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Can someone alleviate my anxiety re: CV requirements for CaRMS?


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Hi everyone, I know this has been discussed often, and I keep reading through old posts but can't help this crazy anxiety I have about extra curriculars.

The specialty I want is non-surgical and I'd say moderately competitive (peds/rads/anesthesia category). I'm a pretty social person and get along with everyone and think I'll do well in my clerkship/electives, I am submitting a first author paper in my specialty of interest soon, and I am involved in some ECs and have a few small leadership roles. However, I can't shake the feeling that I'm not doing enough!!! There are people in my class involved CFMS/IFMSA leadership which really doesnt interest me, and they are constantly founding new initiatives and winning awards and all this crazy stuff. 

Do I have a reason to feel threatened and should I up my game? I really don't want to force myself to do stuff I'm not passionate about and would love to just focus on my few passion projects and school. I'm not so much worried that my CV will be BAD, but that compared to my peers it will look empty and weak. 

How much do all these side projects and ECs really matter!?!? Can any residents here say they weren't crazy impressive on the CV and still matched their specialty of choice?

Thank you so much! 

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Performance on electives in your specialty of choice (along with reference letters from them) is by far the most important feature of your application. You did some research and got a paper done so thats good. It is good to be involved in something extracurricular but probably they will be lenient due to COVID screwing up everybody's plans. I am not sure if this is relevant to you or not (just made inferences from your username and vibe of the post), but extreme anxiety is pretty common with CARMS and the pandemic, but can be really hard to deal with. You could consider reaching out to mentor/counsellor/GP if you find it gets overwhelming or hard to control. Important to ensure you reach out for support to get through this year if you find you are struggling with anxiety that makes it hard to function. Carms sucks lol

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Do not feel threatened. :P I found medical school very challenging and I had to cut out all my ECs. It did not affect me whatsoever for CaRMS. I was selected for a competitive surgical residency where I had no research. Not one of the gunners who seemed to have it all were selected. It came down to who was considered the best fit, i.e., would get along with the team, was collaborative and a hard worker.

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It can be very easy to become preoccupied with "everybody else" during CaRMS. Usually it can get even worse during interviews when you actually start meeting everyone and realize that they are all nice, amazing people off paper as well. But, at the end of the day it's not all about the CV and really all you can do is try to focus on yourself and do what YOU need to do to be competitive (i.e. focus on electives, write your statements well in advance, build relationships and trust in those relationships). Despite the competitiveness, odds are in your favour that you will match somewhere. All you do by comparing and panicking is sabotaging yourself. Don't concern yourself with things you cannot control.

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As someone who's now been through the whole process and been on the other side interviewing applicants, extracurriculars only count for a small part of your application. I think in order of importance

  1. No red flags in your application - you're not a sociopath, bad references, word of mouth
  2. Program knows you and likes you - you've done an elective, good fit
  3. Interview
  4. Good evaluations in your rotations
  5. Reference letters
  6. Shown interest in the specialty - electives, projects
  7. Extra-curriculars

Do a few things really well and don't spread yourself thin trying to pad your CV. It's pretty obvious to reviewers when there isn't much substance. 

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On 10/30/2020 at 12:24 AM, medaholic said:

As someone who's now been through the whole process and been on the other side interviewing applicants, extracurriculars only count for a small part of your application. I think in order of importance

  1. No red flags in your application - you're not a sociopath, bad references, word of mouth
  2. Program knows you and likes you - you've done an elective, good fit
  3. Interview
  4. Good evaluations in your rotations
  5. Reference letters
  6. Shown interest in the specialty - electives, projects
  7. Extra-curriculars

Do a few things really well and don't spread yourself thin trying to pad your CV. It's pretty obvious to reviewers when there isn't much substance. 

For #4, are you talking about core rotations?

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6 hours ago, Redpill said:

For #4, are you talking about core rotations?

I think medaholic is referring to all rotations. 
for sure you want to show you did well on the cores, but you also want your entire profile to appear “even”—so every rotation you’d be best that it shows you clearly passed without any innuendo of or actual red flags.

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On 10/30/2020 at 3:24 AM, medaholic said:

As someone who's now been through the whole process and been on the other side interviewing applicants, extracurriculars only count for a small part of your application. I think in order of importance

  1. No red flags in your application - you're not a sociopath, bad references, word of mouth
  2. Program knows you and likes you - you've done an elective, good fit
  3. Interview
  4. Good evaluations in your rotations
  5. Reference letters
  6. Shown interest in the specialty - electives, projects
  7. Extra-curriculars

Do a few things really well and don't spread yourself thin trying to pad your CV. It's pretty obvious to reviewers when there isn't much substance. 

Wow is the interview really that important? I thought programs already had an idea of who they liked and the interview ends up being a formality to confirm that. I'm also surprised reference letters are lower on the list.

