I am a 3rd year going into ortho, but I have a step 1 score that basically equates my chances of matching with those of a snowball's in hell (my refusal to roll over and quit is another story I'll save for later). So I have decided it will be best for me to take a research year (or even two) and I have a few questions regarding that.
First, how do I find the right place to do a research fellowship without taking the shotgun approach and just emailing every institution in the country?
Second, is it strictly the publishing of papers that is the goal or should I be really trying to use the time to get to know the faculty and residents of the program with the intention of matching there? Keep in mind my step 1 score is ridiculously low (over 200 but not by very much), so I am fully aware that I will simply not be matching at a powerhouse program no matter what. But I am also aware that doing research at a powerhouse program would present a lot of opportunities to publish papers and present at conferences. Which one is better, publishing papers at a big name program that I would likely not be able to match into, or doing research at a lesser known program where I may have a shot at working my foot in the door?
Third...and this one is the dilemma...before my decision to take a year for research I was going to couples match with my fiance. Needless to say, she is now going to be matching a year ahead of me and I will be going with her to do my research fellowship at an institution in the same geographical location. I am confident she will match in her top 3 in family medicine. Because of the fact that match is yet a year away I can't exactly start setting up the fellowships...and I am worried that March will be too late to contact institutions for fellowships starting in July. I really want to get the ball rolling, but am not sure how.
Oh, and one last thing, where should I do my aways if I am not going to be interviewing till the subsequent year?
Thank you in advance for any guidance or input you may have.
Also, if anyone here has had success matching with laughably low step 1 scores I would love to hear how you were able to make that happen.