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zeja02

What makes you a competitive applicant for residency?

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In premed, it was pretty straightforward
high gpa, high mcat, some volunteering
 
I just got accepted to med school and i'm having trouble understanding what makes you competitive for the residency process.
I go to a pass/fail school, and really dread research.

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30 minutes ago, zeja02 said:
In premed, it was pretty straightforward
high gpa, high mcat, some volunteering
 
I just got accepted to med school and i'm having trouble understanding what makes you competitive for the residency process.
I go to a pass/fail school, and really dread research.

You are going to hear a ton of things about CARMS from many different perspectives. That can be very confusing, and yet on the bird's eye view it isn't unexpected I guess. 

There simply is no universal formula that all schools look at, or more correct any particular program will look at. Once we dropped grades in medical school we actually lost ALL standardization with things. 

Looking at it from a program point of view they are always hoping for the same 4 things from any applicant:

1) The person is smart/skilled - they can handle the material well. 

2) They are hard working - will the person mange to keep up with busy residency schedule. We all know smart but lazy people - that doesn't help run a service.

3) Are they not a jerk - residency is 2-6 year JOB, and no one wants to work with a jerk for 1/2 a decade. That is exhausting and it brings everyone down.

4) They have an interest in the field. That will help them get through the stress of the program, but also on a practical level it means they won't transfer to another field (which happens and really sucks for the original program - out a resident, wasted all that training on them, and the other residents now do more call to compensate and become more stressed. No one wants to accept someone therefore that will leave). 

Everyone wants those four things but not necessarily in the same amounts for any particular program, and each program may evaluate each thing differently. 

Networking is your way to get people to validate that you have the above. They know you, they have seen what you can do and so on. 

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9 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

You are going to hear a ton of things about CARMS from many different perspectives. That can be very confusing, and yet on the bird's eye view it isn't unexpected I guess. 

There simply is no universal formula that all schools look at, or more correct any particular program will look at. Once we dropped grades in medical school we actually lost ALL standardization with things. 

Looking at it from a program point of view they are always hoping for the same 4 things from any applicant:

1) The person is smart/skilled - they can handle the material well. 

2) They are hard working - will the person mange to keep up with busy residency schedule. We all know smart but lazy people - that doesn't help run a service.

3) Are they not a jerk - residency is 2-6 year JOB, and no one wants to work with a jerk for 1/2 a decade. That is exhausting and it brings everyone down.

4) They have an interest in the field. That will help them get through the stress of the program, but also on a practical level it means they won't transfer to another field (which happens and really sucks for the original program - out a resident, wasted all that training on them, and the other residents now do more call to compensate and become more stressed. No one wants to accept someone therefore that will leave). 

Everyone wants those four things but not necessarily in the same amounts for any particular program, and each program may evaluate each thing differently. 

Networking is your way to get people to validate that you have the above. They know you, they have seen what you can do and so on. 

I agree with the above. My saying is the three things that made up 99% of the decisions for my residency programs candidate picks were:

1. Work Ethic

2. Likeability/fit 

3. Knowledge of specialty

*note that I am from a small surgical specialty. Applicability to large specialties (family, psych, IM etc.) May vary. 

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9 hours ago, NLengr said:

I agree with the above. My saying is the three things that made up 99% of the decisions for my residency programs candidate picks were:

1. Work Ethic

2. Likeability/fit 

3. Knowledge of specialty

*note that I am from a small surgical specialty. Applicability to large specialties (family, psych, IM etc.) May vary. 

I think this is something I wish I learnt a bit earlier, but I agree with Nlengr. I think "likeability" and work ethic comes before knowledge/research. 

I am never completely sure if this is the right way of doing things. Sometimes personalities don't mix well. Sometimes people might be a bit socially "different" compared to others, but still might be very smart or accomplished. There aren't as many people unfortunately who see beyond that, and with two week elective gaps "a bitter taste lasts longer than a sweet one" there isn't a lot of time to get to know people better. Meaning that people usually remember more on how you didn't fit or didn't like you compared to your strengths. When the competition is tight it may come to that on who people decide to interview or not, especially for small programs. 

It's also dependent on who you know - if a family member is a member of the community that you're interviewing in, I think it does play quite a large role. They can be seen as an extension of that person, and not offering an interview might be considered offending that individual. 

