Preparing for Residency after The Match

Once The Match is over and you have found your residency program, there are only a few months before you start your life as a bonafide medical resident. The feeling is overwhelming, and you are probably still feeling the inertia of placement. This is not the time to spin out of control with excitement an eagerness. Although post-Match time is a time for planning, it is also a time to take care of yourself. Here are a few tips to help you manage life during your time in limbo between The Match and your residency:

  1. Relax:

You’ve done it. The interviews are over. Not only have you picked your residency, but they’ve picked you too. It is especially difficult to relax as a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) because the Match is more difficult. The momentum change from the Match to a few months of “regular life” is difficult for the brain to process. Here are a few tips:

  • Sleep: Making sure you have a good sleep schedule is essential for your success as a resident. That may seem impossible with call schedules, but it is doable if you make it a priority. If pulling an all-nighter, make sure your free time prioritizes sleep over recreation…and sometimes over studying. Not prioritizing sleep could make all other efforts futile.
  • Exercise: Long hours and lack of sleep don’t make a person want to exercise, but it will help the mind and the soul. People who exercise are healthier and less-stressed. With that said, any opportunities for outside exercise should be taken.
  • Meditate: Everyone needs time for themselves, and the new resident is no exception. Yoga, meditation, or even people watching can give the body the self-appreciation it needs.
  1. Connect:

While relaxation may be an important thing to consider, so is making or maintaining relationships. Personal and professional relationships prevent burnout and provide opportunity.

  • Current Residents: As an FMG, it is very unlikely that you know the area where you will be a resident. Nobody is a better information source than current residents. Not only is it a great opportunity to make friends, but they know the best places to live and eat. They also can give advice on the details of the residency that you cannot get during The Match.
  • Support System: You should also keep in touch with your friends and family even if they are abroad. Keep them informed of your schedule as much as possible, so you don’t end up isolating yourself because of a busy schedule. Ultimately, you will build strong relationships during your residency, but you don’t want them in lieu of losing old relationships. Explain to them the truth about time constraints, so nobody feels left out.
  1. Maintain:

Yes, relaxation is important but not at the expense of your hard work. The few months before residency can provide time for yourself that may not be available during residency, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for a vacation. Brush up on your skills and keep your training and education fresh by continuing to study.

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS): You may already be certified, but observing critical care can provide a good segue into care provided as a resident. Take any opportunities to observe, and you’ll be that much more ready to start.
  • USMLE Step 3: You can only apply for step 3 of the USMLE after graduating medical school, so you may be taking this test after The Match. This means more studying!
  • Medical Journals: As a physician, learning is never finished. Medical journals should always be on the “to-do list,” as it will keep you up to date and cutting edge.

One of the biggest risks after matching into a residency program is lacking direction. Prioritizing yourself, your connections, and your education will keep you from becoming stagnant and stressed about starting the last step on your way to becoming a fully-autonomously practicing doctor.

Taking care of yourself means taking care of your personal needs as much as your professional needs. That is why things like sleep, exercise, and mediation are essential to your regrouping and preparation for residency. It is easy to become isolated during this time out of a lack of direction but also out of a lack of prioritizing relationships. Success in life is largely dependent on relationships, and cultivating relationships helps maintain friends and family while building professional networks. Lastly, physicians should all consider themselves lifelong learners, and the time between the Match is no exception. Read, study and observe to maintain and build additional skills prior to residency.

There is no such thing as an easy residency, and during this time you will be stressed, hungry, tired, and overwhelmed. That is why the time between the Match is crucial for a successful residency. It is a break from the impossible workload of the medical graduate, but it is not a time to forget about your priorities.

Rural Health Opens Opportunities for Foreign Medical Graduates

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a doctor shortage of around 100,000 by the year 2030 if something is not done to increase new residency positions.

The shortage is happening because of an ever-growing population but also because the amount of new medical school graduates allowed into residency programs has not kept up with the pace of population growth. Why would anyone restrict residency positions in a time of projected shortages? The answer is all about the budget and how much the government will fund positions in teaching hospitals.

Thankfully, 2019 has presented some hope for residents with the introduction of the “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019.” This bill would open 15,000 funded residency positions within the next five years.

One of the shortages bills like the Resident Physicians Shortage Reduction Act plan to address is the rural physician shortage. A Becker’s Hospital Review article states that 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural communities, and the doctor shortage is revealed in their ratios compare to this population. For every rural physician, there are 2,500 rural residents.

Why is a Rural Physician Shortage a Health Crisis?

One might think the rural physician shortage is not a significant problem. After all, people do go to urban areas to shop, and they choose to live at a long distance from health care services. However, many rural communities are poor communities, so they have difficulty with travel costs. Additionally, many elderly persons live in rural communities, and they may face transportation difficulties as they age out of the driving population.

More importantly, people are unlikely to seek out cost-saving preventive health services if they are not conveniently located. They may also put off subsequent visits meant to monitor chronic health conditions. Telemedicine has attempted to bridge some of this health care gap for rural areas with telemonitors and telehealth services, but often rural communities have technology knowledge gaps and limited access to these services.