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On 10/30/2020 at 3:24 AM, medaholic said:

As someone who's now been through the whole process and been on the other side interviewing applicants, extracurriculars only count for a small part of your application. I think in order of importance

  1. No red flags in your application - you're not a sociopath, bad references, word of mouth
  2. Program knows you and likes you - you've done an elective, good fit
  3. Interview
  4. Good evaluations in your rotations
  5. Reference letters
  6. Shown interest in the specialty - electives, projects
  7. Extra-curriculars

Do a few things really well and don't spread yourself thin trying to pad your CV. It's pretty obvious to reviewers when there isn't much substance. 

How do you see this order changing for the c2022 considering that they most likely won't get any visiting electives.

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I think importance of different factors probably varies a bit by specialty but the basic gist of it is that programs have two questions in order of importance: 1) will you be a pain in the ass or liability for them for the next 2-7 years (i.e. lazy, unprofessional, a complainer, hard to work with, etc) and on the flipside are you someone they will actively want to have around because you are friendly/hard working/the right type of person? and 2) are you excellent clinically?

Reference letters can be hard to gauge this because unless you really made a bad pick in terms of who wrote your letters, everyone's letters will say they are excellent in all these areas.

Direct experience with someone on an elective is the best way to know.  But I'm guessing interview and core rotation evaluations will become more important if away electives are less possible (core supervisors are less likely to talk you up so I'm guessing there may be a bit of differentiation possible there).

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16 hours ago, Guest2020_ said:

Wow is the interview really that important? I thought programs already had an idea of who they liked and the interview ends up being a formality to confirm that. I'm also surprised reference letters are lower on the list.

My interview where I was selected lasted all of 10 minutes. I had walked into the interview under the belief that the position was mine to lose by interviewing badly, i.e., I felt I was preselected. I left the interview worried as it was scheduled to last 45 minutes, but it was over in just 10 minutes.

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On 10/23/2020 at 4:28 PM, MD2015:) said:

Performance on electives in your specialty of choice (along with reference letters from them) is by far the most important feature of your application. You did some research and got a paper done so thats good. It is good to be involved in something extracurricular but probably they will be lenient due to COVID screwing up everybody's plans. I am not sure if this is relevant to you or not (just made inferences from your username and vibe of the post), but extreme anxiety is pretty common with CARMS and the pandemic, but can be really hard to deal with. You could consider reaching out to mentor/counsellor/GP if you find it gets overwhelming or hard to control. Important to ensure you reach out for support to get through this year if you find you are struggling with anxiety that makes it hard to function. Carms sucks lol

Ugh yes covid did screw my plans. I actually had a really fun initiative that i started at the beginning of the year, that would have both looked good on CV AND been such a blast for me, but it is absolutely impossible now. So now I feel like I have to be making a difference in the pandemic but like how?!? I live with my 65+ stepdad with resp problems and cant be volunteering with covid patients or whatever theyre all doing lol. Counsellor is a good idea, thank you! 

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On 10/26/2020 at 9:32 AM, Bambi said:

Do not feel threatened. :P I found medical school very challenging and I had to cut out all my ECs. It did not affect me whatsoever for CaRMS. I was selected for a competitive surgical residency where I had no research. Not one of the gunners who seemed to have it all were selected. It came down to who was considered the best fit, i.e., would get along with the team, was collaborative and a hard worker.

wow congrats! thats amazing, and also very comforting :D 

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On 10/29/2020 at 7:23 AM, robclem21 said:

It can be very easy to become preoccupied with "everybody else" during CaRMS. Usually it can get even worse during interviews when you actually start meeting everyone and realize that they are all nice, amazing people off paper as well. But, at the end of the day it's not all about the CV and really all you can do is try to focus on yourself and do what YOU need to do to be competitive (i.e. focus on electives, write your statements well in advance, build relationships and trust in those relationships). Despite the competitiveness, odds are in your favour that you will match somewhere. All you do by comparing and panicking is sabotaging yourself. Don't concern yourself with things you cannot control.

thats literally it. seeing that all the smart gunner impressive life changers are also cool and normal, no fair!! but yeah youre right!! although i guess im extra afraid of the "odds" bc im really not willing to sacrifice location for a match. i live in toronto now and dont think i could do 5 years in a city other than here, montreal, or maybe van. So i hope my pickiness doesnt screw me over

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On 10/30/2020 at 3:24 AM, medaholic said:

As someone who's now been through the whole process and been on the other side interviewing applicants, extracurriculars only count for a small part of your application. I think in order of importance

  1. No red flags in your application - you're not a sociopath, bad references, word of mouth
  2. Program knows you and likes you - you've done an elective, good fit
  3. Interview
  4. Good evaluations in your rotations
  5. Reference letters
  6. Shown interest in the specialty - electives, projects
  7. Extra-curriculars

Do a few things really well and don't spread yourself thin trying to pad your CV. It's pretty obvious to reviewers when there isn't much substance. 

funnily enough im so scared of the red flag thing. my school always threatens us with them like if youre late to this session youll get a professionalism flag, if you hand this assignment late youll get a flag. not sure if it ever happens but definitely still scares me. 

otherwise that all sounds great... altho the interviews online certainly arent gonna do us any favors!!! thanks so much for the insight 

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Very few candidates stand out - it's hard to when everyone does pretty much the same thing. I would say only 5% of candidates wow you enough to remember their application. Same applies to interviews. 

