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Other than research, what should I be doing right now to prepare for CaRMS? My interest is Internal medicine, maybe gastroenterology or ENT.


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M1 here. Feeling lost about this even after a month in and talking to many people. I feel like I'm falling behind my colleagues who seem to have everything figured out and connections out the wazoo. 

Should I be going after "leadership" opportunities? Should I be involved in community work? Does this stuff matter in CaRMS? Or would that time be better spent writing case studies or getting research done?

 

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Internal, do whatever interests you, leadership and research are fine but don’t need to go ham. ENT on the otherhand you’ll want to go ham. Was the most competitive last match, typically competitive, so see if you can rule it in/out this year and get on making connections/research. 

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First off, one month in you should not be stressing about CaRMS. As much as it seems like all your colleagues have everything figured out, I can promise you that they don't. Not everybody has these "connections", and there is nothing stopping from all these people from changing their minds about what specialty they want. In fact, most will. it is not common for people to end up in the specialty they wanted when they first started medical school. You have a lot of time to figure out residency matching down the road.

Second, I agree with the above poster. Your role now is to explore different specialties and find out what you enjoy. Because ENT is the most competitive from the ones you have listed, that might be a good place to start since it will likely require the most commitment and work on your end if you decide you want to pursue it. Most other specialties (and all the others you listed here) you can essentially match to with no research or involvement in leadership opportunities. You should pursue ECs/Research only that you enjoy (again unless a super competitive speciality like ENT) and ultimately the relationships and trust you build during clerkship and electives will determine where you end up.

For the first year at least, focus on making friends, exploring medicine, learning the basics, and have fun.

 

Edit: Also FYI, gastroenterology is a fellowship from internal medicine.

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You have already received excellent advice. When I was in 1st & 2nd years, I was too busy studying, had to curtail my ECs and no research, which did not prevent me from being selected for competitive specialty. I knew the field I wanted since childhood, ended up loving an entirely different one.

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Just now, Bambi said:

You have already received excellent advice. When I was in 1st & 2nd years, I was too busy studying, had to curtail my ECs and no research, which did not prevent me from being selected for competitive specialty. I knew the field I wanted since childhood, ended up loving an entirely different one.

I think the difference now tho is that because medical schools are P/F now most students have a lot more free time to do research and ECs, making the entire applicant pool more non-academically competitive. I know in my class at least, most of us have a lot of free time b/c of the P/F system.

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Part pf my problem was attending a French speaking school with terrible French and after 2 days of attending lectures being unable to understand b/c either the prof was speaking too fast or was mumbling, aside from PBL, I became self-taught for the first 2 years. 

Notwithstanding having much free time, I would not be concerned with doing research or ECs. Just follow your interests and enjoy.

Last point. Summers are for you to enjoy family and friends, not to work. This time is precious and should not be squandered. On Quebec, working would have been a zero sum gain b/c my bursary would have been reduced by any earnings I xould have made.

And my specialty all came down to pure luck! Luck, for better or worse, does play a critical role in this process.  

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Agree with other posters above regarding prioritization.  If ENT or other highly competitive specialties are an interest, then it's worth getting as much exposure as possible to see if it's something that you really want to do.  If it does seem something is serious interest, then building up CV may help for CaRMS as most applicants will be somewhat indistinguishable.  Of course doing well on electives in crucial and necessary, but part of that is sometimes doing shadowing, etc..   

3 hours ago, Bambi said:

Part pf my problem was attending a French speaking school with terrible French and after 2 days of attending lectures being unable to understand b/c either the prof was speaking too fast or was mumbling, aside from PBL, I became self-taught for the first 2 years. 

It's interesting we had a common problem but somewhat different experiences.

 I found self-studying very frustrating since although I could learn effectively in English I wasn't able to translate that to French which was necessary for exams, and PBL sessions.  And I couldn't learn from French written material efficiently at all.

PBLs, even at the end, I found quick and hard to follow - at the beginning it was even worse.  However, by the end, I eventually was able to get much more comfortable with the very infrequent lectures in our curriculum.  I was ultimately quite proficient at translating from French to English, like during a lecture, but not the other way which only slightly improved during immersion in French during clerkship.  

At the beginning though, lectures were brutal - I remember spending at least 2+ times on an allotted lecture pausing and rewinding a single lecture to try to understand.    

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People connections

There's almost nothing more important than that for CaRMS. You might have a weaker application than the next person but if the selection committee knows you well and have a good vibe about you, they are more likely to pick you.

A small field like gastro and ENT that takes in 2-3 fellow/residents per year, you gotta get to know the staff there.  Do observerships, do research, do shadowing. 

 

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