Specialities

Anesthesiology

"Anesthesiology is dedicated to the complete medical and anesthetic care of the surgical patient. It is a precise, technical, and intellectual specialty that requires high standards and attention to detail. Anesthesiologists care for the whole patient before, during, and after the operation. They administer powerful anesthetics, render patients insensible to pain and stress, provide respiratory support, and manage every medical need of the patient throughout the surgical experience. To do so, anesthesiologists closely monitor and treat the acute pathophysiology of multiple organ systems: cardiac, pulmonary, renal, endocrine, hematologic, and neurologic. It is a specialty that ties together the cerebral nature of internal medicine with the procedural interventions and life-support of critical care medicine."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York, p.159.

Anesthesiology Resources

Cardiology

Subspecialties in Cardiology 

Cardiology is the practice of medicine concerned with disorders of the heart and circulatory system. The field focuses on diagnosing, treating, or managing patients with cardiovascular conditions such as, myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), heart arrhythmias, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart defects, infections and related disorders. Cardiology is unique as it is constantly evolving, intellectually stimulating, and provides a plethora of research opportunities. Today, cardiologists use a combination of non-invasive tests, such as ECGs, Echocardiograms, stress tests and CT scans, and invasive procedures, such as coronary angiography and electrophysiology studies, to provide their patients with comprehensive care. There are multiple distinct subspecialties within cardiology that provide a wide array of career opportunities. In broad terms, these subspecialties can be divided into electrophysiology, interventional, heart failure, nuclear, imaging, obstetric, sports and preventive cardiology. In clinical practice, the boundaries among the different subspecialties are not fixed. Most cardiologist use a combination of two of more types of tests and work closely with other cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and healthcare providers to treat their patients. In terms of training to become a cardiologist, it is important to note that adult cardiology is a subspecialty of internal medicine and pediatric cardiology is a subspecialty of pediatrics. 

  • Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York.p.239.

Cardiology Resources

Dermatology

"Dermatology is the branch of medicine concerned with the skin and skin-related diseases and disorders…. Dermatologists see people of all ages who present with skin diseases (either benign or malignant) involving the mouth, hair, nails, sweat and sebaceous glands, external genitalia, and mucous membranes."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.177.

Dermatology Resources

Clinical Competency

General Comments:

Students can demonstrate competency via a strong performance on dermatology rotation(s)

What are the best ways for applicants to demonstrate Clinical Competency in your specialty?

Honors grades

Comments on the MSPE

Letters of Recommendation

 

Commitment to Specialty

General Comments:

Students should seek shadowing opportunities for exposure to dermatology prior to clinical rotations. They should consider joining the Dermatology Interest Group. They are welcome to attend dermatology Grand Rounds. They should seek out research projects and/or dedicate time to perform research in the field. 

How do students best demonstrate their commitment to your specialty?

Extensive research in the specialty 

Specific volunteer experiences

Research and Publications

General Comments:

Most dermatology residency programs emphasize research and publications as an important part of a well-rounded application. There is no minimum number of publications required, but a suggested number is 3 or more

How important is it to have research experience for applicants applying to your specialty? 

 Essential (must have)

How important is it to have publications for applicants applying to your specialty? 

 Essential (must have)

Volunteer or other service experience

General Comments:

Dermatology applicants must be well-rounded and a commitment to volunteerism and service is preferred. Longitudinal experiences and those outside of medicine tend to be favored.

How important is it to have volunteer or other service experience for applicants applying to your specialty?

Essential (must have)

Electives Away

General Comments(the importance of doing electives away for students applying to your specialty, how many they should do, why they should (or should not do).

Away rotations are typically valuable for an applicant because they build connections with programs other than the home program and likely increase chances of matching with that program. They may also generate letters of recommendation. However, having an away rotation does not in itself make an application stronger. The typical number of away rotations is 1-2

How important is completing electives away for applicants applying to your specialty?

Important

USMLE Step 1

General Comments(what you look for in a score, how do you use the score in the review, interview or ranking processes, etc…):

In anticipation of Step 1 becoming pass/fail, most programs are already disregarding Step 1 scores with the exception of a very low (<210) score. 

How important is the Step 1 score for applicants applying to your specialty? 

 Little Importance

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

Most dermatology programs are giving higher priority to Class rank and clerkship grades. Since University of MN students are not given class rank or core clerkship grades, they need to stand out in other ways with exceptional research, volunteer experience, clinical skills or other accomplishments. 

USMLE Step 2CK

General Comments(what you look for in a score, how do you use the score in the review, interview or ranking processes, etc…):

It is unlikely that Step 2ck will be seen as a replacement for Step 1 scores but this likely varies by programs.  Very low scores may be seen as unfavorable. 

How important is the Step 2CK score for applicants applying to your specialty? 

 Little Importance

Letters of Recommendation

General Comments(what you look for in a letter, who they should be from, how do you use them in the review, interview or ranking processes, etc…):

Emphasis on letters from dermatologists.

How many letters of rec (LoRs) are required for students applying to your specialty

4

Of these LoRs, how many of them need to be from a physician in your specialty?

3

Is it acceptable to have letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

Please list them here plus any additional comments:

Mentor in any other specialty that knows the applicant very well, or a research mentor.

Awards and Honors

General Comments:

AOA status is known to have some embedded bias but our program does look for GHHS status.

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

Place an X next to the one below that best represents your specialty

AOA:

X Important, we look for it

GHHS:

X Important, we look for it

 

Any advice on the # of programs a student should apply to for your specialty? How many? Strategies?

Applicants are discouraged from applying to every program. Some have suggested limiting to 30 programs per applicant.  There is an option supplemental application that we do recommend using; students will be given preference signaling “tokens” to use during the application process. 

Emergency Medicine

"Emergency medicine involves the immediate care of urgent and life-threatening conditions found in the critically ill and injured. These physicians are really specialists in breadth — their broad-based training encompasses acute problems that span several clinical disciplines. No other specialty can match the astounding variety of patients found within the emergency room. You will see, hear, and smell things that most doctors will not. In just one shift, an EP may care for patients presenting with asthma attacks, atrial fibrillation, gunshot wounds, dislocated shoulders, and even cockroaches stuck in their ears."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.189.
 

Emergency Medicine Resources

Clinical Competency
How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

We look for performance on all clinical rotations and on the summary MSPE. 

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence? 

Letters of recommendation, comments in the MSPE.

Commitment to Specialty
How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Everyone takes a different path to find their clinical specialty.  We do look for interest and commitment to EM but understand that some students find their path later in the MSIII/IV years.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

All their letters of rec from the specialty X (not all, but we do like to see at least 2 SLOEs from EM rotations). 

Other -  involvement with local or national EM groups (EMIG, EMRA etc.)

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

X  (depends on the specific EM program you are applying to)

 

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

       

x

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

X (we like seeing passion or involvement with things that are important to you)

   

Volunteer activities and experiences are strongly encouraged. 

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

X (important if you want to leave MN/the Twin Cities for residency, but otherwise not important and 95%+ of U of M students just do the rotations at Regions and HCMC)

 

How many electives away should a student complete? 

Required under normal circumstances.  Will not be required during the global pandemic. 

1 only if interested in leaving MN.

USMLE Step 1
How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

Some EM programs have step 1 score cutoffs, and others do not. You can see which programs have cutoffs on the EMRA match website.

