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Advice for 4th Year 

c/o the Class of 2011 
 
1. I prepared for the USMLE Step 2 CK in the following manner: 
 
First Aid Step 2, Crush Step 2, I took a month off at the beginning of 4th year & studied for Step 2 CK
& CS
USMLE World, Step 2 First Aid. Start questions early and FINISH them. There are A LOT. It's hard to
determine what is useless in World but many questions are too specific. Don't bog down on TOO
specific info.
Q bank First Aid Step 2 CK Secrets to the Step
Just Qbank, 3-5 hours a day for 4 weeks
USMLE step 2 Studied for 2 months while doing rotations (i.e. did not take any months off to study)
USMLE Qbank (did the whole thing twice while taking notes)
Questions only, USMLE World Q Bank. 3-4 weeks, but not for as many hours a day as I studied for
Step I.
USMLE World
Usmle world qbank
USMLE World (really all you need) First Aid
QBank, First Aid.
USMLE world Qbank
I simply used step 2 secrets, USMLE world, and the internet (emedicine is great) for about one month
and improved 9 points compared to my Step 1. UTSW does a great job of training you the third year
and it should show once you take the test. Some people took of an entire month to study and
regretted it later. Others took an elective while studying which gave them a free month at the end of
the year to travel, volunteer, spend time with family, etc. I chose the latter and think it was the right
decision.
Qbank, FirstAid CK Pick a easy rotation in Sep/ Oct (after Sub-In and Away rotation is finished and
before Interviews start). Work and study during the month and take the test.
USMLE World Step Up to Medicine
First Aid CK, USMLE WORLD, 3 wks
first aid 1x, all of usmle world qbank
Uworld qbank
Mostly used USLME World and First Aid.
I gave myself 4 weeks, and made a schedule, allotting time to each subject (and broke up Internal
Medicine by system) according to how heavily it was emphasized. Used Step Up to Medicine, and read
First Aid superficially. Reviewed all my old texts that I was familiar with - very little new reading. Paid
for USMLE World - worth it.
USMLE world Qbank, step up to medicine.
I used in Doctors in Training online program, Step up to Step 2, and USMLE world
USMLEworld
I took 1 month off in September to do use Doctors in Training and do UWORLD. I completed only
about 35% of UW questions and did the DIT course. In retrospect, the DIT course for step 2 was awful
(good for step 1 but not 2) and I should have stuck with First Aid and done more UW questions. It was
necessary for me to take a month off to study only because I needed to focus, but otherwise can be
done without taking 1 month off.
I used First Aid for Step 2 CK (read 1X), Step 2 Secrets (read 2X) and used USMLE World QBank (80%
of questions). I studied for 6 weeks.
USMLE World question bank
Read Step Up to USMLE Step 2. Did USMLEworld qbank.
took 1 month off and studied from First Aid and USMLE World.
USMLE World exclusively. It's all you need. I took about 3 weeks and tried to to do all the questions.
Preparing this way was more than enough.
USMLE World for 1 month.
Step 2 secrets USMLE World ~1 month while on ambulatory care rotation
I took it in early October. Used First Aid Step 2 CK and Step 2 Secrets to study, spent most of my time
with questions from USMLEworld. would suggest 4-6 weeks to study.
I used First Aid and USMLE-World Qbank. I took August off and studied for it for about 3-4 weeks
during that time (I also took a mini-vacation), for about 8 hours daily. Like most review books, First Aid
was very vague/superficial on certain topics, so whenever I needed to refresh my memory with more
details I used CURRENT Medical Dx & Tx, which can be found on AccessMedicine through the library's
website. I finished First Aid once and got through 80% of the Qbank, but I read every word of every
explanation for every single question I completed. I felt that the real exam was very similar to Qbank
questions, and I scored quite well on it.
Focused on USMLE World q bank and also read First Aid for 6 weeks
I studied throughout the 3rd for my rotations and utilized the USMLEworld qbank in preparation for the
test. About 2 weeks before the actual exam, I started reading through Crush Step 2 and going over a
couple of questions here and there.
I used USMLE World and FirstAid.
Took a month off to study, used first aid review and question book and USMLE world
USMLE World First Aid CK
USMLE world qbank, USMLE secrets, 3 weeks
USMLE world, first aid for CK, secrets
First Aid Step 2 CK (just went through the chapters I needed brushing up on the most). Used USMLE
World as my primary q/a and reference
I took a light elective in October and studied during that time for about 4 wks. I used First Aid for Step
2 and Step 2 Secrets (that green book) and used USMLE World.
First Aid, USMLE World (the best), 8-10 hours/day
First Aid for Step 2 CK USMLE World Question Bank
USMLE World practice questions for 2 weeks during a month I had off.
Doctors in Training, Step Up to USMLE II, USMLE World Q Bank. 1 month
First Aid step 2 Q Bank I had IM last, so intensive studying for that shelf plus 1 month of just step 1
studying. I didn't not take time off.
usmle q bank
USMLEWorld, First Aid Step 2 CK
UWorld and Step 2 Secrets
USMLE World Question bank primarily First Aid Step 2
I prepared for 2 weeks using USMLE World Q bank. I did about 1400 questions and nothing else
USMLE Qbank
World Q bank
I did ~1000 USMLE World questions over a period of 4 days.
Usmle world questions only
The majority of my preparation was done with Qbank, which I thought was highly representative of the
test itself. I studied for around 4 weeks while I was on an off month.
Studied for it while on radiology. Used First Aid Step 2 CK, USMLE World questions.
USMLE world only, it's all you need. I fell asleep in my test and my score still went up.
First Aid for Step 2CK, USMLE World Qbank, studied for one month during my ER rotation - ER actually
helped A TON for the test
USMLE Qbank
USMLE World (about 50-60% of questions) First Aid 2 weeks
one month used doctors in training
Answering questions from Qbank for 4 weeks.
USMLE world and Step 2 secrets are great. I studied prob 80 hrs total over 1 month (finished 1/2
Uworld and read all of secrets). My score went up from step 1 by 4 pts. I didn't need to improve all
that much.
I bought First Aid and USMLE World, but I mostly did questions on USMLE world and studied their
explanations to the questions. Only used First Aid a little. Step 2 score was much much much higher
than Step 1.
first aid for step 2 and usmle q bank. only two things i used
Read First Aid Step 2 twice Did all of USMLE World QBank
Step 2 Secrets- read once, liked it First Aid Step 2- read once, didnt like it USMLE World questions-
did half
USMLE WORLD Q bank
Studied 3 weeks, USMLE world q bank and some First Aid
Uworld q bank, did about 60% o questions in the 5 or 6 days I studied. Glanced at first aid. Took it a
week and a half after finishing third year and did 30 points higher than step 1
I took August off in order to work on residency applications, study for CK/CS, and take CK/CS. I studied
First Aid for Step 2, which is not nearly as good a book as First Aid for Step 1. Don't waste your money
on a study book or any time studying for CS--just take it. I thought it was helpful to take some time
studying for CK.
The only thing I did was all the questions on USMLE world twice...some of the questions on the actual
exam were verbatim
I used the USMLE World Qbank and First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK. I studied for about 4 weeks
while I was taking an ambulatory rotation.
qbank, 1 month
First Aid, USMLE world
Use heavily: USMLE World Use when needed: First Aid Use nothing else
USMLE World question bank (75% completed) USMLE Step 2 Secrets book read once
Only used USMLE World (did all questions) and USMLE World Secrets (blue book), studied for one
month while on an easy elective (Radiology)
qbank, first aid, 1 mo
finsihed usmle world qbank only, studied for three weeks solid for about four hours a day
Three weeks USMLE Step 2 Secrets USMLE World (second pass focused on Peds and Ob-Gyn, first
pass = throughout clerkships).
USMLE Step 2 Secrets USMLE World Question Bank Total 7 days of studying scattered during a
month of prelim interviews (suboptimal), but I ended up very happy with my score. If you study hard
for 2 weeks, you will blow the test away.
USMLE World - 1 week
1 month USMLE World q bank (completed 80%) Step 2 secrets book (read about 50%)
i ONLY used usmleworld (only 25%). i studied for 2 weeks. however, i think the best prep was studying
hard for each shelf throughout 3rd year.
USMLE secrets USMLE world NBME tests
3 wk, 4h/day goal was to beat step 1 score (250), used mostly USMLE World, also used FA (although I
can't really recommend the book)
USMLE World - all questions at least one time on tutor mode.
doctors in training First Aid USMLE World 6 weeks
 
 
 
 
2. M
My recommen
ndation as to when to take the Step 2 CK is? 
 

 
Why? 
 
