By Sasmit Sarangi
A large number of IMGs often have a break between graduating and joining a residency program. It is very common to at least go through the application phase and interviews after graduating from medical school. In my case, I worked for nearly two years in a research position before I applied for residency positions this year. One thing that I think helped ease my transition back into the hospital was that I did a three-month observership after the completion of my research position. I really believe this helped me get back in the right frame of mind for residency.
All of us hope that we will be great at what we do, but doubts are very natural in the process of medical training. Just before I started my observership, I was feeling somewhat insecure, and I was having some doubts about my ability to perform in the hospital environment. I wondered if I could recall and adequately apply the skills that I had put on ice for the last two years.
I was lucky to have an opportunity to work with some great people during my observership, and the process really helped me put my fears to rest. Getting back to work with a team to uncover a patient’s diagnosis and determine a course of management was very satisfying and a timely reminder about the great value in our line of work.
I specifically remember an instance during which I managed to raise the possibility of an acquired angioedema secondary to a low-grade lymphoma in a patient with AIDS. Of course, as much as I like to brag about my rare disease-diagnosing superpowers, it didn’t really help the patient in his management. As my attending gently reminded me, he would get the most benefit from greater compliance with his HAART medication. The big picture definitely put a dampener on my “shining moment.” I really enjoyed the rest of my observership and one patient even expressed disappointment that he wouldn’t meet me on his next scheduled follow-up.
At the end of my observership, it was really satisfying to receive good feedback from several attendings with whom I had worked. This feedback helped me to realize that my fears of returning to the clinic were unfounded. Now, I am really looking forward to getting an opportunity to manage patients again as a resident.
Those of us who have spent some time away from the hospital need to remember what we liked about the experience to begin with. While you may experience a few problems getting back into the grind, the most important thing is your desire to return. As the saying goes, “It’s just like riding a bike.” Remember, you’re not alone! Many other IMGs and MD/PhD students as well, go through this same process every year.
By Fady Akladios
The information in this post is based on material published in the First Aid for the International Medical Graduate, 2nd edition.
As a non-US born IMG, making the decision to pursue postgraduate training in the US is a significant life decision. Not only will you be navigating a challenging certification and training process, but you will be doing so in a country with different customs, laws, people, geography, etc…
Making such a decision should not be done nonchalantly. Before you make your decision, I recommend that you sit down with a piece of paper and jot down the answers to some very important questions:
By Sasmit Sarangi
Disclaimer- Please bear in mind that most of the information here has been derived from friends and personal experiences. Some visa situations are extremely complex, so seek legal advice. The information provided here may contain minor inaccuracies, so please feel free to correct me in the comments below.
Visas are often an extremely vexing issue for IMGs, most of whom are not US citizens and don’t have a green card. Personally, I have debated the benefits and demerits of both commonly used visa types – the J1 visa and the H1B visa. I’ve tried to collate some of the vital information about both major visa types here.
By Sasmit Sarangi
As an international medical graduate, one thing that is extremely important for your residency application is the extent of your US clinical experience (USCE). Traditionally, clinical electives are the most valuable kind of clinical experience. You get unfettered access to a patient as a medical student and you get to see the nitty-gritty of the US clinical system. However, if you have already graduated from medical school, you are limited to doing observerships where your ability to interact fully with patients is limited to a certain extent. The following is a brief list that you should definitely keep in mind before and during your observerships or clinical electives.
About a year ago, Sarah did an excellent post on common IMG interview questions. Now that we are firmly into interview season, I felt that it would be helpful to revisit this topic and add more questions that could be encountered by IMGs. Many IMGs get only a limited number of interviews, so it is even more important to stand out and make a positive impression on the interviewer.
IMG Perspectives: Common Reasons Why IMGs Do Not Match and How to Ensure A Spot in an American Residency0
Unfortunately, it happens sometimes that qualified IMG applicants do not match. Having gathered information from fellow international graduates on this topic, some who have succeeded and some who have failed, I have assembled a list of common mistakes people make when applying, only to be disappointed on match day.
After finishing my final year of medical school, I had a month off and considered taking the Step 3 in order to “get it over with” before PGY1 year. But after some thought and consulting individuals who had already moved to the U.S., I decided against it. While I do not advocate any specific time frame for taking the Step 3, I do encourage applicants to base their decision on the following considerations: specialty, visa status, specific program, and level of work experience in the U.S. before residency.