All my life I have attended small, Seventh-day Adventist schools which gave me an excellent education but were otherwise never well known on a national scale. Coming to Hopkins for residency was my first time being in a place where people assume you are good simply because of where you work. It’s the pedigree of the institution that often goes before you, and its an interesting thing. Even if you enter the gates of a place like this somewhat mediocre, the environment encourages you to perform above and beyond, in order to keep up the standard.

I’ve seen first hand what the effects of pedigree are as I have been applying to fellowship. As you know I am applying for a fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics, and when I set out on this endeavor I organized my application in a similar way to how I organized my residency application…apply to as many institutions as possible with the hope of getting enough interviews to match. I received sound counsel however that this would be a waste of money and time. This person told me that based upon my application and where I was coming from, I should apply to places I’m truly interested in attending…GASP, lol. So I did apply; I applied to 10 hospitals and got 10 interviews and all I can say is thank you God! I still feel quite uncomfortable with the notion that people will think I’m good simply because of where I came from and who wrote my letters of recommendation. It goes against every fiber of my humility and my inclination to trust in God to lead me in the right direction. But if coming from an institution with a certain pedigree helps, I’m not going reject the offers.

I’ve been on 2 of the 10 interviews so far and unfortunately I really love both of them and could see myself going to both. I truly hope that I really dislike some of the others or else making my rank list is going to be tough. For medical students considering what residency to attend for orthopaedics, I think its important to look at the strengths of the institution you are interested in, before you decide. I actually had no idea that I wanted to do Peds Ortho when I started residency, but Hopkins turns out to be very strong in that sub-speciality. If you are interested in Hand however, and the program you want to rank #1 doesn’t have any hand attending and instead farms you out to do Hand with some local private attendings, then that program won’t help you to get a good fellowship. Evaluate each program individually and decide if that hospital is for you. 

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