A personal approach to residency education is a highlight of the Baystate OBGYN residency program. Education is personalized because of the program’s low faculty-to-resident ratio (1.5:1) but also for its “buddy” system that pairs you with another first-year intern for your initial rotations through Labor and Delivery or Gynecological Surgery, so you’ll never be learning alone. The program is affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, but it is separate from the medical school’s program. This article will delve deeper into the Baystate OBGYN residency and how it differs from other residency programs, along with giving you more details about the program’s curriculum, salary and benefits, and what you need to get matched to the program.
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Resident Positions: 6
Length of Program: 4 years
Salary Range: $68,000 - $77,000
Baystate Health is a private medical provider in New England. Its partnership with the UMass Chan Medical school has allowed for the creation of a four-year Baystate OBGYN residency program located in Springfield, Massachusetts. But that’s not all.
The Baystate Health Center also acts as the main training site for UMass Chan medical students who have applied to the school’s PURCH pathway (population-based urban & rural community health). As the Baystate Health Center is located in the middle of a highly diverse patient population, the Baystate OBGYN residency program walks the line between being an .
In total, there are eleven at Baystate Health, including an , a and a . But the Baystate OBGYN residency program is one of the smallest, in terms of number of residents. The Baystate OBGYN program does not have specialized tracks, but your four years as a resident will expose you to many of the sub-specialties within OBGYN, including:
- Gynecologic Oncology
- Maternal-Fetal Medicine
- Midwifery and Community Health
- Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
- Urogynecology and Pelvic Surgery
Your first two weeks will be spent learning the fundamentals of obstetrics-gynecology from learning how to participate in a live birth to basic surgical skills, as the Baystate OBGYN program is categorical, so you do not need to complete a before applying. In your years, you will graduate from the fundamentals of OBGYN to more complex, interdisciplinary areas of women’s reproductive health and gynecological care.
One unique rotation that the Baystate OBGYN program offers is Critical Care Critical Thinking. During this rotation, you will split your time between seeing patients on floor rotations, and earning your certification in Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS). But along with direct-patient experience and doing your clinical rotations, you’ll also have protected education time, which includes more hands-on training and simulation exercises than traditional lectures and in-class seminars.
You will have those too, but the Baystate Health Center has the training facilities and simulation centers that will provide a more in-depth educational experience than learning in-class. You will interact with simulated patient models along with real-life laboring patients but also work closely with your fellow residents to learn important surgical skills at the Baystate Simulation Center and Goldberg Surgical Skills Laboratory.
Baystate Health is home to the state’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It is also one of the busiest emergency room departments in Massachusetts, so you’ll be exposed to a wide variety of patients and medical cases throughout your four years.
Want to know how reading a wide variety of books can help you in your residency applications and interviews? Watch this video:
There are only six resident positions available each year and the 100% match rate means there is no shortage of applicants to the Baystate OBGYN program. This residency is very competitive, but Baystate Health also holds a and , which only have four positions each, so, in comparison, the Baystate OBGYN program is not among the out there, but somewhere in the middle.
The Baystate OBGYN program also has minimum scores for either your USMLE Step 1 or your COMLEX Level 1 tests, which are required when you apply. The program’s residents are often comprised of allopathic and osteopathic graduates, with the latter being more prevalent (55%, to be exact). Your scores for either test should be:
Aside from these application requirements, you will also have to submit to a residency interview, which is done online. Baystate OBGYN interviewed over 70 applicants last year and there were 12 interviews held for each position, so your interview performance is a critical part of your application. The program uses traditional panel interviews. There are no or other that you have to perform, so you’ll be best off preparing for your interview by learning more about the training facilities, program curriculum and the learning environment of the school than reading .
But, at Baystate OBGYN, interviews work both ways. Many current and former residents of the program say that their interview day convinced them that this was the right program for them, based on the interviewer’s congeniality, friendliness and camaraderie with each other and with the interviewee. This spirit of teamwork and collaboration will mark all your subsequent years as a resident, so if you want to be a part of a team and feel supported during your residency journey, then, the Baystate OBGYN program may be a good fit.
The interns, residents and at Baystate OBGYN all come from diverse backgrounds, with many being from Ireland, Canada, and Bahrain. There are also US medical graduates from all over the United States who have completed their medical school training at both allopathic and , or who have already had experience in non-doctor medical professions such as medical researchers, biomedical engineering and even counselors at Planned Parenthood.
However, having this type of background is not a factor in the selection process. It will definitely help to have these types of experiences, but the main selection factors you have to worry about are academic ones. The program has minimum USMLE and COMLEX scores as part of its application process. You will have to score high on either of these exams, which requires that you take as many practice tests as possible before taking the real one along with employing smart study strategies such as active studying or creating a study schedule based on your preferred test date.
