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

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Old 05-19-2013
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Show Teeth A Little Motivation

Hey guys, since this forum has been really helpful to me, I wanted to write a couple of things about my USMLE experience and possibly offer some advice to fellow candidates...

I noticed some of you guys are medical students planning to do some steps studying on the side and that's great, but keep in mind that to maximize your match chances you need as good a score as you can get. Maybe it's a good idea to study from us textbooks to get used to them. Go through Kaplan Notes or whatever "main" studying material you have first and then do the review books and qbanks whenever you have some free time which usually is after you have graduated. Also, while still in med school, you should keep an eye for and actively pursue elective/clerkship opportunities (potentially during the summertime) that would also increase your chances to match and, if you give it your best shot could provide you with a good recommendation letter from a US physician. Matching into residencies has been getting increasingly difficult every year so you need to approach this the right way. You should also keep in mind that in the most competitive specialties in the US, like derm, plastics, neurosurgery, ortho, ENT, radiology etc only a very small, if not miniscule percentage of the matched candidates are non-US IMGs. That is not to dishearten anyone but just pointing out the facts. You can look at the 2013 statistics yourself at the NRMP homepage
and decide whether pursuing a specific US residency works for you. However, no matter how hard it may seem at first (trust me it certainly does) you can go through it with the right plan and attitude .

Now regarding the USMLE exams themselves here's a couple of things I wanted to point out, needless to say those are just my personal view on things:

- Make sure you start the application process early since it can be confusing and even frustrating at times.

- A common mistake ppl do, mainly hearing this from guys who took the exam quite a while ago is taking Step 2 CK first and then Step 1 on the basis that your clinical knowledge is "fresh" right out of med school. Guys, Step2 is VERY dependent on the things you learn from Step 1 like patholphysiology, pathology etc and your med school knowledge will probably be lacking in those fields. Check some questions yourself and see what I mean there. There is a huge overlap between them so I would definently recommend step 1 first.

- I am not going to say much about the studying method, books, time needed etc. There is a whole lot of really awesome information on this forum that you can read up and decide what works best for you . The polls here will be especially helpful. I will say this however:
and don't focus overly on the books, they do not cover all of the material you will encounter on the exam and you will probably forget most of them anyway. Studying for the steps is quite different from the studying you do in med school...

- Another thing is: stick together! . Find some people that are also interested in USMLE and help each other out. Even if they re going for the same residency as you (you may switch residency wishes anyway) help each other and you will both gain something. Remember that there's (tens) of thousands of people that will be going for the same spots so dont fall into that trap. Help each other out and encourage each other and it is gonna work in your favour in the long run!

- Remember USMLE scores are not everything to an application. The goal is to get a residency spot, not to get a specific score on the exam. Therefore you shouldn't spend years studying just to geat an X,Y score. Just do your best and go along with it. Even if your score is not that good you can strenghten your application by getting US clinical experience, research, etc.
Many "superstar" applicants tend to do a year or 2 of unpaid research in the US after school to boost their chances.

- Like all things good, the whole process of getting a US residency spot comes with a cost. The cost is in time, effort, and also financial. Where it is worth it or not is a question you should ask yourself. What's for sure though is that the training you can get in the US is standarized, comprehensive and probably the best you can get in the world as a doctor, provided that you work hard. Also studying for the steps allows you be in contact with real medicine (and get much better at it too).

- Play it smart and don't sweat too much over it, USMLE studying and applying for the match is like a marathon, not a sprint race. Reallistically it will probably take you a couple of years of effort before you get there.

Anyway, those were my 2 cents, sorry for the long post but I think I owe a contribution to this awesome forum posting a few things I wish I'd heard before starting prep for USMLE .
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The above post was thanked by:
Andrew88 (05-19-2013), ap2013 (05-19-2013), ayham_b (05-19-2013), BUTTERFLY1 (04-09-2015), d_wiqed (05-19-2013), platelet (05-19-2013)


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