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How do you distinguish yourself in med school (with pass/fail)


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Hello everyone,

I'll be starting med school in the Fall. It seems like for the more competitive specialties (urology, dermatology, Ophthalmology...), there are significantly more applicants than positions. How do you really stand out when applying for residency, especially since you cannot really distinguish yourself academically with a pass/fail system? Should I approach this like applying to med school again and focus on EC's/volunteering, research pubs, awards/scholarships and maybe even get a graduate degree...

Thanks

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Pass/fail still has narrative comments for rotations. Letters/experience is much more important. Don't focus too much on generic ECs (specialty club pres isn't worth much outside of networking), for compeditive specialties you want to find a mentor, do research/advocacy/etc. relevant to that specialty, get good LORs, hopefully from visiting electives when they're allowed again, pass your blocks well that your report says exceeded expectations, etc.

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Personally connections. Basically you have to try to get face time with as many staff as possible at your home program and at other programs. In the past, you can do electives,  observerships, research, attend conferences, but not sure if that's still possible with COVID. With small programs, familiarity of a candidate's personality and skill can outweigh paper based things like awards and publications. To put it in simplistic terms, for the next 3 years you're auditioning for a job that many others want.

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It comes down to connections, so I would recommend you get as much face time as possible, while studying enough to appear competent. Also maximize your looks if you can. Due to the subjective nature of the match, having the USMLEs in your back pocket is a must.

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On 6/2/2022 at 9:22 AM, adk said:

Hello everyone,

I'll be starting med school in the Fall. It seems like for the more competitive specialties (urology, dermatology, Ophthalmology...), there are significantly more applicants than positions. How do you really stand out when applying for residency, especially since you cannot really distinguish yourself academically with a pass/fail system? Should I approach this like applying to med school again and focus on EC's/volunteering, research pubs, awards/scholarships and maybe even get a graduate degree...

Thanks

Many schools have internal rankings and scholarships for outstanding academics or clinical performance.

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12 hours ago, jb24 said:

Many schools have internal rankings and scholarships for outstanding academics or clinical performance.

I can fairly confidently say that majority of residency programs couldn't care less about these scholarships or internal rankings.

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