Saturday, November 19, 2016

Residency Info Book

A few people have asked me if I have been using books for information regarding ERAS application, interviewing, etc and I am! I bought "The Successful Match." It's a great book. It has information about writing your personal statement, asking for letters of recommendation, sample interview questions and hundreds of other very useful facts. I highly recommend buying it. I have read it multiple times and it's so much easier than trying to find everything online.

*I receive no compensation for suggesting this book.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

AAFP National Conference

I have been meaning to post about this conference since I attended in July but I was studying for Step 2 then applying for residencies and then interviewing so it's been busy.

The AAFP National Conference for Residents and Medical Students! 

This was by far the best conference I have been to and I highly encourage everyone to attend. It is held in July each year in Kansas City. The 2017 dates are July 27-29th. 

They have so many great sessions to attend that it was hard to plan my schedule. From pain management to wilderness medicine to residency. I attended Applying to Residency: From Before Application to After the interview. This offered all the basics to the ERAS system, as well as and Q&A time with a panel filled with program directors and residents. I also attended Do's and Don'ts of Residency Interviewing: Advanced Skills for Residency Applicants. This was also very helpful to discuss what questions are normally asked during interviews as well how to present yourself etc. 

Two non-residency associated sessions I attended was Global Health Interest and Networking Meeting and Maternal Childcare and childbirth in Family Medicine. Global health and obstetrics in Family medicine are two large interests of mine. The Global health meeting was great as it allowed me to listen to others' experiences, how they got involved and the struggles that goes along with it. It also allowed me to network and participate in a mentor/mentee program where there is a group of current family practitioners and residents who have experience in global health. The maternal childbirth session was what I was most excited about. I learned how to successfully incorporate obstetrics within family practice and the challenges that come along with it. 

Fun events:
They had a lot of fun events to attend during the weekend as well. Friday night they had a live band at the beautiful Midland Theatre in downtown KC and also a breakfast in the morning.
The Midland Theatre

Residency Expo:
The best part of the whole weekend is the Expo. There was over 400 exhibitors with a majority of them being residency programs. I will say it is a little overwhelming riding up the escalator and seeings a mass of booths. Each booth is numbered and there is a directory in the program they give you and it is mostly organized by state but I highly recommend researching which places you want to stop by ahead of time so you can use your time wisely. Prepare questions you would like to ask programs too! I was able to connect with a program I am doing rotations at currently! It's a great opportunity! 

 Everyone waiting to go up to the residency expo

Kansas City is an awesome city so while you're there, get out and enjoy it. A good friend from high school lives there, so I stayed with her and we got to hang out whenever I wasn't at the conference. Most importantly we ate BBQ! It was sooooooo good. Oh my gosh. Delicious. We also checked out The Roasterie coffee shop, the World War I memorial with great views of the city, the plaza shopping center and the Doughnut Lounge! 

View from the World War I Memorial at night

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Resumé

While I hope many of you already have a resumé that you've slowly been adding to over the years, if not, you should start now. ERAS doesn't just have you upload a copy of your resumé. You actually have to manually enter it in and the system creates the format. It is still very important to have a well-formatted resumé to take to interviews with you and for the future in general.

Parts of the Resumé

1. Education:
  • Medical
  • Graduate 
  • Undergraduate
2. Medical School Honors and Awards: Did you receive any honors while in school? Dean's List? Honor Roll?

