How to select a subspecialty

  • Decide what you like (obviously!)
    • Not always as easy as it sounds
  • Diversify exposure to subspecialties early
  • Elective rotations early PGY-2 year (if possible)
  • Attend tumor boards/conferences
  • Sit in on sign out when you have free time

Becoming a stellar applicant

  • Start early for competitive fellowships (Derm, GI, Heme)
    • If you change your mind later, you have lost nothing
    • BUT, if you wait to get started, it could be a problem
  • Publications (of course)
    • Start with case report in area of interest
    • Move on to bigger studies
  • Get Involved
    • Committees (national or hospital) show leadership skills
    • More ideas at our Get Involved page
  • Do Away Elective at Programs of Interest
    • If not possible, at least ask to visit for a day or so
    • The MOST important thing (in my opinion)
    • Get to know faculty in your subspecialty area of interest
    • Attend as many meetings, lectures, tumor boards, national meetings, etc as possible
    • Introduce yourself to people in the field
      • Get to know them
      • Add them to Facebook/Linked In (seriously!)
      • Make a separate professional Facebook page if needed
      • Email them after meeting/keep in touch
      • Networking 101

Navigating the chaos of the fellowship application process

  • Timelines vary (sometimes drastically)
    • Possible Fellowship Match may change this (stay tuned)
  • Prepare and submit application early
  • Reserve enough time off for interviews

Sample timeline:

  • PGY-2:
    • Consider and research possible programs
  • Summer prior to PGY-3:
    • Prepare applications
    • Submit by early Fall (Note: deadlines VARY)
  • Fall/Winter of PGY-3:
    • Interview
  • Winter/Spring of PGY-3:
    • Offers made to applicants.
    • Again, timeframe varies dramatically program to program

Prioritize list of programs you applied to

    • Make a mental ranking
    • Keep this in mind when scheduling interviews
  • Try to schedule interviews close together
  • Try to schedule most desired interviews early
    • Your first interview may offer you a position right away
    • You may have to decide before interviewing elsewhere
    • Difficult position to be in (a bird in the hand…)

You have been offered a fellowship position! Now, should you accept it?

  • Don’t necessarily accept your first offer
  • OK to ask the director for some time to decide
    • Some may allow it, others not
  • Contact other programs as soon as you have received an offer
    • Let them know the time you have to decide
    • Tell them you are interested
    • Knowing you have an offer elsewhere may speed them up

Ethical Advice

  • You DON’T have to volunteer info about where else (or to what other fields) you are applying, but…
    • Do NOT lie (about anything)
    • Pathology is a small world; you may regret it
  • Do NOT accept an offer and reneg on it once something better comes along (i.e. – better fellowship, job offer, etc)
    • Unprofessional (my opinion)
    • Creates hardship for program directors
    • Loss of trust and respect for all applicants

Having a backup plan…what to do if you are not accepted

  • It’s NOT the end of the world
    • Get perspective ahead of time
  • Plan ahead if applying for competitive spot
    • Apply for a backup specialty
    • Good if backup specialty has overlap with specialty of choice (e.g. – soft tissue and derm)
    • Try to schedule these interviews later if possible

Don’t Worry

  • It is a stressful process, but closing the deal on a great fellowship is a GREAT feeling!
  • Hang in there…you will be there soon.

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