IMG Perspectives

Great Expectations

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By Sasmit Sarangi

As residents, we are expected to meet and exceed the requirements of our patients, colleagues, and supervisors. After the completion of the Match, and after the euphoria settles down, we are ultimately left with weight of our own expectations.

There is a mixture of excitement about managing patients independently (almost!) and the trepidation of being stuck in an unfamiliar clinical situation with no help in sight. The long and arduous process of becoming an independent physician is well and truly in full swing. Managing these expectations well is a challenge as they will definitely help you stay motivated throughout residency, but at the same time you don’t want them to be your own personal albatross as well.

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Finding US Clinical Electives for IMGs

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By Fady Akladios

As an IMG who has been through the residency application process in the US, I have learned the importance having US clinical experience (USCE) firsthand. I have almost always been asked the same question in every single interview: “where have you done rotations in the US?”

Having USCE not only gives you more exposure to the health system in this country, but it also gives you more of an edge as an applicant by enabling you to meet program directors and obtain letters of recommendation from American programs.

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Analyzing the match for IMGs

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By Sasmit Sarangi

There has been a lot of attention on the increasing difficulty for IMGs in the Match. A large part of this fear has been precipitated by the observed trend of increasing numbers of IMG applicants coupled with a lack of increase in residency positions. This was first highlighted here and has also been noted on several diverse sources and social media platforms. There is a lot of concern among many IMGs that the situation could become so bad in 2015 that even US graduates would find it hard to match.

The NRMP has released large amounts of data about the match, including the 2014 match. Going through these documents, I felt that there are a number of interesting figures which could help future applicants. The number of active applicants for PGY-1 positions in the 2014 Match (34,270 applicants) actually had a very small decrease of 80 applicants in comparison to 2013. This is in contrast to the 2013 Match where there was an increase of more than 3000 applicants, year on year. Also, the number of matched PGY-1 applicants increased from 73.5% to 75% in 2014. The number of active US seniors and previous US graduates stayed at roughly the same number of around 19,000. The total number of non-US citizen students/graduates of international medical schools had a decline of around 200 applicants this year.

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Going to America: The IMG Journey – Part 3

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By Fady Akladios

As promised in my last post, I will illustrate in this post an example of a plan for an IMG applicant attempting to obtain a residency spot in the US.

I will assume the applicant here is an IMG who is about to graduate medical school in his home country within the next 1 ½ – 2 years. I will also assume you are trying to match in 2016 (i.e. starting residency July 2016).
I will use the Gantt chart illustrated below to clarify the plan.

Going to America - part 3

Once you have decided to pursue residency in the US, there are multiple things you have to work on simultaneously. All in all, from beginning to end, the journey takes about two years of preparation and hard work.

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The Importance of Being Earnest (with Step 2 CS)

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By Sasmit Sarangi

The Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam is a fundamental step toward the process of residency. The basic purpose of the exam is to assess the core clinical competence of a future physician in the context of a typical clinic visit as seen in a US hospital. IMGs are often lulled into a false sense of security by the format of this exam, which stresses absolute fundamentals. However, in my opinion, and based on my experience, the Step 2 CS is perhaps the single most important exam in the current residency application process.

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So you didn’t match … now what? (An IMG Perspective)

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By Fady Akladios

Being unable to secure a residency after an educationally and personally demanding journey of a decade is probably one of the most disheartening experiences any of us can have. However, having that extra year until the next ERAS/NRMP cycle is not an excuse for a much needed vacation. This is a critical time for an IMG to unflinchingly and quickly assess what went wrong, how you can fix it, and if you truly can fix it.

Understand that an IMG will usually not match because he/she did not apply to a good number of programs, to programs seeking applicants like him/herself, or his/her application was simply not competitive enough. This becomes such a dilemma for IMG’s, who end up thinking the solution is blindly applying to 200 or even 300 programs. Applying to 200 programs blindly is not the equivalent  of applying to the right amount programs.

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A Basic Guide to Research for IMGs

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By Sasmit Sarangi

The number of IMGs doing either short-term or long-term research has increased significantly over the past few years. In my opinion, this has been driven primarily by increasing competition in the residency application process and, as a result, IMGs try to seek an extra edge.

Generally, the end of the US academic year is not the same as other countries, and IMGs often have several months between their graduation and the start of the application process. Many candidates now seek to utilize this time in research efforts.

Though it is incorrect to view research as essential, it can be a significant boost to your chances in certain specialties, at academic programs in particular, if you have complementary research experience.

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