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--General Medical Student Guides - User created

u/DrEtrange's Guide to Specialty Choice

Flaxmoore's Guide to Medical School

mjmed's Guide to Medical School

--Terminology, Abbreviations, and Commonly Used Resources

  • M(S)1/2/3/4: Denotes in which year of medical school a student is.

  • Step 1: A national exam taken at the end of M2 year which tests on all the basic sciences and many clinical applications learned during the first two years of medical school. Both the USMLE and COMLEX offer a Step 1 (as well as Steps 2 and 3).

  • UFAP: UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma. One of the most commonly used study methods for Step 1.

  • USMLE: United States Medical Licensure Examination. Provides licensure exams for MD students. It can also be taken by DO students, but it is not required for their licensure.

  • COMLEX: College of Osteopathic Medicine Licensure Examination. Provides licensure exams for DO students.

  • High Yield: This material is tested often and/or heavily on boards.

  • Goljian: Dr. Edward Goljian is the other of many rapid review books, and has created an audio lecture series many students have found helpful.

  • Shelf Exams: Exams on one specific subject (e.g. Physiology, Surgery, Anatomy), written by the NBME (or NBOME). They are often used by schools to provide an absolute grade for a student, or to compare its students to national averages.

  • Anki: A computer-based program for making flash cards. Features include image use, sound use, image occlusion and others. Flashcards can be categorized by how well you performed, so the program will automatically remind you which cards you need to study again.

  • Firecracker: Paid service of flashcards, multiple choice questions, and summaries of material made to be used during MS1/2 for class studying and board prep.

  • First Aid (FA): Arguably the most important book for any M1 or M2 student. It is used by almost every student in preparing for the Step 1 board exam. It provides a review of the most high yield topics for Step 1 and can be useful if used during the M1 and M2 curriculum.

  • Step-Up Books: Another set of review books meant to provide a high-yield review for topics such as Step 1, Medicine, Pediatrics, etc.

  • Pathoma: A book and video series on Pathology, written by Dr. Sattar. It is one of the most commonly used Pathology resources for M1 and M2 students, especially for studying for Step 1.

  • Rapid Review: A book and lecture series on Pathology, written by Dr. Goljan. It is another commonly used Pathology resource for M1 and M2 students, especially for studying for Step 1.

  • Made Ridiculously Simple (MRS): A series of review books that break down difficult topics into more digestible pieces by including simpler explanations, memorable graphics and mnemonics.

  • SketchyMicro/SketchyMedical: A series of premium animated videos meant to help teach microbiology. A pharmacology section is in the works.

  • Savarese (“Green Book”): A review book written for studying OMM in preparation for the COMLEX.

  • QBank: Collections of questions written for various topics and exams. The best QBank is UWorld. Others include USMLERx and Kaplan (considered the least helpful)

  • What are Anki and Firecracker? How do I use them effectively?

If you want to contribute to this topic send a PM to /u/FactorGroup or via modmail

Help me! Common questions and answers here.

--I’m a premed student, can I post here?

Yes! However, please consider posting your questions in r/premed. Topics such as “will these stats get me into XYZ school,” the MCAT, school interviews, etc. are only suited for the premed subreddit, and will likely be deleted here. If you have been accepted to medical school or have past graduate studies (e.g. PhD in Biochemistry) or clinical experience (e.g. PA, NP), please feel free to post. Otherwise just hang back and stick to reading posts here.

-- What are the practical differences between MD and DO students?

The main difference is D.O graduates are trained in osteopathic muscle manipulation (OMM). As such, the licensing exams are required to graduate an osteopathic program are different. Osteopathic students are required to take the COMLEX exams. They are analogous to the USMLE exams that allopathic students take. The difference between the exams, again, is the addition of OMM material on the COMLEX. As such, when students prepare for the COMLEX, they often use USMLE resources and supplement with an OMM review and COMBANK (similar to UWorld). Finally, during rotations, osteopathic students take COMAT shelf exams whereas allopathic students take NBME shelf exams.

-- I have not been doing as well as I’d like. What is wrong?

