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* Info that may help average score applicants
  docsdontstop - 03/20/16 19:00

I wanted to share my 2 cents in this chaotic process, it would be great even if a single person can benefit from this info.

My profile is, 225,225,CS first attempt, 2011 graduate, GC, 10 months USCE and 5 months of clinical research. I had 10 interviews and i matched to IM this year. I am a conventional IMG from asia and landed in the US with no dependable contacts although i had a lot of free 'advisors'. I landed in the US in early 2014 and was living with my brother who was working in non medical field. we did not know a single person from the medical community in the city.


we all know that scores are the single most important factor for getting interviews, esp step 1 score. If you have not taken the steps already then do your best to get a score higher than 240, it will make this process a whole lot easier for you. If you have a low step 1 score, you need to push the limits and score higher on the consequent steps. If you have already given your steps and have a average scores like me, then prepare for a hustle, it will need a lot of 'additional' stuff on our CVs to get it noticed.

My experience : I got my step 1 score in may 2014, i was not very excited with the score, apart from the fact that it was behind me. One of the 'extended family' members who was a resident told me that i should try for family medicine since i had 'little chance' in FM with that score. I believed the advise and took to making a CV that reflected FM interest. Little did i know that i would match in IM eventually.


After my step 1, i tried contacting people for USCE, first it was people we met at social gatherings - places of worship, small parties etc, i was trying to 'cold call' anyone i could talk to get me connected to a doctor. This was uncomfortable, and NONE of the people i talked to helped me like in any way. Very frequently people will not help, but we need to keep HUSTLING. Soon after step 1 i also started applying for research assistant potions with the largest teaching hospital in my city, I would check their website almost daily and applied to EVERY new position that opened up, but no one answered, this HUSTLE without any result phase lasted 6 months for me, it was a period of little hope until i got a reply for a research assistant position with a clinical study. I went to the interview and they selected me without any references. This was really my foot in the door, and it came out of sheer persistence of applying with little hope of replies.

Moral : HUSTLE, HUSTLE, HUSTLE - Keep trying, keep applying, keep talking to make connections.


Some people may differ but IMHO research will always help your application. Other than anything it will be the factor that 'sets you apart' from other applications that are similar to yours. I worked on this study for 5 months. i did not get anything published but the real benefits i got from this were
1. Waived LOR From the research PI stating that i was a good 'worker' with 'good communication skillls' and a 'team player'
2. Connections - The PI connected me with a doctor who i observed with right after completion of research
3. I could write my research experience in the CV
4. This research was talked about in ALL my interviews so it was a talking point.


i had experiences with 6 doctors that spanned 10 months. let me share how i got in touch with each.

1. Dr A, 1 month, FM: i was introduced to her through research. Faculty member at a FM residency program, proctored students and residents daily. I was the first FMG she ever allowed to shadow with her. She specifically told me that she would not have replied to my email if i did not mention my PI as a reference. Great experience, she took me to hospital when she was rounding, i also went to the hospice ceneter once a week with her. She wrote me a non waived LOR. I did not see this LOR but it was praised abundantly at 3 IVs i had attended.

Dr. B,1 month, FM: towards the end of the research i started google searching all doctors in the vicinity. i was sending doctors emails on a daily basis to allow me to shadow. I was also sending emails to programs for observerships. I had emailed 100+ dotors/programs in all, and as you can see my success rate at obtaining a shadowing experience was less that 5 %. But as i said the moral is HUSTLE.
Dr B was one of the very very few who replied to my 'cold call' email. He said sorry but he had too many people in his clinic, i replied saying i will be in the corner observing and i would never slow him down, he asked me to come visit him the next day. He was also faculty with an FM program and wrote me a non waived letter

Dr. C, 1 month,FM. This was very oppurtunistic and only goes to show that every interaction is an oppurtunity. I was bitten by some insect and having no insurance i landed at a free clinic. the doctor took a look at the rash and we got talking, i asked her for a shadowing opportunity and she agreed. She worked at her own private clinic with no residency affiliation and wrote me an non waived LOR.