3. Membership of Professional Societies: This is the place for AMA, ACOG, AFP, etc

4. Activities: This is the longest part of the application because it is all about what you have done! You can classify activities as Work, Volunteer or Research. It also allows you to write a short paragraph about each event. It is recommended to include only experiences from college and beyond. I chose to only list significant activities, those that I invested a lot of time in. Did I volunteer at blood drives or health clinics for 1 day? Sure! Did I include these in the application? No. If you helped plan said blood drive or health clinic then I would definitely include it! This is personal preference of what you choose to include or not.
  • Since we are from an international school, it is important to put all of your clinical rotations as Work Experience in this section. You want residency programs to know that you completed all of your rotations in the United States.
  • How to format the descriptions: The application just gives you a large blank. You can write it in paragraph form or in bullet form. I chose more of the bullet form with each line as a different description of the activity and how I participated and then started each sentence with a verb. "Organized..." "Developed..." "Integrated..." etc. You are going to have pages of activities and program directors don't have time to read though paragraphs, the bullet form makes it much easier to read. 
  • Tip: If an activity was something you participated in for 1 week in the year but for the last 5 years. Put the start date and end date to include the 5 years but in the description, say that it was for a week. 
5. Publications: Include articles that you have published if you have done research. This is also where you would include poster presentations at formal meetings. This is not the place to put down a small presentation you gave about Ulcerative Colitis to other students but if was done at Grand Rounds and in front of a lot of faculty etc then include it!

6. Hobbies and Interests: You can include anything you want. This is the one portion of the application (besides your personal statement) that you truly get to discuss what you like to do besides medicine! 

7. Languages: It allows you to choose a language and then click on the appropriate fluency. 

Start working on your activity descriptions now! If you have any questions regarding this part of the application, let me know!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Photo for ERAS

Should I upload a photo for my residency application?


What are the requirements?

  • Front view of head and shoulders only
  • Professionally dressed
  • JPEG format
  • < 100 KB file size
  • < 2.5" x 3.5" in size 
Where do I get it done?
Any photographer can do a head shot. Ask around. I had a friend that was a photographer and was willing to do it for me. 

How do I upload it?
It's actually found in the 'supporting documents" section of the application but you have to upload it on ECFMG's OASIS site. After logging in, on the left side it says "ERAS Support Services" click on that. Then click "Upload" then "Upload Photograph". 

It will let you know if your sizing is over the maximum and won't let you upload it. You can change the sizing of the picture on a Mac by opening it in Preview, Go to "Tools" then "Adjust size" As you decrease the size make sure to increase the resolution as much as you can without going over the 100KB so it doesn't look pixelated. 

Here's mine:

Have any more questions? Let me know!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Studying for Step 2 CK

I just finished Step 2 CK on Wednesday! It's so nice to have that completed which means now only 4 elective rotations stand between me and graduation.

There has recently been changes made to Step 2 CK. There are a total of 8 blocks, 1 hour each and having a maximum of 40 questions in each block, possibly less. Just like Step 1, you have an hour to split up throughout the day for breaks.

Unlike Step 1, there is not a all encompassing book for Step 2 CK. I started with DIT and didn't enjoy it (I've never been one to like videos much), I then mainly focused on Step Up to Medicine for the Medicine topics and supplemented the other non medicine topics with Kaplan. UWorld is a must for a qbank and the more times you are able to get through the questions, the better you will be. I didn't believe UWorld was similar to my Step 1 questions but I felt they were very similar to Step 2. Some people really like Masters the Boards Step 2 CK, I think it's a great book too! Just find a source you like the best and stick with it.

One thing I learned while I was studying is don't get bogged down in reading. If it's taking way too long to read sections in a book and you feel like you aren't accomplishing as much, then switch to questions. If you really read all the explanations in UWorld, you will learn a lot!

*Another little note about UWorld, I never knew there was a notes section in UWorld! Up at the top right, it says "notes" in each question, you can then type whatever part you are having difficulty with and then UWorld combines them all and you can organize your notes by Peds, Medicine, Psych etc or even by subspecialty: GI, Endo, Repro etc. You then can save it as a pdf and print off. I found this much more convenient than hand writing notes on UWorld. Can't believe I didn't know this was a feature for Step 1!

Lastly, I did take a couple of NBMEs. I didn't think they were accurate at all. For Step 1, the NBMEs were right on target, for Step 2, my NBME score was not even close to my day of score (in a good way!) I also took the UWorld Self-Assessment but it was early in my studying so can't really say if it was super accurate or not.

Biggest recommendation for those still in your 3rd year, study hard during each core rotation and make great notes so you can revisit those when it comes time to start studying for Step 2 CK!

