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  #1  
Old 07-17-2011
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Hungary From Hunter College NYC to Hungary to NYC EM Residency!

Hi Everyone!

I'm new to this forum but have gotten great advice from reading posts and I thank you all for that. I'm really in need of advice on how to proceed with taking the steps and landing an emergency medicine residency position in NYC. This is quite long and I thank you all who take the time to read and respond to this thread. Please note that if I write down an accomplishment it's not to boast but to just give you the full picture so you can give me honest advice on my chances.

Background:

I originally pursued a career in dance, hence my late start. At 25 I found myself with many injuries and after reevaluating my life decided to go back to school. I graduated 3rd in my class from Hunter College in NYC where I was in a special honors program, where I rediscovered my childhood love of science. I was going to apply for med school in the US, but due to family reasons, we moved back to Hungary, where I was born. Here med school is 6 yrs and my BA didn't count for much except for getting exemptions in bio, physical/organic chem and anthropology.

I started doing research in the biophysics department in my 2nd year which I continued until the end of my 4th year which was when the whole research group I was affiliated with moved to another city about 275 km away. I had gotten great results and my supervisor received a grant to continue this research, however, since it was difficult to travel I was unable to amass enough data to write an article. It did however become my final thesis which was well received. I am listed as a contributor in a published research article in neurology and in another one under review, however, since my contributions to these projects were in my opinion not overly significant I don't know how appropriate it is to push this on my CV.

In my school we had extensive summer practices which left me with only a few weeks off every year during which I was basically brain dead. Didn't have time nor energy to study for the USMLEs, and before I knew it, it was 6th year which is when we did our clinical rotations. At the end of 5th year I also found out I was pregnant but, despite many health complications, I pushed on and graduated cum laude with my class. Since I had no US health insurance, going to the US for rotations was unfortunately out of the question. Meaning my US experience is NONE.

Currently:

I started studying for step 1 after taking a 2 week much needed break, however it is really not going well. My medical school exams were almost exclusively oral so they have not prepared to me to take a USMLE type exam. I have also pinpointed the weaknesses in my education (biochem, pulmonology) and the strengths (anatomy/histology, pathophysiology, pathology, gastro and neuro), while the rest were average. I have not joined any Qbanks yet (I will do Kaplan and UW), as I want to go over all the material first. However, I have done some of the freebie questions available out there and am scoring around 50% in those. As I was hoping to take the exam at the end of Sept., this is not encouraging.

I am really not great at rote memorization so I am really weak in areas where it is required such as biochem (enzymes, products, etc), microbio (I forget all but the most common so quickly) and pharma (I remember the drugs we used most frequently as treatments but the others...). I've started with FA Flash Facts and am using the free trial of Gunner Training to see if it will help me with that. As for the rest of my study plan, I'm using the mixed method with highly recommended books.

I am a fast reader with good retention if I can make logical correlations with previously long term retained material. However, and a big however, since having my wonderful baby who is the light of my life, I have not had uninterrupted study time, nor do I have as much time to study as I was previously used to. Also, since I have not been able to have more than 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep for over 6 months now, I'm not at full functioning capacity. My husband helps me a great deal but I find I can not just ignore my baby.

My Dilemma:

Given my age and that I have a baby to support, plus my late start to my medical career, I was hoping to apply for a residency position for next year (2012 start). Since the programs I wanted to apply for start interviewing around Dec. and they didn't require CS, I was hoping to do Step 1 and 2CK by then, and then do 2CS in time for certification by match day. However, this appears more and more to be an unattainable goal given the high scores needed to land positions.

The alternative is push back my exam dates, wait another year, work in Europe for a few months, then go back to the US and try to land an observership so I would have some US experience before applying. This, however, would mean that I will be 39 by the time I start residency and more debt plus lost income.

If you have read this far, THANK YOU!!!! I currently have no US contacts in clinics (only research), so I don't have anyone to turn to for advice. If anyone could answer some questions based on experience, I would be so grateful! I'm having difficulty because my decision does not only affect myself and my career but my family, as well.

Questions:

1. Do you have to be fully certified to be even considered for an interview? If so, that would make option 1 moot.

2. Honestly, how is my age going to affect my chances? Will having a young child hurt my chances?

3. My LoRs would be from two highly respected, accomplished doctors (one a dean of a medical university and head of biophysics, the other the head of radiology). They are not American, though, so will they even be considered?

4. How possible is it to take the Steps in the timeline I imagined (through necessity) and get a score that will be even considered? I'm a good student, but I do have to basically re-learn biochem and do heavy duty work on the basic sciences. Organ systems and clinics will be less work. I also have to get used to taking USMLE style exams. Do I risk it? I was told by someone that without a score above 90 as an IMG I will not get any position. Is this true?

5. How will my grades and research experience help me? I don't want to be a researcher though I found it to be a good experience.

6. Most important, starting medicine this late, do I even have a chance?

Any responses are highly appreciated. Sorry for this long post but I really need honest advice.

Thank you!!!!
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  #2  
Old 07-17-2011
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Thumbs Up Welcome Mom!

First of all, congratulations on your new baby Make sure to take care of him and destiny will take care of you.

Welcome to the forums, you are actually the first member from Hungary, therefore I added the Hungarian flag to your thread

I will answer your questions in the next posts!

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  #3  
Old 07-17-2011
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Question Title Change?

Hi, me again. Just wondering how the title of my post got changed? I'm afraid it makes it appear as though I've succeeded when I'm really in need of advice since I'm not there yet. Though thanks for the positive twist on it But then again, I'm new to this forum so not sure how things work here...
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  #4  
Old 07-17-2011
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Arrow Better to be fully certified

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdmommy View Post
1. Do you have to be fully certified to be even considered for an interview? If so, that would make option 1 moot.
Many programs require that you have to be ECFMG certified before they even consider you for an interview (specially in NYC). Even the programs that do not say so, would prefer a fully certified applicant over partially certified applicants.
Given your situation, I'd say do not apply until your are fully certified, to maximize your chances.

