Do I have a chance?

5 years 6 months ago #34194 by orthogirl1289
MS3 here (female), hoping to match ortho but seriously concerned about my competitiveness.

Med school: New York, non impressive school
Step 1: 238
Step 2: hoping to take in October
AOA: unknown
Clinical grades: Honors in neuro, surgery, family medicine (peds, OB, psych pending), HP in medicine
Research: Pretty minimal, everything I attempted ended up falling through (paper didn't get published, research fell through, etc)
I've already been notified that Rush accepted me for an away rotation.

I know I get along well with residents and will do well in person, however on paper I'm not as impressive as most of the other applicants. Should I take a year off for research? (My parents think that is a terrible idea) How do I apply for a prelim year just in case I don't match?

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5 years 6 months ago #34196 by WestCoastFrenchToast
Your Step 1 is below avg for ortho (245 was avg acc to 2014 charting outcomes and is likely higher in 2016). You will probably be screened out for many top programs but a 238 is definitely not a bad score by any means and this should not keep you from getting interviews at other programs-- if everything else in your app look good (lots of people between 230-240 matched acc to that same charting the outcomes).

The fact that your are a female is a big advantage as many programs are looking for more females these days.
Your grades look good.
Research is not a must but can definitely help, esp at the top programs. You still have several months until ERAS opens maybe you can try to get involved with a study, even if it is not published in time just to say you are involved with ortho research.

The fact that you are good at getting along with people is a good thing, and if you can impress on your aways then you could theoretically match anywhere. That being said, for someone like you I would really recommend planning your aways very wisely. With a below avg step 1, not much research, and being from a "nonimpressive school," your aways are where you would probably stand the best chance of matching. So choose these wisely. Just be mindful that top programs can choose from the cream of the crop, and you might be able to stand out more at a lower tier program.

In terms of research year vs prelim year, this questions has been asked over and over. You can search on this site for many before you who have had this question. Looks like mixed opinions on this. For someone like you a research year could pay huge dividends (don't let you parents discourage this if ortho is definitely what you want to do), but if you don't enjoy research or think you would stand a better chance of impressing people acting as an intern for a year then maybe a prelim would be way to go. People have matched both ways.

Good luck.
The following user(s) said Thank You: orthogirl1289

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5 years 5 months ago #34209 by bonetrauma2
Replied by bonetrauma2 on topic Do I have a chance?
Couple things, all opinions of course:

1. You should take step 2 ASAP. I think you are taking yourself out of the game if you don't take step 2 and have a score before interviews go out. You need to do well on step 2 to show that you can make a huge improvement and will be more heavily considered in my opinion with your average to low-average step 1 score. If you look at some of the old match excel sheet data on this site, people that matched with your step 1 score generally had 250+ on step 2 to make up for it.

2. I would hesitate to use one of you away rotations/months at Rush. I say that because it is one of the higher end/top programs in the country that puts a big focus on research. They may not screen or have criteria for who they let rotate. Even with a great rotation I would think you would struggle to end up very high on their list considering you would be competing against some of the top step 1 scores and accomplished researchers come interview time. I think you would be better off rotating at some mid-tier programs where you will be more competitive and where they will be more likely to overlook stats if you have a good rotation and are well liked.

3. This game (yes game) is all about how you play it. Applicants generally fall into two categories in my opinion: the first are the group that have great board scores, perfect grades and good research. These applicants can afford to apply to all the top places, go to competitive programs for aways and won't struggle to match unless they have zero social skills or are egotistical maniacs and rub people the wrong way. They generally don't have to rely on away rotations to feel comfortable matching. You fall into the second category. This group of applicants have average scores, average extracurriculars, average research. I don't use average in an insulting way (this was the group I was in if you look at my posts) but that it makes it harder to stand out in a large crowd. This group has the best change at matching at their home program or an away rotation (provided the away rotation is reasonable given the complete application). The aways give you a change to make a personal impression, show you can work hard and that you pick things up quickly and that you are easy to get along with and will be a team player. You can make an impression and get a good personal letter that can help come interview time. You need to be realistic in picking an away. Some will say to pick a safe away and a reach away. For you, especially if you don't have a step 2 score by interview time, I don't think a reach program like Rush is a wise decision.

You can take or leave this advice as you'd like or feel free to PM me. You in particular have to be smart with where you apply, where you do aways and when you take Step 2.

As for being female there may be a slight advantage, particularly at places that haven't had a female in the program in awhile and are specifically looking for that but also works against you at programs who have had a history of being burned by taking females or that continue to be boys clubs. Just don't delude yourself into thinking that because you are female that you will have an easier time matching, it just isn't the case. You may get an extra interview or two compared to a male with the same exact stats but that doesn't not mean you are a lock to match. So keep that in mind.

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