The spotss fill up fast & you'll have the rest of the e year to not worry
w about iti
Really Julyy or August iss my recomm mendation. You ur material is fresh. Take it i during a chill month such h
as radioloogy, biostats, or off month..
Earlier is better
b for tho
ose hoping to show improvvement from their t step 1 sccore, if it wass not as
competitivve as they had hoped. Oth herwise take it as late as December
D if you'd
y like.
It was verry obvious to me that resid dencies didn'tt look at my application/off
a fer interviewss until right affter
my Step 2 score was re eported, so get it done earrly so that you get the cho oice interview slots.
1-2 month hs to study while
w still takin
ng rotations
Take it ass early as you can, whether you did well on step I or not. People who did it latter because they
had done "well enough h" on step I were
w getting tired of waiting and having it looming ovver their head d.
I don't know anyone who w didn't wissh they had ta aken it earlierr.
Material iss fresh
You haven n't had time tot get too dum mb yet.
Some schools want you ur step 2 scorre to offer intterview offerss.
You want to be able to o completely focus
f on yourr SubI so thatt you can makke a good imp pression and get
recommen ndations as so oon as your application
a can be submitte ed.
Get it out of the way, butb gives a co ouple of montths to prepare e a little at a time
t
This is a tricky
t question n because the ere are a lot of
o great timess to take the exam. I wou uld take it early
so that yoou can get it out
o the way and a focus 100 0% on your ap pplication. However, if you need to gett
letters of recommendation early 4th year then I would push it to october after your application has
been submitted and before you begin the interview season.
Still fresh from 3rd year materials and not distracted by the application and such
Not immediately after 3rd year because you may be tired but close enough to not forget everything.
early enough for the interview and application to see, late enough so you can focus on the first 4th yr
rotation and then take time to study
most of the material should still be fresh from 3rd year; easy to get an impressive score.
you know the most right when you finish 3rd year
Coming directly out of third year, everything is fresh. Needed very little prep time. Also, good review
for your sub-I if you plan on doing that early.
Depends on what you take last and how quickly you can review. But no later than August because you
start to forget. Quickly.
I just want to get it out of the way.
I feel that the results come in early enough for it to have a significant impact on applications and to
use July for Sub I
Scores back in time for interviews
I waited because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to go into and needed July and August to fully
explore no distractions. But if you know already, then take CK as early as possible because knowledge
is best then and it feels good to get it out of the way with.
Taking Step 2 CK depends on how well you did on Step 1 and the specialty you're going into. I took
mine the first week in November, which worked well because it gave me time to do an away rotation,
study for the exam and still be able to allocate 2-3 months for interviews.
You'll start forgetting what you memorized in 3rd year.
Early enough for application; your mind is freshest after MS3; to refresh your mind before entering
MS4, i.e. sub-i; to get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of MS4.
You retain more information from 3rd year if you take it earlier.
If you did well with on your Step 1, no need to rush Step 2. I did some away rotations, so taking the
test in Nov allowed me to finish these rotations and my residency applications before worrying ab Step
2.
I took it early to boost my Step 1 score. It depends on whether you can afford a month off/have an
easy month (Anesthesia, Radiology) to study for it. Generally, the earlier the better, before you forget
all the details.
Get it out of the way early if possible.
I did my sub-I in July to get a letter-did not study much for step 2 this month. Then I did ambulatory in
August and Radiology in Sept. I did step 2 studying during Aug and Sept while on these light rotations.
then took the test late september.
I am going into Categorical Medicine, so I used July to do a Sub-I to get a letter of recommendation as
soon as possible.
Take one month off to study at the beginning of 4th year and take it as early as possible so residency
programs can see your scores when they first get your application. Some programs wait to send
interview invitations until they can review your scores.
I feel that taking it close to the end of 3rd year is good because then everything is fresh in your mind
and once you're done there are no more worries.
The earlier the better...get it out of the way while a lot of things are still fresh and you're still in the
studying mode!
The specific month is not important, but take it early, some residency programs want to see a good
score, particularly if step 1 wasn't stellar.
You can study all of July and take the exam Ay the end of the month. You know a lot at the end of 3rd
year and after applications, personal essays and interviews, you forget alot.
MS3 year test prep is still fresh on your mind
Just take it during an off month or easy rotation so you have time to study. Timing is not critical unless
you are making up for step 1.
You're able to get your first crucial sub-Is and away rotations done the first two months, then knock
out CK early enough that you haven't forgotten everything. Schedule it late September so you have
time to finish your applications. Also, early enough that you have more of 4th year to enjoy.
To get it out of the way-you need to do a Sub-I in either July, August, or September to get a letter for
residency.
Everybody wants to postpone it as long as possible. If you do your sub-I in July you are fresh from 3rd
year & look good. Then you can have August off to study for Step 2 CK & CS.
This is after you will have likely done rotations to procure a letter of recommendation but before
interviews really start ramping up. (October also fits this criteria.)
Get it out of the way so you don't have to stress.
Scores are in early and you're likely to do best on step II with 3rd year fresh in your mind.
There are so many other things to fill up fall of 4th year, it's nice to
many programs like to see step 2 before giving interviews
Be done with applications, sub-I but close enough to third year where you haven't forgotten all of the
information
Get it over with. Clinical knowledge still fresh.
Some competitive specialties prefer to see you step 2 score as part of interview selection criteria.
Taking it early while your internal medicine training is fresh and apathy has yet to set in is key.
If need to prove you can do significantly better than Step 1 then take it early. If you don't have
anything to prove take it whenever you want.
Take Step 2CK as early as possible in the year. I would also recommend taking it after a medicine sub-
i, particularly if you can manage to study during your sub-i.
Get scores in with applications to residency especially if you have an average STEP 1
Mihalic will try to scare you that this is too late. If you did well on Step 1, take it LATE! Otherwise, take
it whenever.
Remember most stuff.
I took it in very early August, so I had about 8-9 weeks to study, but still had a couple weeks before
having to start into third year, which was a much needed vacation.
I would take Step 2 CK and do your sub-I early during your 4th year when the information is fresh in
your head. Studying for Step 2 before your sub-I will keep the information fresh in your head, so you
can shine during your sub-I.
Everything is still fresh so you don't have to put a lot of effort into studying.
I had to do 3 ortho rotations so I did not have time to take July/August/September. Would have liked
to take it earlier to get it out of the way, but I had the ortho rotations to do and I didn't really need a
good Step 2 score.
Get it out of the way. I actually took it near the end of third year and loved being done. It made 4th
year much more relaxed.
As soon as possible when you have some free time, then you don't have to worry about it anymore
enough time to recuperate from third year and give you the chance to get rec letters
July or August while the material is still fresh. It's a good way to review all of third year and solidify
some concepts. Programs also seemed to like having scores in before Oct 1st.
You can do a hard rotation in July (subi or icu or hospitalist to get a rec) then you'll be tired enough to
want a month off. During the month off you can study for step.
I took off July to study for Step 2. I thought I needed a break from the wards, and studying sounded
good at that time. Plus, it felt really great to get that out of the way so early in 4th year. I was more
relaxed while other were trying to balance getting letters from their rotation and studying for step 2.
the closer to third year the easier. i didn’t have to study as much or as hard.
Take it early as your knowledge from third year is fresh. It is nice to get it out of the way so you can
enjoy fourth year (or do away rotations, not have to study during interview season, etc.) I would take
it in August if you want to focus on a rec-letter rotation in July, otherwise, take July off/light rotation
and take it then.
Take it early on in July or August if you need to make your Step 1 look better. Take an easy rotation
like ambulatory or an elective in July, study that month and then take it in late July/early August. If
you don't need to raise your Step 1, I still suggest taking it early to get it out of the way, because you
busy; have to start dealing with applications for residency in late august and September and then
interviews in Nov, dec and January. October is a decent month to take it but the farther away you get
away from 3rd year the more medicine and knowledge you forget and the more you will have to study
for CK
July or August if you want programs to see your score (ie your step 1 was not as strong as you would
have hoped, you are applying to a competitive residency). Plus everything from 3rd yr will still be fresh
in your mind.
Earlier = better
It's fresh in your mind and then over with
I took it in August, but take it whenever fits with your schedule.
B/c you'll forget HOW to study afterwards...and the info isn't as fresh in your mind
It is best to get the exam out of the way early in the year while the material from all of your 3rd year
clerkships are fresh.
get it out of the way early
as early as possible--makes 4th year so much better, but get rotations for letters first.
August is the best time because it lets you decide whether or not you want to release the scores for
the residency application. I actually took mine in September and this was just fine too. Basically, if
you did well on Step I, take Step II whenever; if you didn't do so well, take Step II early and do well to
show it off
Earlier the better, also you may have to use July to get a rec letter; should take it by the end of
September
Whenever you have time off to study
the sooner you get it done the better. plus it can help your app
Get your away rotations done, get your LOR in. I don't think a high step 2 CK is going to get you an
interview but instead will most likely help you when programs decide to rank you or not.
The answer to this really DEPENDS. If you need your Step 2 score for applications, take it early (it'll
be less studying since you'll be in MS3 shelf study mode anyway). However, if your specialty of
choice (e.g. derm) doesn't ask for Step 2 scores, you'll be fine taking it later. I took mine at the end of
November.
It's good to get it over with early unless you have to schedule Sub-Is or aways early in the year;
however, if you take it before your ERAS application, you will automatically have to release your score
along with Step 1 to residency programs. If you wait until after your application is in, you still have the
option to not release your score.
July - do a good job on sub-i august - study and take step 2ck so that you get score early enough to
impress programs
the best time to take step 2 varies depending on your step 1 score relative to the competitiveness of
the specialty you're applying to. you have only a few months at the beginning of 4th year to beef up
your application, so in deciding when to take step 2, you have to consider how much a high step 2 will
help you versus getting good LORs, doing research, etc.
early while material is fresh but give yourself a break for a month
Because all of the material from MS3 is fresh and it's nice to get it over with.
It will be in time for applications
 
 
 
 
 
3. My recommen
M ndation as to when to take the Step 2 CS exam is?
 

 
Why? 
take themm relatively clo
ose; it helps to
t have taken n one or the other
o becausee it gets you thinking in tha
at
mode
It doesn't really matterr when really.. As long as itt doesn't interrfere with you
ur own schedule of away
rotations and
a such. Jusst make sure not to schedu ule last minutte. Houston spots fill up qu
uickly and youu
don't wannt to have to fly
f out of statte.
Again thiss can be takenn whenever youy would like e. It requires almost no prreparation; ju ust a bit of
reading frrom the "Firstt Aide Step 2 CS." It's morre for understtanding the lo ogistics of howw that day wiill
proceed and
a what you will need to take t the examm. The OSCE E and COSCE at UTSW will have been
enough to o prepare youu for the day.
Nobody ca ares about yoour CS. Just don't
d fail.
Get it ove
er with before interviews be egin and befo ore you becomme lazy after interviews.
Same reasson I gave fo or CK, it just gets
g it out of the
t way and out o of your mind.
m
Later is okk
Get it ove
er with
Just get itt done.
You want to get it done e before the first
f of the ye
ear, but you want
w to have enough
e time to complete
your SubII.
Get it out of the way and you don't really need prep p time
Doesn’t reeally matter. Consider
C CS test
t weekend as a relaxing g long weeken nd.
after applications and everything
e is due
Do it before interview season though
Doesn’t really matter when. Minimal prep required because you do this on a daily basis as a 3rd year
and you've simulated this exam during the cosce. please read the basic tips from first aid cs about
washing hands, offering drape, etc.
get it over with so you don't have to worry about it
Don't spend too much time preparing for this. Relatively easy to pass. Only had little over a weekend
of dedicated time to study for it as I scheduled it shortly after CK. More than enough time.
as soon as possible - not worth studying much for if you feel reasonable confident in your history
taking skills.
Get it out of the way first.
Just to get it over with before interviews
Get it out of the way
You will pass, so take it after you've submitted all your residency application stuff and before you start
going to interviews. It takes 1 week to read the first aid book and to study for this test. No biggie.
I took the Step 2 CS the Friday after my Step 2 CK. I read through the orientation and vignette portion
of the First Aid for Step 2 CS. I used 2-3 days to prepare for the exam.
You'll start forgetting what you memorized in 3rd year.
Free time after applications are in, but before starting interviews. Better to get that out of the way too.
You retain more information from 3rd year if you take it earlier.
Really does not matter. Just have to get it done at some point. Literally only prepared about one day
and preparation was just familiarizing myself with how the test was administered, etc.
I took it early to get it out of the way. Does not require that much preparation, so you can take it
anytime.
Not a big deal, take it whenever it fits into your schedule.
No rush to take it, took it in Oct after CK was done. Some people preferred getting it over with earlier.
September or October would be best, because in November you start interviewing, at least if you're
going into IM.
Get it out of the way. It only requires a weekend at most of preparation.
Doesn't really matter, it's ridiculously easy anyway; you just have to get through it.
Just do it when you can fit it in and don't stress about it. We are well prepared for this by the COSCE.
I don't think the CS really matters at all. It seems to matter if you fail, which doesn't seem easy
(though it does happen)
It doesn't really matter. You'll be prepared.
OSCEs are good prep, only about 1 week of study necessary. Better to get it done and out of your
mind early.
Doesn't matter when you take it. Just take it, and make sure you're nice so you pass.
I would recommend taking CS after CK, since you'll study more for CK than CS, and why do things
twice? Just look over chapter 1 of first aid step 2 cs the week of CS; that's literally all you really need.
Despite my advice, I took CS before CK and passed easily, even though I felt terrible after finishing CS.
Can really take whenever.
Everybody wants to postpone it as long as possible. If you do your sub-I in July you are fresh from 3rd
year & look good. Then you can have August off to study for Step 2 CK & CS.
Honestly, this exam really depends on if you like to get easy stuff over with or if you like to get hard
stuff (e.g. Step 2 CK, which is more preparation intense) over with first.
Just get it over with. It requires ~4 hours of study time the evening before.
I think when you take CS is irrelevant. Schedule it based on your convenience (interviews, light
rotations etc). The only caveat I'd suggest is not taking CS the same month you do CK. There are some
logistics that are annoying to deal with (travel mainly) and this would detract from CK studying.
Take it as early as you can.
doesn't really matter when, but it is nice to get it out of the way so you don't have to worry about it
during the interview season
My selection is arbitrary. Take it whenever, you are well prepared after third year.
Take it a few days after you take the CK. All you need is a day or two to read a prep book and you'll do
great.
Take Step 2 CS close to a clinical rotation (ambulatory care, sub-i) so you can be familiar with
interacting with patients.
It's easy, no stress, get the CK done first then just pass the CS
Whenever, really doesn't matter.
This exam is very low-stress, other than the traveling required so take it as early as possible, just to
get it off your mind!
The exam is extremely easy, so you can take it whenever you want as it won't require much studying
at all (I only skimmed the first chapter in First Aid CS). But since you'll be pretty busy during the first 3
months of the year and this requires driving to Houston (or flying even farther), just take it after all the
craziness of applying has ended and prior to the craziness that is interview season.
Why not? Get it over with it's easy, but it's a pain.
Would have preferred to take it earlier because it is just a hassle. Nothing to worry about.
Believe it or not, your history/physical exam skills are probably not gonna get any better during 4th
year than they already are. Take it the day after your OSCE and get it done.
Whenever. Just so scores are in before Oct 1st-Nov 1st
Try to take it near CK just to get it done.
I also got CS out of the way less than a week after taking step 2. That way I ws completely done, and
I no longer had to worry about it.
Just take it as early as possible to get it out of the way. Taking it close to CK will help you remember
all the disease processes for the differentials.
Early is better. Depending on your 4th year rotations, your H&P skills may deteriorate. It's also just
nice to get it out of the way. I know the exam is easy/you don't really need to prepare for it, but I find
the experience sort of anxiety-provoking personally, so I took it towards the beginning of a month off
so I could focus on Step 2 CK for the rest of the month.
Just take CS whenever it fits into your schedule. Doesn't matter when.
Just get it over with and take a vacation in the second half of july
I say take it right after your sub-I. I scheduled it at the end of my medicine Sub-I and that turned out
well for me
Just take them close together to get them both out of the way. Then you can enjoy 4th year!
don't need to study
First aid is MORE than enough preparation, and sign up fast because slots fill up!
Take it as close to 3rd year as possible so your clinical skills will be fresh. It's not too bad an exam,
but when I took mine, I hadn't seen a patient in 4 months making it more stressful.
The earlier the better.
Should take it after Step 2 CK as you will have some knowledge of diagnoses/treatment, but it doesn't
really matter when you take CS (it's more about rapport, taking information)
early, but really whenever you have time
get it done and you will feel better
I studied the night before and used First Aid Step 2 CS, which is all you need.
Again, you can take this whenever you want - personally, CS is better to get out of the way earlier than
later, so you don't have to worry about it. I took my CS at the beginning of November.
Get it over with early - only spend the day before reading First Aid for Step 2 CS
It's helpful if you are done with your Sub-I October is pretty quite - you are just starting to hear from
programs, but interviews haven't started yet, but you are done with all of your apps
i would take step 2 CS about 5-7 days after step 2 ck. this way, the knowledge base that you've built
up studying for step 2 ck will be fresh for step 2 cs.
fresh memory is the key
Get it over with!!!!
 
