How do I get published? I’m going for a competitive specialty or program. I need research.

Problem: Everyone applying to your specialty has a scholarly work on their CV. You need some too.

Spoiler alert: In a couple months work during 3rd year you can get published or at least satisfy the scholarly part of a competitive specialty application. Here is how I did it with the bonus of getting connections, letters, plus an authorship to list on your CV that is way more productive for an interview conversation than some scientific boringness. 

  You chose or switched to a competitive specialty in 2nd or 3rd year or you went to an osteopathic, foreign or international medical school without resources.  Whatever the case, bulking your specialty specific CV in 3rd year is a tough battle. For starters 3rd year is too late to start a project from scratch, finish it, write it, apply to journals and go through the editing and approval process then get published by interview system. The timeline is impossible. (I hope this inspires someone to prove me wrong)

 First – keep this in mind: Residency committees are reading >1000 applications so they scan your boring research FAST. They simply want to see if you: A.) know the scientific process B.) know how to handle data C.) can write *1


1.) Find the closest residency program in proximity to you. Optimally in your prospective specialty but it doesn’t matter what institution it is. Google their curriculum or call the coordinator for their weekly schedule and GO to their grand rounds or conference or lecture. Show up every week you can. Look good and make friends with the residents. Ask them if you can help them on a project that is underway and getting published soon. This seems like a big hurdle to go to an unknown hospital, but here is why it will work: 1.) Grand rounds/conferences are open to the academic community especially an interested medstudent. 2.) All residents have to be involved in scholarly activity so they will have ongoing projects. 3.) Residents/attendings want help with busy work and in turn will put your name on it. 4.) They understand needing to get published by interview season. 

    BONUS – everyone will be impressed with your initiative of reaching out to a strange, unassociated program. and you will get connections, letters, phone call or maybe an interview by doing this.

 – Overcoming obstacles. *see below*

 2.) Write an easy to read article or op ed on a health related hot topic. Send it to local newspapers, newsletters and any magazine or popular blog that accepts articles like that. Having a hot topic in a newspaper or popular blog listed on your CV can spark more conversations in an interview than a boring study with 10 other residents. *Tip given me from a prestigious school’s selection committee member*

3.) Write or record a topic/lecture in your specialty for a popular podcast or online tutor program. eg. Submit an ortho lecture to a EM podcast. Boom you are published as an ortho expert.

 4.) Poster Project START right now. This is last but not least. This is must. Simplest way to get research, scholarly presentations and conferences are fun and networking hubs.

    A.) Find a case. (with a cool attending to put on the poster, because conventionally they will pay to print your poster & conference fee)

    B.) Submit an abstract to every conference close by (again doesn’t have to be your specialty)

    C.) Win a poster presentation award at the conference.

1* According to 5 different residency selection committee members at big universities who advised me on this.

 *2  Overcoming Obstacles*

Of course you are on another rotation. You don’t have time in 3rd year to drive an hour and miss a random morning every week to go to a random hospital’s grand rounds. 

Have a sincere earnest conversation with your current preceptor about your specialty choice and need to do research the same time each week in order to match. Explain the initiative and effort you are investing to make your future happen. They will be impressed and let you off. Don’t be afraid. I did. It worked.  If your preceptor doesn’t let you off then schedule a MS3 elective at a hospital that has a residency with the express purpose of helping them with research and make that known upfront!

The closest specialty residency is hours drive away?

Then just go to the closest residency program in ANY specialty and do the exact same thing! Just be sure to find a project with them that can be used in your field too. (Eg. I did Stephens Johnson Syndrome research and presented at ACP so it worked for IM, GS, EM, and derm).

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