WashU vs Vanderbilt

6 years 1 month ago - 6 years 1 month ago #35317 by DrBones
WashU vs Vanderbilt was created by DrBones
Really need help deciding between WashU and Vandy for my #1 spot. I felt like the programs had a lot of similarities based on the info I got at the interview days. Could anyone who rotated/have more info on these programs than I do comment on what they thought? Would really appreciate any insight. Thanks!
Last edit: 6 years 1 month ago by DrBones.

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6 years 1 month ago #35318 by nr23
Replied by nr23 on topic WashU vs Vanderbilt
I rotated at Vandy and interviewed at Wash U and loved both. Both will be in my Top 4, so I can try to help you out. Here is what I wrote for a couple of guys/girls applying from my school next year, and idk if it'll help you, but it's my 2 cents about each:

Vanderbilt (5 residents per year): take approximately 10-12 rotators per month during high season. Hard working rotation, be prepared to come early and stay late, especially if you rotate on trauma (the most hands-on for a med student rotator). Changed their away interviewing this past year, now interview all rotators at the end of their away rotation. Pros to this: don’t need to pay to fly back for an interview, program also won’t learn much about you in one day that they couldn’t over the course of a month, and vice versa. Cons: won’t have full CV or Letters of Rec when they interview you, and they also mention that they will not have any contact with you after the away, prior to rank list being finalized, so you will never know exactly where you stand with them. As for the program, very hard-working with a definite academic flair. Didactics for 1 hour every morning, always attending-led, definitely very strong. They pride themselves on their ability to think through complex problems and list of the classifications of everything, as well as their strong basis in basic science. Another benefit of these didactics is the camaraderie built by having the entire residency together 5x/week for an hour. Call is pretty brutal here. One 2nd or 3rd year is in-house with a senior back-up at home, and the resident on call covers the main hospital, Children’s Hospital and VA every night. Even though all three are on the same “campus,” it’s a solid 10 minute jog from one to the next, and often times consults are building up in one while you take care of the other. As a resident, you won’t sleep at all, but will get a post call day. As a rotator, you won’t sleep at all, and you will also be expected to work the whole next day, which can be exhausting, but make sure not to complain or show that you are tired (if possible). Every resident seemed truly excellent, both operatively and academically, and the residents come from all over the country and are not just from Ivy League-type schools. Fellowships of choice seem fairly easy to obtain here because the Vanderbilt name has been well developed, and their graduates perform elsewhere. 2 Fellows on trauma, 1 on hand, one on oncology, not completely sure about other subspecialties, though interference is minimal and many fellows were very helpful to both residents and students with their teaching. Limitations: very few, however work/life balance definitely suffers here secondary to the pride they take in working hard and killing themselves, and the schedule doesn’t get much easier as a senior resident. BOTTOM LINE: excellent program in a hard-working environment with the resources to allow you to obtain whatever you want in the future. Definitely must be willing to work extremely hard to fit in here.

Wash U (8 residents per year): Kind of an irregular rotator experience with rotators being able to come and go as they please, with rotations anywhere from 1-4 weeks long, and no official curriculum. Because of this, they usually get approximately 45 rotators, who they interview at the end of their rotation, and then another 90 or so on 3 interview dates for their 8 spots. This program is another prestigious one with limitless opportunities and a good combination of operative experience alongside academics and research. I got the feeling that research was a little bit more “encouraged” than other places, and it seemed like everyone here was churning out papers throughout their time. The operative experience is a mix between a mentorship model and a team based environment on some services like trauma, but from what I have seen from graduates of the program, they leave the program with excellent operative skills. You rotate through each service as both a junior resident and a senior, in an effort to perfect your skills in each subspecialty. One draw to the academic side of the program is the “Essential Readings” chosen by Dr. Wright (former PD) and continued by current PD (Dr Klein) which choose a set of important chapters and articles for each level while on their service. This tailors the education portion of the program, allowing for guidance while ensuring academic excellence. The residents seemed close, but not as close as I have seen at other programs, but all seemed happy. There are fellows in most subspecialties, though there isn’t much interaction between residents and fellows. Because of the prestige of the program, the graduates are able to obtain just about any fellowship that they want. There aren’t many weaknesses of the program itself, though some people aren’t thrilled with the prospect of living in St. Louis. The city offers many big city amenities without being too big or spread out, with most places easily reachable within 15 minutes driving. BOTTOM LINE: extremely well regarded program offering a complete academic, operative and research experience with an emphasis on the research side and the opportunity to catapult your career in whatever direction you would like.

I hope that helps. I think both are 2 of the best programs in the country from the interviews that I got and from my aways, and you definitely can't go wrong with either. I think Wash U may provide a bit more if your goal is to go into academics, whereas Vandy is a little more operative-heavy. Though I think you'd end up as strong as anyone no matter which you ended up at if you match at either.
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