For more information about ECFMG certificate read here
Threads Tagged with ECFMG Certificate

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  #5  
Old 07-17-2011
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Smile Thanks Sabio!

Thank you for the congratulations! He is the best thing ever to happen to me. And thank you for taking the time to give me advice. I'm feeling incredible pressure right now and it's got me a bit panicked and unsure.
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  #6  
Old 07-17-2011
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Arrow About old age and pregnant applicants

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdmommy View Post
2. Honestly, how is my age going to affect my chances? Will having a young child hurt my chances?
Yes. Your age is a problem. Residency program coordinators filter out old applicants before they even look up their complete files. However, that's not the case in all the programs.
One thing you can do, to try to ameliorate the effect of old grad is to contact the residency programs directly and tell them that you have not been sitting idle all those years and am sure they'll be impressed by your determination and perseverance.
To read more about the old grad issue, you can have a look at Threads Tagged with Old Grads

As for the fact you are having a child, that does not really matter. Being pregnant however, does affect your chances. So try not to get pregnant again

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  #7  
Old 07-17-2011
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Default That's what I thought

Thanks again. I figured that the CS non requirement was for AMGs. I will read the other posts you suggested. I guess time work on Plan B.
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  #8  
Old 07-17-2011
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Arrow Nothing is better than US LoRs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdmommy View Post
3. My LoRs would be from two highly respected, accomplished doctors (one a dean of a medical university and head of biophysics, the other the head of radiology). They are not American, though, so will they even be considered?
Your overseas LoRs will work but they will not be as powerful as US LoRs. Therefore, I suggest you go for plan B (postponing to next year and come to NYC and get some US LoRs).
Remember, we want to maximize your chances to dilute the effect of (old IMG applicant)

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  #9  
Old 07-17-2011
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Arrow High scores is a must for you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdmommy View Post
4. How possible is it to take the Steps in the timeline I imagined (through necessity) and get a score that will be even considered? I'm a good student, but I do have to basically re-learn biochem and do heavy duty work on the basic sciences. Organ systems and clinics will be less work. I also have to get used to taking USMLE style exams. Do I risk it? I was told by someone that without a score above 90 as an IMG I will not get any position. Is this true?
Yes, it's true. Old grad IMGs need to score high to maximize their chances. Therefore, I think that you need to dedicate your time fully for Step 1 prep. Send your baby to daycare and get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted fully focused study time. Postpone your application to next year and make sure to get high scores.

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  #10  
Old 07-17-2011
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabio View Post
Yes. Your age is a problem. Residency program coordinators filter out old applicants before they even look up their complete files. However, that's not the case in all the programs.
One thing you can do, to try to ameliorate the effect of old grad is to contact the residency programs directly and tell them that you have not been sitting idle all those years and am sure they'll be impressed by your determination and perseverance.
To read more about the old grad issue, you can have a look at Threads Tagged with Old Grads

As for the fact you are having a child, that does not really matter. Being pregnant however, does affect your chances. So try not to get pregnant again

-

I would love another child but I don't think it's in the cards for me, and I definitely don't plan on getting pregnant again unless my life is a lot more settled :-)

Thanks for recommending I contact them directly. That was what I wanted to do but wasn't sure if it was appropriate or how to go about it. I was going to try to get an observership in the hospital I really want to work at (though I don't know if they offer that opportunity as they make no mention of it) hoping that then I will be a real person and not just a nameless applicant.
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  #11  
Old 07-17-2011
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Arrow Research is great in the CV

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdmommy View Post
5. How will my grades and research experience help me? I don't want to be a researcher though I found it to be a good experience.
Your research experience will be an admired point in your CV. Specially if you apply to University programs (where they love research), they'll really appreciate your research experience, even if you were not the main author and even if the publication was not that great.
So this is on your side and make full use of it in your CV.

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  #12  
Old 07-17-2011
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Thumbs Up Keep up the hard work

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdmommy View Post
6. Most important, starting medicine this late, do I even have a chance?
Oh, yes, no doubt about it.
I know many many IMG old grad applicants. They all got into residency programs.
The only ones who failed, were those who did not get high scores and those who did not persist and fought to the end.
You will be facing difficult times ahead and is not going to be rosy but if you keep the efforts and if you believe in yourself and plan it well, you'll eventually get it.
Am sure that a couple of years after today, you'll come back to this thread and you'll tell us your wonderful success story.

Good luck and keep up the hard work.

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  #13  
Old 07-17-2011
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Default So appreciated!!!!

Sabio, I can't thank you enough! I've really felt quite alone here and had no one to ask. I've been strongly leaning towards postponing and doing it right...stressing about this for days. Your points have helped me to organize the jumble. I guess 1 more year older can't hurt me too much. Plus I can actually get some much needed experience. I think I have to have a talk with my family. I'm also going to read the other threads you recommended. Thanks again!!!
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  #14  
Old 07-17-2011
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Default :-)

And thanks for the encouragement!!! I needed it right now :-)
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Old 07-17-2011
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Thumbs Up Yes you can

Hey mdmommy. I actually have nothing to advise you concerning the listed questions. Sabio has done a great job filling that. However, a mom with a newborn fighting her way to get high USMLE scores is impressive. Many has done it before you. Just carry on the hard work and god will repay you at the end. Never give up. I think YOU CAN DO IT. Best of luck
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  #16  
Old 07-17-2011
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Default

Thanks for the encouragement hope007! I can really use it right now :-)
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