“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.” ~Carlos Castaneda

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Another post on how hard it is to match into orthopaedics ...

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One of the most common questions from medical students is "what do I need to do to get into orthopaedics?" I listed several things I feel are important at the infancy of this blog in a post called "Do I have a chance getting into an orthopaedic residency?" I don't think that there was anything earth shattering in this post. It basically said you need to get good grade, score well on your USMLE exams, do some research (if you can), and get good recommendations. Like I said, nothing earth shattering. I think what people want is the secret formula. Folks, there is no magic formula, no special sauce, no secret hand shake. There is nothing that guarantees you will match. There are things that will increase your odds, but no guarantees. So, why am I posting? Today on SDN someone asked people to ranking of all medical specialties. A response referred to data sheet that I thought would be helpful. The first was from WUSTL. I thought this had a lot of good information and it may be helpful. The second was the match outcomes from the NRMP 2005. I have been looking for the 2006-2007 data, but this will do for now. So for those who are interested in numbers and odds, here they are.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have was once among
the things you only hoped for.”



Taylor's Dad said...

I've been out of town and thought I would catch up on what's been happenin' with your blog. I personally enjoy your entries and can relate to many of your experiences. Your recent need for "thick skin" is a prime example of why I keep the shutters at my house closed (it drives my wife crazy by the way - she likes natural light). Life has convinced me that the most innocent of my activities or comments can and will be misinterpreted by someone for some reason. That complicates my life and I don't like complications, surgical or otherwise. I admire your willingness to express yourself in an open forum so that someone else might benefit. Stay strong.

BoneDoc23 said...

I always tell students that rotate through the 2 things that will help you most are a strong USMLE score and pre-clinical grades because these things are the least subjective. I would assume programs get more letters of rec that look identical than they do those 2 parameters.

It is too bad it is not easier to know what specific programs are looking for - it could save the right person from applying and/or doing an away at the wrong place. Some places are very number oriented, others looking more for a certain profile, some are downright sexist.

I wish I remember the exact terms but my program director described it like choosing horses. He said you want one thoroughbred to set the pace and the rest (some other horse) to just run and try to catch up. His contention was that "the best" applicant is not always the best worker - he or she tends to be a bit entitled. What you need often in an ortho program is workers and the "second tier" people with the work reputation over the accolades will allow the years to go buy smoother - they are just happy enough to be there not to complain or expect to be treated better. However, you still need the thoroughbred to get good OITE scores, be well read, and obtain some of the more objective achievements - set the pace.

Someonetc said...

Taylor's dad: thanks for the support. i know you have my back. i say to the octagon we go.

BoneDoc23: i think you are right about the grades and USMLE. that is the only thing that is truely objective. as far as the LOR's, in looking at applications from last year, the LOR's gave us the most humor. from the comments on the applicants attractive girlfriend to the LOR's from 2 people in the same department that are identical, we had lots of laughs.

i would definitely agree that there are programs that love the numbers. they also like to tell you how high their OITE scores are. i think what it comes down to is that you are looking for a tom brady. someone who is solid all around. occasionally you may try to get the peyton manning but you may end up with a ryan leaf.

i like the resident who is slightly hungry, good scores, good work ethic, with a tolerable personality. i think that is why so many people rely on the elective rotations. a known is better than an unknown.

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