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

Unknown but this will probably put more emphasis on Step 2, so important to take that and have a score by the summer of your MSIV year (prior to applications starting).

USMLE Step 2CK
How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

For now Step II is important to have prior to interviews for people with average or below average step I scores.  It is important to take step II and have a passing score before programs will put you on their rank list.

Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

     

X (some programs want all 4 SLOEs and some only require the 2 eSLOEs)

For most years, we like to see 2 eSLOEs (the SLOE from an EM residency site rotation like Regions or HCMC), and 2 letters from other specialities or rotations (including EM subspecialty rotations)

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

X (see above, 2 eSLOEs)

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

We are open to all other specialties. 

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - Important, we look for it

 We do review all honors and awards including preclinical or clinical honors, and things like AOA and Gold Humanism.

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Individual to all applicants and based on an overall body of work (should be discussed with EM clerkship director or HCMC/Regions program director)

 

Family Medicine

"In the tradition of this community-based specialty, family physicians are well integrated into their communities and actively address issues in their patients' lives other than medical problems. This is why family medicine doctors serve as advocates for patients, health care systems, and social change. No matter the role, these physicians emphasize health maintenance, disease prevention, and chronic illness management, always aware of the psychosocial dimensions of their patients' lives."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 207.

Family Medicine Resources

Clinical Competency
How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

In our specialty we do not write a letter for every applicant to family medicine on like, for example, medicine. Program directors therefore rely very heavily on course evaluations, especially clinical medicine courses as well as letters written by physicians who have worked with the student.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence? 
Comments in the MSPE, letters of recommendation, Honors grades when applicable for elective courses.

Commitment to Specialty
How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Students do not necessarily have to take lots of electives in family medicine. However they do need to Demonstrate passion and desire for the specialty both in their personal statement as well as during interviews. All program directors know that some students or applying as a Plan B option and are on the lookout for applicants who are not particularly passionate about family medicine.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty? 
Specific volunteer experiences, taking electives in the specialty.  

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

 

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

USMLE Step 1
How important is a student's Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

USMLE Step 2CK
How important is a student's Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

Completion of Step 2 is important, but only concerned with passing, do not use the score.

A passing score on 1st attempt is desired although students who have not passed may still be offered interviews and may successfully match.  A passing score by the time of graduation is typically expected, although programs will be sympathetic if circumstances have prevented this occuring for an individual student.

Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

Chair letter not important for students, Program Director letter more important.

At least 1 LoR from be from a Fam Med doc, 2 is beneficial.

Usually considerable weight is given to letters from physicians who have worked directly with the applicant.  Again, due to COVID-19 restrictions, programs will be sympathetic if such letters are not available or "weaker" due to student lack of opportunity to work directly with a physician.

Letters should contain specific information from someone who worked with them.

If anyone ever offers to write you a letter, always say “yes please”!

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

   

x

 

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Neurology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry

A strong letter from a physician is more important than what specialty they are in.

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Not important

  • GHHS -Important, we look for it 

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

This depends on the competitiveness of the applicant.  Most "average" applicants without red flags will match into one of their top 3 programs.  Some regions are moderately competitive - including the Twin Cities.  Less competitive applicants and those with "red flags" on their application should apply more widely and include less competitive residencies in their ranklist.

Important for student to take advantage of opportunities to meet with the department. In addition, go to online info sessions offered both here and at others schools interested in.

Internal Medicine

"Internists take care of the general medical problems of adults. In a single day, they can act as a diagnostician, an educator, a director, an advocate, a motivator, a healer, and a comforter. In the clinic, they treat their patients' aches, pains, and sniffles. They also come to their bedsides in the hospital and manage their inpatient care. Some internists spend their time providing acute and chronic primary care; others become sub-specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and more."
Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York.p.239.
 

Internal Medicine Resources

Clinical Competency
How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

A lot of this depends on the program--there is a lot of variability across the more than 400 IM programs nationally. In general, the more ways an applicant looks terrific, the better

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?
Letters of Recommendation, MSPE narrative comments, Honors grades in applicable electives.

Commitment to Specialty
How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Explain why IM in your personal statement. Specific volunteering or all-IM LOR are nice but not necessary. Research is nice, but does not need to be in IM

No special rotations, electives, etc are required but it's very dependent on the program.  Some IM programs are more focused on research and so having no research would be atypical.  Similarly, other programs focus on the mission of the institution and volunteering would be expected.

In general, you don’t need to do extra electives in IM since you already have an 8 week M3 experience, and then should do the MICU sub-I--we love to see diverse transcripts, especially during M4 year. We’ll teach you cardiology, GI, etc--but this is your last chance to do whatever sounds fun to you, and/or will supplement core IM topics you’ll get during residency

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

         

 It depends.

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

         

It depends.

Some IM programs are more focused on research and so having no research would be atypical; these are often very famous academic programs. Community programs often won’t expect you to have done any research. So it depends on what type of residency program you’re looking for. Typically people applying for PSTP or ABIM research tracks will have a PhD or another advanced degree and several publications (often are MSTPs). Check program websites for info.

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

       

Since IM is so focused on 1:1 interactions with patients, and with understanding the milieu of where patients come from (different types of communities), and our patient care is so dependent on understanding health systems, successful IM applicants typically have had multiple volunteer or service experiences. Or, they had one significant longitudinal service/volunteer experience, that often includes a leadership role. Typically, a one-off experience is less meaningful than one that occurs over time.

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

       

x

IM programs do not expect you to do any away rotations, unless for some reason you want an experience that isn’t available through our med school. 

USMLE Step 1
How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

       

It depends.

Many programs already use Step 1 as pass/fail. Some programs have cut-offs (usually clearly reported in FREIDA), others use score as a factor among many factors. Programs that take many IMGs use more heavily as it’s one of the few standard data points across all applicants

USMLE Step 2CK
How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

 

X (for now)

Since you have to have passed step 2 CK to start your internship, most programs will want to see at least passing score from you prior to submitting their rank lists.  Otherwise, programs are more variable--some view as pass/fail, others have strict cut-offs for consideration, and others use as one among many factors. For those that have a numeric step 1 score, having a higher step 2 CK score can help compensate for that for programs that are looking at the numbers

Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

     

x

If did not do Sub-I then must get letter of rec from 7500

Not all letters need be from IM--other good options include FM, peds, PCS, EM, or a research mentor (when applicable)

Dept is willing to write a "Chair" letter for interested students as an additional letter and way to enhance your application. Please reach out to the department for details and instructions on obtaining

A letter from an inpatient rotation is generally preferred, given that this is more similar to residency.  Many programs REQUIRE a chair letter.  It's uncommon for a student not to have a letter from their 3rd year IM clerkship.

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

X 2 preferred, but 1 is ok

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

 What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Peds, Internal Medicine/Pediatrics. Maybe General Surgery depending on what experience they’re commenting on.

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

AOA: Not important X

GHHS: Important, we look for it  X

Due to racial and gender disparities in the selection process, some schools no longer have AOA, so IM programs are fine without having it. But the most famous programs in the country (and/or those with more NIH funding that we have) typically only interview UMN students from the top tier of grades--so AOA or near AOA.

Not all schools have GHHS either, so again, programs do not consider it a requirement. If it is available, as it is at UMN, then it’s a plus, but not a requirement.