 
4. Please indicate
e your level o
of agreementt with the following statement, “The C
Clerkship OSC
CE 
(C
COSCE) helpeed me prepare for the USMMLE Step 2 CSS.” 

 
Commentts 
While the format and setup
s is simila
ar, the grading is less stringent than the e real thing annd really, the
most impo ortant thing iss that they do on't tell you what
w you did wrong
w specifically. They doo make generral
statementts but the OSCE is really likke check list and a you need d to hit each check
c box. I still
s don't know w
what is in this check lisst. All that being said, the real OSCE isn n't that hard at
a all.
I will adm
mit that the CO OSCE was ann noying at the time, but it iss good practicce for the rea al thing, and
pretty mu uch eliminatess all other nee ed for "studying" for this exam.
That's all I needed and d I did pretty well.
The stand dardized patieents for CS are e maybe morre "standard,"" but thereforre awkward an nd less like re
eal
people. BeB prepared fo or that. Whe en you give th hem your firstt open ended question theyy will not talkk
for more than
t 10 secon nds. They're looking for yo ou to fish for answers. It's not hard tho ough, it's the
obvious sttuff. Just ann noying.
Same form mat, grading seemed different
It's a pain
n, but it helps. I would sayy that it is mu uch more difficult to take a history from m patients in th he
CS. There e are often trrigger questions--they won n't divulge anyy additional in
nformation un nless you ask
these que estions.
It helped mostly with thet time mana agement and SOAP note writing.
w The crrucial point off the exam is
time contrrol.
excellent prep for the csc
If you pass OSCE you can pass CS.
The real CS had much better trained patients.
The COSCE is actually set up the same way as Step 2 CS. I felt as if I was doing another OSCE when
taking CS and was comfortable seeing patients, asking questions and completing the SOAP notes.
You should know that there is a character limit if you are using the computer at the Step 2 CS.
Therefore, you must use abbreviations if you don't want to run out of space.
The OSCEs are good practice for the real thing. Very similar.
3rd year and the First Aid for Step 2 CS helped a lot more than the COSCE though.
COSCE is just like the real CS, but I would also quickly (like in 1 day) review the First Aid CS book.
don't buy a new copy, just borrow someone's old one to see how the scoring is done so you don't miss
points for stupid things like draping the patient...
The format was very similar.
CS is exactly like the COSCE, except longer and sometimes a little more tricky.
In the sense that you learn how to manage seeing many patients back-to-back
I felt very comfortable with the CS after the COSCEs that we did.
This is essentially the same thing.
OSCE is graded way harder than CS. Had one low pass on OSCE, but didn't even come close to a low
pass on CS. Passed with flying colors despite studying for less than a week.
The CS was easier than the OSCE.
It is EXACTLY the same with the sole exception of being able to use abbreviations in the real thing.
It's very similar.
it's good to go through the motions and know what you're going to expect
The COSCEs are exactly like the CS and even though it was so painful to go to the COSCEs - they are
totally worth it because no one wants to take extra time out to prepare for the CS
I would have done terrible without the COSCE opportunity and the advice Dr Wagner gave me based
on it.
It's similar. The CS may be easier than the COSCE
The format is exactly the same as CS, so if you had trouble with it, make sure to talk to someone about
it.
They grade easier than the COSCE I thought.
The CS is basically the COSCE's but incredibly too long. Don't stress over this at all. You'll pass.
COSCE is the best resource for passing CK besides first aid.
As much as I hated the OSCEs, it really did make me feel prepared. It also showed me things I could
improve on in advance. Knowing that I passed the OSCEs- which I thought they graded a little harsher
than than the real CS- made me feel confident when I went in for CS.
OSCE is very similar to Step 2 CS. If you passed the OSCE comfortably, you will have no problem with
CS.
It gave me an idea of what to expect but I'm not sure it changed how I performed at all
There wasn't as much emphasis on some of the minor details required in the actual Step 2 CS (i.e.
wash your hands, state their name, etc) but it was very similar
The Step II CS is very similar to the COSCEs. You can type your notes though, which I think is better
and would recommend it.
Be sure to use First Aid Step 2 CS, as there are quirks that are not represented on the COSCE
COSCE's will make you very familiar with format of Step 2 CS (and help you build stamina). Be sure to
flip through First Aid for USMLE Step 2CS
Almost exactly the same - this is a real benefit for us, especially in terms of being comfortable with the
time constraints - not every medical school provides this preparation
the COSCE that UTSW organizes is actually very helpful for the step 2 CS. the format of the exam is
almost identical. Remember, the step 2 CS does not reflect your true clinical ability; instead, it reflects
your ability to complete a minimum number of tasks. Learning the tasks you need to complete is the
most important thing for this exam.
 
 
5. Looking back, my advice for preparing for the USMLE Step 2 CK and CS would be: 
 
Take a whole month off; study hard; really ace the CK
While you shouldn't stress over it, you also shouldn't take it as lightly as some people say. "It's an easy
test. You don't need to study very much. You only need 2 weeks to study." The test is just as hard as
step 1, it's just you know more information now so it's "easier" the 2nd time around.
Q bank and secrets for CK.
Don't stress about the CS if you were doing fine on the COSCE. For the CK, use whatever method
worked for the Step 1, take an easier course early in fourth year and get it out of the way before you
really get into residency applications. Get CK done EARLY.
Buy the qbank for 1 year during your MS3 year and do the questions as you go through rotations and
take notes.
Doing just question bank for CK was perfect for me, you've heard it all before, reading paragraphs is
lower yield at this point. I did not do any formal preparation for CS (besides the review I had obviously
done in studying for CK) and I thought that was more than enough.
USMLE World for CK, don't sweat CS
Take it early but not at the Bedford location their ac dies and it's >90 degrees in there which, speaking
from experience makes it hard to stay awake
USMLE WORLD
No prep more than a weekend reading through case scenarios is necessary for CS. You need a month
to prepare for CK, I would advocate going through QBank as many times as possible and reading only
to fill in knowledge gaps.
Light study during July - Sep, Intensive study/ light rotation for Oct and take the test at the end of
October
get it out of the way early
Don’t spend too much time, it's easy so just do 2-3 wks of good studying
Don’t stress the cs at all. finish a qbank for ckf
Relax, read the silly first aid cs front section so you'll know the little rules. cs is just annoying, and
even if you feel worse about it you will probably do much better on step2 than you did on step 1
Study during 3rd year.
Study hard for the shelf and spend more time doing Qbanks.
To take them before interviews start, and if you need the boost early enough to have an impact on
your application.
Take the month off, study, rest, be ready.
CS- read first aid once CK- questions, questions, questions.
First Aid is really great for Peds questions, especially more than Step 2 secrets (Peds is diffuse
throughout the book). Step 2 Secrets is a great quick read if you need to brush up on presentation and
workup before the exam. 3rd year actually prepares you more than you think for Step 2 CK.
Study questions for step 2 CK and take CS seriously and you should be fine.
Get it done early while your mind is still fresh from MS3.
The only sources you need are Step 2 Secrets, First Aid, and USMLE World.
These tests are not as stressful as Step 1, but still require a little bit of dedication, so don't blow them
off. Getting them done early is a good idea if possible.
CK: pick the strategy (questions:review book ratio) that worked for you (or you think would have
worked for you) and use it. 'USMLE Step 2 Secrets' is a good "oh hey, good to know" review book for
topics you're weak in (in my case, that was ophto and ortho) because it's short and direct. CS: Read at
least the first chapter of First Aid for Step 2 CS to remind yourself of little polite things you can do for
your standardized patient. Maybe read a couple cases to see what they're looking for. It's not hard to
pass, even if you forget to do a few things.
Don’t overstudy. 4-6 weeks of good studying is enough. do lots of questions...they are better than
looking through first aid a million times. Uworld was pretty reflective of the real test.
For CS, I used First Aid for CS, and went over each case as if I were encountering it for real, that is,
getting the history out loud and actively coming up with the ddx and plan.
Doing questions is the best preparation for CK. You have already learned the information, so focus on
learning how to answer the questions. And read all the explanations for the answer choices. For CS,
just spend a day or two reading First Aid CS. And make sure you know all the parts of the physical
exam.
Stay focused when studying for the CK (yes it's not as bad as Step 1, but it's still a big test). Try to do
it when you feel most prepared and least stressed while studying (try not to take it during a more
intense rotation). Don't worry about the CS; UTSW prepared us well.
Study hard for step 2 (particularly by studying for 3rd year rotations) it’s not as bad as step1. Don't
worry about CS. Just do what you have learned and you'll be fine. Most of my friends (me included)
studied a total of less than 1 day for this.
Prepare but do not stress out about it. Take them early, before or while you work on residency
applications
USMLE secrets and USMLE world. FA if you have time, but lots of unnecessary details, not as good as
for Step 1.
Take CK before CS. Why study twice? Use USMLE World and the first aid books. Don't freak out and
reschedule when you haven't studied as much as you thought you would. Just get it done. CK is easier
than Step 1 and you already know more.
Use USMLE World during MS3.
For the CK do as many practice questions as you can; and realize that the CK is much more clinical
than step Step 1. For CS just take the COSCE seriously and read over your HPI, ROS, & basic PE stuff.
Pick a test date and stick with it.
Don't take a month off to study for CK, just study during an easy elective month.
Take an easy month (ie elective) and use usmle q bank. try to knock out both exams in the same
month
- Take it close enough to 3rd year - relearning all the information is painful - Don't study for more than
15-20 days for CK - Study hard for the shelf exams and throughout 3rd year and CK won't be hard at
all; that way even if you don't study for CK your score will still go up
Maybe I could have studied a little longer.
Questions are key. Do as many as you can.
Schools are sometimes wary of ranking people who don't have their Step 2 scores even if you are a
really strong test taker. Make sure you have your score back by January for this reason
Qbank! Qbank! Qbank! Use the review books as a reference for CK. Try to look over the CS book for
confidence if nothing else.
Don’t stress out, just do QBANK for CK and then read the CK first aid once
Usmle world question bank only
Don't let these tests stress you out! As long as you worked hard during third year and studied for the
clerkship exams, you will not need to study too much for these tests. Step 2 CS is a breeze, but I
would recommend practicing an H&P, a differential, and note within the allotted time.
Take CK within your first 3 months of MS4, preferably before your sub-I. Try to get through USMLE
World questions as they're more helpful than First Aid. CS is just a formality, so just schedule it at the
end of a 3-7 day period where your schedule is relatively clear.
World for CK, skim over at least the intro and a case or two for CS in First Aid, it tells you what they
want from you
I would go ahead and study hard for CK no matter if you need a good step 2 score to help you or not.
UTSW makes you take your test so that programs will definitely see your score before they rank you so
it will help you to do well. If you rock step 2 it only can make you look better. Look at the first couple
sections of the First Aid CS book to get the logistics down but that is all you need. Also SIGN UP
EARLY! It is impossible to move CS and you don't want to take it in a far away city that you have to fly
to.
Take it on a light elective (radiology,anethesia, etc) block. I took a whole month off to study, but only
used about 2 weeks of that to actually study. Do something that provides structure to your day,
otherwise you'll sleep till noon and not have any more time to study than if you had done an easy
elective.
Doctors in training works!
Take an easier elective in July or August and take your CK then after a few weeks of your favorite
study method. Take the CS around this time, during a rotation that will let you off. Secret to the CS,
sign up early!!!!! You can always reschedule for later if you need.
Try to take it early so you can focus on applying to residency later on in the year. You don't
necessarily need to take a month off, but you may want to for a little vacation. Do uworld and secrets
for CK and first aid for CS.
Focus on practice questions for CK- lots and lots of questions. The OSCEs are good enough prep for
the CS, other than just reading the intro chapter on how to take the CS in the First Aid for CS book.
Unless you failed the OSCEs- then you should probably work on your weaknesses.
Use first aide for CK. Finish all of q bank even if it was used during the third year clerkships; studying
for CK will teach you what you need to know. Don't waste money on books.
Spank CK. You can do so easily with some preparation and taking it close to the end of 3rd year.
Program directors care about it more than you have been led to believe (and a good Step 2 CK score
can help an average Step 1 score a lot). I read through the vignettes in First Aid CS; probably overkill,
but I found them helpful.
CK- Take it as close to 3rd year as possible. Your knowledge is high and you won’t have to study as
much and you won't have to worry about taking it later on.
Don't worry about them or waste too much time. You'll do fine. Read first aid for cs to learn the
nitpicky rules for cs
Take some time to study for CK, don't waste too much time studying for CS. If you can't find the date
you want, sign up for the email notification. You will find many many openings for just when you want
to take it.
just review First Aid CS and make sure you know the differential diagnosis
Do lots of practice questions for the Step 2 CK. For the CS, just read First Aid for the Step 2 CS about
1-2 weeks before the exam. Sign up for dates early as CS dates tend to fill up quickly.
If you did o.k. on the COSCEs, just skim first aid for step2CS and take it ASAP. For CK, USMLE world
Many people say CS and CK are a joke. While this may be true to the few of you who are super smart
and do not need to study, it's not so funny for the rest of us. The best way to approach these (and in
fact all) exams is to have the right mind set - that is, think of them as an excellent opportunity to
consolidate your knowledge. Look back on your Step I exam. No matter how you did, I'm sure
studying for it must have given you a better and more holistic understanding of the otherwise disjoint
material of 1st and 2nd year medical school. The same is true with Step 2. This is your chance to
learn and consolidate the material from your hectic 3rd-year clerkships. Step 2 is NOT another
obstacle, but it IS another learning tool for you. I did not cram for these exams as some students may
suggest to you. I purchased 2 months of USMLE World, did about 50 questions a day, and referenced
First Aid when needed. I dare say that this was an enjoyable way to review all of the material and I
did very well on the exam. Good luck and don't worry too much, but please do worry at least some
("eustress").
Take both as early as possible, don't spend too much time studying for CS.
Take CK early, doesn't matter when you take CS; your score on CK can also help if you didn't do so
well on Step 1
Give yourself some study time
i would not change what i did. i heard of some people using usmle secrets with good results
Be sure to review Pediatrics and Ob-Gyn, as there are a big part of the exams.
Don't stress out about it too much - focus on your MS4 rotations and electives to get the strongest
LORs you can for residency apps. If you did well enough on Step 1, then definitely don't stress. If you
are trying to raise yourr score, then dedicate som me solid time to
t studying (yyou can definiitely rock thiss
exam)!
USMLE World
W for Step 2 CK First Aiid for Step 2 CS
C - if you sccored well on COSCE, then only review the t
day before e the exam
CS: first aid
a book more e than sufficie
ent (skim throough it 1 week prior) CK: focus
f on USMMLE world q-
bank, finissh 100% of itt, repeat the questions
q tha
at you missed
Step 2 is an
a area wherre you can tru uly shine and earn a great score if you put
p some time e into it. it
matters most
m for thosee who have a low step 1 sccore (relative to the averag ge of the speccialty they're
applying to)
t and for those who are applying to su uch a compettitive specialtyy that they may
m need to
reapply ne ext year (andd thus program ms will see yo
our step 2).
Just get itt done as earlly as possiblee
For cs, reaad FA. For ckk, set a goal and gear yourr studying tow ward that. USM MLE World more valuable
than anything else. Tak ke ck early.
don’t stresss out too mu uch about it
 
