Guide to SDN Resources

SDN Resources

When most people think of Student Doctor Network, they think of the SDN Forums, where … Read more

Get A Better Letter: An Insider's Guide to Letters of Recommendation

letter of recommendation

By Michelle Finkel, MD Whether you are a candidate for medical school, residency, fellowship, dental … Read more

Top Tips for Sub-Internship Success

The sub-internship is a crucial rotation for all medical students, no matter which specialty they plan to pursue. During this transitional phase in their clinical training, students begin to assume more independent responsibility for patient care. A sub-internship introduces students to life as residents, and it is often a source of recommendation letters for the residency application process. Below are my top tips for success during your sub-internship.

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The Million Dollar Question

Interview season. The time of year that roads and skies swarm with the best and brightest medical students to all corners of the country taking aim at the next step in their training – residency. Believe it or not, behind the shiny brochures, extravagant dinners and polished powerpoint slides, residency programs are just as nervous about attracting top talent as you are about getting your top choice.
The interview trail is usually a blur of dry cleaning bills, rental cars, and the smell of breath mints masking cheap coffee mixed with nervous sweat. The broken record of the obligatory “strengths and weaknesses” question loops in your head. One of the more terrifying moments in the day comes when an interviewer asks: “What questions do you have for me?” Regardless of who asks it–the intern only four months above you in training or the gatekeeping program director–you know you have to ask something. So why not make it count?

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What You Should Know: Connecting With Pediatric Patients

What You Should Know is an ongoing series covering a range of informational topics relevant to current and future healthcare professionals.
Even for student doctors who are in training to be pediatricians or specialists in pediatric health, connecting meaningfully with these small patients can sometimes be difficult. However, this connection is necessary to establish if a doctor’s goal is to give their patient the best care possible.
It is helpful, then, to take a look at what experts say about how doctors can connect to their pediatric patients.

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Difficult Interview Questions: Learning To Hit A Curveball Out Of The Park

difficult interview questions

By Michelle Finkel, MD with CrispyDoc

You put your heart and soul into your compelling, charismatic personal statement; you showcased your accomplishments and drive to succeed in your activities section; and you demonstrated the endorsement of respected faculty allies in your letters of recommendation. Now your hard work has paid off and helped you get a foot in the door: You’ve been invited to interview at your dream medical school or residency program.

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5 Reasons Intern Year is Better Than Medical School

students with disabilities

I had a certain level of (I thought well-justified) terror anticipating the start of intern year. No longer able to hide behind the protective “I’m just the medical student” blockade, I was worried about not being able to live up to the burden and the privilege of being someone’s doctor. Third year was rough and I could only imagine the horrors that awaited me as an intern. Yes, it has been a difficult year, filled with long hours and intense days. However, what I found was that contrary to my fears, intern year has been so much better than medical school. If you recently walked across the stage and accept your diploma, congratulations! Here’s what you have to look forward to:

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Opinion Column: A fundamental flaw in the USMLE exams

There exists a fundamental flaw in the USMLE exams – applicants who pass the exam cannot retake the exam. This means that applicants who score poorly in the exams are prevented from applying to competitive specialties and in some cases even from practicing as a doctor in the US. Why does the USMLE not allow candidates to rewrite exams to improve scores? To understand this, we have to delve into the purpose of USMLE.
The United States Medical Licensing Examination or USMLE as it is popularly known, is a critical set of exams that medical students and graduates must pass before they can practice medicine in the US. The USMLE is a multi-part exhaustive evaluation of a physician’s ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles, and to determine fundamental patient-centered skills that are important in health and disease and that constitute the basis of safe and effective patient care. It is highly regarded not just in the US, but also in various other countries around the world. So much so that one can use the USMLE in lieu of that country’s exams.

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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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This is No Lake Wobegon: When Medical School Means You’re No Longer Above Average

 “Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” 
– Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

While NPR’s Garrison Keillor entertains listeners with weekly monologues highlighting news from Lake Wobegon, his fictional home town, it is that closing line “and all the children are above average” that has taken hold in the popular culture. The Lake Wobegon Effect refers to that normal human tendency to overestimate one’s abilities.

The problem is that an average is just that, an average, meaning that while some are above, there are also those below. We all want to be above average. Who shoots for the mean and makes it into medical school? The truth is, if you made it into medical school – or even if you’re somewhere earlier along the path – you have almost certainly been “above average” academically and otherwise most of your life. You were on the honor roll from the time you started receiving grades. You graduated near or at the top of your high school class, many being valedictorians. You were in your college’s honor society and graduated some version of cum laude. You were accepted to medical school.

Average just isn’t in your vocabulary.

