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eric: About Radiology Application
作者:USMedEdu
发表时间:2010-08-31
更新时间:2010-08-31
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发信人: ericusa (eric), 信区: MedicalCareer
标 题: About Radiology Application
发信站: BBS 未名空间站 (Fri Mar 19 13:53:06 2010, 美东)

Several friends asked me about my credentials and in medical school how to prepare for competitive specialties like radiology. I thought this information may be helpful for other premeds and medical students.

I'd like to thank many friends here, but I won't list the IDs because I don't want to miss anyone. Just give an example. My initial target for Step 1 was 95, but Acne told me that “you can do better”. She also suggested me to consider interventional radiology. Teabao on the other hand, likes surgery most. After some of my clinical rotations I actually like both interventional and surgical procedures. Interventional radiologists and some fellowship-trained surgeons can perform interventional procedures. That means both radiology and surgery training can lead to what I want. Radiology is very competitive so I also need a backup plan (it's certainly tougher than 5 years ago). Although residency in surgery will be much more demanding, I received a large number of interview invites from some very attractive surgery programs. Sounds like a tough decision for me and my rank order list was actually mixed with surgery and radiology positions. In the end, I didn't get my number one choice, which is a very competitive surgery program, but I'm very satisfied with my match in radiology.

I'm not a “top dog” in school. I'd say that my credentials are certainly not too crazy, but can be characterized as “well-rounded”. For AMGs usually they don't need to worry about visa and graduation year. The followings are some of the important factors for residency applications.

1. Clinical Grades
Third year clinical grades are very important for AMGs, which are based on clinical evaluations and shelf exam results for each clinical rotation. Dean's GPA is used to rank the students and it's calculated by
Dean's GPA = (Year 1 GPA + Year 2 GPA + 2(Year 3 GPA))/4
So the Year 3 GPA carries more weight.

My school sends students all over the state on the third and forth year. I have done clinical rotations at 9 hospitals (located at 5 cities/towns), ranging from university medical center, VA hospital, inner-city hospitals, to rural area community hospitals. My school uses a grading system of A, AB, B, BC, C and F. Only about 10% of our students can receive an A (honor) grade, unlike in some other schools they give out A's to 50% of their class. This makes applying for competitive specialties a very challenge job for us. My school has encouraged students for primary care careers in recent years and they are very proud about the achievement (36% of our graduates matched to primary care specialties this year). A conspiracy theory here, haha.

Personally I have had the best experience at community hospitals, because I can have more hands-on clinical experience and can work with the physicians on a 1-to-1 basis. At the university medical center on the other hand, not only fellows and residents fight for good cases, but also hard to shine when working with a group of aggressive classmates, if you are not an aggressive person. My third year grades are mixed with A's and AB's.

2. USMLE Step 1 Score
My school gives students 6 weeks for Step 1 preparation. Some students may start earlier, but it's not easy due to the heavy work load for the first two year preclinical courses. One strategy is to read a review book after each class. AMGs only need a Step 1 score for the residency application. For a low Step 1 score, take Step 2 CK early if you think you can get a better score. The median Step 1 score at my school has been in the range of 218-225 in the past several years, which is good for many specialties but not the competitive ones. I got a 99 but many Rads applicants are 99rs. Most radiology programs have a Step 1 cut-off score of 230 or higher. Try to get 240+ or even 250+. Students with a lower Step 1 score but an overall strong application package may aim for some community programs. I know some students matched to radiology with a score of 220+ (doable however the chance is significantly lower).

3. Recommendation Letters
This is very important and the interviewers mentioned my LORs at every interview. AMGs work with a large number of faculties/physicians so collecting LORs shouldn't be a problem. Pick the one you think he or she can write you a very strong and personal letter. Hard-working, honesty, good attitude are your good friends. I got 8 very strong recommendation letters:
For surgery: 3 surgeon letters and 1 research advisor letter.
For radiology, preliminary medicine and transitional year: 1 radiologist letter, 2 clinical physician letters, and 1 research advisor letter.

Many Rads programs require one radiologist letter (but no more than one), and 2 clinical physician letters (IM, surgery, FM, Peds, EM or OB/GYN).

4. Research Experience
The vast majority of Rads applicants have some research experiences. Any fields are good but Rads research is even better. This is a good topic for interview. Plan early. The summer after the first year in medical school is the best time for starting a research project, and you may also choose research electives during the third and forth year. My school sends out information about student research opportunities every year. You may also talk to some faculties.

During undergraduate study and medical school, I participated in research projects for genetic engineering, neurology, surgery, and radiology; wrote a research proposal and received 3 small research grants. My involvement in research is about 4 years on a part-time basis.

5. Well-Rounded
The involvement in other activities is also important. For example, I listed 5 volunteer experiences in my application (weekend free clinic for more than a year, etc.). My hobbies include school tennis championships, piano, school clubs, etc. Again, those are good topics for interview.

6. Commitment
You may show your commitment to the specialty in several ways:
Rads interest group;
Rads research project;
Recommendation letter from a radiologist;
Well-thought personal statement;
Rads clinical rotations and electives;
Rads away rotations.

My clinical rotations/electives for surgery-related fields:
General surgery, trauma, plastic, transplant, orthopedics, urology, gynecologic oncology

My clinical rotations/electives for radiology:
General diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, radiology research, 1 advanced radiology away rotation

7. Interview Performance
Many people already presented some pretty good interview experiences here. During interview, the program tries to find out if you are a “good fit” to the program. This may include
Visual inspection: image, elegancy;
Personal characteristics: what kind of person you are and will you be pleasant to work with in the next several years?
People skill: how do you handle the relationships and can you effectively communicate with others?
Clinical skill and knowledge: are you competent for the residency?


My Application and Interviews
Applied for 20 preliminary medicine positions, received 14 invites;
Applied for 10 transitional year positions, received 7 invites;
Applied for 30 general surgery positions, received 26 invites;
Applied for 30 radiology positions, received 14 invites;
Total: applied 90 programs, received 61 invites.

Went on 26 interviews (24 trips, at 2 places the PGY-1 and advanced program
interviews were arranged on the same day):
10 general surgery
9 radiology
5 transitional year
2 preliminary medicine


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※ 修改:·ericusa 於 Jun 8 13:28:44 2010 修改本文·[FROM: 72.37.]
※ 来源:·WWW 未名空间站 海外: mitbbs.com 中国: mitbbs.cn·[FROM: 72.37.]

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