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    I'm only a first year medical student and I have no plans (currently) to go into neurosurgery, however some of my peers at medical school have already expressed an interest in neurosurgery and I overheard a conversation between one of them and an anatomy demonstrator who mentioned that they should be "starting now" with regards to getting their foot on the ladder in a neurosurgical career. I'm curious, what actually is there that you can do at this stage to further your career? Surely they're not expecting first years to be publishing papers?
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    It's not impossible to publish a paper as a first year. Theoretically everything you can do to improve your chances is good but bear in mind: 1) have a life 2) criteria for selection to various jobs change (granted you will likely always be helped by a few publications)
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    (Original post by Whizbox)
    Surely they're not expecting first years to be publishing papers?
    Why not? Publishing is much more about luck than seniority. And if you maximise your time you maximise your luck, not to mention the all important 'contacts' (eugh).

    I never looked into neurosurgery at all, but we were told at our careers fair in 5th (out of 6) year that every single applicant to neurosurgery ST1 that year to that hospital had had at least two first author publications specifically in neurosurgery. We were told that if you didn't have research already underway by now there was no hope for you. Bear in mind this was before anyone in the room had even done a neurosurgery placement - that was one of the ones we would be doing that year.
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    (Original post by Whizbox)
    I'm only a first year medical student and I have no plans (currently) to go into neurosurgery, however some of my peers at medical school have already expressed an interest in neurosurgery and I overheard a conversation between one of them and an anatomy demonstrator who mentioned that they should be "starting now" with regards to getting their foot on the ladder in a neurosurgical career. I'm curious, what actually is there that you can do at this stage to further your career? Surely they're not expecting first years to be publishing papers?
    Probably the most significant think you can do from 1st year is start thinking about summer research projects, which can produce tangible outputs with the help of funding such as the INSPIRE scheme. Also involvement in societies (medical or non-medical). Neurosurgery actually probably does require you to start very early given it's run-through training at a competition ratio of 16:1. Meaning you'll be submitting an application during early F2 for a specialty training post that 15 other people are applying for. I'm not sure if there's other points of entry, but either way. If you, for example, decide you want to do neurosurgery during F1 then there's a very small chance you're going to be able to create a competitive portfolio without taking some time out of training in some way. It's a sad reflection of MTAS but it's the way it works...
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    One paper published now (on anything - not necessarily your final specialty choice) would potentially count for points on your application to the foundation programme, core training, specialty training, fellowships, and your first consultant job. If you don't get involved within the first couple of years, you won't have published by the time you graduate. That is not a disaster by any means (most medical students are in this position) but it does mean losing out on points you might otherwise have gained.

    This is only really an issue if you're gunning for a competitive specialty (most surgical specialties, cardiology, etc) and/or a competitive location (London, Oxford). If you're happy being (or want to be) a GP, psychiatrist, A&E doctor, or most types of physician then you can afford to be much more relaxed.

    Your "CV" can be helped by publications, presentations, joining specialty societies, winning prizes (specialty essay competitions often attract few submissions), attending conferences/courses/training events, and scoring distinctions in areas of your degree that are relevant to your future specialty.

    It's not a huge problem if you don't know what specialty you are interested in - many of the CV "points" are readily transferable between specialties anyway. That said, I suspect it is true that you have to know early if you're destined for neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, etc.
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    With ST1 selection, you do need to start early.

    As above, you'd be applying at the start of F2 for a very competitive neurosurgery training post.

    If you know what you want to do from early in med school (regardless of speciality), then it always helps to start early.

    Trying to get involved in research is probably the most useful way of doing this. You could try to get your name on papers, or at least present posters/oral communications at conferences.
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    It's all luck. I know medical students who chose a random SSC project, worked on it for 1-2 months, got onto a publication in the same year. Equally I know genuinely bright students who slaved away for 1-2 years+ from an intercalation project only for nothing to come out of it at the very end. There's someone in my university who's published a whole book on surgery but most people won't have any publications. As the poster above mentioned, I'm guessing most people who are interested in neurosurgery are pretty sure they know they want to do neurosurgery.

    That doesn't mean there aren't things to do which could show interest in a specialty. But overall I think students (and staff) don't quite realise how medical school generates a terrible research environment. We prioritise quick, results-driven research which most times is done poorly or unethically.
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    (Original post by spacepirate-James)
    It's all luck. I know medical students who chose a random SSC project, worked on it for 1-2 months, got onto a publication in the same year. Equally I know genuinely bright students who slaved away for 1-2 years+ from an intercalation project only for nothing to come out of it at the very end. There's someone in my university who's published a whole book on surgery but most people won't have any publications. As the poster above mentioned, I'm guessing most people who are interested in neurosurgery are pretty sure they know they want to do neurosurgery.