Applying to Programs
10-12 length rank list provide >95% chance in matching

Students need only apply to 15-20 programs. Choose carefully from amongst the >440 IM programs in the country--talk to IM faculty about what you’re looking for and we can help you narrow your broader list down

Unless you’re couples matching--then depending on the other specialty, you may need to apply to many more programs.

If you had failures of year 1-2 courses, or exams (including USMLE), you need to apply to more programs--and be thoughtful about where you apply

Med-Peds

“Blending together the principles of internal medicine and pediatrics, med-peds (or IMP) is the largest and most popular combined program. ...IMP offers an alternative choice for physicians-in-training who wish to treat patients of all ages but do not want to become family practitioners. ...After completing the four year program, they are eligible to sit for board certification examinations in both internal medicine and pediatrics. ...Family practice has a wider scope, while IMP has a greater depth. ...Instead of rotations in obstetrics, gynecology, and surgical subspecialties, [as in family medicine residency programs] IMP residency provides additional training in inpatient and critical care experiences involving both adults and children. ...It is possible for patients and families to meet all their health care needs in the same setting with the same doctor. ...This continuity of care is particularly beneficial for children with chronic illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, or congenital heart defects, as they transit into adulthood.”
Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 81-82.

Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

Through excellent grades, clinical comments and letters of recommendation from all core clerkships, but particularly medicine and pediatrics.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Honors grades 

Comments on the MSPE 

Letters of Recommendation 

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

This isn’t as big of a deal for U of M students as there are many med-peds providers, a very strong and large med-peds community, and a large program.  

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

Research focus varies by institution, but is generally not heavily weighted.  Longitudinal commitment is valued over one-off endeavors, so in that sense COVID-19 does not effect our thinking.  That said, applications are holistically reviewed so there are opportunities to express interest in research.  

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

Med-peds program often value service and volunteerism.   Longitudinal commitment is valued over one-off endeavors, so in that sense COVID-19 does not effect our thinking.  That said, applications are holistically reviewed so there are opportunities to express interest in research.  

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

How many electives away should a student complete? 

Med-Peds programs recognize that away rotations are limited, and understand that.  It is not a major determinant, regardless.

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

Med- Peds programs typically do a holistic review, and don’t emphasize Step 1 (or any) test scores much.  Many programs look at it Pass/Fail.  The U of MN program has looked at Step 1 as pass/fail for several years.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a student's Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

There is not much concern from med-peds program directors because of the ability to do a holistic review.

We are emphasizing flexibility of requiring Step 2 CK scores in terms of interviews.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

x

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

The most important thing is that the letter writer can comment on the students clinical performance.

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Not Important

  • GHHS - Not important

Awards and honors are one piece of an application, and their importance entirely depends on the entirety of the application.   

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

I would recommend looking at the AAMC recommendations and following them.  I do not think applying to more programs is better.  In fact, it may be problematic as students will have to expend more energy to understand a programs culture by contacting residents, alumni, "exploring" the lived environment, and this will be hard to do with many programs.

Neurology

"Neurology is the practice of medicine that concentrates on the human brain and nervous system. From higher cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer dementia) to diseases of nerve and muscle (neuropathies and myopathies), neurologists serve as nervous system specialists at every level. With compassion and dedication, neurologists take care of patients presenting with a wide variety of complaints: headaches, numbness, weakness, tremors, seizures, speech difficulty, and changes in consciousness."
Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 263.

Neurology Resources

Clinical Competency
How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

Our program performs a holistic review of applications, considering experiences, attributes and metrics (academic data). Academic metrics are important, specifically in the neurosciences domain, but are not the singular defining characteristic of a strong applicant.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Letters of recommendation

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Completion of electives in neurology, participation in SIGN, neurosciences-based research activities.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

X Extensive research in the specialty

X Taking lots of electives in your specialty

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

Again, following the experiences-attributes-metrics model, research can be helpful. Extensive research can stand out, however, minimal research experience is ok as long as you bring other experiences and attributes to the program. If you tell us in your essay, for example, that you are interested in doing research in your career, then you should have significant experience documented to support that. Otherwise it’s just nice to see a little as all trainees complete a scholarly activity during training.

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

We like to see that you have service experience and leadership outside of medicine. Every resident helps shape the program they match in. What unique skills and perspectives do you bring? How will you shape the future of neurology? Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important topics, so demonstrating a commitment to underserved populations and addressing health disparities are experiences and attributes we look for. 

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

       

x

How many electives away should a student complete?
UMN students completing away electives in Neurology is rare and generally not a factor.

USMLE Step 1
How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

All passing scores are considered within the context of a holistic review. As Step 1 is moving to pass/fail, the importance of a high score is lessening. Failure on any USMLE step can be a barrier.

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

We will continue our holistic review process

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a student's Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

Step 2 CK is considered alongside other academic metrics. Strong scores can strengthen an application with a lower class rank, etc. 

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

x

     

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Internal Medicine, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Rehabilitation Medicine

We are not interested in a recitation of your CV. It is helpful if letter writers can share information about your work style, attitudes, stress tolerance, teamwork skills, etc. Residency programs are designed to teach medical knowledge and patient care. It can be more challenging to address other skills that contribute to success, such as communication, professionalism, and the culture residents create within the program. Information about your innate characteristics is harder to ascertain from CV data. These are things we try to learn about in interviews, however, if a letter writer can attest to your great attitude and teamwork, as well as your skill and fit within neurology, it is helpful. 

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Not important

  • GHHS - Not important

Both AOA and GHHS can help applicants stand out, but are viewed within the global context of the application. Additionally, many schools (i.e. Osteopathic schools) do not offer or have not announced these awards at the time of application submission.

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

From the program perspective, the trend of applicants applying to a large number of programs (15-20) has made it more difficult to review applications and determine who is truly interested in your program. We have seen a 30% increase in the last two years. It becomes challenging to read hundreds of applications and turn around invitations quickly enough to satisfy applicants. Apply to programs you truly wish to match at, and then tell each program in your essay what it is about that program that appeals to you.

Also, assume programs are reviewing reddit.

When I applied, the consensus was 10-12, although you didn’t necessarily need to interview at all of them. More for IMGs or if scores/grades are on the lower end.

 

Neurosurgery

“Since neurosurgery is a specialty focused on a physiological system rather than a specific anatomical region, neurosurgeons treat diseases that affect all types of patients in various parts of their bodies. For example, a typical neurosurgeon not only operates on the brain and spinal cord but may also perform procedures on the skull, face, neck, spine, arms, and legs. Neurosurgeons care for some of the youngest patients in the hospital, such as a premature infant with a congenital malformation, as well as young and elderly adults suffering from trauma, tumors, infections, vascular anomalies, or degenerative disorders.”

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 281.

Neurosurgery Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?
Clinical rotation and/or Sub-I, demonstrating through daily performance the potential in the field of neurosurgery.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?
Letters of recommendation, comments on the MSPE, Honors grades in applicable clerkships.

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?
Investment of time in sub-I rotations (at home institution and at an outside institution), research related to neurosurgery, participation in departmental educational activities.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?
Extensive research in the specialty, lots of electives in the specialty, all letters of recommendation from the specialty.