Dr. D, 3 months. 1 of the docs who replied to my 'cold call' emails. at a private clinic that was very loosely affiliated with a university. 1 month, wrote a non waived LOR.

Dr. E, 3 months, IM. This was the only doctor who i got in touch through my opportunistic social banter, someone i talked to knew someone, who knew someone, who knew this doctor. He owned his own clinic and had hospital privileges as a private doctor. He let me take history and do physicals, so this turned out to be a goof hands on experience. wrote me a waived LOR, which was great.

Note: although some say that private clinic LORs do not help, they are surely better than not having any. In my case they helped me a tonne. the 'hands on' nature of this experience was discussed at ALL my IVs.

PROGRAM USCE, IM : This was the last and only paid observer ship that i did at a university. I applied 5 months in advance, got a slot for Sept 2015. Not a great experience because the observers were not given any importance AT ALL. Never the less it introduced me to resident rounding responsibilities, didactics, morning and grand rounds. they wrote a very very 'generic' letter. I had already applied to ALL my programs in the middle of this observer ship so i did not use this letter. I took it as waived so that i could keep it with me and share it during IVs if required.


I was volunteering once a week for 4 hours filing pathology slides at a local hospital. I can say this helps for sure because it was mentioned in 2 of my FM IVs, that they like volunteering on the CV.


Keep everything ready by 15th and apply asap. APPLY TO AS MANY PROGRAMS AS YOU FINANCIALLY CAN!!

My exp: from cold call emails to doctors for shadowing i learned that the reply rate for me was about 3 %. I extended the same logic to applying to programs. I applied to 220 programs, 100 FM, 120 IM. Towards late august early September, i spent many hours researching each program, i used Freida and the programs website. I did not apply to a single program whose criteria did not meet what i had to offer. i applied to IM because i was willing to give a shot to my dream, even when most of my profile was FM, because of an earlier advice, i guess it worked. Ofcourse i loaned the money i used to apply.

Moral : apply to as many programs as possible, research the programs. A program that worked for one may not work for the other with a similar profile, there are too many factors involved, take the time and do your won research.


I called/ emailed many many programs but none of them gave me a positive reply. So this technique DID NOT work for me


I started getting IV invites in late October, i had 10 invites in all. i interviewed from Nov 2nd till Jan 28th. The methods in which i was contacted are

1. direct gmail contact
2. through eras
3. interview broker
4. 1 IV was a phone call, asking me if i was available the next day, i went.


I had made answers for about 15 most commonly asked questions. I read them plenty of times before each interview. I had my short story ( about myself and what i was doing since graduation) ready and told it to everyone. I practiced a couple times on skype with other applicants, early in the season. I had also made a list of about 15 general questions i would ask the program, i memorized it and repeated it at each program.


Keep the short story ready! Its very important to sufficiently address gaps in the CV. if you have research, you should be able to explain it inside out and so forth. LOOK SHARP, BE TALKATIVE ( but let others also talk), BE ENERGETIC, LOOK ENTHUSIASTIC about 'everything'. ASK A LOTTT of questions.

I researched each program in detail before each interview, i read every word on the website. i tailored some question that would apply to this specific program.

FM programs are far too lengthy and detailed with pre and post interview dinners and lunches. the hotels are paid for and what not. Be prepared to talk about everything from your family to hobbies to your relationship with S/O and others. They really take the time to know you and i loved these interviews. Expect to be interviewd by atleast 3-4 people, 15 min to half hour each. The PS matters significantly for FM.

