Thursday, May 8, 2014
US citizen IMG surgery prelim resident needs advice
Maicon, a non-designated preliminary general surgery resident, writes
I read with interest your post on matching rates for international medical graduates. I am a US citizen IMG, born here, but grew up (since 2 years of age) in another country and completed my medical school there a few years ago.
My USMLE scores are step 1 - 235, step 2 - 251, Step 2CS and Step 3 passed on first attempt. Knowing that general surgery was hard to get, I worked (unpaid) in the surgery department at a large Northeastern academic center.
I got a prelim spot at a decent program with a program director I respect. I worked my ass off, studied hard, and got in on research projects early.
ABSITE: 1st year - 90th percentile (highest in our class), it got me a 2nd year at the same program, 2nd year - 79th percentile.
Did a ton of research with a couple of publications and presentation, and won a teacher award by med students. My evals were good, and I got great recommendation letters. I thought I covered my bases.
My program doesn't have a spot for a 3rd year and am unable to find one, despite the good intentions of my mentors. It is frustrating that, try as I might, I am still out of a residency on June 30th of this year.
Should I continue to pursue the surgical field, do a research fellowship which I have seen from previous blogs/articles doesn't help much, do a subspecialty fellowship (Cardiothoracic ICU/critical care/Burns), or switch to medicine or FP? From, your previous posts, I feel you will probably suggest to switch.
Thanks for reading my blog and for your email. I am sympathetic to your plight. I've seen it many times.
I wish I was still running a program. It sounds like I could have used someone like you.
If you have no financial or other pressure to get on with your life and are young enough, I suggest you take a fellowship in one of the clinical areas you mentioned such as critical care. An accredited one is preferred because you could take the board exam when you finally get through a 5-year GS program. Even a non-accredited fellowship in a clinical area is better than doing research. Your chances of obtaining a categorical spot are enhanced by taking care of patients instead of test tubes.
If you do a good job with the fellowship, you might be able to sneak into a categorical slot somewhere. Make sure you take the ABSITE again too. The scores are really important.
Have your program director keep an eye on the program directors' list serve. Categorical slots open up frequently—even into June.