American programs as a Canadian. ( only accepted 4 for 227 positions)  I will apply to both this August. I hope to get into an American program as its quicker and there are some great programs in the US.

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Get over 75 on the CBSE.  Finish in the top 5-10% of your class. Do 4 to 5 externships in third year.  Volunteer. Show that you are well rounded- play sports... Make sure the residents like you. Then you have a good chance to get in. Last year 4 Canadians were accepted.

This pretty much sums it up. Read some of the previous posts on some more details, but this idea was already addressed. There is a link in a previous post with the stats of the recent match. In my interview season, I ran into about 4-5 Canadians a bunch of times. After you take care of all your numbers (GPA, CBSE, Rank), as a Canadian, the idea is to apply broadly and land as many interviews as possible. 

 

A small caveat...the whole the idea of being well-rounded and volunteering a bunch only goes so far with OMFS applications, from my experience. Most of the time no one cares. That's not to say not to do those things, but don't be under the impression that it's going to be a game changer. Focus on CBSE, Grades and Rank (if applicable) and some externships. Read some of the previous posts on details on each of those. 

 

 

Would you say its harder to get into an American omfs program as a canadian grad, or a Canadian omfs program?

Not sure since I never applied to Canadian OMFS programs. 

 

 

Good luck. 

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I am wondering if you can comment on the following programs in terms of surgical volume/varieties, atmosphere among faculties and residents and the cities/environment?:

  • UNC
  • UPenn
  • Beth Israel/Jacobi
  • St. Joseph's
  • MGH

Thanks for doing this!

 

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