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Matching into rads?

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Hey everyone,


I've heard that matching into rads or rads onc is a difficult and competitive process. I was wondering how they assess you for the match? Would previous research background in a masters degree in medical biophysics or medical physics help - or is it solely on what you have done during medical school?


Many thanks!

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As with applying to medical school or any other residency, the end goal is to find someone who will thrive in the residency - i.e. the type of person who in the future you would want to be involved in your family member's care, or who you would like to have as a partner or associate. Smart, hardworking, easy to get along with are all good qualities to have.


All the different components of your application (CV, medical school performance record, electives, personal statement, references, interview) are surrogate indicators from which inferences about your suitability will be made. The degree of emphasis placed on each component, and the perception of your qualities in each area, will depend on the individual assessor.


People do tend to rely on the opinions of others who they know and trust, especially if they have greater familiarity with a candidate - hence the connections factor. It's like asking your friends and family if they know a good <insert blank here>. Even if the referee is not personally known, a strong reference letter or evaluation still carries some weight - kind of like reading product and service reviews online.


To address your questions, it's the whole package that's being looked at, and that certainly includes what you did before medical school. If you think about it, people's medical school experiences vary in only a few predictable areas - electives selection, strength of clerkship comments and reference letters, +/- some research / ECs / awards, but otherwise everyone covers similar material and ends up with a MD. I find people with unique premedical studies or previous careers receive a bit more attention and interest in conversation.. not to imply that people with traditional biosci premed degrees are at any disadvantage.


A master's degree, especially in a related field, will not hurt you and may serve to enhance perceptions of your maturity/persistence/academic ability/interest in research. However, it is certainly not required, and I would pursue the degree only if it was something you were going to do anyway.. it cannot compensate for say, weak letters or a weak interview. I will note that radiation oncology seems more research-oriented than the majority of radiology departments and I speculate that a research background may be more helpful in applying to rad onc.

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