Again these are just observations of my own. I'm not sure if there is a better way of doing things, and I personally think there are weaknesses to the current system, and may contribute to the grander CaRMS situation we are experiencing today. 

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8 hours ago, distressedpremed said:

I think this is something I wish I learnt a bit earlier, but I agree with Nlengr. I think "likeability" and work ethic comes before knowledge/research. 

I am never completely sure if this is the right way of doing things. Sometimes personalities don't mix well. Sometimes people might be a bit socially "different" compared to others, but still might be very smart or accomplished. There aren't as many people unfortunately who see beyond that, and with two week elective gaps "a bitter taste lasts longer than a sweet one" there isn't a lot of time to get to know people better. Meaning that people usually remember more on how you didn't fit or didn't like you compared to your strengths. When the competition is tight it may come to that on who people decide to interview or not, especially for small programs. 

It's also dependent on who you know - if a family member is a member of the community that you're interviewing in, I think it does play quite a large role. They can be seen as an extension of that person, and not offering an interview might be considered offending that individual. 

Again these are just observations of my own. I'm not sure if there is a better way of doing things, and I personally think there are weaknesses to the current system, and may contribute to the grander CaRMS situation we are experiencing today. 

In my experience, research is the most overrated aspect of the match from the candidates point of view. Applicants spend so much time worrying about it and thinking it's the holy grail for the match. But, again, in my experience, it doesn't count for very much beyond a check box that you need to fill for certain specialties. I can't ever recall any discussion of what research people had done during our selection meetings. 

 

I think applicants focus on it because its something easy to control and finite, which isn't common in the match. However, most of its real value, which is much lower than what people think a lot of the time, probably lies mostly in networking and connections, not in scholarship. 

 

*note: I am specifically talking about research here. Knowledge of specialty is a whole different kettle of fish

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1 hour ago, NLengr said:

In my experience, research is the most overrated aspect of the match from the candidates point of view. Applicants spend so much time worrying about it and thinking it's the holy grail for the match. But, again, in my experience, it doesn't count for very much beyond a check box that you need to fill for certain specialties. I can't ever recall any discussion of what research people had done during our selection meetings. 

 

I think applicants focus on it because its something easy to control and finite, which isn't common in the match. However, most of its real value, which is much lower than what people think a lot of the time, probably lies mostly in networking and connections, not in scholarship. 

 

*note: I am specifically talking about research here. Knowledge of specialty is a whole different kettle of fish

I would agree - it has some purpose but is over blown, and its strength lies in the networking it let you do both at the home school and also at any conferences you get to go to.

Often the same at the fellowship level as well. 

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5 hours ago, NLengr said:

*note: I am specifically talking about research here. Knowledge of specialty is a whole different kettle of fish

Other than research, how does one demonstrate this? By doing multiple electives in the specialty? By performing well during an elective? Is it something they might asses you on during an interview? Thanks. 

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23 hours ago, NLengr said:

I agree with the above. My saying is the three things that made up 99% of the decisions for my residency programs candidate picks were:

1. Work Ethic

2. Likeability/fit 

3. Knowledge of specialty

*note that I am from a small surgical specialty. Applicability to large specialties (family, psych, IM etc.) May vary. 

This ^. Nos. 1 & 2 are essential and No. 3 is difficult to demonstrate in a substantive way. I too am from a small surgical specialty, with minimal time in electives. I am a hard & enthusiastic worker and easy to get along with. I beat out all the gunners because of this. My interview with a panel of 6, scheduled for 45 minutes, lasted just 10 minutes and there were zero questions that related to knowledge. 

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9 minutes ago, MD_2021 said:

@distressedpremed

How do you "fit" in? I've found that there can be drastically different personalities within the same specialty, so how do you quickly figure out what kind of personalities are around you and how to build meaningful relationships within your 2 week elective? Is it even possible?

It mostly means:

  • doing more than the basics expected/being hardworking while on elective
  • doing said work without being annoying.  
  • Try to show interest in material while still being "chill" (if that makes sense)
  • Being super outgoing is not necessary.  But try to be pleasant, make conversation with those around you.  Don't be too extreme.

Again, being "the right fit" doesn't usually mean being BFFs with the residents on elective.  Much more important is just not being annoying and rubbing people the wrong way.  

