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* My Match Experience (2019)
  mle16 - 01/03/20 15:27
  Let me start by saying that it was a very very long road for matching to a Residency Program.
It was worth the wait and I cherish every moment of the work that I put in to reach to this point. I didnít have the mind set or thought process to do residency in United States until my final year of medical school in India where I got an opportunity to travel to US to visit a medical school. I got the first-hand experience of level of care provided to the patients and the healthcare system here in United States. I was baffled by the number of opportunities that this country provided and the advancements in the medicine. Generally, people from my part of the world prepare for step exams during the days of medical school. Since I didnít have any plans to travel to US, I havenít planned on preparing for step exams back in India. During my first visit to US, I decided that I must continue my career in medicine in United States.
When I returned to India, I conveyed this wish to my parents. I eventually travelled to United States after my marriage. I completed all the medical school formalities and came to US. Since I was just married, I didnít immediately dive into the preparation for step exams. I didnít have proper guidance to prepare for step exams. All I had in my mind was to continue my career and complete my residency here in US. After a few months I started preparing for step exams based on the information that I gathered here and there. I was completely taken away by the level of information presented in the examination material. Though the concepts of were fresh in my memory after the graduation the information presented in the step examinations was of different perspective and more in the form of application of the medical knowledge/ concepts.
I realized that I started late in the game compared to my peer medical students in India who would have started preparing for step examinations during medical school days. This was the first hurdle that I had to overcome. Often at times I used to get discouraged of this thought and felt bad. But, I took the courage to make forward and prepared for Step 1. Few months down after I started the preparing for Step1 I faced the biggest of my life. The person whom I loved the most all my life-my Dad, passed away due to illness. I was completely devasted. The entire world turned upside down for me. He is the only one whom I have been so close to since my childhood. I was not able to digest that he is no more and will not see me in person as a successful physician. I had to travel to India briefly. My close family advised me to return to US and continue my studies.
It was with a heavy heart that I returned to US. I was not able to concentrate on studies. I havenít started studying again for weeks and months. I finally realized that it was my Dadís wish to see me as a successful physician in US. I mustered the courage to sit tight and prepare for the step exams. My husband was very helpful during this time in providing me all the necessary things to study well. Often at times I used to get distracted and later I myself used to recollect my thoughts together and proceed on my preparation. The pain of loss of my father left an indelible scar in my heart. The only thing that I can do overcome these thoughts is to become a successful physician for which the main step is to get matched to a residency program. So, I kept focusing on my preparation for step exams. I gave Step1 finally but didnít get a too good score. I have asked around and found that it was not a bad score.
I then started preparing for Step2 CK exam. I had to go to India for performing one year death anniversary activities of my Dad. During this time I was ridiculed by my relatives on the need to study in US taking stock of the current situation at home. I was not able to study for Step2 CK exam while in India. After 6 months, I returned to US. It was a painful struggle for me to concentrate on Step exams as a result of the experiences that I had back at home in India. It was always a constant struggle for existence. Getting into a residency program is only the means for me to silence the dissent. I sat more hours and studied hard for Step 2 CK exam and finally gave the exam. This time I was hit very hard. I scored less in Step2 CK compared to Step1. I didnít to proper time management and ended up not answering some of the questions in few blocks.
I thought that might be end of my plans for career in medicine in US. As a custom, Step 2 CK scores are normally higher than Step1 for many candidates. I was told that it will be a negative mark on my profile and the chances of matching will be hard. I entered my depression phase as usual. I spent many sleepless nights with these thoughts. This time the blow is very painful, and I thought I may not recover. The thoughts of my Dad started lingering in my mind and asked me to get up and move forward. All these experiences thought me to be braver to develop thick skin and go down that extra mile, come what may. I came to the realization that residency is the only path for me and decide to take on the next thing- Step2 CS. I was advised that if donít clear CS exam in the first attempt, I must pack my bags and go back to India or continue living in US as a house wife. I gathered all my courage decided to prepare for Step 2 CS knowing that it is a do or die situation for my career in US.

