Wondering about my chances


I am a 3rd yr DO student. I passed all my classes and step 1 first time. However, I barely passed step 1. I just had a bad day and did not do well in spite of preparing adequately. I feel like I am in better shape for step 2 and plan to do my best to score well. Are there any DOs out there who can answer how badly this will look when I interview for the residencies? I am contemplating applying for FM/IM/Psych. Do I still have chance in Allopathic programs?

I go to one of the top DO schools that has good reputaiton around the country.

Before the DO people can answer you, give up a little more information. Will your letters be stellar? Do you have good rotation evaluations? Has your advisor helped you pick out appropriate programs to apply to?

My program is picky about test scores. But if you screwed up Step 1 and then do well on Step 2 all is more or less forgiven. They just want to know you can pass Step 3 and your specialty boards. They also want the other pieces to be there: Is this a person who is good to work with? Does this student take good care of patients, and want to learn, and is this student teachable? So let us know, how does the rest of your application shape up?

Yep, my rotation grades are mostly pretty good. There was just one attending who put comments “needs to improve surgery skills, needs to remember what she reads.” after my very first rotation. He does that to everybody. I asked for letters from only those I feel comfortable asking. However, I have no idea what’s in them because I declined my right to see them.

So, great start. Now, do you know what went wrong for you on Step 1? Can you use practice question sets to see if you’ve definitely fixed it for Step 2?

Hi Cheruka. A mediocre showing on step 1 is not going to hurt you as long as you pass step 2 on the first try as well (and of course 2CS). I would worry more if you were applying to urology or derm or other uber-competitive programs. Don’t lose sleep over the comment the surgery attending made – those of us on the receiving end (I’m associate PD for a large FM program) don’t put much weight into a single outlier like that. Do your best on step 2, get good LORs and write an interesting personal statement and you’ll be OK.

Thanks for the encouragement and responses. I have no course failures in any of my classes. I am watching the kaplan videos for step II and plan to hit the usmle world soon. I just have one more shelf to go and then I am free to study for the step2.

Looking back, I bought Bootcamp for my step1, which was a poor choice IMHO. That+combank were not enough for the level of difficulty of my exam. I had a difficult section #1 early on, freaked out and fell behind. Then, I had to mark 40 easier questions in section 2 without even reading them. After that, I had to take a break and calm myself and tell myself the game is not over yet. So, it is amazing that I even passed after such a rough start. I will not let this happen again in step 2. I feel like I know the game plan.

Hi cheruka,

Captain obvious here. Since you are a DO student, which Step 1 exam are you referring to - USMLE, COMLEX, or both?


I am back. I took the COMLEX series. I had some set backs with step2. Somehow, managed to fail both CE and PE the first time (Had health issues, failed the PE in humanistic domain). To be honest, I felt much better coming out of comlex CE than my step 1. It was very lop-sided with several questions on ethics and epi, which I did not spend a lot of time on. Retook both exams soon after and passed. Had much better tests the second time. Also did much better in CE the second time. Was able to attend ten interviews for FM, cancelled 6 or so. Now, the question is - for someone like me, is it better to do the DO match even though I had seven MD interviews? Can I afford to wait for the MD match? I applied to three MD/DO dual programs. I am pretty sure I will match DO if I enter the AOA match. Most interviews I attended gave me positive feedback.

I appreciate your input as AOA match rank list submissio date is nearing.

cheruka -

I’m unsure of your best strategy, but I think doing the DO match would maximize your chances of matching and not having to scramble. Since it is before the MD match, what you lose is obviously a MD match if you match DO. But what you gain is increasing your chances of matching, particularly for the dually accredited programs. I talked with a rep from a MD/DO program who told me some of their slots were specified for DO students, and they had DO students who applied ONLY in the MD match process and were not QUITE competitive enough for the remaining general slots, but had they applied during the DO match, they might have matched into one of the DO slots (as there was a smaller applicant pool). So, if you would be happy going to one of those schools, I’d do the DO match process.