IM interviews are shorter, more superficial and more focused on scores and usce. Sometimes the IV lasts for 5 mins only and the rest of the time is tour and presentation. You have little time to prove yourself, grab the opportunity and talk across why you will fit. Some IM interviews are longer too but thats rare


I sent a thank you note in the next 2-3 days. I mentioned specific things i experienced during the interview like conversations with faculty and residents. I replied to every email i got. i snail mailed back programs who snail mailed me. I got a lot of positive feedback through emails post match but don't let that make you think you are 'special'


I ranked my programs as follows

1. University 'affiliated' IM
2. University 'affiliated' IM
3. Community IM
4. Community IM
5. Unopposed University FM
6. Unopposed University FM
7. Opposed University FM
8. Community FM
9. Community FM
10. Community IM ( new program, and i did not have a good experience and a good vibe during my visit there)

i was matched within my top 2

i also got an FM pre match offer from a community hospital in late January which i declined.

Match day

It was a relief to know i matched to IM, Allhamdulillah.

Things that i think worked for me.

1. GC
2. Application to 200 plus programs
3. MANY DIFFERENT USCE experiences
4. Good communication during interview appearing enthusiastic and informed abt the program.
5 Most importantly, constant HUSTLE!

It took some time for me to write this up and i really hope it helps someone here.

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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  matching16 - 03/20/16 20:46
  can i have ur email id please..tneed to ask a couple of qs..thanks  
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  matching16 - 03/20/16 20:47
  my email is  
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  step3md - 03/20/16 21:00
  What do you mean with IMHO research and unopposed university FM?  
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  docsdontstop - 03/20/16 21:14
  @ matching, i will try to contact

IMHO is abbreviation for- in my humble opinion

Unopposed means its the only residency program in the hospital/facility. Its important for FM because its an unopposed program you will not be competing with residents from IM , Peds, OBGYN and being the only residents in the hospital, you tend to run the show including running codes.
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  spaceman83 - 03/20/16 21:28
  docsdontstop, congratulations!

Gives me a really good feeling reading this. Hustle hustle hustle. I'd like to pin this actually.

Good luck during residency!
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  stepprepimg - 03/20/16 21:28
  Congrats on match! I will be applying for the 2017 match. I am an USimg and i have 1 month externship in im (but that was 4 yrs ago when i was still in school) and 5 months observership in FM. i will be doing for usce later.
I have a few questions:
1. Your yog was 2011, did anyone during the interview ask you about the gap between 2011 to 2014? did you work as a resident in your own country?

2. This might be a silly question, but i was wondering when did you ask for the LORs, after each rotation? Did the letters specify fm or im?

3. I know a lot of doctors are scared of img following them to hospitals because of HIPPA..malpractice...etc, did any of the doctors who took you to the hospital required malpractice insurance?

Thanks and congrats once again!
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  docsdontstop - 03/20/16 21:39
  Thank you spaceman and all the best to you !

@ stepprep IMG

1. I worked as at a local hospital in my home country, i did not put this on my CV, but i told everyone which department i worked at and a little about that experience. I did not have any home residency.

2. Its not silly, i wondered the same when i started. I asked the doctors towards the end of my experience with them, i did not ask them to not specify a specialty but i did tell them that as an FMG i had to apply to more than one specialty to be able to have a decent shot at matching. It a lil cheesy but i did ask all my non-waived LOR authors if i could use their letter for other specialties.

3. that's precisely why most doctors don't reply to your requests for shadowing. the medical community is abundantly afraid of litigation. fortunately the few who replied were willing to let me shadow without any insurance. I did buy a months insurance for the paid university observership.

hope this helps
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  namira123 - 03/20/16 21:41
  hi docsdontstop
can you please send me an e-mail,i have some questions to ask you.please
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  stepprepimg - 03/20/16 21:51
  Thank you so much, that was very helpful! All the best and good luck with residency!  
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* Re:Info that may help average score applicants
  gansa - 03/20/16 22:40
  nice story + thanks dontstop!

how much was the insurance + who did you buy through? how much did you pay the doctors for each month usce?

also, which program + state offers fm prematch?
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