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

Research experience is highly recommended and is valued.  Research related to neurosurgery is highly valued.  Meaningful academic productivity in terms of publications (especially first author) and presentations are often used as objective measures of academic potential.

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

Service to the community and the field is generally a positive.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How many electives away should a student complete? 2

This has been traditionally important but we would like to note that it has not been as widely available recently due to the COVID pandemic.  As restrictions are lifted, away rotations (sub-I) in a well-respected program or your program of interest is important.

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

Applicants with higher USMLE step 1 scores are given preference for the interview usually but we also evaluate the applicants as a whole.

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

Within our specialty, we feel that this will impact us negatively, as we usually attract top students and the training will require top students for successful completion.  It will become difficult for the programs to reliably predict the residents' successful completion of their training.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

None.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

     

x

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

  • General Surgery

As we move away from objective scores in USMLE and grading system (going to pass/fail), it is difficult to identify the select few students who are top in their class.  Therefore, letters of recommendation will play a greater role in the resident selection process.  Typically, a letter of recommendation from a well respected neurosurgeon which does not appear to be a form letter gets the most attention and most weight.  Of note, our specialty has transitioned to a standardized “rating” of the students in addition to the narrative letter.

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - a bonus, has become standard for most of our applicants.

It is of course helpful to have awards and honors.  However, not all schools have AOA and not everyone has the opportunity to compete for these honors and awards.  We do not specifically look for it.  Especially with the schools going to pass/fail, we are not sure what the significance of the AOA would be in the future.

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty?
This is difficult to answer, as Covid and virtual interview has changed the applicants’ behavior in terms of applying and accepting interviews.  I believe in recent years the applicants have applied to 20 plus programs.

 

Obstetrics & Gynecology

"These multidisciplinary specialists practice preventive medicine, deliver new lives into the world, and perform life-altering surgery. Half of their patients are healthy young women who come for prenatal care or annual physical examinations. However, with the longevity and desire for a healthier life, the rest of the practice consists of physically active mature women who are concerned about ‘life surrounding and after menopause.’ More than just experts on the pelvic region and reproductive tract, obstetrician-gynecologists must handle problems that require highly technical medical and surgical skills, and, at the other end of the spectrum, be sensitive observers who can give psychological support.” 
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 297.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Resources

Clinical Competency
What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Letters of recommendation, Honors grades in relevant elective courses, MSPE comments.

Commitment to Specialty
What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

Extensive research experiences in the specialty, specific volunteer experiences.

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

It is important to have exposure and participate in research during medical school. It is helpful to be on projects that are OBGYN related. Is still good though to have any research. Publications are a bonus but not required. 

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

       

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

Electives are important if students are interested in a specific geographic location or program. Would be important to do electives at that institution. 

USMLE Step 1
How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

We use the score as a general filter- but at a low end score. It is essential to pass on the first try.

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

Yes, Step 2 will unfortunately likely become important. Comments from rotations and strong letters of recommendation will be important. 

USMLE Step 2CK
How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

If not happy with Step 1 score, good to have Step 2 score ahead of applications if able.

Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

They may be outside of your chosen specialty, but should be from faculty who can give you strong recommendations for your clinical performance.  Those that can best speak to your strengths as a candidate, rapport with patients, ability to work in a team setting, work ethic, etc..  

The Clerkship Director and Chair write a joint letter for each applicant. Important to schedule a meeting early with the Chair. 

SLOE (Standardized Letter of Evaluation) is a new standardized letter that is optional. It should be done by SubI faculty. 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Urology

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Not important

  • GHHS - Important, we look for it.

Awards improve an application, but are not necessary. 

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Applicant dependent, but it is not uncommon for applicants to apply to 50-60 programs all with varied types of tiers of programs.

Ophthalmology

"Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that provides the complete medical and surgical care of the eye and related structures of the visual system (extraocular muscles, eyelids, orbit, nerves, visual pathways, and more). Yes, they can (and often do) prescribe glasses and contact lenses. But their spectrum of care extends much further. It requires mastery of the anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and pathophysiology of the eye, as well as an understanding of optical physics. To treat ocular and visual disorders, ophthalmologists are really both internists and surgeons."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.311.

Ophthalmology Resources

Clinical Competency
What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Letters of recommendation, MSPE comments, Honors grades in elective courses.

Commitment to Specialty
What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

Extensive research in the specialty, Specific volunteer experiences, Taking lots of electives in your specialty.

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

       

 

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

Important. This is expected and often applicants have a paper (and more) that has been accepted or submitted.  

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

This is expected.

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How many electives away should a student complete? 

These are encouraged if you are a weaker candidate and/or you know where you would like to match as an audition.  If you are a strong candidate, then you may look better on paper than you do in person.  HOWEVER, due to COVID disruptions on ability to complete these, electives away may not be as important as past years.

USMLE Step 1
How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

Most likely will move to Step 2 becoming the new Step 1.  

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

     

This is not required since we are an early match however, I have heard that some programs require it, so you should look carefully at the details of each program to which you apply.  This will likely become critical with Step 1 going to P/F.

Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

x

     

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Just someone who knows the candidate well .

Most applicants obtain at least 2 letters from an ophthalmologist and 1 from a non ophthalmologist.  

More important than “Chair” letters (which are not required) are letters from someone who has worked with them and knows them well

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - Important, we look for it

Awards and honors are important.   

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

  • The average ophthalmology applicant applies to 70-80 programs.  I'm not certain that this is the best strategy.  The data support that 46 programs is enough for the typical applicant to match.  

Orthopaedic Surgery

"The specialty of orthopedics basically involves the care of the musculoskeletal system, which includes care of most disorders and injuries in the upper and lower extremities as well as the spine. As such, future orthopedic surgeons need a thorough knowledge of the anatomy, mechanics, and physiology of this body system. You master everything there is to know about each muscle, nerve, and blood vessel within all parts of the musculoskeletal system. In addition, proper diagnosis and management of orthopedic injuries requires a solid grasp of forensics and physics to understand the mechanisms of injury."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 325.

Orthopaedics Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

In addition to academic excellence, each candidate's CV should demonstrate some leadership activities, some volunteer activities, and some orthopedic surgery research. 

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?
Letters of recommendation, MSPE clinical comments, Honors grades in related elective courses

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

In a typical year, each student does 1-2 acting internships at their home institution and 1-3 acting internships at other programs through VSAS

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

Extensive research in the specialty,  All their letters of rec from the specialty, specific volunteer experiences.

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

       

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

Research experience is an important aspect of the application to orthopedic surgery. Research in this specialty is preferred but significant research in other fields is accepted and valued in the absence of ortho research.

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

Volunteer experiences are useful in demonstrating a student’s outside interests.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

       

How many electives away should a student complete?

Only 1 away was allowed this past year in the pandemic. Numbers may fluctuate moving forward depending on pandemic activity.

Orthopedic surgery has tentatively increased available slots for away rotations for Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec at all U of MN sites, pending safe resumption during the pandemic.  Interviews will be in January, so this allows away rotations to be completed prior to interviews. 

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

Other aspects of the application such as letters of recommendation, research, etc will likely become more important or carry more weight as Step 1 moves to pass/fail.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

Generally recommend 220 or higher, preferably 230 or higher. 

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

     

X

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

x

(All letters should be from our specialty)  - unless a student has a significant extensive research experience with another physician in which case that letter of recommendation would be valuable.