If you have ever lived in a rural community, you might understand the importance of the local physician. Everyone in the town depends on him or her for everyday health needs, and if that person retires or moves, it can stress the entire community. There needs to be motivation for physicians to train and work in the rural health care sector in order to decrease this disparity.

What Does this Mean for Foreign Medical Graduates?

For years, there has been tension between people who want to support U.S. medical graduates and those who recognize the need to fill the doctor shortage with foreign medical graduates (FMGs). As the physician shortage continues to grow, the benefits of FMGs are becoming recognized. In the past few years, there have been articles  noting the abilities of FMGs rather than only the need for them to fill the shortage. Ultimately, the U.S. is realizing that they need FMGs in order to deliver proper healthcare to all of its residents and visitors. Now, they just have to make it easier for them to get residency positions and practice in the U.S.

Rural J-1 Visa Waiver

The Rural Health Information Hub is an organization that supports the improvement of rural health services across American, and they have one page on their site dedicated to information about the J-1 Visa Waiver, an opportunity for foreign medical graduates to remain in the United States.

With a J-1 visa, a resident must return to his or her country following residency and then apply for a H1-B visa, which will allow them to work in the U.S. If a resident is willing to work in a rural community, they can apply for a waiver, and this allows that resident to stay in the U.S. to work. This is a mutually beneficial situation for rural community members who need a quality physician and the FMG who will have much less red tape to get through.

Saving Lives by Improving Access

Studies show that people who live in rural areas are more likely to die from everything from treatable chronic diseases to accidents where they cannot reach timely access to care. Increasing the number of rural physicians would help to improve these numbers.

As a FMG, you may be wanting to work in an urban area with access to high-technology and physicians who are working with the best resources available. However, it can be difficult to dodge all of the red tape that it takes to get to stay in the country after residency. Considering working in the rural area for a short while will not only give you a unique experience, but it will also allow you to practice in the states immediately after residency instead of postponing your career until you can apply for your H1-B visa.

Rural health is not only an opportunity for Foreign Medical Graduates to stay in the United States following their graduate education, but it is also a chance to save lives. Rural communities do not have access to the resources of the city, and one resource that can be brought these underserved areas are physicians.

Need help with residency placement?Contact us today!

FMG Portal: Assisting FMGs to become U.S. Medical Residents

Becoming a physician in the United States as a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) requires some hands-on medical experience within the states. That is why FMG Portal has dedicated its services to helping FMGs through every step of becoming a practicing physician in the U.S. We do this by offering connections to clinical externships, clinical electives, clinical clerkships, clinical rotations and clinical observerships. We also offer assistance with CVs and Visas, so there is no kink in your pathway to a U.S. Residency.


Getting U.S. experience is the impetus behind most of FMG Portal’s services, and it does this by connecting you with programs that provide differing levels of experience. Many of the services, such as clerkships vs rotations are the same if not similar, but knowing specifically what they are will help the FMG to understand what they are seeking.

Clinical Externships

Externships are only available to medical graduates, and they do not qualify for medical school credit. They give FMGs the hands-on experience that will be required by many residences in which applicants apply. Some externships cover specific specialties, which can be very beneficial during the Match process if you are looking to join a certain medical specialty.

Some of the other skills that may be learned in an externship are how to write SOAP notes, participate in diagnosis teams and learn how to use an electronic health record (EHR). While FMGs may have already learned adequate diagnosing skills during their medical training abroad, hands-on experience within the U.S. allows them to learn any nuances that could hinder the medical process by being performed in a manner inconsistent with U.S. healthcare system norms.

Clinical Electives

For foreign medical students, clinical electives are a good opportunity to get hands-on training, and FMG Portal has connections with multiple teaching hospitals. This allows the student to get to work closely with attending physicians in a U.S. healthcare setting.

Foreign medical students who have clinical elective experience in the U.S., especially in their desired specialty, have a much better chance of getting a residency match. Not only does it show experience in the U.S. healthcare field, but it also allows for the opportunity to get U.S. letters of recommendation.

Clinical Clerkships

Clerkships and electives are terms that may be used interchangeably, as they are very similar. In some curricula, they are compulsory. However, U.S.-based clinical clerkships offer a unique opportunity for foreign medical students to participate in healthcare delivery with experienced physicians. This will not only aid the student in passing their USMLE tests, but it will also give the opportunity for cultural adjustment. Cultural adjustment may not seem like a huge component of U.S. healthcare experience, but it greatly aids in communication, which can enhance an interview.

Clinical Rotations

Rotations are very similar to clerkships, and again, the names can be used interchangeably. The word rotation is significant in U.S. rotations because it implies that a student rotates through different specialties in their final year of medical school while supervised by a physician in order to obtain a well-rounded medical education.

Clinical Observerships

Observerships are established when an FMG gets to observe a specialty by participating in a 2-4 week program. This is meant to allow the FMG to get an idea of how the American culture of healthcare works, and it allows the FMG to establish connections along with witnessing firsthand how the medical care is provided in the particular specialty.