You will do great! Stay calm! Be confident in your knowledge and answer each question with certainty!

If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to contact me via the "Contact Me" tab! Happy studying!

Letters of Recommendation

This is the beginning of posts related to applying to residency! First up: Letters of Recommendation

When should I ask for letters?
Ask for letters right after you complete your rotation because your experience will be fresh in the preceptors mind then! Don't wait until a year later to ask them to write one. Be sure to recommend that they write the letter and hold onto it until you are able log into ERAS which is the July before your match year! Tell them you will contact them with the required instructions at that time to upload them.

Who should I ask to write the letters?
Anyone that you believe got to know you as an individual. Make an effort in the specialties you are interested in to really make yourself known to the program director! A program director's letter goes a long way but sometimes you mostly interact with the residents. Contact the program director early stating that you are interested in this specialty and would love to work with them (even if you're not scheduled to work with them). This initiative will be looked upon highly. Also don't underestimate the power the residents have. They are the ones working with you day in and day out so if an attending has any questions about you while writing the letter, he/she will most likely ask the residents what they thought of you!

You should ask a letter from the clerkship in the speciality you are applying. If it's Family then obtain a letter from your Clerkship in Family Medicine!

How many letters can I have?
You can upload an unlimited amount to ERAS! Each program has specific requirements on the amount of letters they require (usually 3) but then you can pick and choose which letters go where. If you happen to be apply to two different specialities such as Surgery and IM. You can have your surgical LoRs and IM LoRs and assign them accordingly.

What should I give to a potential letter writer?
If you already have access to ERAS, give them a copy of how to upload the letter. Give them your CV and a copy of your personal statement if available. I found it helpful to give them a list of key memories or specific patient interactions throughout the rotation. This will jog their memory of that specific encounter and how you addressed an issue, spoke to the patient etc. Some letter writers may request other information too.

When should I have my letters submitted?
Ideally, all letters should be uploaded by the time you submit your application by September 15th. Letters even once submitted to ERAS may take a few weeks to be uploaded so I would say beginning of September.

Can I submit letters after I have already submitted my application?
Yes! Your application will be automatically updated and the programs can view the letters as soon as they are available. However, programs can not see that you're waiting on a letter when they initially look at your application. They see you only have 2 letters instead of 3 which may or may not be viewed poorly.

Moral of the story, don't wait until last minute to ask your letter writers for letters because then you will be scrambling. If you have any other questions regarding letters of recommendation, let me know!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Getting your ERAS token!

Hello there! This is my first of many posts about The Match!

Today is the first day you can register for your ERAS token via ECFMG (for IMGs) for the 2017 match! This token basically allows you to use the ERAS system for applying to residency. You cannot apply to residencies without it. It is not necessary to get the token the first day it opens, but it just finally allows you to log into the application service and start uploading or getting familiar with it.

To get the token follow these steps:
1. Login to ECFMG's Oasis
2. Click on "ERAS Support Services" on the left hand side
3. Register for the token!  ** There is a $105 fee associated, once paid you'll get the token

Once you have the token #, you can log in to myERAS (you'll have to create an AAMC if you haven't already)

Important to note for 2017 matchees:

Submitting applications:
You can begin submitting your application on September 6th! Programs are not able to look at applications until September 15th. All applicants that submit between the 6th and 15th will be dated the 15th (so don't think that programs will see if you submitted the 7th rather than the 6th etc).

I highly highly HIGHLY recommend submitting your application before September 15th. This cannot be stressed enough! As you are researching programs, you will notice many have application deadlines well into December. Even if they accept applications later, you don't want to be placed in the 3rd or 4th group because they may have filled all their interview spots before you've even submitted. Point blank: Submit by September 15th (earlier too just in case there is a glitch on the ERAS system or something)

The Match:
The NRMP is separate from the ERAS system. The NRMP is "The Match" and you can register for that beginning September 15, 2016.

Cant wait to share this journey with my fellow matchees! (don't even know if that's a word) :)