Interviews are helpful because it's a good way to screen for odd quirks. Its rare that reference letters will be a big red flag, but I have commonly flagged applicants due to their interview. They might mention some unethical behavior, come off as unprofessional, or sometimes completely asocial. 

Having said that, the only real things interview measure is how well you interview, so it's a bit of a game. 

Can't recall ECs being that big of a deal. An absence of them is a red flag, but as long as you did something it's usually ok. 

We know the best applicants will match to their ranked program. The next group, the majority of average applicants will be good residents. What residency programs are trying real hard not to do is make a mistake and admit a PITA resident that will cause trouble for them. 

 

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16 hours ago, Philo-King said:

How do you see this order changing for the c2022 considering that they most likely won't get any visiting electives.

I suspect more programs will select and rank their own students higher, just cause they know them better. A familiar candidate is the safer choice when comparing similar applicants. 

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19 hours ago, omgcarmsanxietyhelp said:

thats literally it. seeing that all the smart gunner impressive life changers are also cool and normal, no fair!! but yeah youre right!! although i guess im extra afraid of the "odds" bc im really not willing to sacrifice location for a match. i live in toronto now and dont think i could do 5 years in a city other than here, montreal, or maybe van. So i hope my pickiness doesnt screw me over

You should be more open-minded. There are a lot of really good programs and places to live outside of that over-priced, under-construction, covid-filled, avocodo-toast centred city.

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Good programs?  Definitely.  Good cities?  Eh.

I probably wouldn't settle down anywhere other than Ottawa or Toronto.  Would move back to Montreal in a heartbeat if I spoke French though.

That said, you can hold your nose for five years.  I lived in London for four.  And I think everybody here who reads my posts knows how I felt about it by now LOL

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On 11/3/2020 at 2:13 PM, omgcarmsanxietyhelp said:

thats literally it. seeing that all the smart gunner impressive life changers are also cool and normal, no fair!! but yeah youre right!! although i guess im extra afraid of the "odds" bc im really not willing to sacrifice location for a match. i live in toronto now and dont think i could do 5 years in a city other than here, montreal, or maybe van. So i hope my pickiness doesnt screw me over

This was me, i.e., I applied to 3 different fields where I felt I could be happy personally and professionally - in one city only! In my mind, I ranked the 3 of them equally. I got my 3 interviews, 1 for each field. I realized that I might not match and this was preferable to matching where I was not prepared to go. It all worked out! And btw, gunners who appear to have all the credentials will not be selected if they are not collaborative, not deemed to be a good fit. When I applied 40 of us were interviewed for just 3 residency spots, the majority of whom were gunners. Not one gunner was selected. Although I appeared to be the least qualified of the 40 interviewees (in my opinion), I was selected strictly on the basis of being considered a "good fit". The panel of 6 interviewers were correct. :P  

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On 11/4/2020 at 9:12 AM, robclem21 said:

You should be more open-minded. There are a lot of really good programs and places to live outside of that over-priced, under-construction, covid-filled, avocodo-toast centred city.

Hahaha not sure which city you're even talking about, because under construction and covid filled = montreal and over priced avocado = toronto :P 

I know I sound like I'm a city snob but I really need to be in a major city, I've been to Ottawa and Calgary too and seriously could not see myself there.

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On 11/5/2020 at 10:12 AM, Bambi said:

This was me, i.e., I applied to 3 different fields where I felt I could be happy personally and professionally - in one city only! In my mind, I ranked the 3 of them equally. I got my 3 interviews, 1 for each field. I realized that I might not match and this was preferable to matching where I was not prepared to go. It all worked out! And btw, gunners who appear to have all the credentials will not be selected if they are not collaborative, not deemed to be a good fit. When I applied 40 of us were interviewed for just 3 residency spots, the majority of whom were gunners. Not one gunner was selected. Although I appeared to be the least qualified of the 40 interviewees (in my opinion), I was selected strictly on the basis of being considered a "good fit". The panel of 6 interviewers were correct. :P  

That's really smart and honestly probably what I'll do... was it hard applying to 3 different specialties though? I feel like my CV is so specific to my one specialty that I dont know how to make it worthy of applying to something else. glad it worked out for you, and glad to hear it didnt for the gunners!!! lol sorry gunners but u are the bane of my existance 

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46 minutes ago, ellorie said:

Bambi, are you not in Quebec though?  I would imagine Quebec is a bit different from the ROC.

Historically - yes.  

But with a new 8-week cap on electives, no visiting electives (and other limitations) with P/F in Quebec, I don't think there's many differences, besides of course language.  Most Quebecers prefer to stay in Quebec though.  This could somewhat change if the pandemic situation improves. 

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