Dear Me, MD | Love Me, M3

July 21, 2015
Dear Me, MD:
Now that you have opened this letter, you may have graduated or maybe you just matched into residency— somewhere, anywhere, hopefully?! As you read this, it should be some time during spring 2017. But, you never know, sometimes the train derails and it takes a little longer than expected, so forgive yourself if that is the case. You learned a while back that the fast lane is overrated so never mind months or years. You now have the degree that you worked so tirelessly for; the one they told you that you would never get; the degree that bears the title I know you will probably never feel is real.

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The Undifferentiated Medical Student Podcast: Your Virtual Mentor for Choosing a Specialty

What is the Undifferentiated Medical Student podcast? Give us an intro.
TUMS is an interview-based podcast about choosing a medical specialty and planning a career in medicine. Many medical students feel lost when it comes to picking a medical specialty and planning their careers (myself included). There are many reasons for this (and some I personally faced):
-they are overwhelmed by the number of options
-they may feel they don’t understand enough medicine yet to start the discussion
-they don’t have a mentor

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Residency Applicants Beware! Make Sure You Understand the Match Participation Agreement

With Match Week approaching, this is an exciting and hectic time. As you prepare for the next phase of your medical career, it is also important to understand legal issues involved in the Match®, administered by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)®. As part of the online enrollment process for the Match, residents accept the NRMP’s Match Participation Agreement (MPA). Residents cannot register for the Match unless they accept the MPA. The MPA is a binding contract exceeding 30 pages. Many residents never read the MPA during the online enrollment process. Others may skim the MPA, but not read the terms carefully. Lurking within the MPA, however, are numerous restrictions on what residents may do before, during, and after Match Week. Applicants who fail to comply with those restrictions in the MPA may commit a match violation, which could lead to substantial penalties and adverse consequences for your medical career. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of your obligations under the MPA and to assure your compliance with the MPA.

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Advice for 4th Years: Creating Your Best Residency Application

The residency application process is winding down for the current cycle. As this is my second season reviewing applications to my residency program as a resident, I’ve across some insight that I wished I had as a fourth year medical student applying to residency. Being on the other side of the fence, I gained a deeper appreciation for the process and the care my program invested in selecting this year’s applicants. I will share some insight along with examples from current residents at various programs in the country. Here are five tips for 2017-2018 cycle applicants and beyond.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Ranking Residencies for the Match

As you continue researching residency programs, applying, and interviewing with these programs, you’ll begin to learn more about what you’re looking for and which options exist. Pretty soon, you’ll need to turn your attention towards creating a rank order list (ROL) in order to eventually be matched with a program that you’ve interviewed with.
While this can be a daunting proposition, it’s imperative that you take it seriously and meticulously review every last detail.

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How My Research Degree Taught Me I’m Not a Surgeon

Recognizing the connection between lab work and surgery
What surprised me the most during my medical school journey was that it was primarily lab work, not my surgery rotation, that taught me I was not a surgeon. The type of experience my lab work entailed had absolutely nothing to do with surgery or clinical medicine, so it was a peculiar and fortuitous realization. I do not believe when entering medical school that I had ever thought about doing research, but our program strongly advocated it. I met with various advisors in first year and decided I was going to transition into the combined PhD program.

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Poker Face: Interpersonal Comparisons in Medical School

interpersonal comparison

Poker, one may reasonably argue, is a game of sheer luck; he (or she) who happens upon the most desirable combination of cards will likely win the round of bets. However, as seasoned players know, the art of poker lies in its psychology. The ability of the player to keep an emotionless persona not just when dealt an appealing hand but especially when dealt a bad one—the poker face—is how competitors can trick each other to win in high stakes situations regardless of their cards.
I find at times medical school to be like a big poker game, with its players the medical students. The stakes are plentiful: a “bet” of a couple hundred thousand dollars that a medical degree will be obtained, a desired specialty (though I am in awe how some of us have already chosen or eliminated fields within months of donning the white coat), a coveted residency program, a preferred lifestyle, and more. With our futures on the line, it is thus natural that we all play our cards to the best of our abilities.

