Happy day, this girl is going to be an Ob/Gyn! We found out our match results on February 26th, 2019 and I have been on cloud nine since! It still doesn’t even feel real. I feel so, so lucky to be able to train for the next 5 years in Ob/Gyn and I can’t wait for all of the exciting experiences that lie ahead!
These are my tips for matching to Ob/Gyn, but really, a lot of these tips will help with any specialty! Of course, take all of this with a grain of salt. Everyone has a different journey and can give you different advice! This is what worked for me and by no means will it work for everyone, or even you!
Approach every rotation with an open mind and enthusiasm
Medical school is going to be the ONLY time that you will get to experience some areas of medicine. Approach every rotation like there is something invaluable that you can learn from it. Look for things to incorporate (or not) into your future practice. For example, I found that my skills for breaking bad news didn’t come from Ob/Gyn electives, they came from Internal Medicine where those conversations happen regularly.
Also, you might surprise yourself with what letters of reference you will want to use for your applications. I was offered a letter from the Chair of Internal Medicine during my hematology selective and I used that letter at almost every school. Personally, I think showing that you are not a one trick pony is a great use of your application! Ultimately, how you choose the letters you use will be very personal, but people often tell you “if someone offers to write you a letter, you should use it everywhere!”
Be flexible with your research
Every residency program is going to require that you complete research as a resident. I found Ob/Gyn research hard to come by, so you have to be flexible and creative! In first year I did built environment research with a Social Sciences professor where we looked at how the built environment (trees, sidewalks, neighbourhood design, etc) impacts health outcomes. I also participated in first year program aimed at teaching the principle of QI (Quality Improvement). In second year, I did a systematic review looking at chronic pain post breast cancer surgery with an anesthesiologist. In third year, I worked closely with a midwife looking at the birth environment, as well as looking at how midwives manage pregnancies affected by Diabetes, Obesity, and Hypertension.
I tried to approach each experience as a way to build research skills, even if they weren’t directly Ob/Gyn related. I’m confident that I can apply the skills I’ve learned from each project to help me with my future residency research.
Participate in extra-curricular activities that speak to you
My biggest piece of advice is DON’T DO THE ACTIVITIES YOU THINK PROGRAMS WANT. I got asked about my extracurricular activities or hobbies at SO MANY INTERVIEWS. They will see right through you if there isn’t a genuine interest. PLUS these are the things that are going to help you take care of yourself during the slog of medical education! I was involved with our student musical, various government affairs initiatives, volunteering at my local YWCA, and volunteering at our community health centre. Find what speaks to you and run with it!
Don’t neglect your hobbies!
Back before medical school I started my own micro-business selling handcrafted calligraphy. I was asked about this at so many of my interviews, I was shocked! They even asked me to do calligraphy on the spot in one of them – haha! These are the things that make you human and help a program understand how you will fit in with them! If there is something you love, run with it (literally… or figuratively).
Remember, you’re going to be a surgeon!
In Canada, all of the Ob/Gyn residents participate in the Surgical Foundations program. Don’t forget that Ob/Gyn is a surgical program. Almost every program had a “surgical skills” component in their interview, so don’t be surprised if you’re picking up a needle driver or laparoscopic tools during your interviews!
Be flexible and/or creative with your electives
In my experience, Ob/Gyn electives are hard to come by. I would often apply for 4-5 electives at a time and get offered one. You either have to be ok with taking whatever comes your way, or be flexible with the electives that you do. Here is what I did, which is by no means the “right” way to do it.
Pre clerkship: 2 weeks Gen Surg, 2 week Family +1 OB, 1 week Psych (Women’s Health), 2 weeks Peds Plastics
Clerkship: 2 weeks community Ob/Gyn, 2 weeks Family +1 palliative, 2 weeks Ob/Gyn (Sexual Health), 2 weeks Gyne Subspecialty, 2 weeks Family +1 OB, 2 weeks Ob/Gyn, 2 weeks Gyne/Onc, 3 weeks research elective.
I tried to find electives that were related if I wasn’t able to get Ob/Gyn electives (ex: Psych women’s health). In retrospect, I wish I had gotten the chance to do a full palliative elective and an infectious disease elective as I think I would have had some really valuable learning from those specialties!
There you have it. 6 tips to (hopefully) help you match to Ob/Gyn! Let me know what you think? Was your strategy different? Have you heard rumours that I can help dispel? Comment below!