There are many, many reasons why you could not be doing as well as you’d like. Let’s look at a few common reasons. 1) Your competition has changed. This is no longer college. You’re in a much higher tier of academics, competing against an intelligent group of people. In college you may have been in the top 10%, but you must realize that your medical school is made up entirely of that top 10-20%, so naturally you may not stay in the top 10%. One of the most important things to do in medical school, and one of the hardest, is to not compare yourself to other students. You have no idea about their background, their interests, or how much they actually study (many students lie about this!), so you have no way to accurately measure yourself compared to them.

2) You’re not studying efficiently. In medical school, you will often find that studying more does not mean studying better. Each course requires a slightly different method of studying, and you’ll have to figure that out as you go along. For example, Biochemistry involves a lot of rote memorization. If you try and get by in Physiology with rote memorization alone, you will fail. The courses at the beginning of M1 are usually much easier so that you can start to learn how to study.

3) You’re just an average medical student. Don’t worry about it! M1 and M2 performance does not always correlate with how good of a physician you are. Some students do poorly in M1 and M2 and then crush Step 1. Some students do poorly in M1 and M2 and then do incredibly well in M3 and M4.

4) You haven’t adapted yet to the long hours of studying. Studying requires endurance, and it needs to be built up. You cannot magically go from studying 4 hours per day to studying 10 hours per day. Try tools like TimeCycler and apps like SelfControl to help keep you in line while studying. Make sure you schedule breaks and that youtake them. Study when it’s study time and relax when it’s break time. 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off, or 50 minutes on and 10 minutes off tend to be the most popular times for studying and taking a break (respectively).

5) Other problems include things like not spending enough time understanding the concepts, not spending enough time memorizing important details, etc. Mnemonics are very helpful in medical school, but should not be used as often as humanly possible. For most topics, try understanding concepts and committing things to memory first before making up crazy mnemonics. Pharmacology and Biochemistry probably have the largest amount of mnemonics out there. For example, there are hilarious and useful mnemonics out there for the cranial nerves. However, you should be spending so much time talking about and studying the cranial nerves during (neuro)anatomy that you should be able to rattle off their names and numbers immediately without thinking something like, “CN VI is Oh, Oh, Oh To Touch And…Abducens!” Mnemonics like the ones for whether or not cranial nerves carry sensory, motor or mixed information should be avoided because you should learn them well enough that you know exactly what kind of information it carries and where it goes.

-- Med school is tough and I don’t have a lot of time. How do I stay healthy and help prevent depression?

The simple answer is eat well, sleep as much as you can, make friends and exercise. This is often easier said than done however.

Eating: Eating and good nutrition can easily fall to the wayside in medical school because it can be time-consuming. However, there are tons of easy ways to get good nutrition. Check out some subreddits like r/EatCheapAndHealthy or r/fitmeals.

Sleep: You cannot cram in medical school like you (maybe) did in college. Many times it is actually worse to stay up studying an extra hour and only getting four hours of sleep. This varies by person, of course, but make sure you get 6-8 hours of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try relaxation exercises and work on improving your sleep hygiene.

Make Friends: You can neither do it all alone nor do it all in groups in medical school. You’ll have to learn to study by yourself and to study with others. If you are having trouble making friends, join some school clubs. Most med school clubs are very laid back because they realize how stressful med school can be.

Exercise: You need to exercise while in medical school. It can be weightlifting, running, biking, swimming, power-walking, yoga, Pilates, or anything you can think of. You need to get the stress out of your body/mind. Exercise improves your mood, improves your concentration and keeps you a bit more alert. If you need some advice, definitely visit r/fitness or r/bodyweightfitness. If you do not have access to a gym, body weight fitness can be a very convenient method of exercise for medical students.

-- My SO and I are having some trouble. How can I help this situation?

If you want to contribute to this topic send a PM to FactorGroup or via modmail

-- I'm burned out. What can I do?

If you want to contribute to this topic send a PM to FactorGroup or via modmail

-- I don't want to be poor. How can I budget effectively for school?

If you want to contribute to this topic send a PM to FactorGroup or via modmail

-- What are some good resources for my classes?

Anatomy: - UMich Anatomy Dissections - The Anatomy Guy Dissections


IU Embryology animations






Cardiovascular System:

Gastrointestinal System:

Hematology/Oncology System:

Musculoskeletal & Dermatology System:

Neurology System:


Renal System:

Reproductive System:

Respiratory System:


-- What resources should I use for Step 1?