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - Important, we look for it 

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Most applicants apply to approximately 60 programs.  

 

Otolaryngology/ENT

"The official name for this specialty is Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. This specialty involves both the medical and surgical care of all structures related to the head and neck (basically, above the clavicles and excluding the brain and eye). … Although most physicians and patients still refer to these surgeons simply as ‘ENTs,’ this specialty is, in reality, so much more than ears, noses, and throats. Otolaryngologists are also experts in the management of head and neck tumors (e.g., thyroid and salivary gland), chronic pediatric infections (tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies, and tympanostomy tube placement), facial trauma and cosmetic deformities, and diseases of the airway and phonation (laryngoscopy, bronchoscopy, palate surgery for snoring and sleep apnea), and assessing and treating hearing loss in adults and children."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.340.
 

ENT Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

Otolaryngology is a great field, but with that unfortunately extremely competitive. Clinical competency is key to demonstrate and comments from faculty and rotation leads about a student’s clinical performance is key. This is why it is very important to have letter writers know the student and have observed then either in clinic or the operating room. Most students applying in this specialty have stellar academic records, it is the clinical acumen that distinguishes them when applying. 

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?
Letters of recommendation

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Taking a Sub-I elective in our specialty is a requirement. In addition, letters of recommendation are also. These letters should be from Otolaryngologists that have had a chance to work closely with the student. A letter from another specialist can be acceptable for example if the student has had extensive research experience in that field. Of course, we do know that students’ can decide on our field late. External Sub-Is have become quite common in our specialty, and should be done at an institution where the student has significant interest in training. With Step 1 scores going to Pass Fail, programs will be looking at letters and rotation comments quite closely.

Research and academic efforts in our field are also highly recommended. These should be meaningful projects that the student understands well and can speak intelligently about. 

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

Extensive research in the specialty,  All their letters of rec from the specialty.

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

       

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

       

Publication is seen as a favorable aspect of an application. Most programs receive from 400-500 applications for 2-5 spots. And all of these students have Honors in their rotations. Research, and productive research that results in publication, is highly valued when reviewing applications. 

One publication at least, (to check of the box) but competitive students have around 3. Poster presentations and meeting presentations are also valuable. 

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

X

 

If able, encouraged but not a necessity. 

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

       

How many electives away should a student complete?
At least one - and it is way more important to excel at that one, then to do many

We are aware that away rotations can be costly, however, they have become quite influential in our residency recruitment process. We are more and more having to face lack of differentiating factors between students. Pass Fail grades, Pass Fail tests, leads to programs unfortunately looking for ways to assess the applicant better- assess their clinical skills and acumen for surgery. Not all bright, academically excellent students have an acumen for surgery. 

Away rotations demonstrate to a program a significant interest in that program. An ENT applicant should do a least one away rotation. The student must view this as a month long interview in essence. A letter from the away program is very valuable as it shows how the student can adapt and perform in an unfamiliar environment. 

A student is discouraged to do an away where they “thought living in that city” would be interesting for a month. We expect to hear specifically why the program was chosen and what qualities about that program were of interest. 

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

Our NRMP data has consistently shown that Step 1 scores above 220 are offered interviews. Below this score, NRMP data shows a significant challenge in obtaining interviews or matching.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a student's Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

X (for now)

This is not traditionally looked at but with pass fail will likely be a way students can differentiate themselves. It won’t be a requirement, but smart students will do this in order to show their aptitude electively and it will become an unspoken requirement. 

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

     

X

 

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

X - but needs to be a meaningful relationship

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

  • General Surgery

  • Neurosurgery

At least three, ideally 4 with one being from the department chair, Ideally all from Otolaryngologists.

It's what comes beyond "required" that is key for the competitiveness, otolaryngology letters are key, you can have up to 3 faculty plus a chair letter, all otolaryngology applicants should work to have 4, as many if not all from otolaryngology faculty is preferred, if not from our specialty it should be from someone the student has worked very closely with and can speak specifically and highly positively about them 

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - a bonus, has become standard for most of our applicants.

Any award is favorable as it distinguishes an applicant from the 400 other great applicants. The challenge is that it is quite standard for our applicants to be both AOA and GHHS.

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty?
U
sually 30-40

If you get interviews at 12 or more you can feel comfortable about getting a slot.

 

Pathology

"The practice of pathology involves the detection, analysis, and understanding of disease process. As the only branch of medicine considered both a basic science and a clinical specialty, pathology is somewhat unique. By studying tissues, cells, and fluid samples, pathologists unravel the mysteries of how a particular disease arises and develops. To do so, they draw on a variety of methods, ranging from microbiology to molecular biology …The practice of pathology is divided into two primary areas - anatomic and clinical. Anatomic pathologists examine organs, tissues, and cells to diagnose or further characterize a disease process. They make exact diagnoses on specimen from sources including biopsy, fine-needle aspiration, body-fluid analysis, exfoliation, autopsy, and surgery--and the information they provide in the pathology report is used for patient prognostication and management. . ….Clinical pathologists analyze blood, body fluids, or other patient specimens. They are experts in the scientific principles and techniques of laboratory medicine as well as administrative aspects of overseeing a laboratory."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. pp. 354-355.

Pathology Resources

Pediatrics

"Pediatrics is the specialty of medicine that focuses on the comprehensive care of children – beginning from birth and continuing through the adolescent years. …In addition to the primary care and preventive medicine of general pediatrics, pediatricians can choose to focus on acute problems requiring immediate treatment (critical care, neonatology, emergency medicine) or a wide range of technical procedures (cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology). …It is important to note that caring for kids is not just about treating their physical and medical problems. Every good pediatrician also addresses the mental and emotional health of his or her patients, which is equally as important as organic disease."

Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 349.

Pediatrics Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

In general, we recommend that all students interested in pediatrics meet with one of our pediatrics specialty mentors to discuss all aspects of their application and how to be prepare for a career in pediatrics.  Burst mentorship sessions, and information sessions hosted by the pediatrics department are other excellent sources of information and mentorship.

Students can best demonstrate their clinical competency through their performance on clinical rotations.  Specific comments from evaluations that are included in the MSPE are a frequent source of information about clinical competence.  With the addition of EPA based assessments, students will likely have additional information available in the future although that is not a current component of their MSPE.

Completing additional rotations, such as an acting internship are another great way to demonstrate growth in clinical competence and development of advanced skills and readiness for residency.

Letters of recommendation can also help to describe clinical competence.  It is a good idea to ask for a letter write to specifically comment on your clinical competence in their letter.  

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Honors grades (this is not as important in pediatrics)

Comments on the MSPE

Letters of Recommendation

Other:  Clinical competency can be built through completing additional experiences .

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Participation in activities that relate to children and families is a good way to demonstrate commitment.  This could be through volunteer work or paid work through a local organization such as a school or community organization.  The Pediatric Interest Group may have a list of some opportunities.  

Research with a pediatric mentor, or another mentor in an area that impacts child or family health is also helpful, although not required in pediatrics.

Imagine someone reading your residency application when you are a 4th year student--they should be able to glean from your list of activities that you are interested in caring for children.  If you become interested in pediatrics later in medical school, it is not necessary to add many additional activities.  Please consult one of our pediatric specialty mentors if you would like to review your CV and discuss possible activities related to pediatrics that can strengthen your application.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

At least one letter should be from pediatrics, but they do not all need to be from pediatrics. 