 
6. Please indicate e your level o
of agreementt with the following statement, “I foun
nd the follow
wing 
too be helpful in my preparaation for residency.” 
 

 
 
 
 
7. Please provide advice that you would feel helpful to future MS4s with regards to the 
following topics: 
 
Scheduling Senior Electives 
 
Front load your schedule! (sub-I, acute care, ambulatory) you get extremely dumb during the second
semester after not doing much. Also, do NOT have the mentality that you want to learn during second
semester. That mentality will disappear quickly before you get there. Schedule your sub-i early (July-
September) so that you get first dibs. You will more than likely need a letter. Biostats is a wonderful
class! Sign up for it your sub-i first then sign up for this!
Schedule your "easy" electives first. They fill up in the interview months.
Know if you're going to need to do away rotations early.
Ask the MS4s before you what they did. Ask at least 3 different people.
Philosophy of Medicine is awesome. Dr. Fabrice Jotterand is a philosopher on campus who offers this
class. Contact him if you can't find how to add the class. It'll change your world, and you only meet
twice a week! Double plus!
Do your specialty's electives first
SubI's as early as possible.
Do what you find interesting. It's your last chance to try out some things
Pick easy rotations during the month of STEP2 CK
Do radiology during interview months
radiology, anesthesia, clinical toxicology, advanced anatomy, derm, research are good low-stress
rotations
do harder stuff early in the year, you'll be less and less interested as the year goes
Schedule hard required course first.
Schedule light electives during interview months
Front load the year
Take radiology during interview season so you can have more vacation time later. Schedule these first
as they fill up FAST.
Depends on when you need to take Step 2 and what you're looking to do. It best to schedule your core
electives (Acute care, Sub I and Ambulatory) in the beginning of the year, so you can devote the rest
of the year to electives and enjoying 4th year. You can also schedule your Sub-I in the spring so you
can have those skills and knowledge set ready for intern year.
All depends on which specialty you're applying for.
Take the electives you are considering early, so you can see whether or not it is really something you'd
like to pursue; also, it will be handy for when LORs are needed.
Choose electives not in your specialty, since you'll never have the luxury to do it again.
Pick the electives you need a letter in first, then schedule radiology/anesthesia for interview months.
Everything else usually has plenty of open spots.
Schedule some rotations that would be fun to do and to which you may never again be exposed.
However, make sure to also do a few rotations in your field of interest to better prepare you for intern
year.
Schedule light towards the end. You will want a break.
There's no trick to it, look at what you have to do throughout the school year and pick electives that
will allow that, you will need one month off for interviews, either Nov, Dec, or Jan, I did Dec. and that
worked.
After you do the rotations you need for letters try to doo electives that are interesting to you and that
you may never get to do again. Definitely take lighter electives in November, December and January
and take at least one of those months off for interviews.
Get your tests done and frontload.
Radiology in Nov, Dec, or Jan - unlimited excused absences for interviews
Get things done early. It's now February, and I only have 1 more week of med school! It hurt at first,
but now I'm the envy of all my classmates. Schedule Radiology for December or January (or both) so
you can get a class done while you interview with no trouble.
at the end of the 4th year so you can coast
I would recommend avoiding subspecialties of your specialty (if applicable) and choosing electives you
will never be able to do again. Also, schedule your difficult electives first before you start to "check
out" in the spring semester.
Put your most difficult electives first, with the ones most likely to allow time off (or take the month off
completely) in Nov and Dec
sign up for interview electives early. they fill fast. anesthesia, radiology, advanced anatomy are all very
forgiving for interviewing
do this during interview season or towards the end. it's better to get the required rotations out of the
way
I know that everyone says to get your hard rotations done early - but if you are in a specialty field
doing a prelim year in medicine/surgery (eg: rads/ophtho/anesth) it might help to do one good rotation
late to help remember stuff before you start intern year
There is a lot of flexibility. Don't sweat it.
Radiology, PM&R, Biostatistics, Advanced Anatomy, Philosophy of Medicine all allow you to take days
off for interviews.
Front- load your schedule. You will thank yourself later.
Radiology, Anesthesiology, and Surgical Pathology all allow you to miss quite a bit. Take these during
interview months
Do Sub-I, critical care, and take CK as early as possible, so you can have an easy 2nd half of the year.
FRONT LOAD. You will be tired and burnt out after interviews. Don't take time off early, give yourself a
few onths off at the end of the year.
Do everything early so that you are done after jan or feb. Take a month off for interviews and do
something easy the other month (i.e. radiology, anesthesia, advanced anatomy)
Kind of obvious, but if you're doing an elective in a field you're considering, do it as soon as possible.
try and get rotations you can get rec letters from early
get on as many waiting lists as you would like and do it early. They move so you can actually get into
those classes.
If you need a LOR early in 4th year, schedule more than 1 potential rotation to get it in July-Sept. I
knew people who were depending on an LOR from their sub-i but things just didn't work out, and
getting that last letter became very stressful.
Advanced anatomy can be completed at the same time as another elective if you want an extra month
off. You will have to schedule it in another month but you can complete your work whenever you
want. I did it during my ER elective and just had the month off during the month anatomy was
actually scheduled for.
Take something challenging during spring; otherwise you will get bored and may start to become
anxious about intern year b/c you are so rusty!
Radiology is great for an interview month. Other nice electives schedule wise: PMR, ophthalmology
(unless you’re going into it), anesthesia. Try to plan 4th year so you are done by end of February. 4
month long spring break then.
Do what sounds interesting and get hard things out of the way.
have fun
the obvious--ones you're interested in most first (for letters and confirm it's what you want to do),
wouldn't hurt to put one hard one near the end to get primed
You know what is important to you and your schedule should reflect that (not what others suggest).
Do you want 3 months off before residency? Do you want to use your electives to explore or
consolidate specialty options?
schedule what elective you need a rec letter in July, then you should make sure you schedule the easy
electives (path, radiology, anesth) in Dec/January as these fill fast for interviews
Frontload as much as possible, schedule aways early
Pick electives that interest you - this is your last chance to get exposure to specialties outside of your
chosen field - these are typically laid-back, enjoy the experience
get the sub-i scheduled first, most important, easy rotations can wait
 
Application Timelines 
 
follow all of them; and give yourself at least a week ahead of schedule
Turn it in on time. Don't be late. The difference between the first day and second day available to
submit is NOTHING! So make sure you are thorough and don't rush if you waited too long but TURN IT
IN EARLY.
Earlier is better when applying!
Always be early
Be prepared. Do things earlier than needed because setbacks will arise.
I turned in everything the first day I could, it worked out well.
Start personal statement in may
Start early. Start your CV now.
Submit your application as soon as possible.
Get it done early so you have plenty of time to do it well
submit and start early
get it done asap - end of 3rd yr
work a little bit on your eras application every day because it's so boring, proofread it with your friends
so you can laugh about how important you made your extracurriculars sound
Start early to give yourself time to think.
Get stuff done early.
Have everything done by 9/1 because some invites do come out really early
Be very early. Even a few weeks past the first day they open can cost interviews.
Gather all your letter of recs and do your personal statement with lots of proofing- get this done no
later than mid august.
Apply EARLY!!! The sooner you apply, the sooner you get interviews and the sooner you can relax
because your application has been submitted.
Keep yourself organized...mark it on your calendars!
Submit your application on September 1st if possible. Apparently, the programs know exactly when
you submit EVERYTHING on ERAS, and it helps to look more prepared and timely than other
applicants..
If you are on away rotations in July and August, you will have to work on your application during this
time. It is a good idea to have everything done by the end of August.
Get everything done by the first day that ERAS opens.
Just get your application in when ERAS opens. It'll be a lot off your mind and you'd be surprised how
quickly interview invites are sent out. The earlier you apply, the more interview date options the
programs will have for you.
Early, Early, Early.
Figure out what you want to do before August. That would have made things easier.
get every done at least a week early
Stay on top of it!
Get EVERYTHING done months in advance. Especially requesting LORs
turn in early
submit sept 1st!
Use your spring break to shadow/figure out what you want to do! Start working on your application
early - it takes longer than expected
Follow the advice and timeline chart provided by the deans.
Earlier the better
Start working on your applications as soon as possible. Review them at lteast 4 times before
submitting.
Do everything on Day 1
Submit your application on the first day you can.
If you have it done by july-august, your life is much nicer
1st week of September
Early.
Submit on the 1st day it opens. I started getting invites right away.
Apply early!
Get your application in on the first day ERAS opens. DONE
Start drafting your personal statement early just so you have something to start with and fill out eras in
small pieces.
turn it in early
Be prepared to turn in your application on September 1st. Use July and August to prepare your
application and ask for letters of recommendation.
everything as early as possible--ALL of my interview offers came prior to receiving dean's letters
Know when deadlines are but REALLY KNOW when things are first available for submission and get
everything done EARLY!
Have everything in on the first day.
should get application in by early september
Do things as early as possible
LOR deadlines, NRMP deadlines, ERAS deadlines
Apply for derm late (they don't download ERAS until after the deadline) so you can maximize your CV
and personal statement. This is consistent advice I got from several advisors within department
It's best to schedule Sub-Is and away rotations no later than September in order to get a letter from
your rotation -
get everything submitted on first day
not sure if it matters
 