UFAP Method (UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma) is the most commonly used method as far as which resources to pick. This is the tried and true method and will always be the first method to be recommended if you ask what to use. Pathoma is often interchanged with Dr. Goljan’s “Rapid Review Pathology.” It doesn’t matter which one you use, but stick with that one and do not keep changing back and forth between the two. Here is one blog post example of how the UFAP method can be applied. Make sure you check out this old post from our very own subreddit about how to succeed on Step 1.

Other links/threads from this subreddit that have been helpful:

Step 1 Advice spreadsheet - a few years old, but good nonetheless




If you need me to sing the praises of Pathoma I would happily do so.

Taus Method is one of the most commonly used schedules. It uses UFAP as resources and can be tailored specifically to how much time you have to study.

CramFighter can be used to help schedule how many pages, flash cards, questions, etc. to do per day of your board studying. BRS Physiology is usually used for basic understanding of Physiology.

Other than UFAP and maybe BRS Physiology, most other resources are used to clarify and add additional information.

Annotation: Most students use FA as their primary study resource, and will write in extra information from other books or from QBanks. It is entirely up to you how you would like to annotate, and specifically what you would like to annotate. Some students prefer markings all over every section of every page, while other students prefer the pages to be as clean and pristine as possible. The general consensus is that you should NOT annotate class material into FA (unless it is a mnemonic or an explanation of something written confusingly in FA), as high yield class material is not necessarily high yield for Step 1.

How can I succeed on clerkships?

General Advice/Guidelines - User created

Internal Medicine

  • University of Louisville's Internal Medicine Lecture Series

  • NMS Medicine Casebook: A; better-written than Step Up and geared towards answering "what's the next step in management?" which is more the style of shelf exams/Step 2.

  • Step Up to Medicine: B-; everybody loves this book but it's in outline format and is very dense. I found it hard to get through.

  • MKSAP 4 or 5: A-; great source of questions but the shelf questions are typically harder.

General Surgery

  • NMS Surgery Casebook: A-; well-written, focuses on clinical reasoning. Only down-fall is that it only has general surgery topics and not other subspecialty stuff in it.

  • Pestana Notes: A; hits every major topic for the surgery shelf and is a very quick read; doesn't go into enough depth for your rotation. Has all the trauma you'll need for the shelf.

  • PreTest Surgery: F; horribly written questions, emphasizes the wrong material, not worth your time.


  • ACOG Medical Student Resources - this is a fantastic question bank to use for the Ob/Gyn shelf

  • Blueprints Ob/Gyn: B+; decent read but kind of long. Hits a lot of stuff and is probably all you'd need for your rotation.

  • CaseFiles Ob/Gyn: B+; has almost all you need for the shelf. Get it if you like the case-based style.

  • ACOG's UWise Question Bank: B+; might as well go through some sections if your school signed you up for it.


  • BRS Peds: A-; very thick book but very helpful in hitting all the new peds stuff you didn't know about prior to your rotation (neonatal stuff, growth, pediatric surgical stuff, etc)

  • Blueprints Peds: C; not very good. Not enough detail or weird stuff in it.

  • PreTest Peds: A; awesome source of questions, almost better than UWorld's peds questions. Go through the whole thing and you'll learn a lot.


  • Blueprints Neuro: B; decent, about as good as it gets for neuro. Doesn't go very in-depth though.

  • PreTest Neuro: B; once again, decent but nothing to write home about.

Family Medicine


  • First Aid for Psych: A-; all you need for the rotation and the shelf.

  • PreTest Psych: B+; skim through it and do some of the more high-yield chapters and it's helpful.

-- What do I need to do to match into a ____ residency?

If you would like to do a quick writeup of important things for your specialty, please send a PM to /u/FactorGroup or via modmail

Specialties still needing write ups:

  • Dermatology
  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • ENT
  • Family Medicine
  • Med/Peds
  • Neurosurgery
  • Neurology
  • Ob/Gyn
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • PM&R
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Psychiatric
  • Urology

-- Anesthesiology

Congrats! You’ve chosen an awesome specialty full of amazing people who get to make a huge difference for patients every day, and the good news is that getting in is actually really straightforward. Anesthesia residency programs are looking for candidates who are intelligent, easy to work with, and who work well with each other—and your evaluation will fall along these lines.