Specific volunteer experiences

Students do not need to take “lots” of electives in pediatrics, but at least one additional pediatric rotation beyond the core pediatric clerkship is recommended. 

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

 

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

   

x

 

Research not required.  It’s nice if you have it, but not at all a necessity.

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

       

We definitely like to see a well-rounded applicant.  Volunteer, extra-curricular activities, or paid work tell us about your interests and passions.  Make sure to use ERAS to explain your activities, and use it as an opportunity to give a brief description of what you learned from participating in the activity.   Your unique characteristics portion of your MSPE and your personal statement can be another place to highlight activities that have been important to you during medical school or prior to medical school.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

How many electives away should a student complete? 

Away rotations are not required in pediatrics.   If there is a very special circumstance (i.e. desire to match in a specific program for personal reasons) your local pediatric faculty will be happy to help brainstorm and advocate for you.

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

The Association of Pediatric Program Directors (APPD) has made recommendations for holistic review of applications with de-emphasis on USMLE Step 1 scores.  The residency program at the University of Minnesota Pediatric Residency does not use USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK to make selections for interviews or ranking.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a student's Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

(just passing, not the score)

   

No requirement to have completed Sub-I and/or Step 2 ck/cs completed prior to app review

Very few pediatric programs have required Step 2 CK before interviews, and that will likely continue to be the case.  Step 2 CK should be taken in time to have the score reported by early February so that programs can see a passing score before rank lists needs to be finalized.

 

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?


The change to pass/fail is unlikely to impact review of applications.


Students can read more about the recent position from the Association of Pediatric Program Directors here:

https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/APPD/b07d8237-43e8-4219-842d-b292e9b24d4e/UploadedImages/2021_05_19_-_Pediatrics_Residency_Recruitment_Recommendations_Final.pdf

 

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

x

(sometimes you will need a letter called a department chair letter as the fourth letter.  You will need to review each program’s website individually to see if a department chair letter is needed).

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

x

     

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Focus on letters from primary care.

Best from people who have worked closely with them and know them.

At least one of the letter should be. 

Only 1 LoR needs come from Peds, rest are best from people who have worked closely with them and know them

Dept is willing to write a "Chair" letter for interested students as an additional letter and way to enhance your application. Please reach out to the department for detials and instructions on obtaining

In general, we would recommend at least one from a pediatrician, and focus on letters from primary care.  The pediatric department will be happy to provide a department chair letter for any student who would like one, and our core clerkship site directors are also available to provide an additional pediatric letter of rec.  It is good to have a letter from someone who got to know you well, and can speak to your strengths—their specialty field is less important.

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Not important

  • GHHS - Not important

Awards and honors including induction into AOA or GHHS are not required but can help bolster an application. 

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Suggested to limit # programs applying to, allows programs the time to give each app a holistic review.

I have typically said 10-12, although this year 15 per applicant may be more prudent.  In pediatrics, it is absolutely not necessary to apply to 50 or 60 programs.  If there are special circumstances, such as couples match, the pediatric specialty mentors would be happy to discuss with you on a case by case basis.  

Any general  advice or strategies for students applying to your specialty?

If no failures (course or USMLE) or other academic setbacks, need to rank only 10 programs to have a 99% chance of matching. DO NOT need to apply to more than 15 programs

 

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

"Physical medicine and rehabilitation is the discipline concerned with preventing, diagnosing, and treating a variety of neurologic, musculoskeletal, and cardiopulmonary disorders through rehabilitative measures. A typical patient base can include, but is not limited to, those with conditions such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, postchemotherapy and cancer deconditioning, sports injuries, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and in children, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and postoperative orthopedic procedures. Because of the vast spectrum of disease, physiatrists can focus on one (or more) of these medical problems."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York.p. 389-390.

Rehabilitation Medicine Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

Because we are a smaller specialty, it is simply most important that students have done a rotation in our specialty.  Clinical competency would best be demonstrated in a letter of recommendation from the attending that they worked with on that rotation.  Next would be the medical school transcript and other letters of recommendation.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

 Letters of recommendation, Comments in the MSPE.

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Commitment can be demonstrated by doing a rotation or rotations in our specialty.  Membership in one of our main national organizations (AAP, AAPMR) and even attending one of the national meetings.  Lastly, if there is a student interest group at their school they should be involved with that at the events or in leadership positions.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

Specific volunteer experiences, taking lots of electives in the specialty.

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

If your project involves any writing then we could expect an end product such as a poster or manuscript.

W/o direct contact in courses students must find other ways to get involved (Research is a great opportunity).

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

     

For people entering the application cycle we expect that many of these experiences were already being done and should be noted.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

How many electives away should a student complete? 

Most important is a rotation in PM&R either at home or away, though it would look odd if they went away while there was a rotation at home but that could be due to scheduling issues at home.  I suggest that away electives be used as auditions at specific programs that they are most interested in due to geography or something specific in that program.

USMLE Step 1

How important is a student's Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

Our initial screen takes into account passing, failing and “high” score of >225.  We do not have a minimum score below which someone would be screened out of review.

What conversations are going on nationally within your specialty related to Step 1 moving to pass/fail? How will this affect how you review or handle an application? Will other aspects of the application become more important or viewed differently?

It is certain that other aspects of the application will become more important.  These include step 2, and other experiences within PM&R.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

This is not required to interview at our program.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

Still expect 4 total but 3 is the minimum. Expectations are that one of the letters is from our field. We value LoRs from other specialties, need just 1 from PM&R.

Dept is willing to write a "Chair" letter for interested students as an additional letter and way to enhance your application though it is not typically done. Please reach out to the department for details and instructions on obtaining.

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

x

     

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Neurology, Orthopedic Surgery, sports medicine

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Not important

  • GHHS - Not important

Medical school scholarships, medical school awards for leadership, volunteering, or that were voted on by your peers.  Best research, best poster, etc would also be great.

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Target  12-15 interviews which would probably take 30-40 applications depending on how competitive the application is.

Any general  advice or strategies for students applying to your specialty?

Reach out early to the department, the program director, other residents, etc to get the best information.

Plastic Surgery

"It has been said that plastic surgeons operate on 'the skin and its contents,' alluding to the fact that on any given day plastic surgeons might find themselves operating on the face, on the hand, inside the cranium, or inside the abdominal or thoracic cavities. The field has developed from the contributions of people from many different backgrounds, including general surgery, orthopedics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, dermatology, neurosurgery, and otolaryngology. Plastic surgery encompasses all of aesthetic surgery, yet it also deals with clinical entities, including chronic wounds, limb replantation, and head and neck reconstruction…..The breadth of anatomy seen within a typical week (or even within a single day) often includes the head, neck, chest, abdomen, lower and upper extremities, breast, and hand. Some may view this as a liability. Most plastic surgeons, however, welcome the variety and tend to become bored if repeatedly faced with the same types of clinical problems. They enjoy the beauty of anatomy, especially that of the more intricate regions, such as the hand and face."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 407-409.

