Part Two of our series of interviews with current FM interns, giving advice and tips for fourth year medical students embarking on the residency application and interview process. Today we’re interviewing Marshall Ochi, who has a passion for Sports Medicine and Matched to ProMedica Toledo Hospital Family Medicine Residency, a dual AOA/ACGME accredited residency in Toledo, OH. He’s been married to his awesome wife, Amy, for nine years. She’s a Speech Pathologist and they have two kids, ages 5 and 7, as well as extended family in West Virginia and Hawaii.
Was Family Medicine always your path, or did you have another specialty in mind?
FM was on my radar entering medical school. I’ve always been interested in doing Sports Medicine, so I was thinking about Orthopedic Surgery, PM&R, ER and FM as primary options for my future specialty. After doing a Primary Care Sports Medicine rotation at the end of third year, I was convinced that FM, and a Sports Medicine Fellowship, was the path I wanted to take.
Did you attend any regional or national FM conferences during the clinical years of medschool? Do you recommend it?
I attended a regional FM conference during 4th year. It’s always a good idea to network when there’s a chance to. That being said, I don’t know if not attending any national conferences really affected my candidacy as a FM resident.
Do you recommend fourth years do rotations at FM programs?
I did rotate at several different FM programs last year. I highly recommend this, as they are necessary to truly evaluate programs you are interested in applying to. It is important to note that I intentionally did not use VSAS to apply for my Sub-I’s (some programs call them AIs, or Acting Internships). I also learned the hard way that when you don’t use VSAS, you must specify to each program that your intention is to do a Sub-I, or you may be turned down because they think you are applying for a 4th year visiting student rotation.
Did you do an inpatient rotation, sub-internship or outpatient clinic experience?
It was a combination of all of the above. My medical school allowed students to count FM Sub-I rotations to fulfill their 4th year family medicine rotation requirement, so I was able to kill two birds with one stone.
What role did your family play in your residency application experience?
Having a family really focused the options for where to apply. Once I made up my mind that I wanted to pursue FM, Amy and I sat down and hashed out parameters for program selection, in addition to the qualities I would be looking for in each program. We decided location (proximity to one of our families), housing availability & costs, highly rated schools available for the kids, and a job market for Amy were all key parameters for program selection. Geography was ultimately the largest deciding factor for programs I applied to.
With that in mind, what were the top 3 factors in creating your rank order list?
Ultimately, when we made our final decisions we looked at each of the final five or six programs I was considering and scrutinized every factor we were considering. For example, we created a skeleton budget for each location (primarily based on the resident salary and our best guess of Speech Pathology salaries for the area based on salary surveys), looked at potential housing costs, food costs, utilities, and educational expenses that we could think of, then took into consideration how viable the cost of living would be for our family. Could we afford living in a neighborhood that was in a good school district? Would we have to consider sending the kids to private school? It was also really important to Amy that we stay relatively close to one of our families, so the further away from West Virginia or Hawaii a program was, the less desirable a program it became.
In January, how did your final ROL play out?
Our designated parameters played a huge role in how I decided to rank programs for the Match. I ranked where each program was based on our criteria, weighed that with the education I thought I would be receiving at each program, and came up with a consensus rank list. There were two programs I was going back and forth with on my rankings, so the tie breaker was ultimately which was closer to where we were currently living, to minimize any move.
If you could go back in time prior to the ERAS, interview season, ROL, etc, what would you want to tell yourself?
I would definitely tell myself to BE ANAL! Check, double check, and triple check EVERYTHING when you’re applying on ERAS. By not being meticulous in double checking my applications, there ended up being a couple of programs that didn’t receive a LOR that was uploaded late.
So, you’re a DO… what are your thoughts on the AOA/ACGME merger?
I personally think it could be both good and bad. On the one hand, having just one accreditation body will help to re-standardize programs to only one set of regulations, and that both DO’s and MD’s will be working together to ideally collaborate their values. On the other hand, there will be programs that may not meet these new standards, possibly shrinking the number of programs available. This would increase the competition of some specialties, and the trickle-down effect could potentially lead to less fourth year medical students matching overall. We will just have to see how this all plays out.
Did you apply in both Matches, and would you recommend that applicants do so this year?
I only considered one program that didn’t have at least initial ACGME pre-accreditation. The highest programs on my list were either dual/accredited or ACGME only programs. It just happened that way, and I’m not sure you could draw too many conclusions about the quality of programs themselves; but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that ACGME accreditation in the context of the upcoming merger loomed in the back of my mind when making final decisions on which programs I considered.
Have any final advice for current fourth years?
Don’t be afraid to go after your ideal specialty, no matter what you think your chances are. It never hurts to make your best effort but also be realistic when predicting your prospects. I would be a really bad FM resident if I didn’t say that FM is a great field. It’s a really awesome, versatile, dynamic specialty where there are many niches available to practice. I have never regretted my decision to go into FM as a career.
Thanks for talking with us Marshall, we really appreciate you taking the time to go into so much depth!
PS: You can also read our prior interview with Sean.