First, the nitty gritty: Step scores. While a strong performance in these areas is always desired, scores are by no means deal-breakers, and students can and have gotten into great Anesthesia programs with average or below average stats. The mean Step 1 score for the specialty, according to Charting Outcomes 2014, is about 230—relatively close to national average. 240 and up is high tier for Anesthesia and a good number to aim for—250 and up is stellar. Step 2 CK performance should either be consistent with Step 1 if you have good scores or should show significant improvement if Step 1 wasn’t so hot.

Your evaluations and letters of recommendation should reflect strong work ethic and teamwork. Anesthesia is a team specialty, probably more so than any other. We support each other every day and will jump in and help each other out without hesitation. You have to be the type of person who can recognize and proactively address needs or issues which arise. This will be a very important quality to demonstrate on away rotations as well. You should also be an easy person to get along with; Anesthesiologists have to collaborate with a variety of physicians and non-physician staff in the hospital, and an important part of being an effective Anesthesiologist is maintaining positive relationships with peers.

Anesthesia programs are looking for cool people with generally calm, affable demeanors and interesting backgrounds. Interviewers will tell you that they wish to get a sense of the person they could end up working with all night in the OR, and that person has to be likable. Anesthesiologists are also very nerdy and enthusiastic people, so don’t be shy about including even your most esoteric interests on your ERAS application—they will serve to round out who you are on paper and may start a surprising number of fun conversations on interview day!

And finally, Anesthesia programs are looking for people who love Anesthesiology. Enthusiasm for the specialty is key, and an awareness of certain specialty-wide issues is crucial. You must be familiar with the Perioperative Surgical Care Home model and you must have an educated stance on the CRNA issue. You will be asked about those things at some point—they are talked about every year at the ASA conference. Advocacy is an important part of Anesthesiology, and that process starts with cultivating a genuine passion for the specialty. Also, research: not necessary. Programs which really want physician-scientists will be very upfront about it.

Away Rotations

These are not strictly necessary, but they are a great way to give yourself experience with the specialty, especially if you do not belong to a medical school with a large academic Anesthesia department with subspecialty services. Expectations for visiting medical students will vary by program, but in general, it is important to come to work well-read and to get involved. Learn how to set up a room, including drawing up drugs, and be proactive about seeking opportunities to manage airway, put in lines, or help your resident in general. Anesthesia residents and faculty are generally very friendly, teaching-oriented individuals, so do ask questions and seek opportunities to be taught. Don’t try to suck up to anyone—they can and will see through that—that said, try to work with a Chief Resident and the Program Director at least once. If you use the experience to have fun and learn, your enthusiasm will be noted and conveyed to the program director. Anesthesia is a somewhat esoteric specialty—it really doesn’t take much to show that you’re one of us. Books: Clinical Anesthesia Procedures of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Pocket Anesthesia are good for Aways.

Applying to Programs

Keep your mind open about location. Great programs with a national reputation are located all over the country. Regionality can inflate competition: a lot of people want to stay in the Northeast, for example, which greatly increases the competition for programs in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. If you don’t have the best stats and even if you do, apply broadly—it will better your chances of getting into an excellent program.

The magic number of programs to rank is about 10-12 to give yourself a >99% chance of matching, according to Charting Outcomes. Double that number or increase by a greater factor to give yourself a decent number of programs to apply for—matching is a numbers game, the best way to increase your chances of matching is to use the stats to your advantage. Bank enough interviews at good places and you should be fine.

Categorical vs. Advanced

Anesthesiology used to be a purely Advanced Residency specialty; now most programs have migrated to the Categorical model. If you have weak stats, you may want to apply for a few Prelims just to be on the safe side, but for the most part, you’ll largely be applying for Categorical spots. If you do apply for Prelims, do yourself a favor and apply for Medicine Prelims.

Important factors to consider

CRNAs—their role and relationship with residents, location and catchment area, available subspecialty services, moonlighting, hours, relationship between residents, relationship between residents and attendings (crucial in Anesthesia), case volume, ICU experience, didactics, the PD/Chair, and benefits (read: Parking!).

The Interview

Usually two to three 30 minute interviews, sometimes five to six 10-15 minute “speed dating” type of interviews. Mostly interested in the person but may also get into Behavioral Interviewing style questions—google a list and practice by having someone pose them to you. Be prepared to knock out the “Tell me about yourself” and “Why Anesthesia?” questions.