Plastic Surgery Resources

Psychiatry

"Psychiatry is the field of medicine dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. The diseases psychiatrists treat include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addiction, delirium and dementia, anxiety, and personality disorders. As physicians who treat the mentally ill, psychiatrists have some of the most rewarding long-term relationships with their patients. This is an interdisciplinary specialty, well-suited for doctors who wish to use the broadest of all skills - psychosocial, scientific, and clinical. Historically, psychotherapy has always formed the core of psychiatry. But with remarkable advances in neuroscience and drug therapy, this field of medicine has shifted to a more biological-based approach. Now, psychiatrists draw on the latest research in brain imaging, genetics, and psychopharmacology to treat many debilitating disorders."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 419.

Psychiatry Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

Struggle or hardship with explanation and demonstrated performance afterwards.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence? 
Comments in the MSPE, letters of recommendation, Honors grades when applicable for elective courses.

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Tell us your story in your personal statement of how you found yourself called to psychiatryWhat are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty:  Specific volunteer experiences, taking electives in the specialty.  

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

X If for academic programs

X If community

   

Doesn’t need to be in specialty, great if it is. Any amount is much better than none. Depends on if applying to academic vs. community program.

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

X If academic 

X If community

 

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

       

Yes, very important, especially with marginalized communities.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

 

Definitely helps if that program is in your top 3 - programs will preferentially choose someone they’ve seen in action.

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

 

Mostly looking for passing on 1st attempt.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

Just need a pass.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

     

x

Make sure you ask for the LOR as soon as possible during or after the rotation. You will get the best letter that way - more specifics make for a better letter.

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Neurology, Pediatrics

A strong letter from any other specialty is useful.

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

It’s nice if you have it, don’t need them.

AOA:

Not important

GHHS:

Important, we look for it

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Impossible to say. Only apply to programs you will be willing to attend. Don’t apply to all of them.

Try to determine if your most important deciding point is geography, or academic vs. community programs. This will help you direct looking for programs.

Radiation Oncology

"Radiation oncology is the specialty of medicine that uses radiant energy for treating usually malignant disease and occasionally benign disease. Radiation oncologists are a fundamental component of the interdisciplinary practice of cancer treatment and may act as both consultants to referring physicians and primary oncologists to patients. Using a broad oncologic fund of knowledge, the radiation oncologist approaches the treatment of cancer with meticulous application of his/her technical expertise. If their knowledge base and relationship to the patient is like that of the medical oncologist (doctors who prescribe chemotherapy), the approach is more akin to the surgeon."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 435.

Radiation Oncology Resources

Radiology

"Radiology is the branch of medicine in which radiologic images are interpreted for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Technological advances in medical imaging - and its growing role in the diagnosis and management of disease - have transformed radiology into one of the premier fields of modern medicine. Many of the greatest achievements in health care have come from radiologists."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.453.

Radiology Resources

Clinical Competency

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Letters of recommendation, MSPE narrative comments, Honors grades in relevant electives.

Commitment to Specialty

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?

Research in the specialty, at least one letter of recommendation from the specialty, taking electives in the specialty.

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

Research can be a great way to get to know the radiology department faculty and learn about radiology. Research rotations and publications are not required.

Students are encouraged to get involved with faculty doing research (dept can help them network on this)

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

All extracurricular experiences will be considered as a valued part of your application. Hot topics in radiology right now include AI and DEI initiatives.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

       

x

How many electives away should a student complete?

Not required. Only do an elective away if it fulfills a personal goal, such as getting to know a specific program you are interested in matching with or spending time near family, etc. 

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

x

N/A after this match- currently Important

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X With Step 1 going P/F

     

Step 2 CK will become more important and likely be required for interview invitations.

Step 2 CK score has not been a requirement for interviews in our program in the past and it will not be this year either. Step 2 CK is required for ranking in our program for the 2022 match. For the 2023 match and beyond Step 2 CK will likely be required for interviews.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 x

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

It really doesn't matter as long as the letter writer has first hand observation of the candidate and is able to comment on the candidate's character and potential. 1-2 letters of recommendation should be from a radiologist.

If you are applying to diagnostic radiology and have an interventional radiologist writing your letter, it would be helpful for the letter writer to state that the letter is assessing you as a diagnostic radiology candidate.

A letter of recommendation from a radiologist would be useful, but is not a strict requirement for our program. This can include a letter from someone you worked with on a radiology research experience. Letters from required rotations and preceptors who know you well are always welcome. 

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important at other programs- we do not use it at UMN

  • GHHS - Important, we look for it and it can bolster your application

Any award is favorable as it distinguishes an applicant from the 400 other great applicants. The challenge is that it is quite standard for our applicants to be both AOA and GHHS.

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Nationally the average number of applications per applicant has been 60 the past 2 years. This includes DO and IMG students/graduates who may apply to a larger number of programs than US MD students. The number of programs you should apply to will depend on the strength of your overall application and if you will participate in the couple's match. All U of MN students who apply to our diagnostic radiology program will be invited to interview with our diagnostic radiology program. The number of applications received by diagnostic radiology programs went up 30% in the 2022 match according to recent ERAS twitter posts.

Any general advice for students applying in your specialty?

  1. Get to know a radiology faculty member through research or other academic projects

  2. Prepare for step 2 CK and have your score available when ERAS opens

  3. Demonstrate your clinical strengths during your required clerkships and a radiology elective

  4. Given the increased number of applications per program it may be to your advantage to use the last paragraph of your personal statement to indicate what you are looking for in a radiology residency. You may consider making program specific personal statements for your top 3 programs.

Surgery (General)

"Surgery, the treatment of disease by operation, is often definitive therapy — many times curative — for a broad range of conditions affecting all organ systems. The general surgeon treats diseases of the entire body, from the skin to the blood vessels, to the liver, and beyond. The surgical subspecialties focus on specific body regions, that is, cardiothoracic surgeon address problems of the heart, lungs, and other organs within the thorax (chest), whereas other specialties focus on certain body systems or patient populations, that is, vascular surgeons operate on arteries and veins and pediatric surgeons operate primarily on infants and children. No matter the subspecialty, surgeons are knowledgeable in critical care, and often care for their own critically ill patients in the ICU.”

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 223.

Surgery Resources

Clinical Competency
What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Letters of recommendation, Step Scores, Honors in appropriate electives.

Commitment to Specialty
How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Extensive research in the specialty.

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

         

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

         

Depends on the program. Community surgery programs do not emphasize research.  Academic programs will place a heavy emphasis on research.

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

X

 

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

         

Depends on the applicant.  If the applicant has areas of concern in their portfolio (failed exams, low class rank, no honors, IMG) they should consider an away rotation 

USMLE Step 1
How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

USMLE Step 2CK
How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

     

Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

This should be avoided, however could be appropriate if from someone who knows your work very well (eg someone that you have spent years doing research with)  If letters from surgical subspecialtist, concern is that GS is a backup plan, and candidate may not be committed to GS.  Writer should state that the candidate wants General Surgery.

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - Important, we look for it  

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

Should apply to 20 programs.  Get 12+ interviews.

Must practice for interview. Greater weight will be placed on interview success.