Requesting Letters of Recommendation 
 
request 2-3 months in advance; if you want to get one out of your Sub-I let the attending & residents
know immediately
Have your letters by September! You can still get them in September but this is pushing it and is
unnecessary stress.
Follow up and make sure they are submitted on ERAS.
Don't be afraid to ask. The worst they can say is 'no' and the only thing at stake is your pride, which
will recover.
Be proactive. Start early. Request by April latest.
you know this one already. Have back-ups in case your "guaranteed" letter writers don't come though.
Earlier the better, they procrastinate
Request several so that you can pick and choose which to use.
Do not be afraid to ask faculty for letters--they are expecting this, and will often be honored.
Do it early and with confidence. Schedule a time to meet before you ask for a letter
do it early and go for people who know you well rather than the big names
get it done asap - end of 3rd yr
don't be shy, try to meet with people, they are all expecting to be asked for letters
Start early
Go with people who know you well and not just a big name
Start asking in June and July. Faculty take a long time.
Set up a time to meet with them if they agree to write a letter. Have your entire portfolio with you to
give them.
START EARLY!!! If not already doing so, use your 3rd year to determine who will write you a good
letter. Know which department you'll need a letter from. Make a good impression on your attendings
starting day 1. Read your subjective evaluations. They will give you a good idea of who will write you a
good letter and what they think about your performance on the wards.
Get this done early! Make a folder with all the necessary components, i.e. CV, personal statement. Also
email them a digital copy. STRESS the importance of the deadline. Most will need a lot of reminders.
An gentle way to remind them is to send a "thank you" email.
Do this early if possible.
Get at a letter from each place you do an away rotation. Think carefully about who you ask for letters.
Do not get a letter from a person if you do not plan to use it.
Ask your advisor for what kind of rec letters have more weight to help decide what letter rotations to
take. Also, if there's a particular program you're thinking of, look at their requirements on their
website. Some may want more than the standard 3 letters.
Do it early, and have an extra one prepared in case one falls through or takes too long
In May-July.
Ask nicely and you shall receive
Start thinking now about attendings you have really liked and feel that they got a good feel for who
you are. Don't be afraid to approach them about a letter. Always ask if they feel they could write you
a strong letter because you don't want generic letters.
Early, Early, Early, though all my faculty seemed to understand that I felt a timecrunch
Do it early but make sure you have worked hard and have a good relationship with the attending.
Ask early if possible, perhaps around end of rotation, especially for rotations earlier on in the year
Shoot to have the requests in before September so they are on file soon after.
Ask for as many recommendation letters as you can; you can figure out what to do with them later.
The faculty really don't mind, and they'll never know if you use their letter later or not.
at least a month ahead of time; if you don't have that long just let them know as soon as you start a
rotation; it's okay to use 3rd year faculty just make sure they actually remember you
It never hurts to ask or e-mail the professor early, but start working on your CV and personal
statement early so that you can put together a packet to give to the LOR writers.
Request 3 or 4, early, and make sure you know who the programs you're applying to want you to get
them from.
ask early.
give your rec writers a heads up 2 months in advance
Remember that the medicine clerkship is a powerhouse for letter recs - surgery doesn't provide enough
face time with attendings sometimes
A lot of anxiety. Do not be afraid to email and remind your letter writers.
Earlier the better
Take your time and think about who would write you a strong letter. You can wait a few months into
4th year.
It's not necessary to ask for LoRs until early-mid August at the earliest. If you're requesting a letter
from a 4th year elective, as the attending during your 2 week evaluation, so they can start thinking
about what they'll plan on writing.
do it early, ask only people who you know well or have worked with for a significant amount of time.
Do it early! Follow up with these people because they will wait until the last minute. Look and see if
programs require supplemental forms and try to give these to them early if possible. If not don't worry,
they know you need these are happy to do them. Just bug their secretaries if you have not received
them. Don't bug them directly.
I think "Can you write me a STRONG letter" is dumb and hokey. Hopefully you're not asking for a letter
unless you already know it’s going to be good.
Do this in July if possible, but as late as Sept.
Don't be afraid to send friendly reminders, and if you don't hear anything back from someone who
committed to write a letter and the deadline is approaching, the best person to contact is their admin
assistant- they will make sure they get the letter in on time!
If a rotation went well, send the attending an e-mail telling them how much you enjoyed it, and asking
if they would be willing to write you a letter. This is best done shortly after the rotation.
Start thinking about them now. Ask for Letters in May-July if your getting attendings from 3rd year
rotations. This gives them plenty of time to write a letter. If you plan on getting a letter 4th year, take
the rotation in July or August preferably and definitely no later than September
Be asking for them by early August so they will be ready Sept 1st when you submit your application
a royal pain ...get it done early
Be nice and ask early. Don't be afraid to ask either. Faculty are used to writing these, and you
probably won't blow their minds when you pop the question.
start requesting in July as they often take over a month to get submitted
Again, early
Be direct, ask for possibility of letter after grades and evals are submitted. Have a CV ready
Ask earlier rather than later; have a good working draft of personal statement for them
Send an e-mail requesting a meeting, then provide letter writer with a neatly labeled manila folder
containing the ERAS submission form, your personal statement and CV. It's a good idea to get letters
from department chairs and vice-chairs. If applying in surgical subspecialty, you need to have a letter
from the chair - don't worry if you haven't worked with them - they will ask the residents for feedback
request in june
letters are extremely important for those applying to competitive specialties in small fields
(dermatology)
July or before that
 
Curriculum Vitae 
 
start this early; it helps with filling out ERAS
The only people that see this are your letter writers. Make it professional and useful for someone to
read it but you don't need to make this fancy. The application itself has its own format.
Proof read it and make sure it’s complete.
I wish we were told how to keep track of this from the beginning of first year.
Start it today. Add things as you recall them.
Make it interesting but not overbearing. Your letter writers are your target audience.
Get it proofed
Start early.
Put effort into this and let many people proofread
get it done asap - before end of 3rd yr
Give to several people to review
Start early because it is easy to forget all the cool things you've done over the years.
I've been told they aren't important for the application, just for letter writers.
Try to document somewhere the organizations you're involved in, community service projects and
research. Associate deans are helpful in critiquing your resume and giving advice for improvement.
Pull out your old resumes from college or even from your old med school application. List the important
clubs in which you played an ACTIVE role. Quality is better than quantity.
Follow the guidelines they give you on the ERAS website
Have an advisor or someone who's seen a lot of CVs, look over it and critique it just like you would
your personal statement.
Easy, no sweat.
Just for your letter writers, ERAS will put everything in its own format
If you presented a poster at the med student research forum, put that on the "research" section as a
"pseudo-publication." Feel free to put so-called "menial" jobs on your CV, even if they were in college.
Some programs like to know you waited tables or worked in a warehouse.
start early because it helps with ERAS
Start on this early and have several people proofread this document.
pretty self-explanatory
keep it short and clean and clear. give a copy to each letter writer.
start it ASAP and have it reviewed by several different people
Start now
Get started early. If possible start during MS1 year so you don't forget things.
Start working on your CV early. Make sure to look at how ERAS has you enter your info.
Start it this spring.
START EARLY.... NOW. Add as you go
We really should be starting on this as MS1's. I did so much more than I was able to remember.
Do this in June and revise revise. Give this to your recommenders.
Have this ready for one of the Deans to look over at your MSPE review meeting. I got some really
helpful feedback!
Look up samples on google. UNC's med school has a pretty good one.
Have someone you trust proof read this
you've done a lot although you don't think you have
Include significant experiences and not a lot of fluff (this dilutes the good stuff). If everything you've
done is fluff...well then those things are significant for you.
Have some faculty people look this over
I thought First Aid for the match was very useful
Don't stress. You've worked hard for 3 years, your CV will fall into place
Not sure about this since ERAS application is pretty standard
 
Personal Statements 
 
good luck; just be truthful
This will not make you but it will break you. Don't sound crazy and you will be fine. Do not stress over
this because you more than likely will sound like everyone else. Only few people will make an
outstanding PS.
Don't procrastinate. You'll need to go through several drafts. It's a not so fun job but you got to do
it....so do it.
Don't worry about this. Just express yourself and keep spelling and grammar in check.
Easy. Get others to read them too.
Mine was all me. It was not middle of the line. It definitely showed my character (playful and joking),
and I got an excellent response. I was invited to interview most of the places I applied (14/17), and
almost everyone commented in my interview how much the loved my personal statement and how
they felt they knew me before I had stepped into their office. I don't know if that's what got me there,
but it definitely didn't hurt.
Start early have someone in your department read over it
Take time with this and make it good
Get it done fast and have friends and mentors to revise them
most painful part but probably means the least
get it done asap - before end of 3rd yr
write a draft early so you just have something, then go back and revise it later, i recommend doing a
draft and then letting it sit for awhile and coming back to it with fresh eyes. it's fine to get perspective
from friends, but you don't have to change it to make them happy
Give to several people to review. Start early
Try to finish and don't take too much time. Really not a paper for you to tell everything. Sometimes
they don't even look at it.
Take time and dig deep to find out why you want to be what you want to be
Get lots of people to read it, but don’t try to please everyone. Keep your style.
Get a lot of people to proof read these
Have at least 2-3 people read it. I had a 2 UTSW faculty members and a good friend who’s a college
professor and previous grad TA of mine read it. Very helpful because you get very different
perspectives and feedback, but make sure you don't lose your voice. Present a genuine interest in the
specialty you choose and why. Internal medicine has a good template of how to write it. Also the
Careers in Medicine website has good suggestions on the content and format of the personal
statement.
Have several residents read this
Jot down any and all the ideas you have as it comes to you; you may not use all of them, but at least
they will all be there.
Write a draft early in the summer and revise it at least two different times during July and August.
Allow multiple advisors to read it.
Try to make the PS equal parts of why you're interested in the specialty and why you're perfect for
it/what you can offer. Then have friends and your advisor read over it.
Make it about yourself, no need to wow them though, they're just looking to make sure you hit the
necessary high points based on specialty.
Give it to your advisor, mentor, mom, dad, favorite uncle: whoever you think will give you
helpful/constructive feedback (not just: 'It's good.') Also, your letter writers may ask for it to help
them learn things about you that they may not have known (interests, extracurriculars, etc.)
Let someone (faculty) you trust read it. Not hard, but you may be off the mark.
Write something that you would enjoy reading
Just keep at it, iterations are key.
Have lots of people read it.
Start on this early and have several people proofread this document.
Don't try to be controversial. A good one doesn't make much of a difference, but a bad one can ruin
you.
don’t start with a quote or patient anecdote. Make your first sentence yours.
relax and write what you want to say, not what you think they want to hear
proof read and get lots of different people to read it for feed back
I know everyone tries to make it unique - but sometimes it’s OKAY to just write why you love the
specialty and what got you there - write according to your personality
Tell your story
Not easy to write. Don't wait for the last minute.
Re-write this MULTIPLE times and get advice from a range of different people, who will be honest with
you! For example, a non-medical college friend, a family member, a professor, etc.
Don't stress too much about it. Just be honest and ask people (friends, mentors, advisors, etc.) to
proof-read it.
Start this spring, have it reviewed by several people in your field.
START EARLY EARLY... it is always easier to start with SOMETHING then to revise from there. I used
the careers in medicine website to get an idea of what to put in there.
Make sure you get friends and advisor to read them. You may not be saying what you think are.
Have everyone, including your mother read it.
Do this in June to give to your recommenders.
Have friends who know you proof it. Also have advisors give you feedback. And also have this ready for
your MSPE review meeting so a dean can give you feedback. It really helps alot!
Have your English major friends from college edit it. Don't be afraid of sounding cheesy if you are
being honest. Re-read it before your interviews.
Make sure you talk about yourself and it gives a sense of who you are and what your personality is.
have someone proofread it without too many chefs in the kitchen (too many authors)
Take time on this! I think this is what made me stand out -- but don't be weird.
Start working on this early and revise it ad nauseam. Seriously, if you're not sick of seeing your own
personal statement, you need to review it more. Not only is it an important piece of the application,
but this is what many of my interviewers referenced while I was on my interviews.
this takes the longest to do, you need to have a good draft, so that you can give to your letter writers,
so you need to get it done sometime in July
Speak from your heart
Get it done early and get it out of the way.
I'm told people don't really read the PS. Make it decent s/ grammatical errors etc. However, if you are
someone who simply takes personal pride in your written work, it will be a time-consuming process
Tell a story, don't just list facts that are already available in your CV, ask for feedback
for very competitive specialties, a unique personal statement becomes a way to set apart an applicant
(in a good or bad way). if you do a good job, it will pay off. this may be less so for less competitive
specialties
start as early as possible
 