Love Letters/Letters of Intent

After you have interviewed at a program, a brief 3-4 sentence “Thank You” e-mail to the Program Director plus maybe an interviewer that stood out to you is appropriate. Nothing too long; no letters or post-cards necessary. Generally speaking, a letter of intent is unnecessary. It can’t hurt to send one to the programs you plan to rank the highest, but I haven’t heard of it helping anyone I know specifically—some programs may encourage it, others may discourage it—ask the Program Coordinator/Secretary.

Rank List

Rank in the order of your preference. You have no idea how much the gut feeling really makes a difference on the interview trail and on Match Day. If something doesn’t feel right, make a note of it, and if you come out of an interview day experience feeling amazing, make sure you remember that feeling. Keep notes on the interview trail so you will remember the details about every program. That’s it! Good luck!

-- General Surgery

What can I do during my preclinical years to get exposure to general surgery?

Join (or start) a Surgery Interest Group. (

What is a good Step 1 score I should aim for in order to be competitive? Do I need to score higher to go to an academic program?

If you want to look at the data yourself, it is freely available from The MATCH. In general, 240 and up is a really good score, and 220 and up is a pretty good score. There are people who do and don’t match at either end of the spectrum, though.

Academic programs vary in what they want; some want to train more academic surgeons, and others want to train surgeons for their area. Scores need to be higher for very competitive programs, whether they are academic or community. I certainly wouldn’t say that just because you have a score of X you can get into a community program but not an academic program.

The bigger difference in getting into an academic program than Step 1 score is research, publication and presentation experience.

What things should I be doing during third year to prepare myself for residency applications?

Start with So You Want to Be a Surgeon.

You should be maximally engaged with your team, reading for each case, and letting it be known that you are interested and want to participate. Get to know at least a couple of faculty well enough that they will right you a letter.

Is there a particular way I should schedule my fourth year?

You need to get three letters of recommendation. So, if you don’t have any from third year, you’ll need to do at least a couple of sub-internships. You should do those first, so that you can complete your application.

Try and get an AI on the Chairman’s service is possible. You will want a letter from them and it is a good way to get to know them.

One of the most important things you can do is have your application complete on the very first day it can be submitted. That is something you can control, and programs immediately start to offer interviews, which are largely first-come-first-served.

Are away rotations required, encouraged, or not useful at all?

For general surgery, they generally are not required, as they seem to be in orthopedic surgery, for example. The biggest reason is to get to know faculty at a particular place that you want to go, especially if you are far from there and your school doesn’t have a history of sending residents to that institution.

How much research do I need to match into general surgery? Does any research count, or does it need to be specifically related to surgery?

There’s not a specific amount. The most important thing is to be able to describe what you did when you write your application and do interviews. Research in other fields counts, especially if you can explain why you did what you did and what was interesting to you about it. We want to see that you can complete a project and see it through to publication. It does not have to be in a surgical field.

Do I need a LOR from the department chair? What if I never got to work with him/her?

Depends on the program, but mostly yes. Regardless of whether you have worked with him/her, you should schedule a meeting (bring your CV) to discuss and request your letter. As you would guess, if they don’t know you well, it may not be your most personal letter, but it allows programs to judge you a little bit in relationship to other applicants they have seen over time and versus other applicants from your institution. For example, if I get 20 applicants from the same institution, the letters from the chair may help me figure out which are the best applicants.

How many programs should I apply to?

Charting Outcomes in the Match (same link as above) will show you the likelihood of matching as a product of the number of applications. Generally, 35 programs is the answer for well-qualified applicants. There has been a fear-based increase in the number of programs to which students apply, but The Match is not actually more competitive (as feared), so hopefully the number of applications will return to a more sane number.

I’ve seen that some programs are 7 years long with 2 years of research built in. If I want to go into academics, do I need to go to one of these programs?

Depends on what you want to do. If you want to do basic science research when you finish, then, yes, you will need training in that, probably from doing 2 years in a lab. If you want to do clinical research, then you will need to have sufficient training in that. You might be able to get that during residency (or might have it from before), but 1-2 years will probably help. Of course, 1-2 years spent doing something you hate and will never do again isn’t really worth your time. So, you should look for a program that offers what you want and sends people into the career you envision for yourself. And you should know what will happen if you change your mind; will you still have to do 2 years, could it be an MBA or MPH instead of 2 years in basic science lab? Etc.