    That doesn't mean there aren't things to do which could show interest in a specialty. But overall I think students (and staff) don't quite realise how medical school generates a terrible research environment. We prioritise quick, results-driven research which most times is done poorly or unethically.
    Ha, that's nothing. I knew a guy who got a first author publication in a single week - the gene he was working on came up significant, that's that - instant publication.

    And on the latter - its not just med school. I've heard some terrible stories about people witnessing flagrant data-mining, running literally hundreds of statistical tests on databases until one comes up p<0.05 -> publish. And its not like incentives get any better in the private sector, where a lot of our data comes from.

    Part of the reason why open access journals and breaking down Elsevier's hold on 'prestige' is so important.
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    A book has some CV value but rarely actually wins many application points. It's currently better (and usually a lot less work) to be 8th author on a PubMed-indexed article than first author of a major textbook...

    I agree that the current model breeds poor quality publications. It's depressing to work with students who only really want to invest the minimum amount of effort that's necessary to get themselves on the author byline rather than because they enjoy the work and/or want to help answer an important question. I certainly don't blame them, though.
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    (Original post by MonteCristo)
    A book has some CV value but rarely actually wins many application points. It's currently better (and usually a lot less work) to be 8th author on a PubMed-indexed article than first author of a major textbook...

    I agree that the current model breeds poor quality publications. It's depressing to work with students who only really want to invest the minimum amount of effort that's necessary to get themselves on the author byline rather than because they enjoy the work and/or want to help answer an important question. I certainly don't blame them, though.
    Incentives within publications are a little difficult to change - the culture is so ingrained. Much more frustrating to me is the audit culture they've deliberately gone out of their way to introduce. Audits can be great, of course, but the way they've set it up if you do a 20 sample oxygen prescribing audit, put up a poster, then do another 20 sample audit you get 10 CMT points (the same as having a PhD, average score this year being 25 in total for all criteria) whereas a novel large important audit that takes you months and identifies a major problem or great solution/money saving method, but you leave the hospital before re-audit, gets you like 4.
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    Yes, I agree that the obsession with clinical audit is even worse. Thankfully it is much easier to jump this hoop, even if doing so is even more pointless than the minimal contribution to a low quality research project. I suppose this is the wrong thread to start complaining about the ludicrous (and, frankly, dishonest) currency of work-based assessments...
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    (Original post by MonteCristo)
    Yes, I agree that the obsession with clinical audit is even worse. Thankfully it is much easier to jump this hoop, even if doing so is even more pointless than the minimal contribution to a low quality research project. I suppose this is the wrong thread to start complaining about the ludicrous (and, frankly, dishonest) currency of work-based assessments...
    :ditto: And that's before we got onto the academic conference culture, where they rake in money from trainees who have to pay to attend the conference to present their poster in order to get CV points...
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    Hey I'm currently doing a research project with my local neurosurgical team.
    From speaking to them, like it's already been advised to you, start early. Join/ set up a neurosciences/ neurosurgery society at your med school, try and do SSC's related to neurosurgery, apply for summer research projects or work experience etc. Most of the neurosurgeons I've met have been really friendly and very keen to have students in theatre and clinic, so hopefully you can set up some extra shadowing experience with them - having said that, it might be more useful later in med school when you know some neuroanatomy.
    I believe SBNS/ NANSIG neurosurgery career day is in London on 21st Jan, you could try and go to that to get a taste and some advice? (To register go to nansig . org).
    With regards to publication, you can definitely get published from as early as 1st year, just a combination of working hard looking for opportunities and a bit of luck. Also, there are tons of fantastic Neurosurgery-based electives as well, a guy from my med school went to Japan and was helping preparing skull flaps etc. A few of the neurosurgery reg's said they went to the huge tertiary centres in London to get really good experience, and that helped bulk out their ST1 applications.

    Edit: Sorry just re-read and saw you have NO plans for neuro! Sorry for the long response, maybe can be of use to your friends hah.
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    (Original post by Helenia)
    :ditto: And that's before we got onto the academic conference culture, where they rake in money from trainees who have to pay to attend the conference to present their poster in order to get CV points...
    There's a business idea for some enterprising soul...

    1. Hire a room in various cities around the world.
    2. Invite junior doctors from different countries to submit random teaching presentations, audits, research projects, case reports, etc. 2 slides maximum!! Let's call them "e-posters" and charge £50 each.
    3. Invite local doctors to attend for £10. In return, they will receive a certificate of attendance and some CPD points. There might also be coffee and sandwiches. They will watch the e-posters and other assorted pieces of junk on a big screen.
    4. Invite drug companies to attend. They will pay £5000 to exhibit a stand and £500 to strategically place slides marketing their products within the e-poster presentation.

    Everyone's a winner and the lucky young entrepreneur can add "organised international conferences" to their CV to boot.
 
 
 
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