What is the best residency application of IMGs for NRMP?
- Here are some points that will tell you the most important things that you need to prepare for your application to be very strong. You get more interviews if you have all of the following. Very few will have all the following components. Don’t worry. Get yoursefl most of these and you can easily get a residency spot.
- Get the best possible scores in USMLE steps. If you are from outside U.S., try to finish step one and two in your home country with good scores. This is the most important step which decides your entire fate.Finish all the steps by August of the year you are applying for match. NRMP application process starts in September. Step 3 is a must if you need H1B to work. I did not match first time as I did not finish step 3. Avoid attempts in your steps at any cost. That will have a huge negative impact.
- Try to get a very good U.S. Letter of recommendation. The easiest and the best way is to do voluntary research work for university professors. You can publish also if you work for famous professors. One very good U.S. LOR could get you the spot in residency. My boss where I did my research for 8 months during my MPH gave me an excellent LOR and they gave me prematch in IM residency.
- Year of Graduation: Make sure that you apply with in 2-3 years preferably after graduation. If not, 5 years at the worst case but try not to delay more than that. The earlier you apply after graduation from medical school, the stronger the application. Fresh graduates with excellent scores and US Clinical experience can match in university programs. If you have gap, make sure you show that you did as many useful things during that period as possible like taking steps, moving to US, observership, research, etc. It is very important to show that you do not have gap in your medical career.
- Try to do observerships or externships or clerkship rotations in US hospitals. Don’t choose the specialty. Do in whatever place or specialty you get the opportunity in as even observerships are not easy to get. Keep trying everywhere you could. It is always better to have observership in the same field as you apply to make your application strong. Having patient contact in USA in the form of externship, observership, clerskships etc really can improve strength of your application.
- Do MPH or MBA if you are able to. They add value but are not a must. They take years to finish and are costly too. Preparing for USMLE steps while doing MPH or MBA is not easy. I did and did not find it funny at all. So, some do this just so they can come to US on a student visa. Read “Pros and Cons of doing MPH“.
- Develop connections with people. First meet current residents or hospitalists or any physician currently working in a particular hospital through any friend or family member. Then slowly reach out to others in those hospitals.
- Write a very good original personal statement. Read several samples online or by obtaining from previous applicants and get your own ideas to fill the personal statement. Program directors can easily find out if you copied from someone else. Remember that they read thousands of those ideas before from previous applicants. Make sure that in trying to make it awesome, you don’t write something weird. Think like this “Will my Personal Statement turn off the Program director?”. You can address red flags like large gaps, failure in steps, experience in a different specialty than what you applied for etc in your application in personal statement.
- Collect a good list of hospitals which accept applicants like you. Every year, several commercial websites prepare lists of programs with their requirements. Buy one of them by sharing the cost with your friends and prepare a good list that takes applicants like you.
- Apply on the first day the applications are accepted by ERAS online. This means you have to really be ready with everything by August. Start working on online application from around that time and on September 1st or whatever the date they first accept the applications, click to apply to all the programs with which you prepared the list before.
- Apply to most of the hospitals in New York City. There are a lot of hospitals there which take foreign medical graduates. As a back up, apply to a few hospitals as second specialty of your choice. I applied to 70 hospitals I think. You may apply more than that.
- Majority of applicants may not match in the first attempt. Try again in that case. I did and got it second time. Remember that if your application is very weak, try not to apply to too many programs this year. Some programs do not call for interview after they interview once. If you get an interview this year, and your application is not strong enough by the time of the interview [you are expected to finish Step 3 by the time of the interview ideally, if not, program MAY put your application aside], then you may not get matched. Then, when you apply next year, they won’t call you again. Believe me, applying for the second time is very common.
- Some people get green cards by marrying a person with citizenship. It works real good. See if you can do that. I am not encouraging you to do that but this is what some people do. Just to let you know that having a green card makes application strong.
- J1 visa programs: J1 visa programs are easier to get in than the H1b programs. Just applying for a J1 visa program does not make your application strong but it increases your chance of joining your residency.
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