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Applicant for academic programs?
What does the normal applicant at a top research-heavy program look like aside from being from a top-10 school?

If you're not from a top-10 school and don't have a PhD do you even have a shot?

Are there diminishing returns for step score at these programs (ie. after 250 it doesn't matter) or will they only look at you if you get something ungodly like 265+?

I've done significant research and I can't imagine my life without it. I really want to end up somewhere where I can continue with that. Just wondering how realistic it is from a mid-tier school (w/ home program).
1) Strong basic science research or clinical papers in high-impact journals such as Lancet or JAMA

2) Yes if you have high stats and good letters, or have made a strong impression at one of these places during a SubI

3) Yes in terms of a 270 probably doesn't get you an interview at Columbia/UCSF/MGH more than a 255 does.

4) People from mid-tier programs match at top places at a respectable rate (although many might be PhDs). Look at resident rosters at Mayo, Pitt, Barrow, Emory. These places have a high % of residents from top places because it is much easier to match at a top program from a top medical school.

If you're hell-bent on matching at a top program coming from a mid-tier medical school you might be disappointed come next March. If you're a strong applicant w/o deficiencies in board score, research, and away performances then you should be happy where you end up

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