Scheduling Away Rotations 
 
not useful for most specialties and is another cost
Start early
Look on the school's website. VSAS is useless.
Ask your specialty advisor
do it early
Do it early if you want an away.
VSAS. Complete the application early and follow-up with the respective program's office.
Schedule early
Do this early, as slots may fill up quickly.
Schedule them early. Critically think about where you might want to be for residency, and do rotations
at these places.
If you need to do them (especially for the more competitive specialties or if you know there's a
program you're dying to go to) then do them early and be a rockstar.
Lots of red tape, expect delays, and get things done early. DONT GO TO KANSAS
Ms. Moore and Ms. Holbert are great. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
do your sub-I in your desired specialty first and doi it at UTSW, then schedule all the away rotations
you'd like; be careful because they're expensive and unnecessary for some fields
lots of paperwork so start early
do this now (spring of MS3) because many programs have various requirements and early deadlines
Start early, VSAS is helpful but sometimes you still have to call/email places to get things scheduled.
START EARLY. Some programs have early deadlines (i.e. Mayo). Also get your vaccination titers as
early as possible because many programs require them. Also see if you need supplemental
applications. Don't apply to too many, depending on how competitive the program is you will most
likely get the spot if you apply early. You can burn bridges early if you turn down an away rotation
from the beginning
Start way earlier than you think. Not entirely necessary, so talk to your specialty advisor. VSAS is not
very helpful so call the individual school for requirements
SO HARD, do in April. More work than applying to residency, but worth it in certain specialties.
Even in internal medicine it seems a lot of people from other med schools I met at interviews did these.
UTSW seems to say not to do them.
Good luck. Talk to faculty about where they would recommend. Going directly to the department is
much more likely to work out than VSAS (which is an expensive bureaucratic nightmare). Talk to your
faculty advisor about the pros and cons for doing one in your chosen specialty--it varies!
If there is a place that you know you want to end up at or a place where you would seriously consider
going but don’t think you would get an interview there because of regional bias (say California or
Northeast), then schedule an away rotation there. It gets your foot in the door unless you suck. don’t
suck.
Do this early. Be in touch with admin at your away rotation locations. Not 100% necessary, but it's
really nice to see how another institution outside of UTSW does things. Really great option if you can
make arrangements for free/cheap housing for a month (it'll be a like a little vacation!)
Contact programs as early as possible - March, April are good months
only if you know what you want to go into, schedule as soon as you can in 3rd year
do this early! the popular ones fill up. ask your mentor/advisor for suggestions on where YOU should
do an away rotation
 
Completing Away Rotations 
 
if you schedule one you should definitely complete it
act interested
depends on if trying to get an interview, impress a place that is already giving you an interview
Only do away to places you really want to go because it's an interview in itself.
This is a month long interview, but enjoy the rotation. This is your time to shine, show how hard of a
worker you are and also a time to see the residents as they truly are. Anyone can put up a "happy, we
love this place facade" for 1-2 days on the interview trail, but it’s very difficult to do for a full month.
This is the time when you can see if your personality fits with the program and faculty and if this is a
program you can see yourself be a part of.
Be on your best behavior and make the best impression you can. Be nice to everybody you met. This
will give you an advantage when you apply/interview.
Be nice to everyone all the time and work hard. You will not be expected to know too much, but your
personality, attitude, and work ethic will definitely be critically evaluated.
Shine
Make sure beforehand that it's a program you would like to be a part of. Work like you're on your Sub-
I.
complete them
try to schedule them for august or september after having done the rotation at your home program
first, preferably the earlier the better so you can get a rec letter from them
Work hard. Don't complain. Do things without having to be told. And be yourself, you don't want to
fake who you are to get in.
Not necessary for pediatrics, in general
Send thank you notes to faculty you spent a lot of time with. Stay in touch with the residents.
Do it if you were good on the wards, it can only help you
Always be early and eager, work hard, don't complain, be a team player, always support your residents
and fellow students
do them in sept-oct, jan-feb; make sure you are on your top game
please do not do an away if you're better on paper than in person. aways can help you break into other
regions if your application screams regional (ie. texas X 3). aways can also earn you nice letters from
important people if you can find time to work with them.
 
Interview Scheduling 
 
mid november to early january, try to book rotations that will let you off (anesthesia, radiology, peds)
that way you can have 3 months off at the end of the year
My personal preference is to do no more than 2 a week. I'm in medicine so this is possible; I don't
need too many total interviews. More than 2 is TIRING! Of course other specialties are not so lax. Try
and schedule like regions of US together but this is sometimes impossible. Give yourself a month in
Dec-Jan for radiology or off to travel.
Cluster interviews whenever possible.
Do not refuse any interview until mid-November and then clean-up your interview calendar. Get on
every wait list you can because they do move.
Schedule your top programs first. Reply to emails as you receive them since interview spots fill up fast
at certain programs.
Respond promptly. Cancel well ahead of time.
Schedule a few you aren't interested in first
You will be tired by the end, but try to schedule some breaks so you don't get so burned out
Try to bundle adjacent cities to week-long interview week
try to do it regionally
get it done asap
schedule ones you don't really care that much about later, so you can cancel them. try to group them
together by region if you can, but still try to give yourself days in between because they are more tiring
than you would expect.
Please take at least November or December off. Schedule your interview early so you can work as cell
biology TA if you want to do that.
Space them out so you don't get that much fatigue
Don’t be afraid to contact programs to reschedule if conflicts occur.
Back to back interviews are exhausting. Don't attempt if you don't have to. Never schedule an
interview to a place you may be interested in first- the first one is always tough
Most of the programs I applied to had many days open, but I made sure I responded the same day if
not within an hour of getting the interview invitation. I first scheduled interviews on Fridays in October,
November and December. Then I scheduled on Wednesdays, then Mondays. I also spaced my
interviews geographically as well. Weather doesn't matter because it’s always cold in November and
December, unless you're going to California.
Get a smartphone and check email often.
Don't schedule your #1 program first (you might need practice) or last (you might be worn
out)...somewhere in the middle is fine.
Schedule all interview offers initially. Some places send out more invites than they spots for a particular
date, so schedule first and cancel later if necessary. Cancel at least a week or two in advance if you
have to do so. People are generally very understanding.
Schedule programs you may not be interested in later on in the season, when you are more likely to be
burned out from interviews.
Try and put all your interviews in one city together, and within a region together as well, that way you
can save money on plane tickets and drive to your nearby interviews.
Schedule interviews as soon as possible after getting the invite. Interview dates can go quickly. If you
need to reschedule for any reason just send a polite email to the program coordinator asking about
other dates. It's nice to get them all done but don't book one every other day for two straight weeks if
you can help it. No matter what, you'll be exhausted at the end of interview season so don't make it
harder on yourself. Also, if you can, try to get into town early enough to at least see a little bit of the
city (if you've never been there before) because who knows...you may be living there next year.
Interview the places you like early, burn out sets in by Christmas.
Schedule colder places earlier and drivable interviews around thanksgiving and xmas
Try to block them geographically
Space them out. It may look like a great idea to do a back-to-back-to-back and get them all out of the
way, but when you're nodding off in a Chicago airport in the middle of a snowstorm, you may wish you
had done things differently. Weather is an issue. Sleep is good before interviews.
mid to late November until mid to late January; schedule courses that will let you off
I wouldn't schedule the program you think you want to go to the most first. Get an easy one over with
and under your belt to build confidence. See if you can "cluster" your interviews in one city, but this
can be very difficult and never worked out for me. Schedule interviews you're not sure about later so
that you can cancel them if necessary.
Don't schedule any after New Year's because you'll be so burned out that you'll just cancel them
try to cluster geographically. if you can, interview up north earlier in the season to avoid weather
mishaps.
develop a reliable calendar tracking system
reply quickly because they hand out more invites than number of interview slots available
You don't necessarily have to take a month off if you spread out your interviews.
Front load your interviews as offers come in. You can always add new interviews to January.
schedule from Nov-Jan back to back interviews not a great idea.
Stay attached to your email. Just schedule it immediately. They send out more offers than interview
spots so respond early.
Schedule early. Once you have a few safety programs early, schedule the other programs you don't
really like late so you can potentially cancel.
I kept a google calendar of all possible interview dates, and kept my blackberry on me at all times.
Respond quickly
Do early esp if you are going to the NE because it snows a lot in January and you'll have trouble
travelling there. Don't do more than three interviews in one week, if you do a fourth you will not do
well since you will be exhausted.
I am couple's matching, and both my husband and I took off Dec/Jan to interview. We were able to
schedule most interviews together so we could travel together and that saved money. And it was more
fun that way. Plus, if you take the time off, you can have the freedom to have some fun in the cities
you visit. Try not to book back to back interviews and no more than 3 per week- it gets really tiring!
Make a calendar early. Many programs publish their dates on their website. Do your best to keep open
the dates of programs you are very interested in. Know that you will probably cancel some due to
conflicts, money, or just burnout. Let them know as soon as possible and they will be super nice--I
promise!
Depends on the specialty. 12 is the key number for radiology. Talk to your advisor about which
programs are good and how many to do. Schedule 1-2 interviews at the beginning that might not be
the highest candidates on your list. This gives you an opportunity for a few "practice" runs at
interviewing so you’re ready when your good interviews come along. Also schedule places that you
really want to go to in Nov to mid January, schedule programs that aren't high on your list in late
January so you can cancel them if you don’t want to go and you won't feel bad about going b/c they
are places you really want to go.
Save the best for last and try to be enthusiastic
Try to group geographic locations together. Don't be afraid to ask when interviews start and end so
you can book your hotels and flights early.
they start in nov and run until the end of january
Reply to those emails as soon as you get them, if you are going to a lot of places, "clumping" is really
hard
If derm: try to save 3 months for interviews. November for prelims, Dec for prelims and few derms
(only 2 weeks of interviews), Jan mostly derm (with few prelims scattered in, esp if the prelims
coincide with derm at same institution). It's very hard to schedule prelims in January, when you want
to focus on derm
You may have to give up some interviews due to date conflicts. Try to provide at least two weeks’
notice for cancelling. Always call the residency coordinator; they may be able to reschedule you.
November, December
to save money, try to group these regionally with a day of rest in between. i'm applying to a specialty
in which each program only interviews on 1-4 days, so selection is very limited and regionally grouping
interviews is near impossible. just try your best. having interview conflicts is actually a good problem to
have.
try to schedule on an earlier date since you never know what you will get in the end
if you’re not doing a competitive field, don't do too many interviews
 
Interview Questions 
 
prepare with what the deans gave you
Make a list of five questions or so that you can ask ALL programs so that you have something to talk
about during your interviews. Always be ready to discuss about any blips in your application.
Expect any question and don't get flustered. Have a list of program specific questions for every
interview.
Here was my best pitch when they asked if I had any questions for them, "Every program is a little
different. Each year when you get your class of x number of residents, you hope they will all succeed
without question in your program. By and large they do, however, inevitably a handful will be your
shining stars and a handful will have trouble along the way, what do you think defines those two
groups in your program?" Most people were stumped by that question, if not at least intrigued by it.
Good luck!
Make a list
Be prepared for anything
be yourself
most of mine (peds) were very conversational and wanted to get to know me as a person, having an
idea about what you want to do in 5 years is good
Ask questions specific to the programs.
Always have 5 prepared canned questions for when they ask you any questions
Be prepared to ask lots of your own questions. Many interviewers didn’t ask me anything except if I
had any questions for them.
Careers in Medicine website has good questions to prepare you with (types of questions they'll ask). I
just read through them and came up with answers. You can do a mock interview, if that helps, but I do
better with improv. What you do is based on your comfort level with interviews. The Peds Dept. has a
good question bank of questions you can use to ask programs. Be yourself in the interview, know your
application and enjoy seeing the program. If you weren't a great applicant, you wouldn't be
interviewing at the program. :)
Review and be sure you know everything on your personal statement and CV. Interviewers like to ask
specific questions that you may have mentioned in your application. Stay calm and remember: they
just want to get to know you.
Know your research if you have any. Know your career goals, loosely defined. Be personable. Have a
funny but appropriate joke at your disposal and be able to think of a similarly appropriate embarrassing
moment from your life. These questions may come up. Have a few questions for each program if you
want to appear interested in them.
Read the relevant sections of Iserson's "Getting into a Residency"
No one is trying to trip you up, you should be able to answer anything they ask you openly without any
problems.
Look over the info that Dr. Mihalic and Dr. Wagner will give you but don't stress out over the questions.
Be polite, conversational, and most importantly be yourself. The questions are just all about getting to
know you so be sincere.
Everybody's trying for an unusual question, usually without success. Prepare answers to the obvious
"why this specialty/why this program” then relax and answer naturally. It's not a quiz, they just want
to know who you are.
Usually less difficult than you would expect.
Check out the program-specific interview spreadsheet Dr. Mihalic has. Ask others what kind of
questions they've gotten.
have a formal session on interviewing since I couldn't reach my advisor at all after September
anything goes but definitely look at the list the Deans give you, be yourself
Ask your advisor to provide some suggestions and schedule a mock interview.
75% of the questions are some variation of "so what questions do you have?". Have a lot.
Think of a question to ask interviewer that highlights uniqueness of your interest in their program.
think about your answers before going in
Why [insert specialty]? where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you have any questions for me?
Be yourself!
Typical: why this program? why did you pick this specialty? will you leave Texas?
worst question ever: "Tell me two things about yourself that you would NOT want me to know"
Remember that a question reflects the interviewer's priorities.
You get much better after like interview 5. Schedule safeties first.
In internal medicine you are rarely asked direct questions. Usually it’s just a conversation.
If your department does mock interviews, do one. It helps a lot. There is a book called "A Successful
Match" that will unnecessarily terrify you; I do not recommend reading it to prepare as you apply and
interview.
Don't feel forced to ask questions if you don’t have any. By the end, you will be sick of getting "do you
have any questions?". The most important thing might be observation: Observe how the residents act
and if they seem happy and they get along together. One way to do this is see how much they hang
out with each other outside of work. And imagine if you could hang with those people and have those
interests. See what the demographic makeup of the program is: are they all married with kids or all
they all single or is it a good mix. And assess what you want. If you ask if them if they are happy, they
will of course all say they are happy- this is not true. See how residents interact with staff, is it laid
back or up tight, lots of autonomy or hand holding. And then know thyself and assess if you would be
a good fit there
Practice the standard answers so they flow (and almost everyone asks the obvious). I didn't and I'm
sure it hurt me.
First, know your own application materials very well and be able to answer any question about these.
Second, know your responses to typical interview questions (you can find these on the web or in
books). Third, memorize questions that are important to you that you would like to ask the interviewer
(some interviewers will simply start off by saying, "so, what questions do you have?")
It's okay to think for a minute and speak slowly and carefully
Standard questions, "tell me about an interesting lecture you had in medical school", "tell me about an
interesting patient", "teach me something", "tell me something about yourself that isn't in your ERAS
file"
Prepare, but don't overprepare. You will be nervous, especially for the first few. There are not that
many tough questions. Know your research. Be able to talk about an interesting patient or two. Try to
know something about your interviewer prior to the meeting so that you can ask interesting questions.
look up behavioral interviewing
Do some soul searching, know yourself, and have an idea of what you want to do. There are many
questions (at least in dermatology) that you will get that you cannot prepare for, so don't bother
worrying yourself about these. There will be people you click with and others that you don't. Don’t take
it personally if you don't click with an interviewer.
the sample questions Dr. Mihalic sent are more than enough
 