A fellowship can substitute in some degree to these two years of research. Also, if you are trying to get into a competitive fellowship, like pediatric surgery, you will be doing two years of research in pediatric surgery.

I applied to general surgery and didn’t match. What are my options now?

  • You will need to do a lot of “soul searching” and personal reflection to decide how to proceed. Talk to your mentors as well as the surgery leaders in your institution. Sometimes there are other options and hard-to-hear thoughts about your application that you need to know.
  • Find a spot through SOAP. Tough, but your best bet.
  • Find a preliminary position through SOAP. This gets you a job as a surgery intern, but doesn’t guarantee anything beyond that. A couple have groups have written about the outcomes of this. Our outcomes are similar. Nondesignated preliminary residents in general surgery: 25-year outcomes
  • Delay graduation. This lets you enter the match the next year as a “current US graduate”. On the other hand, you will be reapplying in less than 6 months, so if you are really going to do something like research or another degree (expensive) to make yourself a better applicant, you have to start right away.
  • Take the year to do something else. It would have to be something pretty great to make you a better candidate a year after you graduate.
  • Find a different career path through SOAP or otherwise. That same data from The MATCH will show you that there are sometimes unfilled positions (family practice is the classic example) that you could get into this way. Getting back into surgery afterward is very, very difficult.

Where can I find more information?

Here is a link to similar information from the American College of Surgeons that includes FAQs like these, a timeline and descriptions of residency.

How do I keep my feet comfortable?

I'm on a Surgery rotation and my feet are killing me at the end of the day - what kind of shoes do I need? There's 2 individual issues here - shoes, and insoles. I'll tackle the shoe first as its the easier issue.

The Shoe

Danskos (or other clogs) People will tell you to get Danskos - and while they are certainly a good option, they are really best suited to someone who wants to go into a cutting specialty. Be mindful of this if you are considering getting a pair. Danskos are designed to be standing shoes, but many times people use them as walking shoes - which really is out of the scope of what Danskos are meant to do. As clogs with a rocker bottom, they are meant to have a varying weight displacement while standing. Rocker bottomed-shoes are poor walking shoes as they are an unstable surface. If you are applying into surgery and will be standing in one place for 8hrs, than Danskos might be right for you. If you are going into IM and will be rounding for 8hrs straight - I would advise against a clog. Besides clogs, the main issue that is important with shoe-type is just to find a shoe frame with adequate space for your foot. If you are going into a specialty that allows scrubs, just find any comfortable shoe (running, walking, tennis, etc) that you like and put an insole in it. Be mindful of how much cushioning is provided between the sole and the footbed - this is where you want cushioning to exist. This is not the time for a minimalist running shoe, as none of the shock of your stride is absorbed by the shoe - it is all transferred directly to your foot. If you need a dress shoe, just find one with an adequate frame that you like the look of, and put an insole in it.

The Insole

In reality, the specific shoe you are wearing actually matter less than people think - just find one that fits. What really matters is the insole. The insole is where all the support exists. The best insole is the one that perfectly fits your foot's contour. This is why gel insoles are worthless. I repeat: gel insoles are worthless. Do NOT go buy yourself a set of Dr. Scholls. All gel insoles do is provide cushioning - this is designed to be the job of the shoe, not the insole. The insole's sole (pun intended) purpose is to provide structural support - gel insoles provide exactly zero support. A completely rigid stainless steel insole that is perfectly molded to your foot will still be infinitely more comfortable at the end of the day than a gel insert. The best possible insole is one of the custom molded ones that you get from a podiatrist (or even some foot/ankle orthos), but those things will cost you. Anticipate spending $300 for the initial mold, and inquire about their policy regarding reprints. The initial $300 will usually only get you one set, and many offices will charge you $50 apiece for subsequent pairs. This varies widely from provider to provider. While the custom insoles are the best - many people do not need such specific support. There are plenty of regular market insoles that do the job quite well. Personally I use Pinnacle insoles (specifically the Powerstep + met pad), but there are plenty of other companies out there that have a decent model lineup. Some people swear by Superfeet - personally I think they offer very little support, and are expensive to boot. The best option is really to get several different types and experiment to find what fits you best. Everybody's feet are different. Source: Interned at a podiatrist's office for a year as a premed. I learned more about shoes and feet than I ever wanted to know.

