Experiences That Count! 

Via ImgPrep (Edited by Kayode Kuku)

Yet another matching season is rounding up and while many medical graduates are celebrating their acceptance into residency programs across the United States, a good number are left to wonder what went wrong with their application and were they might have missed it. 

It is now common knowledge to Foriegn medical graduates pursuing residency programs in the U.S that matching into a U.S residency program depends mostly on good USMLE scores, visa status and U.S clinical experience (USCE)

There’s no doubt that US clinical experience or USCE, is a vital part of the residency application. As a bonus, your USCE can also provide another valuable boost to your application, in the form of strong letters of recommendation. But many applicants find themselves overwhelmed or confused when trying to decide what type of experience will boost their application.

 There are so many different forms of USCE. Which one is right for you?

Let’s take a look at the various forms of experience, and discuss their advantages, disadvantages, and what type of applicant they’re most suited for.

Observership: The simplest type of USCE. In this setting, you’ll be observing a U.S. physician at work.
Pros: Observerships are relatively easy to find, and they are usually free.
Cons: An observership may not be accepted as valid USCE in a program that demands USCE as a prerequisite; many program directors are looking for hands-on experience. This can put your application a year behind and cost you time and not count for a min requirement.

Good for: Very recent graduates with strong clinical experience from medical school who are applying for the first time.

The Bottom Line: These positions are free and relatively easy to come by, but they may not satisfy USCE requirements and are not as impressive.

Private Practice Externship: Here, you’ll complete a hands-on externship in a private clinic.

Pros: Hands-on experience is much more impressive and much more valuable.As any physician can tell you, there is no substitute for working with people. Many IMGs with personal connections or those willing to do a lot of legwork –can find these externships on their own.

Cons: If the physician you’ll be working with is not a teaching attending, program directors will not be as impressed with the experience, or with your letters of recommendation.
Good for: Recent graduates who already have strong clinical experience and good letters of recommendation; also good for repeat applicants who already have very strong USCE but who want to show program director’s that they’ve remained clinically active.

The Bottom Line: For applicants with already strong credentials, these externships can be a valuable asset. Many U.S. hospitals do have community rotations, but these are led by professors of medicine. Try to mimic those: if you’re considering a private-practice externship, make sure that the physician you’ll be working with is an academic leader in his field and is known for teaching medical students.

Externships  with Teaching Attendings
In this hands-on externship your attending physician is affiliated with either a residency program or medical school and carries a teaching title.

Pros: Strongest type of USCE; very impressive. Program directors like to see evaluations from Preceptors who teach who know what to look for and can write a keen assessment of the specific applicants performance. Letters of recommendation will carry more weight if written by physicians who work in a teaching capacity.

Cons: Can be very hard, if not impossible, for an IMG to procure on his own, and IMGs may need to use services to find these.
Good for: Everyone! This sort of experience is what program directors are looking for. As the strongest type of USCE, a hands-on externship and in a hospital setting will boost any application.

Courtesy : ImgPrep

Acing your Residency Interview!

While a successful interview can make the difference in your obtaining that prestigious residency slot, skillfully fielding all the interviewer’s questions can prove to be a difficult task. Program directors can ask difficult questions; it’s your responsibility to come to the interview with all of your answers –even to the stickiest questions! –at the ready.

To help you navigate these tricky waters, we’ve prepared a list of some of the more challenging questions that an interviewer may pose –along with IMGPrep’s recommended responses. We hope that these tips help you obtain the residency of your dreams!

1. “Please explain this two-year gap on your CV.”

Program directors do not like seeing gaps on an applicant’s CV —but with skillful explanation on your part, you can turn this liability into an asset. Be familiar with your background; you should be able to address the interviewer’s concerns immediately, without having to pause to collect your thoughts. Explain how you utilized that time period to strengthen your skills and make yourself a stronger candidate.

You may say, “I have a two-year gap on my CV immediately following my move to the United States. I wanted to make myself a strong residency candidate, and wanted to prepare myself for the U.S. medical system. I spent much of that time studying for my USMLE exams. To ensure that my medical knowledge remained current, I read medical journals and joined Medscape. My volunteer work in a local hospital helped me get acquainted with the US medical system, and allowed me to learn how to relate to patients in this culture.”

2. “Why should I accept you to my program instead of any other applicant?”

While your ultimate goal should be to convince the program director to choose you instead of another candidate, don’t fall into the trap of badmouthing other candidates’ credentials. Comments like, “Well, many applicants have multiple attempts at the USMLE, whereas I passed on my first attempt,” or “A lot of IMGs just don’t have the U.S. clinical experience that I do and are not really prepared for a U.S. residency,” will make you sound petty.

Instead, tell the program director, “I am not familiar with your other applicants and it would be inappropriate for me to discuss their credentials without first hand knowledge. I can, however, tell you what makes me such a strong candidate for your program. I am a hard worker with a solid base of medical knowledge: I passed all of my USMLEs on the first attempt. I also understand the importance of acclimating to a new medical system and have had extensive hands on U.S. clinical experience, which has familiarized me with the American culture and healthcare system.”

3. “If you don’t Match anywhere, and don’t match during the Scramble, what are your plans?”

Most people don’t like when others seem to accuse them of failure, and many applicants are put off by this question. It is nevertheless important to be prepared for an interviewer to challenge you; show him that you have considered all eventualities, and are prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed.

Try this, “I am confident that I will succeed. So far, my goals have been to pass my USMLEs, apply through ERAS, and obtain interviews for residency programs, and I have met all of these goals. I am confident that I will succeed in matching at a strong residency program. If I don’t match this year, I will reassess my application, find my weak spots, and strengthen them, so that I will be a better candidate next year.”

Source: IMGPrep



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    1. Thanks for the great insight Junaid Rahman. We look forward to more of your contributions and comments.

  2. Thanks for the great insight Junaid Rahman. We look forward to more of your contributions and comments.


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