Travel Arrangements 
 
just get out your credit card & start crying; the alumni bed & breakfast is helpful
hotwire.com, expedia.com
good luck. If you're going to the social the night before be prepared to sleep less than you had
planned. That's a bit of information that I missed going into this for some reason. Dinners go late, in
my experience.
Do it early!!
Travel cheaply... it's expensive.
use Southwest Airlines because of no change fees
Obviously try to cluster interviews together by geographic location to save travel costs. anything more
than 2-3 interviews a week or in a row will definitely wear you out though
Southwest airlines is great because you can cancel and rebook flights without losing the money. Leave
yourself a little buffer if you can, there's nothing you can do about blizzards so don't book thru Chicago
in December if you don't have to. If you have time, give yourself mini-vacations near your interviews,
it's a great chance to catch up with friends/family all over the country who complains you never visit
anymore.
Travel together if you want to save money. If you have friends who go to the same places, it's really
nice. Open a fb group and you can communicate efficiently.
If you know someone in the city use them, use hotels.com, and book flights early
Try to stay close to the hospitals. Book early. Be aware of shuttles, but don’t depend on them if
possible.
Clump your interviews into cities if at all possible. It's difficult not to rack up a large bill, but you can try
to minimize the travel costs. Stay with friends if possible.
USE THE BED & BREAKFAST PROGRAM. It was great!!! I stayed in the nicest places. UTSW alumni
know how to live and it's free! :) If not the Bed & Breakfast, a number of programs provide hotels at
no cost, reduced rates and also ask alumni from the class above you. A lot of them are open to you
staying with them, if it’s not too busy in the year.
Coordinate travel and hotel stay with classmates. Try to cluster interviews in the same vicinity as close
together as possible, but give yourself 1-2 days in between to recuperate (interview days are
exhausting!). Utilize the Alumni Bed and Breakfast.
Meet people along the interview trail. By the end of the process, you will recognize lots of familiar faces
at these interviews, and they become very fun. (Depends on size of specialty to which you are
applying.) Share rent cars and hotels with people to save money.
Use Travelocity (or similar websites) and fly Southwest.
Make hotel reservations as soon as you set your interview date so that it's one less thing on your list.
If things change, hotels are easy to rebook. Just make sure ahead of time that you know how you're
getting from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the interview. Wait a little bit before you
book flights until your schedule is more ironed out (in case you are able to schedule your interviews to
where you fly from one city to the next or if you have to change interview dates). Obviously, don't
wait too long to book your flights because then the prices can get ridiculous.
Lining things up is not as easy as you might think. If you can go with friends it's great and cheaper.
This will be more expensive than you think.
Use Priceline (choose your bid)
Keep your eye out early for Southwest deals. I got a bunch of my tickets for $30 because I was
watching for sales. Also, Southwest will let you exchange your money for other flights and let you
change flights. Go Southwest!
have a formal way for students to find out who's going where so they can share a hotel
use the alumni bed & breakfast, but also just give any & everybody your credit card
Make them as early as possible to get the best price.
hotwire has cheap last minute hotels.
southwest airlines (can always change flights without being charged a rescheduling fee)
Network. Carpool with classmates, share hotel rooms, etc. Anything you can do to save money.
Drive when you can, plane tickets get very expensive, but be realistic. Interviews are very exhausting.
priceline.com name your own price for hotel
don't wait to the last minute, it gets really expensive
SOUTHWEST!! You can book travel, cancel anytime, and get a voucher to use anytime. I LOVE
SOUTHWEST!
Priceline.com! I stayed most places for about $40/night (Texas & South)
Stay with friends, it's expensive.
If the hotel wasn't paid for by the program, I used hotels.com to book one- now I have a free hotel
night available in rewards.
Make them as early as possible.
Try to link interview in the same cities/states together. Traveling is expensive. Kayak.com is good.
Southwest is the bomb
You're going to spend a lot of money, but it's worth it to have somewhere nice to stay the night before
your interviews.
They are very expensive. Be prepared.
Avoid travel around the holidays (because of expense) and schedule them away from bad weather if
you can to avoid flight cancellations.
Maximize your friend/acquaintance resources to save on hotels, fly southwest they rock
Priceline, try to stay with friends. Fly in the morning before your interview. Beware of inclement
weather in the Northeast in Dec-Jan.
Fly southwest as much as you can - they allow 2 free checked bags and NO flight change fees (if you
have to cancel a flight, they give you the entirety of $$ back as a credit that you can apply for later
flight); try to couch surf if you're easy-going enough (facebook is great for catching up with old
friends). Hotels get expensive (~$80/night if you are hotwire-ing the whole time). Email the programs
to see if they will send out list of applicants interviewing on your same date so you can try to
coordinate hotels/rental cars/cabs etc
credit cards
kayak.com
for flights, i would check kayak and southwest and bought the cheapest flight. buy your ticket either 4
weeks or 2 weeks before, because these are the times when prices bump up. try to take public
transportation to save money. it's usually pretty fast as well.
I love Southwest! Book your flight as early as possible
 
Interview Follow Up 
 
write thank you notes
Emails are OKAY! It opens a channel with whomever you are talking to.
I wrote thank you notes to everyone.
I sent hand written thank yous. I think they're more memorable and personal than emails. Although
the email writers liked that they actually got responses from their interviewers that way. I wasn't
looking for responses. Your perogrative.
I wrote thank you notes
Thank you's to everyone you interviewed with.
Use your best judgment
thank you EMAILS are fine
thank you notes are nice, they get to be a pain but try to do them on the plane home so you at least
have some memory of your conversation. If you have actual questions email people who you met.
Some programs don't look at thank you letter that much. Do if you really want to be there.
Always send thank you emails, I did that with all programs except for one and that was because I
didn't have my interviewers email address
Write your thank-you notes from your interview notes to make them personal. It is hard to remember
things after a few days travel.
Write thank you notes!
Thank you cards and emails work well. Do a second look if you feel that you're on the fence on
whether a program should be #1 or #2 especially if you have time to go. The second look is for you,
not the program. Yes, they can see that you're interested, but it's meant to see if that program is a
good fit for you.
After meeting each interviewer, jot down notes that will help you remember him/her whether it is a
little factoid about them or your conversation topics. When writing Thank You notes, mention these
details to "personalize" the message. Send Thank You email ASAP (3 days after at the latest).
Write thank you notes at your discretion. Some places don't want them. When in doubt, write to the
Chairman and program director.
Write a short thank-you email to your interviewers. See Iserson's book. Also, write your own
impressions of each program on one sheet.
I like to send e-mails, each program is different some of them even said we don't want thank you
notes because it wastes paper.
I sent hand written thank you cards to the people who interviewed me. If a program director said they
didn't want/need a thank you, then I didn't send it. If you want to send an email/letter to a program
director (or any of your interviewers) make it personal about the conversation that you had or specific
aspects of the program that you like. Generic thank you letters most likely mean nothing to the people
(since I'm sure they get hundreds).
No one really seems to expect anything. Let your number one program know they are your number
one.
Send thank you emails to interviewers less than a week after your interview (or else you will forget)
Send thank you notes because you will feel better. Programs have better things to do than count thank
you notes.
Hand-written thank you notes. Send an email to your top 5 programs or so, saying they are at the top
of your list, and make sure you send it before Feb 11 or so. Send an email to your #1, saying they're
#1.
write thank you notes & email your questions to the resident you connected with the most
I emailed my top 5 and told them that I was going to rank them "highly" and that I would like for them
to keep me in mind when making their rank list. I didn't bother with thank you notes because I don't
think they care/remember who sends them.
emails are faster than hand written notes and ensures the interviewer remembers talking with you
i hand wrote thank yous to everyone, but that’s my style
For orthopedics, doesn't matter. Some places will say not to do it
I sent emails to all my interviewers and usually included something we talked about during the
interview in order to personalize it. If you plan on ranking a program high or even #1, feel free to tell
them, but you must follow through with what you say.
I sent thank you notes only.
Send thank you letters unless they say not to.
Write thank you notes the day after your interview. I didn't write them until the end of the season, so it
was kind of pointless.
TY notes and emails to PDs are not always necessary, but it's good to do them... why not.
Write thank you notes. If there is one place that you really want to go, tell them that they are your #1
choice (but only do this for one program!)
Write a thank you email. You will get a reply that way which opens up the communication for further
correspondence or questions. While hand written thank you notes are nice, communication back is
limited. Make your thank you notes personalized, mention something from the interview discussion so
they will remember who you were. At the end of the interview season, contact your top 3-4 programs
and let them know you are ranking them highly. Only tell 1 school you are ranking them #1.
Be honest and timely.
e-mails are fine
I like the templates found in Iserson's
E-mail. Cards are outdated.
Write thank you notes if you have the endurance. I had over 30 interviews for prelim/categorical
combined, and I got tired after the prelims. For derm, I hear that thank you notes don't really matter
because faculty rank applicants at end of interview day. However, if there were a few programs (or
people at programs) that you really connected with, it's a great idea to be in touch with them (even if it
doesn't help you get into their program, maybe they will serve as a mentor later on in your career) -
remember, residency is just the beginning of your career!
If you have 15 interviewers, then it's ok to just write a thank you to the chair and residency program
director.
send e-mails, if you loved the place, sent cards
 
