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IMG Residency Match Forum International Medical Graduates (IMGs) discussing the residency matching process.


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  #1  
Old 03-20-2016
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Default Volkmann's match experience 2016

I matched!!!!! This forum has been an incredibly useful tool during my exam preparation and I wanted to highlight a few important points based on my experience with the hope of helping out fellow IMGs embarking on the long gruelling road to residency. My stats are 245/258/pass/not done/GC holder/2010 graduate. I got 10 interviews and matched to my #1 choice. It's been such a long journey and I'm so relieved the hard work finally paid off. I honestly believe that obtaining a training post in the US is a very fair process. If you work hard and get good scores in each of your steps, matching is not only possible but probable. I made many friends from diverse backgrounds during my interviews and all of them except for one matched today.
So, what is the secret to matching? To be frank there isn’t one. Yes, super high scores (I’m talking 260+/270+ will make matching almost certain) make things a lot easier but how many of us can achieve those numbers? For lesser mortals it’s a mixture of things that make an application attractive to residency programs. Going into this year's match I was fairly confident I’d get a bunch of interviews. From the 198 programs I applied to I only got 10 (A measly return of just over 5%). In other words despite having well above average scores and no visa issues I was just an average applicant. Based on my experience, success at matching is based on a few factors.
1) SCORES - The higher the better. Probably the most important factor. That being said this doesn't mean you have to give up if you score less than 250 on each step. Anything above the US average is enough to give you a fighting chance. Anything below spells trouble. A friend of mine applied to less than 100 programs and obtained over 20 interviews. An excellent return of over 20%. This person had double 240s, but coupled with tons of meaningful research, it made the application very strong. So aim high but don’t be discouraged if you fall short. Step 2CK is almost as important as step 1. In fact a program I interviewed at gave 5 points for the step 1 score and 10 points for the step 2CK score. So don’t rest on your laurels and slack off after step 1. No one I knew failed step 2CS. It’s a red flag that’s incredibly hard to overcome. Don’t rush your preparation thinking it’s just an English test.
2) Year of Graduation (YOG) - This is incredibly important. Things become so much more difficult if you’re over 5 years since graduating. I believe the primary reason I didn’t get as many interviews is my YOG which is 2010. I had a lot of questions regarding how years since graduation is calculated. Is it from when you graduated till when you apply (eg. September 2015 for me) or is it from when you graduated till when residency actually starts (July 2016 for me). The answer is BOTH. Some programs use the latter, others use the former. To be safe calculate based on the latter. So if you plan on applying this year your YOG should be 2012 July or later for you to be within the 5 year cut off. IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE. Try to be within three years since graduation. Then you’ll avoid all the filters based on YOG. What can you do if you’re over 5 years since graduating…….strengthen the other aspects of your application. Another member in this forum was over 10 years since graduating but managed to have published research and had 250+/260+. He got over 10 interviews and matched. The programs don’t really ask what you’ve been doing since graduation in detail. Be prepared for this question and make sure you don’t have a prolonged period away from clinical activity.
3) VISA ISSUES - at the time of application my GC was pending. I decided to be absolutely truthful and put pending GC on my application. In hindsight this was a mistake. If you are certain of receiving your GC in time for the start of residency then just put GC holder. You can explain the situation to the programs during the interview. It’s GETTING an interview that’s the important part. If you don’t have a GC then step 3 becomes very important. The non GC holders I knew who matched either had excellent scores or good scores with successfully completed step 3.
4) LOR’s and US clinical experience(USCE) - observerships are not considered USCE per se but it’s better than nothing. I managed to get four waived letters from US physicians and I’m pretty sure they were good. I accumulated around six months of observerships and most programs asked me in detail what I did. It’s important to mention both during interviews and in your Personal Statement that these were HANDS ON. If the LOR’s mention this too they’ll carry far more weight.
5) Medical school transcripts - I was under the impression this wasn't important for IMGs but IT IS. I slacked off during the first year of med school but more than made up for it during my clinicals. So I had C's and D's in my first year and A's and B's in my second to fifth years. Unfortunately the first year was really highlighted in the transcripts. Two PD's asked me why there was a disparity between my scores and med school performance. I had to explain that it was just the first year and that I finished in the top 5% in the end. So my advice is if you're an IMG look at your transcript first and decide whether it'll help or hinder your application. If it's the latter DON'T include it. Just place a neutral place holder letter.
6) Research and publications - having publications in peer reviewed journals is a huge plus on your application. It can literally double the number of invites you’ll get. I didn’t have anything good at all except for some stuff I did back in med school. That didn’t impress anyone. Try as I might, I couldn't find a way to get involved in research over here. If you can get a position as a research assistant it’ll make a massive difference to your chances.
7) THE INTERVIEW - In the end everything I’ve mentioned is to just get your foot in the door. Pretty much everything hinges on how well you do at the interview. I come from a country where English is a second language but I can speak very fluently without much of an accent. It’s going to be tough if you’re the neurotic sweaty type that freezes when asked an atypical question. I talked about my favorite sports, the political climate back home, whether my wife is bossy, what kind of food I like and a million different things you just can’t prepare for. They will ask you the simple stuff like why this program, why IM, why the US, what’s your story etc. Try to chillax and make friends with everyone you meet. There’ll be some great people and there’ll be some not so great ones. Smile and say something, anything to everyone. I practiced with my wife, her friends and a really nice lady from this forum. It all helps but BE PREPARED TO WING IT. Keep in mind that many programs, particularly community ones ask extensive medical questions.
8) Other factors - The personal statement (PS) and details on experience in general are very important. Take your time with the PS and show it to as many competent people as possible. Be prepared to rewrite and accept whatever criticisms come your way. A good PS is a valuable tool and you can tailor which direction the interview takes based on it. APPLY TO AS MANY PROGRAMS AS POSSIBLE ON THE 15TH OF SEPTEMBER. By now you should know how strong an applicant you are. A strong applicant should get around 10% of interviews from the programs he applied to. An average one around 5%. What’s the minimum number of interviews you’ll need to be quite sure you’ll match? Just 1 if you’re awesome and charismatic. Around 10 if you’re an average Joe personality wise. The success rate for people with 10 interviews is (88-90)%. So you’ll need to apply to around 200 programs if you’re an average applicant. FREIDA was very useful to check IMG percentages and to find links to websites of individual programs. Be wary of programs that have many Caribbean graduates. Their IMG% may be high but it’s for Caribbean students. The cost involved in travel and plane tickets etc is substantial. Be prepared to spend around $5k - $10k on application and travel costs.
I think I’ve highlighted most of the things that struck me as important. Work hard and get good scores. Don’t wait too long and be under 5 years since graduating. Supplement your application with research and publications. These are just a few ways to strengthen an application. Good luck everyone and feel free to ask anything.
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245/258/pass 1st/2010/4 US LORs/2 pubs/GC holder/ MATCHED 2016

