Thursday, May 25, 2017

How many residency programs to apply to?!?!

Number of programs to apply for and resources on how to research
This is the 100 million dollar question when applying for residency. How many programs do I apply to? It's hard to say...after talking with a lot of my friends most of us applied to around 120-140 programs. While this is a lot of money to invest, this is a process you only want to go through once so casting the net wide is very important! It's also dependent on what speciality you are hoping to match in and what your USMLE scores are. If your scores are below the average for that speciality then I would apply to every single one you qualify for. (Some require you to have ECFMG certificate before interview some don't, look at their website). If you have competitive scores then you may have the luxury of picking and choosing. For OBGYN the apgo residency directory was my greatest resource, you can click on filters by USMLE scores and then click on each program individually to see M/F ratios, IMG #s etc. I also used FREIDA for all residencies it has a lot of good information as well. You have to log on with your AMA login.

Number of Specialities to apply for
Many of my friends applied to at least two specialities. One that they really wanted and another as a back-up. Think long and hard about how competitive you are for your desired specialty . What was frustrating the most to me during this process was the lack of guidance I had. I didn't have someone to sit down and tell me where they think I should apply based on scores etc. I was talking to one of my friends from a US med school and they said something about a "Match Advisor" I just laughed because I wish our school had something like that! It's ultimately a personal decision on how many specialities to apply for. If you apply for multiple specialties and rank them you have to be 100% ok with matching into that specialty.

My Story
Going into the application, I wanted to match into OBGYN but was really struggling with the lifestyle and the future of the career. I have a good family friend who has been in the field for 30+ years and he was also hesitant that this was the right choice for me given my dreams and aspirations. Before applying, I prayed and asked God to make it clear what we wanted me to go into. I didn't receive an answer, but in my heart, I still felt strongly towards OBGYN. I did a ton of research into every single OBGYN program in the country. I was competitive! I applied to 120 programs total, 90 OBGYN and just kinda threw in 30 family programs last minute as a "back-up." I didn't research the family programs much, mainly applying only around the midwest and programs I knew had a heavy OB component to their curriculum. I received 7 family interviews and 0, yes ZERO OBGYN interviews. If that isn't a plain as day sign from God, I don't know what is! :) There was no other reason for me not to get interviews! I aced all my rotations, almost all of my classes and had decent board scores.  I'm telling you this to be transparent, I want you to succeed but also be open to other possibilities!

Now moving forward, I truly believe Family Medicine is where I am supposed to be, it fits my personality perfectly. It just took me a little longer to figure that out. God has me right where he wants me and I am trusting in him. I still plan to pursue obstetrics heavily in residency and receive training in C-sections. Family Medicine gives me the opportunity to tailor my practice however I want and I could not be more excited to begin! If you look at my numbers 7/120 doesn't seem like good odds but 90 were OBGYN and God was probably laughing at me when I was applying. 7/30 is much better odds and had I applied to more Family programs, I would have received more.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me about any questions!

Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Elective

Sorry I've been so behind on posting about my remaining electives! After taking a short break from electives, and taking Step 2 CK, I ventured back down to Augusta, Georgia to complete an elective in REI. I LOVED it. I was wanting exposure to various procedures in this area. While I didn't get a ton of hands on experience, I did get to witness IUI and IVF procedures. We also managed the diagnosis . and treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome and amenorrhea. My knowledge of ovulation induction agents increase immensely and lastly we performed lots of surgeries from hysteroscopy, myomectomies, hysterectomies and tubal reconstruction microsurgeries.

If you have any interest in OBGYN this will give you lots of exposure various procedures. The Physician and Staff are great and always ready to answer you questions! A paper is required for the rotation on a topic of your choosing within the field.

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!