Ranking Programs 
 
rank according to your preference; make it 3 weeks before its due, let it sit, then look at it again about
a week before its due
DON'T let people you don't know/people you meet on the interview trail influence you about how to
rank or whether or not to go to a program. Listen to their pro/con list with a grain of salt. They are not
you and you don't know if you'd like it or not. Everyone's priority list is differently ranked and weighted.
Just block out everything else and put where you'd be happiest. The alogrithm really does work
optimally this way.
Use your gut and make sure you'll be competent after graduation from the residency.
Follow your heart's desire. Period.
Use ALL factors when deciding not just prestige of program
Go with your gut
Team chemistry with the program director and fellow residents and interns count more than anything
Some people really like making objective comparisons with spreadsheets and stuff, but really the
acgme makes everything pretty much the same across programs, so go with your gut. Get input from
at least one faculty so you don't worry you won't rank. it's cheesy, but go with your gut
Rank all programs that you want to go to.
Go with your gut, ask yourself where did feel happy, comfortable, and at home.
Go with your gut.
When everything is said and done, its based on your gut feeling. I had charts, lists of program
strengths and weaknesses and even talked to a resident at my top 3 programs before ranking them.
Talking to the residents was very helpful because you got a good idea of what the program is like
(especially if they're from UTSW). However, when everything was said and done, I prayed about it and
followed my heart.
Take a look at every aspect of the program. Make a pros/cons list. Try to imagine where you will be
the happiest. Make sure to pay attention to the residents at the program...how happy or unhappy they
are can tell you a lot about the program.
Some people/programs will ask you or imply that they want to know, but don't feel like you have to tell
anyone your rank list. Once you decide on your number one choice without question and are not going
to change your mind, it does not hurt to tell that particular place that you are ranking them first.
Otherwise it is appropriate to say that you love/really like places and can see yourself there, etc., but
don't drop the "rank number one" phrase unless you are absolutely sure and will not change your
mind. DO NOT make any decisions about your rank list until you go on all your interviews. Places that
you visit later may surprise you and you want to have all your options open until the end. The Match
process was designed to allow applicants to see all their options before making any decisions, so do
not feel pressured by anyone. Take your time, see all your options, and make decisions based on what
you want.
Gut feeling.
Priority #1 = rank them based on how you felt there, not how likely you are to get a spot. Just think:
would you like living there, can you see yourself as a colleague of the residents you met, do you like
the 'feel' of the program...the rest (like salary, schedule, etc), when it boils down to it, will be similar
across the board. Besides, if you don't think the educational opportunity is very good...why did you
apply there in the first place?
It's all about comfort and home. Go wherever you find "your people."
Review the program specifics but go with your gut feeling
Rank by your preference, it should be obvious, but sadly for many people it is not.
Rank it how you like them. Don't overthink it. Don't try to play the system. And make sure every
program you rank is someplace you'd be happy about attending.
sit down & make a pros & cons list (include everything from vacation to how nice the hospital is)
Go with your gut.
Don't rank places that you hate or that provide poor training. Otherwise rank every place you
interview.
take every position on your list very seriously. you never know where you might end up.
There is no "right" way to rank programs.
Make sure to organize your thoughts and talk to your advisors.
Go with your gut feeling on the programs, and remember that in the end, you will get a high-quality
education wherever you end up!
Rank all the places you interviewed at according to your true preferences. That being said, if you're
planning on pursuing IM fellowships, keep in mind that getting into them is mostly based on the
reputation of your residency program and the connections you have.
Keep in mind that you have a personal and a professional life, pick the school that will make you as a
whole person the happiest. Don't move super far away from your loved ones because it's "the best
program"...it might not be the best for your life.
Rank based on where YOU want to go. Don’t LISTEN TO ANYONE... do what you want
It doesn't matter where you go, you will get a good education. Don't stress about it.
Rank what you want.
Go where you get the best feel and feel it would be a good fit. You have to live there and with those
people for a significant amount of time
don't do too much analysis...go with your gut
Don't play any mind-games with yourself. Just rank the ones you want to go to most first. Don't get
cocky--everyone wants you to rank them first so they get their top picks, therefore they will make you
feel like you're a shoe-in.
Rank your top program first, rank your 2nd choice second, rank your 3rd choice third, and so on. Why
is there so much confusion? If you think something tricky is going on, watch the NRMP webcast on
how the matching algorithm works (only takes about 5-10min if you skip to the middle).
Definitely tell #1 program that they are #1, but you've crossed the rubicon and you can't turn back
once you've done this. Tell #2 program that you're ranking them very highly. Tell others that you are
ranking "highly" or "strongly interested."
Go with your gut. The curricula at programs will begin to blur, but you'll remember that gut feeling you
got. Were you able to be yourself during interview day? That says a lot about how you'll fit in at the
program. Read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Go with your gut, it's ok to consider location when making your list
 
8. Please provide some final advice for the current MS3s as they approach the fourth year. 
 
Get you sub-I out of the way early; interview while on a rotation that will let you have time off; take
the last 3 months off
Don't stress! Everything will get done. It has always happened up to now, and it will happen again.
Get done with everything early. Take exams early, apply early, interview early, and be done with it!
Enjoy :)
Time to travel and relax
Have fun 4th year... it’s great!
The sooner you figure out what specialty you want to pursue, the better. Our medical curriculum
unfortunately does not give you enough exposure to all fields during the third year so it’s important to
be proactive and seek out different perspectives from as many sources as you can. It's an exciting
time for everyone but for a select few it can feel overwhelming if you aren't certain what path to take.
Work hard for 6 more months. And enjoy life as much as you can.
Have fun during 4th year
enjoy the free time available to you. have fun, travel.
Enjoy! it's here! spend lots of time with your friends!
Don't forget to learn something....
Relax, have fun, it goes by so fast so enjoy it. Make 4th year a downhill slope, put all the hard stuff
first and end it easy.
Don’t be afraid. Get everything done as early as possible. Don’t blow off Step 2. Don’t let people
scare you from applying for your chosen specialty.
Your golden year is coming up.
Learn all that you can 3rd year. This is the time you can ask the simplest, most basic questions to learn
how to treat different conditions and it be okay because everyone knows you're just starting off and
there to learn. Good luck!
In addition to advisors at UTSW, find advisors in your specialty in private practice. Some of the best
perspectives come from people who have been out of residency for a few years and who are not in
academics. Seek out advice. Ask lots of questions. When the process is stressful just remember that
many people have done it before you and many will do it after you, and it will most certainly all work
out. Finally, enjoy the process. Visit places you have never been during interview season, take some
vacations, and make new friends with people from other medical schools.
Although the motivation is difficult to muster, do try to set a little bit of time on a regular basis during
the MS4 year to read about some of the common conditions in your specialty, and about other
knowledge gaps. If you treat the WHOLE second semester of the MS4 year like one long vacation,
which is what some peers have suggested to me in the past, it seems common sense to me that you
will be at least somewhat less prepared to be an intern.
Fourth year's going to be awesome! Enjoy!
Schedule what you need to, then put it out of your mind until it comes. The best thing you can do for
fourth year is do well in third year.
Enjoy traveling for your interviews and then relaxing during fourth year!
Enjoy every minute of 4th year.
Don’t take your months off too early so you can be finished by January or February. Also take radiology
in January to get time off for interviews.
Just coast after your required elections...and by coast I don't mean not show up; but watch tons of TV,
travel, spend time with your family
Enjoy this time and use it to explore some things you're interested in as well as for recreation.
Try not to schedule ambulatory care, your sub-I or your acute care month after Jan 1. You won't like
it. Don't take a month off for Step 2, but do take a month off to interview.
Good luck! You’ll all be great! Applications are stressful, but try to have some fun. Try to go to as
many pre interview socials as possible. This is the best time to see if you fit in with the residents.
Specific to those applying to Emergency Medicine: 1. Take your EM elective by the first block in 4th
year. 2. Your Standardized Letter of Recommendations (SLORs:
http://www.cordem.org/files/DOCUMENTLIBRARY/SLOR/Slor.pdf) are one of the most influential parts
of your EM application. Several EM applicants from Southwestern this past year (including myself)
received weak letters from the department. As insurance against such a circumstance, set-up an early
away rotation in EM so you have an additional letter to submit. You can easily cancel the away rotation
if you are satisfied with your evaluation from UTSW, but keep in mind that additional SLORs have huge
impact on the strength of your application because programs eat them up as it was originally designed
as a quick screening tool for programs to decide who to interview. Also, although the effort and stress
of such a rotation can be difficult the skills you learn will be especially beneficial in your future in EM.
2. Join EMRA at least two months before your rotation so you receive your free copy of Top Clinical
Problems in EM in time for your away rotation. 3. Work your hard during your away rotation. Don't
under-estimate how big of an impact it will have.
Be honest with yourself in choosing your career path.
Take advantage of this year and go on a vacation!
It's going to be busy your first 3 months, so get ready. Interview season is both exciting and
exhausting, so remember to have fun with it. Best of all, just ENJOY IT!!! It's everything you were
told that it would be!!
Everyone says 4th yr is so wonderful...keep in mind the first half of it will not feel that way. You have a
lot of deadlines, a lot of major decisions, and a lot of responsibility. TAKE TIME OFF, Don't try to study
everyday...that's just ridiculous.
Take time off... You will not remember anything by the time you start residency so don't work too
hard.
Front load as much as you can because you will burn out very quickly.
Start now and prepare early, so that you are ready and this is a less stressful process for you in the
long run. Don't listen to people who tell you not to stress, because you're going to anyways, so use
that energy constructively and prepare. You won't regret it and you'll be happier.
4th year is nice, do things you'll not have a chance to do again. Get involved with the school since you
have the time, don't just disappear.
Get the hard stuff out of the way first, and then you can enjoy 4th year more!
Good luck! Have fun! You're almost a Dr.!
4th year is not as easy as everyone says. The first 3 months, people are trying to do well to get
letters. The next 3 months are stressful with interviews and scheduling and traveling. The point is to
do as many rotations early in the year and not take off a lot of months to interview. Be smart and take
rotations in Nov-Jan that still allow you to interview so you can be done with rotations by the end of
February, and that is when 4th year is awesome.
Enjoy yourself fourth year!
Have fun, stress less.
Congratulations! You've accomplished a lot and are almost done! Enjoy your 4th year but don't get
too lazy. Work hard on your residency application and take your interviews seriously. Remember: "a
rolling stone gathers no moss", or "as you sow so shall you reap", or perhaps "don't put the cart before
the horse", or whatever...
4th year starts out tough, you have to get rec letters, submit your application, take Step 2. Interviews
can also be stressful with the planning and actually going to them. Don't worry about money for
interviews as in the long run it doesn't matter. You should apply to more programs. It's better to have
more interviews and cancel than not enough. Besides all this, 4th year is great and you have a lot more
free time, but you should still try to learn on your rotations as you will eventually be a resident.
Do as much as you can early, take as much time off as you can later to recharge/travel
UTSW ROCKS and O'DOYLE RULES!
Having a smart phone is essential, since you can respond to e-mails on the fly while you are travelling,
look up information, and keep yourself organized. Most importantly, stay on top of things during the
application process and keep a spreadsheet to keep things together.
Enjoy the ride. During interview season you will meet your future colleagues. Especially for a field as
small as derm, that is invaluable! It's a really fun process, especially once you start interviews
(submitting applications is not fun). Enjoy and good luck!
whatever you do, do it well. or don't do it all.
decide early and plan accordingly
If you know what you want to do, that's terrific! Get as much exposure to it as you can and ask lots of
people in the specialty about your chosen field. This will verify your choice and should be exciting and
encouraging to learn about the journey that awaits you. At the same time, once you are certain you've
made the right decision, think about exploring other fields with your elective time. This may be your
last chance to fully round out that knowledge of yours. If you do NOT know what you want to do
(and not to scare you, but...), you have a LOT of work to do. Speak to as many different people as
you can at varying levels (faculty, residents, associate deans, specialty advisors, etc) and scour the
internet including visiting Careers in Medicine. You've worked hard to get to where you are and will
work even harder in residency. This is no time to procrastinate and be lazy. Use ALL the resources at
your disposal. I would not put too much weight into what your peers opinions are or what forums like
StudentDoc say though - not that these are completely useless but they provide a naive view of the
medical professions. Shadow and ask lots of questions to find out about the different specialties.
Remember to ask people with varying levels of experience. Understand that our limited 3rd year
clinical exposure may not accurately represent what working life will be like in a particular specialty. If
you thought you might like something but didn't not enjoy it as a 3rd year, perhaps explore it again in
a different setting. The most important thing when choosing a career: remember that it is a CAREER.
Choose what you would enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis. Know what your future job will likely
entail. All specialties have things that are very exciting, but these are usually mixed in with the very
mundane. When you find that you also enjoy doing the routine things, that's when you know the
career is right for you. As for money, glory, fame, ... you didn't enter the healthcare professions for
that (if you did, let that be your last mistake). Choose wisely.
Finding unbiased opinions can be tricky
Being a "mediocre applicant in a competitive residency" made for some difficult advising meetings with
my department chairman and advisor. In the end I felt they were underplaying my situation to soften
the blow. SO know your position in the applicant pool and be real with yourself and make sure your
advisors are being clear and concise, it will save your time, energy, frustration, and especially money in
the long run.
I think the most helpful resource were MS4s and recent graduates of UTSW. Look at the match list, see
who matched into your preferred specialty and program, and get ahold of their information. Don't be
shy to call or e-mail them for advice.
Regardless of the specialty you're applying to, I would suggest talking to multiple advisers in your
specialty, as each has a unique experience and perspective. Especially when applying to competitive
specialties, I think mentors are one of the most important things to have. Ask 4th years applying to
your specialty to see who the most helpful mentors are in your specialty.
Careers in Medicine is a great resource. Use the interview questions so you can know what to ask your
interviewers. Everyone asks "Do you have any questions?" and are very impressed if you have more
than one GOOD question to ask about the program. Do your research on the program before you
interview there. It shows. I know Pediatrics does a good job in going through the list of programs
students are interested in (reach vs. likely interview vs. guaranteed interview/acceptance). If not
already done, I think this assistance should be provided by other departments because it gives
students the opportunity to learn firsthand about each program (in a non-biased format), see where
they stand in relation to each program and apply to programs they see that are a good fit for what
they are looking for.