Hi everybody, though this might be a bit late for the Match 2008, I hope this
post would help at least those who are planning for Match 2009 or later. Here I
explain the tips and tricks for the Match.
I applied to 150 Internal Medicine programs
It gets more competitive every year especially for the International Medical
Graduates (IMGs). Most of the IMG-friendly programs claim that they received
more than 3000 applications this year. The record gets broken each year. This
might also be due to each applicant applying to more than 100 programs. I
thought applying to more programs would fetch more number of interviews. Hence I
applied to 150 programs. Also I was planning to apply for Family Medicine (FM)
programs if I don't get a good number of interviews in Internal medicine. Thank
God I did not have to apply for FM. I should say I went through the eligibility
criteria of each program before I applied to it. There is no point in applying
to a program where you are not eligible to apply to. It gets filtered probably
by their software itself. So please do not blindly apply to a large number of
programs thinking that more number would fetch you more interviews. Rather apply
to all the programs where you are eligible to apply.
Applying to J1 programs
Though I wanted to join only H1b program, it is not a good idea to be choosy.
It is always better to keep our options open and applying to both J1 and H1b
USMLE Scores are by far the most important filtering factor used by programs.
Work hard and get good scores. What is a good score? Well, this is a hard
question to answer. For Internal Medicine, more than 90 would help. But remember
there are a lot of double 99s around. So work hard and put in your maximum
effort for USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK. Heard that USMLE Step 3 score is
not that important. Don't know how far that is true. I got 86 and a program
director during the interview said it is a good score for USMLE STEP 3. Some
people say double 99 is required to get into good programs. I don't think that
is true. I got 95 and 99. 95 didn't hurt me. Programs mainly use scores just to
filter the applicants. After that, they look into the whole application. So DO
NOT lose heart if your scores are less. There are people who have joined
residency with very low scores like 79. So never give up! What about a failure
in USMLE? Work hard and always try to pass the exam in first attempt. But if you
fail, that is not the end of the tunnel. Again there are a lot of guys who
joined residency with multiple attempts in USMLE. There is always a bright light
at the end of the tunnel.
Year of graduation
Though I have read that programs prefer fresh graduates, during the
interviews I found many candidates who have completed post-graduation in home
country. Do programs prefer guys who have already done residency in their home
country? I think so. It does not mean that you should do a post-graduation in
your country to improve your credentials. If you have decided that you are going
to be in America, why waste time doing stuff which are not going to be
recognised in the US. There are a lot of guys who have entered US residency
straight from med school undergraduation.
ECFMG Certification and USMLE STEP 3
I was ECFMG certified and done with USMLE STEP 3 when I applied to programs.
Having USMLE STEP 3 scores in hand when you apply would help you for sure. I am
quite sure that it will fetch you some extra interview calls. Especially if your
USMLE Step 1 and/or USMLE Step 2 CK scores are less, it will definitely help you
if you apply with a USMLE Step 3 score. That does not mean that you should
postpone your application until you get the USMLE STEP 3 score.
Most of the University programs look for research publications/ presentations
in your CV. On the other hand most of the community programs are not bothered
about this. US publications/ presentations carry more weightage than those done
outside. I did not do research separately in any institution. I just
participated in research in the hospital where I had USCE.
US Clinical Experience (USCE)
This is another very important thing which the Program Directors (PD) look
for in your CV. Many PDs use this as a filtering criteria. Don't waste time
thinking whether observership would be considered as USCE or not. Some consider.
Some don't. But that does not matter. Because getting observership itself is
very difficult and competitive now. So apply to all/both observership and
externships. Do whatever and whenever you get. Something is better than nothing.
Try to do as many USCE as possible. It is expensive but worth it.
Applying on September 1
This is very important. Never compromise in this. Send your documents (LORs
and MSPE) to ERAS as early as possible in August and be ready with your CV and
Personal Statement to apply right at September 1 00.00 AM (EST). Take your exams
well ahead in order to apply on Sep 1 with at least ECFMG certificate. This is
to get a good number of interviews. USMLE Step 1 score alone is enough to get
you interviews. But do not take risk. It is always better to apply with all the
scores on Sep 1.
God's mercy - A short testimony to God
According to me, this is the most important factor. I strongly believe that I
got 26 interviews and prematched only because of God's mercy and grace and NOT
BECAUSE OF MY CREDENTIALS. I am not writing this statement just like that. I
have experienced a lot of obstacles and miracles over the last 2 years
especially in my path towards residency in the US. In fact, it is God's miracle
that I am writing a blog on tips and tricks for the Match as until recently I
was a symbol of failure. My US visa for CS exam was rejected 4 times
consecutively and I got my visa on my 5th attempt. (I would blog on my US visa
experiences soon). I would have reached a dead-end in my life as well as career
if I had not applied for the visa for the 5th time. It had been God's plan.
Well, God could have given me the visa at the first attempt itself. Why should
he make me run from pillar to post? Firstly, I would NOT have known God if I got
it on my own at the first attempt. Secondly, I would have got a false opinion of
my capabilities. In reality, I am an average student. It is because of God that
I have reached at least to this level. I would not have realised this otherwise.
Thirdly, to improve my faith in God. Problems and obstacles in life are the ones
which take us closer to God. Also, I would like to confess here that my USCE and
Research opportunities were purely God's miracles and they came to me at the
right time. Without these, I am sure I would not have got even 10 out of those
Take home message: Praise the Lord. After all, that was the purpose of our
creation. Glory be to God Almighty and my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Note: I am not a frequent visitor to this forum. But thought my experience will be
helpful for the guys here. I have also posted about : USCE-How to
apply/Vaccinations/ Is "observership" an USCE?/ FMG MD LORs elsewhere in this
forum. Get my blogs in your email by using the link below: