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Surgical Student Interest Group (SSIG)
 

 

   
     

 

Thank you to Dr. Shirin Towfigh, Surgery Clerkship Director, for compiling the information found here!

"A word to the wise: Only those who cannot envision doing anything else with their lives should choose surgery. If you can find happiness in any other career, then do not choose surgery."
Mythbusters
To dispell some myths:
1. It is never too late to choose surgery as a career. Many do not choose until the end of their third year.
2. Whether you do surgery first or last during your third year has historically had no effect on your grade or outcome.
3. If you are savvy in your rank list, you will likely match in a program. Most don't match because they did not rank enough programs (or the right programs). Be honest about your prospects and have a mentor.
4. The majority of general surgery programs are very good. You will graduate being a good surgeon and you will get a good fellowship or a job.

Statistics

Now, the facts (from NRMP book, found lying around in the KSOM Student Affairs Office):
In 2004:
- 1,042 of 1,044 general surgery spots were filled. The remaining 2 spots filled the day after the MATCH.
- Of U.S. grads, 885 matched out of 1,230 applicants (72%), the rest were foreign grads. Note that the national average for all specialties is a 93% match rate.
- The average student ranked 12.4 programs. This is too low.

More statistics (from FREIDA, NRMP):
- 253 = number of G-surgery programs
- 5 years + = number of years in training. (This will change soon to 4 years +)
- 60% = percentage of graduates to move on to fellowships (an extra 1-3 years)


The nitty gritty: application
What you need in your application:
1) ERAS application (including your CV) - available online in August of your 4th year, this website allows you to submit a common application to multiple programs. It is easy to use, but be sure and complete it early as programs will start giving away precious interview slots based on this.
2) Personal Statement - actually pretty important. Most schools include the quality of this in their ranking. Make sure you talk about things that set you apart from others, rather than regurgitating your CV.
3) Medical School Transcripts (sent out by school) - Honors in Surgery most important, but also remainder of year III grades.
4) AOA status - sought after in most institutions, but by no means an absolute requirement
5) Dean's Letter - automatically sent out by KSOM on Nov. 1. Not too helpful, because they all sound the same, however the more honors you have recieved, the better the wording (best wording with honors in 2-3 clerkships during 3rd year, with high pass in the remainder).
6) Chairman's Letter of Recommendation - must meet with Dr. Tom Demeester after he gets to know you from foregut surgery selective.
7) Two more Letters of Recommendation - must be surgeons who know you well. No Emergency docs or OB-Gyns. Preferably, they should be nationally recognized Professors of surgery, but it's better to get a great letter from an Assistant Professor than a so-so letter from a Professor.
8) USMLE Scores - Part I is mandatory. Part II is not. Do not stress about taking Part II early… we rarely see it in the applications and when we do, it rarely improves the application beyond Part I. Scores below 200 will hurt your application, 200-220 is okay for middle tier programs; over 220 is a must for top tier programs. Remember, USMLE minimum passing score is around 180, mean is around 215, and maximum score is around 250.

Timeline

Year I, II - Do well in your studies. Honors is preferred, but not as crucial as your clinical years (this all counts toward AOA).

Summer of Year I/II - Do a summer research project. Funding available at KSOM. Consider using research for the MedSTARS competition. Browse our list of currently available research opportunities. You can also contact Dr.Maura Sullivan, Vice Chair of Education, Dept of Surgery at (323) 442-2368 or mesulliv@usc.edu. Most important is to actually present your research and publish it. The research subject is not so important.

Year II - Take USMLE Part I at the end of the year (see above for score info). Begin studying during integrated cases. Most people take about a month of serious preparation.

Year III - Get Honors in as many clinical rotations as possible, including Surgery I and II.
- Let attendings and residents know you are interested in surgery.
- Get involved in some clinical research projects.
- Find a mentor
- Sign up for Thoracic/Foregut 4th year selective as soon as possible. This is mandatory to get a Chairman's letter.
- Sign up for 4th year away rotation (SubI) at a program in which you want to match. Most begin accepting applications around May. Something to think about… Many programs automatically offer you an interview as a courtesy for having spent the time in their program. Hmmm!

Year IV - Sign up for ERAS after August 15. Work on your application.
- Ask for letters of recommendation from 2 surgical attendings and the Chairman.
- Do Thoracic/Foregut (and any other rotation for which you plan to get a letter of recommendation) any time before the letter of rec deadline of November 1.
- Do 4th year away rotation (in a program in which you want to match) as close to interview dates as possible, usually September, October, and November.
- December and January are for interviews. Choose easier 4th year electives here (pathology, dermatology, radiology, neuroradiology, evolutionary medicine).
- Spend the rest of the year enjoying your time. Do electives you would not otherwise do in your life, such as radiology, CCU, clinical pathology, forensics, acupuncture, whatever.
- Turn in match list in Feb. Rank about 15 places. Match date is in March. Good luck!!!
- If you don't match, you will be notified the day before so you can "scramble" for open spots.

Useful Websites
Our database of Residency Programs - view what our students had to say about residency programs across the country.
FREIDA - listing of some statistics from every residency program in the country (# of positions, etc.) ACS: Red Book - this website contains invaluable info about selecting and getting a surgery residency.
AWS - the association of women surgeons Scutwork.com - contains hard-to-find information on programs as posted by students, interviewees, and residents.

If you have questions about any of these resources, please contact one of the SSIG Officers.
Thank you, come again!



 
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The University of Southern California does not screen or control the content on this website and thus does not guarantee the accuracy, integrity, or quality of such content. All content on this website is provided by and is the sole responsibility of the person from which such content originated, and such content does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the University administration or the Board of Trustees