I travelled to one of the CS test center locations and lived there for close to 2 months and prepared hard for CS exam. I passed Step2 CS on the first attempt without any hurdles. I know that it is just one of the items to be cleared. This was the first time I became eligible for applying to residency. I completed Step2 CS before September, but I didnít apply for match knowing that my profile is weak. I did not have US clinical experience; low step scores and not a fresh graduate. I figured that I need to get some US clinical experience while I am preparing for Step 3. I did few rotations at outpatient clinics and got few months of US clinical experience. I was told that for a profile of my scores and credentials and being an international medical graduate, the bar is very high to get into a residency program. I was told that Step 3 can be used as a determining factor to elevate my profile on a low Step 2 CK score. Under the able guidance of few contacts, I prepared well for Step3. I got relatively a good Step3 score.

Having all the scores and a few months of US clinical experience, I applied for residency for the first time. I got only two interviews when I applied for hundreds of programs. Like many other IMGs from India, I applied for Internal Medicine programs. It turned out that the two interviews are from the places where I did observerships. I was not selected for either of these programs. I realized that my profile needs to be more unique in order to get matched since I am not a fresh graduate. I decided to get research experience that would result in getting a few publications before the next yearís match season. I kept sending emails to universities where research is conducted. I pleaded them that I would work for free as long I as I get LORs and research experience that I can use for my residency application. I was fortunate to get a research opportunity at a reputed university for an year. While I got the opportunity under one advisor in that university hospital, I started going to conferences conducted at that place and got in touch with another advisor. The other advisor was kind enough to assign some research work me. So I worked in both the departments and spent extra hours in completing the assigned work. Oh boy, September came by very quickly! Though I have done research work for five months (May to September) I havenít got at least one publication. Most of my research work that I was involved are submitted for publication and none of them are published yet.

I applied for residency the second time. Now, the difference from the previous year was just the research experience. Having a few months of research experience at a reputed university hospital, a few months of US clinical experience and having cleared all step exams (including step 3) could get me only 3 interviews this time. Out of these, two are from the old programs from which I received the invite previous year. I thought I did well in the interviews. On match day I got this email: Sorry, you didnít match. One more painful blow. This time I went into depression mode for a couple of weeks and didnít talk to anyone. I felt like I have lost everything in life after working hard for all these years and havenít achieved anything. I had to bear lot of insults and sufferings to come to this point so far but havenít matched yet. My mind became a warehouse of various negative thoughts. The only ray of hope is the support that I received from my husband during this time. I decided that I was going to try for one final time for then next yearís match and stop trying for it once and for all next year if I donít match. But, I decided that to enroll to a Masters in Public Health degree program at a reputed university that I can use next year for a related job incase I donít match into residency. But, the only hurdle is financial resources since being an international medical graduate, I am not eligible for any scholarship for MPH degree. Somehow, I enrolled to MPH successfully and made sure I complete all the necessary credits for MPH degree within one year so that I can join residency as soon as I finish my MPH.

I also made a point that I do a couple of observerships while I do my MPF so that I can use those fresh LORs for my next residency season. By sending hundreds of emails to the universities in the city where I enrolled to MPH, I was able to get a couple of observerships. I did my best to get a couple of heavy weight convincing LORs from these places. By September when I was submitting my application for residency, I had 9 publications and 4 poster presentations along with good LORs and an upcoming MPH degree from a reputed university. Finally, the match season arrived. Boy, oh boy!!! I knocked the ball out of the park this time. I was confident enough to be ranked by three programs out of 6 interviews. I also came to know from one of the programs that the person who interviewed me knew my LOR author. Since I waived my right to view the LOR content, I did not know what was written. The person who interviewed me told that I got a very good LOR. He went ahead and said that my profile looked impressive considering the varied blend of experiences and qualifications that programs look for. When the match day came, though I was confident enough that I will match this time- I did not have the courage to accept the situation if I am not matched. I asked my husband to check the result. Finally, we received the email that we have been waiting for years: Congratulations! You have matched! Tears started rolling down our cheeks and we continued crying for the next couple of hours. I couldnít believe the result and checked the nrmp website. NRMP website said that I am not eligible for SOAP since I matched to a categorical program. After 5 days, we came to know that I matched to Internal Medicine Residency program that I ranked highest.

My advice to residency aspirants: Never give up. Keep trying and make sure you try to utilize every opportunity that comes your way. Build strong contacts along your way and at some point everything will fall in place. Nothing is impossible and most importantly, all the hard work that you put in will never be wasted and you will see fruitful results one day. Do you best, wherever you go, whatever you do. Success will definitely knock your door one day. Patience, perseverance and never-give-up attitude are the keys to residency.
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* Re:My Match Experience (2019)
  goli12 - 01/17/20 16:16
  DO you mind to write your credential and YOG
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