what is pre-match?

You might hear this term “pre-match” pretty frequently over the course of the next couple of months. If you are new to the whole process, it basically means finding out about your residency spot before the match happens. Programs are allowed to do this IF they do NOT participate in the NRMP match ENTIRELY. So, if you end up interviewing at a program that does this type of selection and offers you a spot, you would not participate in the match in March. Don’t think you’re sly and try to do both. You can end up with nothing by the end of it, if you try!

How do you find out about pre-match programs? For the most part, many programs don’t really advertise it (according to my own research of programs). If you know otherwise though, I think everyone would really like to hear about it. It’s a nebulous process to find out, and you may never get a definitive answer until the actual interview day. However, the one way to see if a program you are interviewing at is a pre-match program is to look at their program page through ERAS. If there is not a NRMP code listed, likely that program is a pre-match program. This has been my experience with recent interviews, so keep that in mind! If you have every intention of taking part in the match, you can use these interviews as practice for other ones. Best of luck!

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letters of recommendation

As the residency application season steamrolls through, I thought it would be appropriate to have a post about letters of recommendation. As you continue through your clinical rotations, you are going to meet some great preceptors and have some even more wonderful experiences in those areas. As a student, you should be working hard day in, and day out, not to make a good impression, but to improve your skills as a physician and learn as much as you possibly can. In doing so, you inherently make a good impression. So you don’t need to do “try”, necessarily, to do that. Just do your job as a student! I always preach this to any medical student I encounter. Granted, we all have our different styles, but I have never been closed to the eye of learning, seeing, and doing more on each of my rotations. I always maintained an open interest because there was something to take away from it. Even if you want to be a cardiac electrophysiologist, and you knew you wanted to do this since day one of birth, that doesn’t mean you can slack off on your surgical rotation, etc. Hopefully you’re reading this and thinking the same, but you would be surprised the number of students I have encountered that “knew they didn’t want to go into [insert field]”, and so put a poor foot forward. You ultimately harm yourself by not having that level of knowledge and then not being able to ask for evaluations that reflect your ability to function as a resident.

I would say too, that the strength of your letter of recommendation is actually pretty important. Having a letter from an esteemed program director likely carries more weight than a physician from a private practice office, unless he/she has hospital affiliations. Not to say the physician’s line of work is any less valuable. It is, but not so much when it comes to getting more interviews during residency season. If you have the opportunity to rotate through university programs or programs that have established residency programs in various specialities, I would definitely obtain evaluations from those preceptors because of the weight the “name” carries. It is a bit twisted. We work so hard just to get interviews, but the truth is, when your application is one of 3000, it is hard to help yourself stand out. Equally important is the content of the letter too. You want an evaluation that speaks highly of your ability as a future clinician, but as a team member. Can you work well with others and the rest of the team including pharmacy and social work? What is your interaction with your peers? What other activities are you involved in that make you stand out among your peers? These are important questions to ask yourself and think about because how you are represented can mean the difference between 2 and 20 interviews. (in my opinion and experience).

MATCH 2017-18

Best of luck to all my fellow medical students, graduates, and practicing physicians applying for the match this year! Hopefully you have submitted all your applications and are waiting around for those wonderful invites through ERAS. Be sure to check your spam messages in case anything gets sent there. Fingers crossed!

PM&R elective

Hi all,

I thought a post on my recent rotation is appropriate because oftentimes, students are note exposed to the field of PM&R. Yes, they are medical physicians, and no, whatever those fancy acronyms you might have heard about it are NOT true. In my four week experience at a PM&R residency program, I was exposed to a wide spectrum of their practice, both inpatient and outpatient. There are many components of medicine that are integrated from neurology, to skin/wound management, ID, cardiology! The list goes on and on.

Outpatient: My experience worked with patients with chronic pain syndromes and traumatic brain injury (concussions). We also spent time performing muscle EMGs and other in-office procedures such as dry needling and botox injections for migraine prophylaxis. There is a lot of great learning points to take away, and you are able to spend a nice chunk of time with your patients discussing their presenting complaints. While their other medical conditions are relevant, we are particularly tuned into certain symptoms. In the concussion portion of my rotation, we focused on a handful of symptoms and how to manage them symptomatically. There is also much to be said about lending your ear and hearing out patient’s concerns too.

Inpatient: This was the acute in-patient rehabilitation we typically hear so much about during morning rounds. “ok, he’s going to rehab, what’s next?”, was what I was familiar with. Now, I understand the importance of that transition of care and speaking directly with health care providers are acute inpatient programs. There is still medical management to be done, even though they are stable from what initially brought them into the hospital. Mind you, patients can still acutely decompensate! Nothing is certain in medicine, and complications can always arise. Food for thought! Get experience in as many fields as you can.

To find out more about PMR, feel free to check out the official website here: http://www.aapmr.org/career-center/medical-students/a-medical-student’s-guide-to-pm-r/what-is-a-residency-in-pm-r-like

ERAS photo

So you are applying to residency and about to shell out a heck of a lot of money. Between program costs, sending your transcript, and travel costs that are TBA, you want to find whatever methods to save a quick buck. Obviously you are not going to skimp on the number of programs you plan to apply to (because you just are not in a position to be picky!).

The one area of your application that is necessary to have, but not necessary to cost your arm or leg is the photo! Yes, the photo. Some people can get away with a nicely done photo on their iPhone 7 and some editing, but others may go to the traditional route and just get it done professionally at a studio. So here is my “hack” passed down to me from a colleague. Of the many apps and cost saving programs out there, I would definitely advise students/graduates to use Groupon or Living Social. Using the search terms “photography” or “portrait”, you’ll come across a number of deals to take photos at chains or local mom and pop portrait studios. I was fortunate to find a local deal for JcPenny. The retail value of the package was approximately $200, but my groupon was $15. It came with several photos and a traditional print. I was able to try different positions to see which I would prefer. So take advantage of that! And you are a US medical student with a .edu email address (or you still have access to your .edu email address from undergrad, you can get another 25% off your total cost too!).

So there you have it! Enjoy and best of luck 🙂