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Choosing a Residency That’s Right for You

choosing a residency

If you are in medical school, you have been making choices for a long time now, from what to major in as an undergraduate to what volunteer work during your gap year will give you the best chances at getting a coveted med school slot. But now that you are in medical school, one of the most important decisions still lies ahead: what kind of residency should you choose? This is an incredibly important choice that will shape the rest of your career. A good decision now will make it more likely that you will be satisfied with your professional life down the road.
The choice can be a difficult one. What things should you consider before you decide? Read on to find out more about the steps you should take in order to match to a residency that will leave you both personally and professionally satisfied.

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The Unmatched Student’s Guide to Successfully Dealing with Failure 

unmatched students

I was in the middle of a fairly busy day on the palliative care ward, so I had to slip away to the quiet stairwell in order pull up my Match Day result on my phone. The words “We regret to inform you that you did not match” felt like a punch in the gut. I kept refreshing the page, hoping the words will somehow go away or that someone will email me to inform of the ridiculous error the system just made. But of course that didn’t happen. In that one moment I felt as if all that I had worked for and thought was just in my reach was suddenly pulled away from me into a distant future that I couldn’t access.
People were slowly and painfully dying around me, but I felt like my world was over.

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A Compilation of Essential SDN Wisdom

I wanted to begin 2016 with a positive start by organizing all essential tips and advice from respected members and adcoms on SDN into a valuable collection. Much of the essential advice is overshadowed by the endless volatility and stress flowing through in these forums, so a master thread is necessary to remind us of our primary objective: to get into medical school. The thread will be regularly updated with new advice and tips.
Before exploring the compilation, please read the AMCAS Instruction Manual to be familiar with the application process (and essentially a required reading when you actually begin to apply). The guide has everything you need to know, such as whether courses are classified as science/non-science, what institutional actions you should report, how the schools view your grades, MCATs, essays etc., and a lot of other important information.

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Choosing a Specialty: The Generalist vs. the Early-Committer

Many students arrive at medical school with a bias that their liberal arts education has instilled, namely, that they should survey everything before deciding on their specialty. Before medical school, students matriculate at colleges that pride themselves on providing a diverse exposure to a variety of subjects: Computer science majors experience the canon of Great Literature before pursuing a life of code, and English majors can take “Physics for Poets.”
For a generalist student sampling from the buffet of medicine, it can be jarring to sit in lecture next to a classmate who declares on the first day of school that she intends to become an orthopedist. These early-committers appear to have whittled down their choices from day one. They magically become apprentices to a faculty member in their chosen specialty by the first quarter, have a publication by their first year, and seem to possess an intuitive roadmap for applying to residency that the generalist cannot read.

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The Med-Peds Residency: Big and Small, We Care for Them All

med-peds

As third year medical students you’re rotating through your general specialties and you think you’re seeing familiar faces but in new places. Isn’t that your newborn nursery resident who assigned APGAR scores, now leading the code in the medical ICU? Some of you may have had similar déjà vu experiences but rest assured, your mind isn’t fooling you. At 79 programs across the USA and Puerto Rico, Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatric residents walk (briskly) through the halls of the hospital carrying both PALS and ACLS cards in our coat pockets. Our minds have been shaped to think broadly and decisively. We carry an air of calmness from our critical care rotations yet we know when to appropriately turn to our goofy side to connect with our patients. Through four years of versatile training, we are training to be the 21st century physician.

The Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics (commonly referred to as “Med-Peds”) is a four-year residency-training program that leads to dual board certification in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. While there are many combined training programs offered in the US, the Med-Peds residency is by far the most ubiquitous and popular program available. During the four years of training, residents undergo a rigorous schedule of rotations ranging from adult and pediatric wards, MICU, PICU, NICU, CCU, Med-Peds clinic and specialty electives. By graduation, residents will have completed a total of 2 years of adult and 2 years of pediatric training. The frequency at which residents switch from one “side” to another changes depending on the individual residency program. The end product is the same: Individuals who are prepared to deal with acute, complex, chronic and preventive care for both adult and pediatric medical conditions. The broad training creates an endless list of career possibilities. We each carve out a niche that best fits the career interest we have in mind.

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Lessons Learned on the Residency Admissions Trail

This time last year, I embarked on my own medical residency admissions journey. I realized that the decision-making process involved in the ERAS and residency application cycle can be dauntingly ambiguous to many applicants, including myself. Gone are the lists of medical schools or colleges ordered by objective measurements such as research dollars, student-faculty ratios, and admission statistics of entering classes. While there is significant debate on which criteria should be included in ranking schools, the availability of that data at least allowed for individual interpretation based on personal beliefs.

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