Since OBGYN is a required clinical rotation at most , you do not necessarily have to have an extensive background in women’s health to stand out, although it wouldn’t hurt. As we mentioned, many current residents at all levels of training at Baystate OBGYN, did not come from OBGYN backgrounds, but discovered during their clerkship years that obstetrics and gynecology were their preferred . Other residents were drawn to the specialty for its surgical component, while others passed through the Baystate Health Center during their clinical rotations and were impressed with the program’s faculty and supportive environment.
The Baystate OBGYN residency program does not have a particular interview format that you have to prepare extensively for. You should prepare, without a doubt, but as we mentioned, there is no particular format that you have to learn for . According to nearly all current residents, the interview at Baystate OBGYN assured them that this was the program for them, so you should not stress about having the right answers or being particularly versed in a specific field of OBGYN or any other technical aspect of the specialty.
The line of questioning could be varied, and you should know how to answer the most common type of , such as “” or “”, which may be easy to answer at Baystate OBGYN. Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a residency program (location; salary and benefits package; research and opportunities) but one important factor is how you feel about the program, instinctively.
As residency programs offer similar types of benefits, learning opportunities and training facilities, the culture and environment a program fosters are often the only way to distinguish it from the rest. If, during your interview day, you feel that this program will support, motivate and inspire you to reach your goals, you should follow that instinct. Of course, the opposite can happen as well, but that’s why you interview at so many programs before you figure out , so, pay attention to what your gut says about Baystate OBGYN, if you make it to the interview stage.
There are no specialized tracks at Baystate OBGYN, which is why the curriculum and rotation schedule strive to be as varied as possible. You will follow a standard course for the first two years of your residency. This means you will spend four-weeks doing rounds through at least seven different departments from the combined emergency department/Wesson Women & Infants' Unit to doing general gynecological consults and working at the prenatal diagnostic center.
But, before anything, you will spend four-weeks in your first year in an orientation course that will prepare you for the more difficult parts of your rotation schedule. During this orientation, you’ll get to know your fellow residents, staff and faculty, as well as meet the support teams that help all patients through their time as an inpatient whether it be OBGYN nurses or who play a central role in the birthing process at Baystate.
The educational or didactic portion of your residency consists of the simulation training we mentioned above, but it also includes journal clubs, where you and your fellow residents go over individual patient histories. You will spend up to eight hours a week attending conferences by in-house or visiting faculty that will offer you a constantly evolving view of obstetrics and gynecology.
In the second half of the four-year program at Baystate OBGYN, you’ll start to focus more on your own interests within obstetrics and gynecology, as, in your third year, you will be given two, four-week blocks of electives, ranging from:
- Benign Gynecology Acting Internship
- Contraception and Family Planning
- Gynecologic Oncology Acting Internship
- High Risk Obstetrics
- Reproductive Endocrinology
- Urogynecology and Minimally Invasive Surgery
These electives can help prepare you for your future career and also show you . You will also take on more responsibility in the final two years. In your third year, you will become an attending resident, which comes with teaching and leadership duties. In your final year, you will ascend to the role of chief resident and participate in training new interns, while also supervising rotations for other residents. There is also an administrative component to being a chief resident at Baystate OBGYN and you will take on the responsibilities of any hospital administrator, such as scheduling shifts, helping new interns choose their electives and provide career guidance.
Only 30% of your first-year training schedule will take you to outpatient settings, which can range from any one of the program’s affiliate locations, such as the Berkshire Medical Center or the Cape Cod Healthcare Center. The rest of the time you’ll complete rotations at the Baystate Medical Center, which is the program’s main training site. As the BMC is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Massachusetts – 800,000 patient population; 716-beds and close to 70 bassinets for post-natal and pediatric patients – you won’t have to travel far to complete your rotation schedule, unless you decide that’s what you want.
Resident Support and Wellness
Baystate OBGYN is a supportive environment for all residents, and this also translates to having a variety of support and wellness initiatives for new and current residents to use, such as an Employee Assistance Plan and life and disability insurance. Your starting salary at Baystate OBGYN as an intern is $68,000, but that increases to $71,000 in your second year with an annual increase of $4,000 every year. You’ll also receive four weeks of paid vacation time and five paid sick days. You will also be enrolled in the program’s health insurance plan of your choosing, depending on your circumstances (single; married; married with children). Your health insurance is offered by Health New England, but you and Baystate share the costs of the health insurance program you choose.
