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* Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  the28shogun - 03/14/18 14:08
  My stats:

Year of graduation: 2009
Citizenship: US
Med school in: Pakistan
Undergraduate degree: none
Step 1: 214
Step 2: 250, but failed once.
Step 2 CS: Passed, but failed once.
Number of research experiences: 10 -12
Number of clinical experiences: 8

I repeated one year of medical school for failing in one subject in my first year.

I applied to the match multiple times, starting in 2014, but I didn't actually receive my ECFMG certification until 2015.

After not matching so many times, I tried to find a hospital that would take me for a research year as I thought this would definitely help my chances. I was very lucky to find such a place and I worked with them since last year and matched this year.

Obviously the biggest advantage was that I lived here in the US, and that I was a citizen. This definitely made things easier, so I know my advice may not apply to everyone but if you consider how many red flags I had, I think even non-US-IMGs have a chance. Maybe you need a visa, but you probably did better than me on everything else.

Also I should add that despite those red flags on my application, I did everything I possibly could to overcome them. There is no good answer for so many issues. If you have repeated one exam, then sure, you can say that was a bad experience, you were not prepared, you learned from the mistake, etc. I failed in medical school, I failed my CS, I failed my CK. There is no explaining any of that. I can't say that I had some death in the family 3 different times over the course of ten years that just happens to be at the same time as my exam. The difficult part was that I had to show that I am different than what they see on paper. I did that through my actions, my work, my studying, my preparation for rotations, my thoroughness in research, etc.

Don't let it sound easy, it was not. I had tons of negativity and doubt from many other people. People told me to give up, stop dreaming, stop hoping, stop being that ambitious. I even listened to them and gave up for a while but I could not stop. I could not leave it behind.

Lastly, if you pray, don't forget how important it is to keep praying even when you think it is not working. Even then it IS working. There was a time where I applied for a PAID research position just last year where they guaranteed me the residency after two years of research work. I thought wow that is incredible, and my interview went amazing for this position. The chair of the department told me he is so thrilled that he found me. I was in complete disbelief. Later he calls me again and tells me that a dr from somewhere else I worked has contacted him and told him do not hire me because he disliked me for leaving an older position that I had with him. He was bitter about it and he called to tell this person do not hire me. I was in shock, that someone would ruin my career like that but it happened and I did not get that job. I was really upset about that but I didn't get in contact with the dr who tried to ruin my chances, I did not get angry at him. I went to my place of prayer, and I prayed and I said, God, this other dr is absolutely NOTHING compared to what YOU can do. He is just a man. You can do anything, and nothing this other dr says or does will ever compare to you. I did not get that job, and I did not get that residency, but I got another position very soon after that which is where I matched this year.

Just remember, red flags aren't as important as what YOU make out of them. Don't make excuses, make changes.
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  virgo32 - 03/14/18 14:19
  @the28shogun COngratulations :) happy to see you matched after so much hard work. can you please email me at Thanks.  
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  psychenthus - 03/14/18 14:22
  congratulations! happy to hear your success story! I too have red flags and was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing what kind of research work you did? Also how did you go about finding this research opportunity? any advice would be kindly appreciated, thank you!  
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  the28shogun - 03/14/18 14:22
  @Virgo32 thank you for the kind words! Unfortunately I do not have an anonymous email address so it would be easier for me to respond to any questions here.  
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  the28shogun - 03/14/18 14:27

The research I did varied a lot, I had to take whatever I could find. Being a graduate made it hard to find opportunities. Many hospitals that I contacted told me they only allow their own medical students. Others said they already have their own residents doing research. Others said they take img's for research but that they have to still be in school, they can't be graduates. It was the exact same strict criteria even just for observership. So it made it very hard, and I was not picky, I took whatever I could find. I did research in pediatrics, oncology, ophthalmology, pm&R, pathology, neurology and medicine. I used whatever means I could to contact doctors. I went to the hospital website and looked for faculty email addresses there. If I didn't find them there then I went to the ACGME program website and I searched for email addresses there where the contact information is displayed. So it wasn't anything special or secretive, but it just took a lot of time to get all those contacts and then I would email roughly 30 dr's a day for the course of about 3 months until I found something.
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  psychenthus - 03/14/18 15:14
  @the28shogun- thank you so much for your response!  
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  virgo32 - 03/14/18 15:18
  @the28shogun ca you please tell me from where did you do medical school? and did contacts help you during this? any advice. I have a USCE in FM and I want to apply in IIM. Are my chances low in IM?  
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  the28shogun - 03/14/18 15:36

I went to medical school in Pakistan. No contacts helped me and I did not exactly have very many. I knew one or two people who were both in private practice so that's not very helpful for residency purposes, however I did get 1 of my LOR's from one of those contacts, but overall it had very little impact on my application and on this research year that I obtained.

Your chances are lower in IM than they are in FM however they are similar enough fields that you don't need to really worry about it. If you can get an IM letter then you should definitely try to do that. These things are more of an issue when you try to apply to something like surgery and you're showing them a psych letter, or if you are applying to psych and showing a pathology letter. On top of that, ERAS will not allow you to use letters of different specialties for specific specialties, for example I tried to use a Peds letter for IM and they did not allow it. I should have marked the letter as specific to ALL specialties but I'm not sure if they allow that anymore. In the past you could mark a letter as ALL specialties and they would send you a notice that this isn't the best idea, but they would still let you do it if they were your only letters.

Good luck on your USCE and make sure you do well and get a good LoR from there. While you're there you may try to inquire from the IM program coordinator if you can do an IM observership or something as well after your FM rotation ends.
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  amulya - 03/14/18 15:55
  Congratulations on matching. Very inspiring journey , your hard work has been paid off. Can I ask you one question, did you do a home country residency?  
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  the28shogun - 03/14/18 16:04

I did not do a home country residency, and if I did I think I would rather leave it off of my CV because sometimes it can hurt more than it can help. Some people may consider this bad advice, and I encourage everyone to ask multiple different sources, but in my opinion, it is better to find some other way to account for your time out of med school. You could say you did a residency for 1-3 years at home or you could find a contact here in the US that will agree to say that you worked with them instead. I'm not suggesting you definitely do that, but that's one route that I know some people have used.

I did not allow any gaps on my CV. I worked in research right out of medical school, then I switched positions went from paid to unpaid jobs, did observerships etc, but I did not leave any gaps because that is also seen as a negative.

Hope this helps.
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* Re:Old grad, US-IMG, multiple red flags- Matched!
  dr_zafranfarooq - 03/14/18 16:14
  The28shogun,congrats your hardwork paid off what you have gone through there are many people who are going through such things but your story give hope too many people i am still struggling in this journey can i talk to you privately on fb i am really worried its very tough journey  
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