Thoracic Surgery

A thoracic surgeon provides the operative, perioperative care, and critical care of patients with pathologic conditions within the chest. Included is the surgical care of coronary artery disease, cancers of the lung, esophagus and chest wall, abnormalities of the trachea, abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves, congenital anomalies, tumors of the mediastinum, and diseases of the diaphragm. The management of the airway and injuries of the chest is within the scope of the specialty. A general thoracic surgeon treats emphysema, swallowing problems, and gastroesophageal reflux. A congenital heart surgeon performs surgical corrections of heart defects and furnishes cardiovascular support to infants and children. Any of these subspecialists may perform heart, lung, and combined heart-lung transplantations. Thoracic surgeons have the knowledge, experience, and technical skills to accurately diagnose, operate upon safely, and effectively manage patients with thoracic diseases of the chest. This requires substantial knowledge of cardiorespiratory physiology and oncology, as well as capability in the use of heart assist devices, management of abnormal heart rhythms and drainage of the chest cavity, respiratory support systems, endoscopy, and invasive and noninvasive diagnostic techniques.

Overview: Adapted from the American Board of Medical Specialties' "Guide to Physician Specialties" and the Pathway Evaluation Program for Medical Professionals' "Specialty Profiles," 2003.

Resources

UMN Cardiothoracic Surgery Page
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons

Clinical Competency
How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

There are multiple training pathways to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. The pathway to which medical students can apply directly is through an I6 integrated program. The other pathways are either combined with general surgery or a traditional 2 or 3 year traditional residency following general surgery residency. Cardiothoracic surgery is a highly competitive field, more selective than other surgical subspecialties. A student would need to have high honors in all surgical rotations and do very well in the other rotations. 

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?
Letters of recommendation, Honors grades in elective courses, MSPE narrative comments.

Commitment to Specialty
How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Clinical research, volunteer experiences reflective of understanding and dedication to the field, participation in cardiothoracic surgery interest groups, attendance at national meetings. 

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty: Extensive research in the specialty,  specific volunteer experience.

Research and Publications
How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

Any research experience is a plus, but not required for a traditional cardiothoracic residency.  Research from residency will be more germane.  For general thoracic track candidates, surgical research during residency is important.

For an I6 program, students will need some focused publications to be a competitive applicant.

Volunteer or other service experience
How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

Candidates should have some volunteer experience. While not required, it will favorably affect one’s application.

Electives Away
How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How many electives away should a student complete?  1

Away electives will be important for I6 candidates and less so for traditional pathway applicants (i.e. CT surgery fellowship after general surgery residency).

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

A high score is used as a primary filter when considering applicants and then can be a tie breaker when ranking.  

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

 

x

   

The field is considering how to address this change in grading. It is likely that more weight will now be given to Step 2 scores.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

x

     

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

Surgical Chair

Surgical Program Director

At least one letter should be from a cardiothoracic surgeon, one from the chair of surgery and one Dean’s letter.  

We use the letters to learn more about the applicant’s learning potential and starting point. These can significantly affect how a candidate is ranked.

Awards and Honors
How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - Not important

Award achievement is not required but can differentiate a student from others. AOA is more important for an I6 program. 

Applying to Programs
How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty? 

For I6, apply to every program. 

For a traditional program, at least 10.

Any general advice for students applying to your specialty?

If you are committed to applying to an I6 program, you should meet with at least one of our cardiothoracic surgeons early to discuss how you can become a strong applicant.

Urology

"Urology is a surgical subspecialty focusing on the urinary tract of men and women, as well as the reproductive system of men. …Urologists are masters of everything that has to do with the passage of urine, from its production in the kidney to its release through the urethra. They surgically correct problems such as obstructing posterior urethral valves in newborn boys or bladder outlet obstruction caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in elderly men. Urinary tract infections (UTIs), which affect every age group and can be quite destructive, make up a large proportion of cases seen by urologists, especially if it progresses to a worrisome infection of the kidney itself (pyelonephritis).”

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 467.

Urology Resources

Vascular Surgery

"Vascular surgery involves the arteries and veins of the entire body, from the neck to the distal extremities. Surgical procedures include carotid endarterectomies, arte­riovenous fistulas, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repairs, bypass procedures to revascularize threatened extremities, angiographic procedures, amputations for ischemia, repair of pseudoaneurysms, and repair of any type of disruption of blood vessels. Vascular surgery is now characterized by procedures including endovas­cular AAA repairs, carotid stent grafting, peripheral endovascular therapies, and advances in vascular technology and research. There is an increasing demand for vascular surgeons given the aging population with vascular diseases. Due to the fact that the vascular disease process is not limited to specific parts of the body, patients often have heart, pulmonary, and comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and increased cholesterol. Therefore, these patients are very sick and high-risk operative candidates. Vascular surgeons are skilled operators who operate despite dangerous conditions in hopes of improving the lives of their debilitated patients. The fellowship is 2 years in length. If you are confident in pursuing a vascular surgery career, you may want to consider applying to several integrated vascular surgery residencies that now exist. They are 5 years in length and the first 2 years cover core general surgery rotations. The last 3 years are dedicated to vascular surgery training."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 235.

Vascular Surgery Resources

Clinical Competency

How can a student interested in your specialty show you their clinical competence?

Students should express an interest in vascular surgery in their personal statement, explain how they became interested, and detail any rotations or other hands-on experience they have had with vascular surgeons.

What are ways a student can show their clinical competence?

Letters of recommendation, MSPE narrative comments, Honors in applicable elective clerkships.

Commitment to Specialty

How can an applicant show commitment to your specialty?

Letters of recommendation, MSPE narrative comments, Honors in applicable elective clerkships.

What are ways a student can show commitment to your specialty?
All their letters of rec from the specialty, specific volunteer experiences.

Research and Publications

How important is it for an application to have research?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How important is it for an applicant to have publications?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

Evidence of scholarly activity at any level (manuscripts, posters, case presentations, etc) will help to set them apart from other applicants.

Volunteer or other service experience

How important is it for an applicant to have volunteer or other service experiences?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

     

X

 

While interesting, this is not a “must have”. Yet volunteer work may help to demonstrate a commitment to patient care beyond regular training cycles.

Electives Away

How important is it for an applicant to have completed electives away?

Essential

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

   

x

   

How many electives away should a student complete? 

The applicant should do at least one but no more than three away rotations. These allow the applicant to see the programs first-hand and to expand on their skills that cannot be simply gleaned from the application. This is particularly important in this time of virtual interviews.

USMLE Step 1

How important is a students Step 1 score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

X

     

Now that the Step 1 score will be pass-fail only, we will look down on applicants who have ever failed the test.

USMLE Step 2CK

How important is a students Step 2CK score for your specialty?

Very Important

Important

Little Importance

Not Important

x

     

The Step 2 score will be more important than ever, and all applicants must consider taking the Step 2 examination before applying.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does specialty expect from an applicant?

1

2

3

4

   

x

 

How many LoRs should be from your specialty?

1

2

3

ALL

 

x

   

Do you accept letters from physicians in other specialties?

Yes

No

 

What other specialties would be appropriate for letters of rec?

  • General Surgery

LoRs are very important and should come from known or nationally recognized vascular surgeons.

Awards and Honors

How important is being a member of AOA or Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for applicants applying to your specialty?

  • AOA - Important, we look for it

  • GHHS - Not important.

Some schools do not have these awards.

Applying to Programs

How many programs should a student apply to for your specialty?
30

Apply to a variety of programs, with a few “stretch” programs but most within reason. Should find a mentor in the specialty and pay close attention to his or her recommendations.

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