Tips for IMGs to Match Into a U.S. Residency

Tips for IMGs to Match Into a U.S. Residency

James Farah |

James Farah at SGU
As an International medical graduate (IMG) himself, James Farah shares advice for other IMGs looking to match into the residency of their choice in the United States.

James Farah attended Florida State University where he studied biology and music. At his time at FSU, he did research in a molecular biochemistry lab working on the CRISPR protein structure. After graduating, James attended SGU in Granada. He received honors in all his clinical rotations. James then matched into interventional radiology residency at the University of Florida.

As a resident who has made the journey from the U.S. to the Caribbean and back, his medical school tips may help you on your own journey as an IMG becoming a physician.

1. Always look for ways to stand out and go above and beyond. Even the smallest things will make you a better candidate

Being rejected from every medical school from your home country is not the best encouragement for anyone wanting to get into medicine. Taking up residence in an unfamiliar country can add to the already stressful situation of beginning your journey into the field. Thinking back to when I started, it was hard to imagine that I would one day be matched into my dream specialty in my own hometown.
I was told that Interventional Radiology was a pipe dream. It’s difficult to place, and is one of the most competitive specialties to match into. The Match email not only stated that I earned a spot in IR, but the program was in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.
Realizing this dream was nothing short of grueling. There are many factors that ultimately lead to reaching my goals. Rejection is something you carry with you for only a short while, until you find your groove in your new surroundings.
This is where you meet new people, experience life in a totally new environment and develop new viewpoints. Most importantly, this is where you make a name for yourself. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to go above and beyond during your years in med school.

2. Start with making connections

Sometimes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
If there is a guest speaker, make a point to introduce yourself even if the topic isn’t close to the specialty you are considering.
You will find mentors, friends, and even future colleagues when you put yourself out there and connect with influential people.
Reach out to your professors and administration. They value students who they know are interested and are working towards building bridges.
Don’t have a passive attitude when it comes to making your presence known.

3. Prepare for USMLE like your life depended on it

I’m sure by now, the thought of USMLE Step 1 is living rent-free in your brain. Take it as seriously as everyone says. However, don’t compare yourselves to others and add more to your plate than you can handle. Burnout is real, and your mental health should never get ignored. Your Step score is vital to getting the match you want and believe it or not, you will use the information in clinical setting

About James Farah

In addition to being an interventional radiology resident at the University of Florida, James also provides USMLE tutoring for MedSchoolCoach, and has won multiple student-voted teaching awards. He scored above 250 on all of his board examinations and is now paying it forward. you’d like to raise your USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK score by 38 points on average, consider tutoring for your board exam with MedSchoolCoach.

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