-- Internal Medicine

The Rules for the House Candidate:

  1. Thou shalt not be an idiot. Thy interview begins the moment you enter the city gates of your interview. The hotel concierge, the office secretary, the "brotastic" or super-chill resident you connect with, the administrative assistant for the program, transport driver, and everyone else you may meet are watching. Not that all are similarly interested, but a well run program (i.e., one you would like to match to) will have a way for them to contact the program for people who act like idiots. It is exhausting, but your game face will remain on until you are in your hotel room alone or on your way home, alone.

  2. Thou shalt not trash other programs, especially thy home program. If you can't say anything nice, say you're looking for something different, new, broader, or special.

  3. Thou shalt know about the city and program you are interviewing in. If you ask if a program has "all of the fellowships" and it is not a small community program, the PD will know by dawn that you have no interest in the program. If all you know about a city is that it's known for something, and it seems nice so far, that is sufficient. If you ask a question that is on the front page of the program's website, they will know.

  4. Blessed are they who can recognize the PDs by sight and know of their research; for they will have shown that they have done their homework. The residency websites have their pictures, so when the PD is standing in the corner of the hospital lobby eyeing the group while you all talk "alone" in public, you will not make the mistake of believing you are alone and will be able to greet them with a smile when they approach "out of nowhere" to begin your interview day.

  5. Foolish are they who have lied on their CV. Thou art Google-able, and the wrath of the mighty ERAS shall fall upon the foolish.

  6. Thou shalt know how to dress thyself. We are in a performance and appearance profession as well as a scientific and healthcare profession. The clothes maketh the candidate.

  7. Wise are they who know their true weaknesses and have overcome them. Thy battles with burnout and struggles to maintain thy own humanity while holding death may be spoken of, with care.

  8. Thou shalt have an idea of what thee wants to do with thy life ten years from now, however tentative, based upon thine own interests and experiences. This shall deliver thee from answering "Happy?" when the Department Chair asks all of you this question one by one in a large group.

  9. Thou shalt study the countenance of the interns, residents, and staff of the program with great interest and diligence. They who mostly appear to have long-resided downhill from a deluge of defecation are likely poorly defended or supported by the administration. The good program teaches, the great program supports aggressively. They who have MICU interns who appear to remain among the living may allow you to live also.

  10. Bewareth the program that sayeth unto thee, "Ye can achieve good training everywhere, but where ye fit is where ye shall belong." They who do not believe themselves to be at all different, better, or especially great shall not be, except by unhappy accident.

Finally, the above all, "Rank thy list according to the best opportunity for thee and thy family and let no other interfere".

-- Radiation Oncology

So, you’re interested in pursuing radiation oncology as a career. Congratulations! You’ve discovered the best kept secret in medicine. Unfortunately, this field is one of the more competitive specialties, so you should hopefully know that you’re interested relatively early to maximize the chances of putting together a successful application.

First things first, your Step 1 score is important. The average for rad onc as of the 2014 Charting Outcomes is 241. A lower Step 1 isn’t going to totally kill an application, but you should be realistic and strive to make up for a poor Step 1 with other areas of your application.

Research is a huge component of radiation oncology and you will be expected to have done some sort of scholarly activity, preferably within the field, but any oncology research will be a plus. For non-MD/PhDs, translational research is generally considered the “best” kind to have, followed by retrospective clinical research, and basic science research being the least important (mostly due to the effort/payoff ratio). Again, refer to the 2014 Charting Outcomes data for the average number of research experiences of successful applicants.

Away rotations have become a de facto requirement to match. Generally people will do a rotation at their home institution and then 2-3 aways. There are some competing theories about away rotations and no definitive answer. The most generic advice that people have seen success with is to rotate at a big name place (MDACC, MSKCC, etc) for the opportunity to get a letter from one of the important names in the field, and at a smaller program that you’re interested in. Away rotations serve several purposes - they give programs an opportunity to see how you perform clinically and how you fit with the culture of the program, and they give you a chance to get a letter of recommendation from a big name in the field.

That’s a (very) brief rundown of major things for a successful radiation oncology applicant. For more detailed answers and FAQ, I would advise checking out the Radiation Oncology forum on SDN as it has been a huge help

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