- Baystate Medical Center
- Baystate Children’s Hospital
- Baystate Franklin Medical Center
- Baystate Noble Hospital
- Baystate Wing Hospital
- Baystate Brightwood Health Center
- Baystate High Street Health Center/Adult and Pediatrics
- Baystate Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center
- Wesson Women’s Clinic
1. Get High USMLE or COMLEX Scores
We mentioned that Baystate OBGYN has minimum scores that you have to meet or exceed if you apply, so your priority for this program should be to do well on these important tests. However, what we didn’t mention is that the entire scoring system for all three USMLE tests will now change to a simple pass/fail score. This transition has been motivated by the desire to make the residency admission process more holistic, so applicants are not solely assessed by their test scores. So, this tip may be redundant for you if you are about to take the USMLE Step 1 exam or are about to study for the USMLE with a . Except, if you’re an osteopathic medical student, the COMLEX Level 1 exam will continue using a numerical score, so you should also focus on completing as many practice tests as you can, while also consulting with your faculty and other professors about how best to study and what sections to focus on.
2. Get Good Letters of Recommendation
You have to submit three letters for Baystate OBGYN. They also recommend that one of your letters be from faculty or professors you studied under during your clerkship years, although it does not have to be specifically from an OBGYN department faculty member. The letter can be from any specialty or sub-specialty program that you participated in, so focus on a rotation where you excelled and where your instructor will best remember you. You can also be proactive in choosing your writers by providing them with your application materials, such as your and having answers to common , such as “why this program?” and “why OBGYN?” so they can understand fully your commitment and desire to be at this program and express as much in their letter.
The residents at the Baystate OBGYN program come from diverse backgrounds, so it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific quality or experience that made the difference for them being matched, but that’s the point. They all followed distinct paths to Baystate OBGYN, and you should also follow a path that is reflective of your interests, and curiosities, so that you can be as original and unique as the current residents at OBGYN. There is no one path that you should follow, and you do not have to have any previous experience in any specific field or format, such as volunteer work or community service. Some residents began as researchers following their undergrad, and then entered medical school as . Others worked as EMTs or pursued master’s degrees in various medicine-related fields. The point is that you do not need to focus solely on extracurriculars involving women’s health, although, if that’s where you passion lies you should pursue that route. To reiterate, it’s more important to have a diverse set of experiences that can distinguish you from all the other candidates, rather than what you believe that in successful candidates.
4. Nail Your Interview with a Lot of Interview Prep
We mentioned how the interview process at Baystate is more low-pressure than typical residency interviews, but that does not mean you shouldn’t prepare. The best way to prepare for any residency interview is through , hopefully done with other medical school graduates or with professional residency consultants who can help you personalize and refine your answers. A mock interview also puts you at ease, which is especially important for interviews at Baystate OBGYN, where residents report being impressed by the openness, and laissez faire quality of the entire process. Since the interviews at Baystate OBGYN are so revealing, in terms of showing how you’ll be treated and supported if you are matched, you should take the opportunity to learn more about the program, including how it addresses resident burnout and what programs are in place to help residents deal with being overwhelmed.
The Baystate OBGYN program is among the for residents who want to feel supported and motivated by their program directors and faculty. A lot of residency programs take the opposite approach to resident education. They expect you to be able to work alone and get to a level where you are not supervised. That is also a goal of the program at Baystate OBGYN, but it takes a different path. You will learn and grow more as part of a team at Baystate OBGYN, which is what made all the difference for those currently in the program, and those who have graduated.
1. How many resident positions are there at Baystate OBGYN?
Baystate OBGYN only offers six resident positions every year.
2. Where is Baystate OBGYN located?
The program is based out of the Baystate Medical Center teaching hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts. BMC is also a regional training affiliate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
3. What are the other benefits of joining Baystate OBGYN?
You’ll have comprehensive health insurance from Health New England, as well as access to Employee Assistance Programs, as well as life, disability and malpractice insurance. You are also eligible to receive reimbursements for using health and fitness facilities and help with paying your medical school debt.
4. How can I get into Baystate OBGYN?
There are no set criteria for what the Baystate OBGYN residency directors are looking for in candidates. We mentioned that USMLE and COMLEX scores are important, but since the USMLE will transition to pass/fail grades, you should focus instead of exploring all aspects of medicine or community service. This can mean anything from shadowing an OBGYN, or participating in research projects, or having experience in a non-doctor, medical profession, such as researcher, counselor, or patient advocate.
5. Do I need to have minimum USMLE or COMLEX scores?
Yes, but this requirement will change in the upcoming application cycle, since the entire USMLE scoring system will change to a pass/fail score.
6. How long is the Baystate OBGYN program?
The entire program runs for four years.
7. Is Baystate OBGYN hard to get into?
Yes. There are only six positions available every year, and the program receives up to 100 applications every year.
8. What is the curriculum like at Baystate OBGYN?
The curriculum focuses on establishing a foundation of knowledge in obstetrics and gynecology in the beginning, but then you will graduate to more complex areas. You’ll also have a lot of didactic time in lectures and guest speaker events. As you progress through the program, you’ll also take on more responsibility in accordance with your position as an attending or, in your final year, chief residents. There are no special tracks, so the regular curriculum strives to be as comprehensive and diverse as possible so you can have a large knowledge and skill base when you complete the program.