Demonstrating knowledge is, again, more of an elective thing.  It will come through if you are being pimped.  You can read around consults before presenting them and it may help. 

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I worked hard, put in extra hours to help out the resident, was enthusiastic and easy to get along with. It also didn't hurt that on one occasion, the resident and I were both at the same party and we chatted on a social level. As it happened, he was also one member of the panel of six that interviewed me. 

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"Fit" is different at different programs. The type of personality that is a good fit at one program may not be a good fit at another program. For example, someone who is a good fit for a big, research heavy Toronto or Montreal program, may be a terrible fit for a smaller, clinically focused program at Dalhousie or Saskatchewan. No matter what type of person you are, there is probably a program that aligns with your personality (provided you don't have a terrible personality at baseline).

 

Knowledge is basically demonstrated on elective when you are seeing patients and reviewing cases with residents and staff. It's not just pimping. It's the student who is able to give a couple treatment options and explain why one is a better option than another. Or who can tell you what investigations you order next. Or can cite a well known study to back up why they are saying something. Basically be well versed in the specialty. You need to have more knowledge than the average elective student. That means reading around major topics while on elective (I used to read 1-2 hours a night when I did my electives).

 

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4 hours ago, NLengr said:

"Fit" is different at different programs. The type of personality that is a good fit at one program may not be a good fit at another program. For example, someone who is a good fit for a big, research heavy Toronto or Montreal program, may be a terrible fit for a smaller, clinically focused program at Dalhousie or Saskatchewan. No matter what type of person you are, there is probably a program that aligns with your personality (provided you don't have a terrible personality at baseline).

 

Knowledge is basically demonstrated on elective when you are seeing patients and reviewing cases with residents and staff. It's not just pimping. It's the student who is able to give a couple treatment options and explain why one is a better option than another. Or who can tell you what investigations you order next. Or can cite a well known study to back up why they are saying something. Basically be well versed in the specialty. You need to have more knowledge than the average elective student. That means reading around major topics while on elective (I used to read 1-2 hours a night when I did my electives).

 

For knowledge, I think (and again, I don't necessarily agree with this) that people don't value knowledge as much sometimes (see above). 

I think that sometimes having too much knowledge, you may unconsciously be one-upping a resident inadvertently. With more clinical knowledge you might feel to be more helpful, and try to take on more work (but in the process, may be overstepping an invisible boundary on someone else's ego).  Again, fine balance that differs from place to place and who you work with.  Fit and likeability, and work ethic are probably the top and most important factors. 

Maybe Nlengr has more advice in regards to this. 

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I’m really naive about this whole system, but are there no board exam scores that are important to attaining residency positions? (Like the USMLE in the states) So far, I’ve been hearing lots about likability and fit, but not much about exam scores.

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Just now, Confluence said:

I’m really naive about this whole system, but are there no board exam scores that are important to attaining residency positions? (Like the USMLE in the states) So far, I’ve been hearing lots about likability and fit, but not much about exam scores.

no exam scores, which is one of the reasons why the whole process is so subjective

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16 minutes ago, MD_2021 said:

no exam scores, which is one of the reasons why the whole process is so subjective

yeah there was  a recent thread about that for more information. Current system has both strengths and weaknesses and you could argue the lack objectivity is a weakness.

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On 5/28/2018 at 6:59 PM, NLengr said:

In my experience, research is the most overrated aspect of the match from the candidates point of view. Applicants spend so much time worrying about it and thinking it's the holy grail for the match. But, again, in my experience, it doesn't count for very much beyond a check box that you need to fill for certain specialties. I can't ever recall any discussion of what research people had done during our selection meetings. 

 

I think applicants focus on it because its something easy to control and finite, which isn't common in the match. However, most of its real value, which is much lower than what people think a lot of the time, probably lies mostly in networking and connections, not in scholarship. 

 

*note: I am specifically talking about research here. Knowledge of specialty is a whole different kettle of fish

In a few specialties, i think research does play a pretty significant role (you can get a sense of which ones they are since they publish more often than other specialties do). I do think though in most it is just a checkmark though. I agree wholeheartedly with the above. I feel like most ECs (except for the really big and accomplished ones) aren't necessarily useful apart from demonstrating that you keep yourself busy and can handle a challenging workload.  

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