And then medical school happens. . .

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Navigating Your Future: A Roadmap to Specialty Exploration

Congratulations! You’re in medical school. What you will soon realize is that your answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is going to have to change. Simply saying “doctor” is no longer enough. You need to start to figure out what kind of doctor you want to be. And, although applying to residency may feel very far off, there are steps you can do starting in your first year to help you pick the specialty that best suits you.
Most of us have fairly limited exposure to different specialties as pre-meds; mine consisted primarily of shadowing cardiothoracic surgeons. Yet there is a huge diversity among medical specialties, some of which you may have never heard about. Physiatry, anyone? Others you know of can be quite different than what you had envisioned. A friend of mine recently shadowed an interventional radiologist and was surprised by the surgical nature of the specialty.

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Getting Into Medical School and Residency: Wish I Knew It Before I Blew It

We’ve all known or heard of medical school or residency applicants with great credentials who should have had their choice of programs. They had the marks, the winsome personality, and the composure that made their success seem inevitable. But something happened on the way to derail their plans, and, sadly, they never realized their full potential. What happened?
Being a former Harvard Assistant Residency Director and a professional medical admissions counselor has afforded me the opportunity to witness firsthand many cautionary tales of candidates who, inadvertently, were their own worst enemies. Drawing on the wisdom of those who went before, you can mitigate the liability of personal inexperience.

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The Successful Match: Getting into Pediatrics

 
We recently discussed the pediatric residency selection process with Dr. Su-Ting Li, program director of the University of California Davis pediatrics residency program and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Pediatrics. After graduating from the UCLA School of Medicine, she completed her pediatrics residency at the University of Washington. Following this, she remained at UW as a National Service Research Award Fellow in General Academic Pediatrics and pursued a MPH in epidemiology. She then joined the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California Davis where she has also held the title of Clerkship Director.
Dr. Li has been heavily involved in medical student and resident education on local, regional, and national levels. She has also been recognized for her research contributions. In 2008, her paper “Primary Operative Management for Pediatric Empyema” was recognized as one of the “Top 10 Articles in Pediatric Hospital Medicine.” She has been highly sought after as a journal reviewer, and is currently a reviewer for 12 prestigious publications, including Academic Medicine and Pediatrics.

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The Successful Match: Getting into Radiology

the match

Of the 4,455 total residents training in 188 ACGME-accredited radiology residency programs, 88.3% are graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 7.6% are international medical graduates, and 3.9% are osteopathic graduates.1 Dr. Vicki Marx is the director of the radiology program at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and we asked for her insights into the radiology residency selection process.

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The Successful Match: Getting Into Emergency Medicine

 
There are 4,479 total residents training in approximately 150 ACGME-accredited emergency medicine residency training programs. Of these, 85.1% are graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 9.0% are osteopathic graduates, and 5.7% are international medical graduates.1 Osteopathic students may also enter an AOA-approved emergency medicine residency program. In recent years, there have been over 40 such programs.2 Based on recent match statistics, emergency medicine can be considered to be a moderately competitive specialty.
We recently discussed the emergency medicine residency selection process with Dr. Jamie Collings, the Executive Director of Innovative Education and an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. For many years, she served as the program director of the emergency medicine residency program at Northwestern. Over the past fifteen years, she has been heavily involved in advising students interested in pursuing a career in emergency medicine. Dr. Collings earned her medical degree at the Oregon Health & Science University, and then completed her residency at the University of Chicago.

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The Successful Match: Getting into Obstetrics and Gynecology

There are 4,815 total residents training in nearly 250 ACGME-accredited obstetrics and gynecology training programs.1 Of these, 71.8% are graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 19.9% are international medical graduates, and 8.1% are osteopathic graduates.  In recent years, over 1,100 categorical positions have been available in the Match.

We recently discussed the obstetrics and gynecology residency selection process with Dr. Eugene Toy, the Vice Chair of Academic Affairs and residency program director in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX.  Dr. Toy is widely known as the creator, series editor, and primary author of McGraw-Hill’s popular Case Files Series.

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The Successful Match: How to Succeed in your Residency Interview

three tips mmi

For most residency applicants, the arrival of November marks the beginning of the interview season. This often brings back memories of the medical school admission interview, with the ubiquitous “Why do you want to be a doctor?” question.

Four years later, you find yourself in a similar situation – this time, hoping to land a position in the specialty and residency program of your choice. “Why do you want to be a doctor?” is now replaced with “Why do you want to go into [this specialty]?” and “Why are you interested in our residency program?” While the questions will differ to some extent, you may be experiencing the same gamut of emotions – uncertainty, nervousness, and perhaps even fear.

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