Last edited by Volkmann; 03-21-2016 at 11:20 AM.
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Burracuda (03-20-2016), chimd (03-20-2016), drpisho (03-20-2016), HighDefinition (03-21-2016), Jedi (03-21-2016), Moni79 (03-20-2016), pd10 (11-26-2016)


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Old 03-20-2016
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congrats! where did you match to and what specialty?
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Old 03-20-2016
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Congratulations!! Very helpful post for future aspirants. Thanks for sharing your experience. Good luck with the residency!
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Old 03-20-2016
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Congratulations.

is it a must to be ECFMG Certified? Can one apply early and update application on the go, or is it better to have a complete application and apply on next year.

Thanks
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Old 03-20-2016
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Congrats!!! Thanks for the info!
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Old 03-20-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pd10 View Post
Congratulations.

is it a must to be ECFMG Certified? Can one apply early and update application on the go, or is it better to have a complete application and apply on next year.

Thanks
No, it's not. Just have your step 1, 2CK and 2CS results ready by September 15th.
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245/258/pass 1st/2010/4 US LORs/2 pubs/GC holder/ MATCHED 2016
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Old 03-21-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Volkmann View Post
No, it's not. Just have your step 1, 2CK and 2CS results ready by September 15th.
Do you know people who MATCHED like that? Need vising though.
I mean who updated profile on the go?

Thanks
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Old 03-21-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pd10 View Post
Do you know people who MATCHED like that? Need vising though.
I mean who updated profile on the go?

Thanks
I'm sorry, I don't know anyone who required visa matching like that. I do know someone who got her certificate in October. She had her step results in by September though. I'm pretty certain if you have step 1,2CK and 2CS in by September 15th you'll be fine.
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245/258/pass 1st/2010/4 US LORs/2 pubs/GC holder/ MATCHED 2016

Last edited by Volkmann; 03-21-2016 at 11:21 AM.
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