Other Services


Immigration laws are constantly changing with the current administration, and this can make applying for visas difficult and confusing. That is why FMG offers assistance in this endeavor, so you can focus on the more important matter of your education and residency placement.


Having a thorough CV is essential to residency placement, but it can be difficult to pare down a full resume to fit the needs of a certain specialty. Our experts can take out the unnecessary details in order to highlight the parts of you that will make you appeal to your residency program director.

ERAS Application

The ERAS application is obviously one of the most important parts of the Match, and filling it out properly could mean the difference between consideration and simple rejection. FMG Portal’s staff can help you fill it out properly, so you don’t miss your change based off of a minor issue.

If you are a Foreign Medical Graduate or a Foreign Medical student looking for resources to get Matched and become a successful physician in the U.S., FMG Portal has the skills, resources, and the connection you have tohave to get you there. As an FMG, you must prove the quality of your education through ECFMG certification, CVs and applications that show that you are the type of resident a program would want to have educated under them.

Don’t travel the FMG road to medical practice in the U.S. alone. Get help where you need it with FMG Portal.

2018 Trends for non-U.S. IMGs in the Match

When you are ranking programs for the Match, it is best to go with your heart. That is, try to join a specialty that you are passionate about. It will help you to be successful and lessen your chances of burning out. However, you may be passionate about more than one program. This is understandable, and that it why it is helpful to pay attention to statistics and what other non-U.S. international medical graduates (non-U.S. IMGs) have done to get Matched.

Rank Order List

Ranking programs for the Match should be based on passion, but it should also be smart. For example, the NRMP’s 2018 Match report indicates that longer rank order lists tend to produce a larger percentage of Matches. For non-U.S. IMGs, it may be difficult to find a long list of programs that are likely to accept you for one reason or another. You may feel like some programs are a long shot or that it is a waste of time to rank them. Get this thought out of your head. If there is a chance, and you wish to enter the program, get it on your list. Once you have to start paying extra to add to your rank order list (20 unique programs before extra fees on primary rank order list), you might be more selective. But if your list is short, add those long shots!

USMLE Scores

There are many factors that determine whether or not any medical graduate is considered for a residency program during the Match, and one of those factors is USMLE scores. High USMLE scores are obviously a positive element of your overall application, but lower scores do not eliminate your possibilities of a Match.

In USMLE Step 1, non-U.S. IMGs who Matched had higher scores than those who did not in most specialties. However, this was not true in the orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery specialties. In step 2, the same was true except in OB-Gyn, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery and vascular surgery (see NRMP’s 2018 Match report).

Other Factors

Other factors that may determine whether or not a non-U.S. IMG is chosen for a residency program during the Match are work experiences, research experience, publications, volunteer experiences and Ph.D. or graduate degree.

In competitive programs such as dermatology and neurological surgery, non-U.S. IMGs that Matched had more research experience than those who did not Match. Publications had varied success for all IMGs, but it is worth noting that non-U.S. IMGs had 6.2 publications on average compared to 2.9 for U.S. IMGs. Similarly to publications, there was no clear trend of successful Matches based on work experience. Volunteer experiences were higher among Matched IMGs among both U.S. and non-U.S. IMGs. Having a Ph.D. was a factor for the Match for non-U.S. IMGs, but graduate degrees were often reported more among the non-Matched.

What Does this Mean?

Clearly, the results of the 2018 Match report are varied, and the take home message is that everything matters, but none of the factors will eliminate you from consideration as a non-U.S. IMG. This is why other recommendations are as important as these trends in order to be successful during the Match.

What are Other Recommendations?

Despite the ECFMG certification process, some residency program directors may be uncomfortable with foreign education. This may be due to some deeply held bias (which is unfortunate), but it is more likely that program directors are not able to decipher exactly how you were educated abroad. There are different standards across the world, and your education may be more extensive than U.S. medical schools, but program directors need to know that it was at least as good as U.S. medical school.

Study Match trends to increase your odds of success.

That is why U.S. experience (observership programs) and recommendations are crucial for the Match. Residency program directors want to know that you can work in the U.S. healthcare environment. They want to hear it from you, and they want to hear it from American peers who can testify to your abilities.

It is also very important to do well in your interview, and this may be the most important part of the Match process. Your language ability, your confidence, and your personality will need to fit the program. You may have excellent scores and a full CV, but if you lack any passion or interest, it is unlikely that you will be chosen. Making yourself interesting may include talking about hobbies outside of medicine instead of the residency program. Be prepared to talk about yourself as a normal person, not only a residency candidate.

Yes! It is stressful to consider everything that matters when applying to residency programs. The number of non-U.S. IMGs entering the Match is declining, but the numbers being Matched is at a high point compared to the last couple of decades. The reduction of non-U.S. IMGs may be due to Visa issues or rumored difficulty getting Matched, but the numbers show that if non-U.S. IMGs are ranking residency programs, they are increasingly finding residency programs.

January Agenda: Rank Order List

As 2019 approaches, it is time to consider which residency programs you’d like to attend, and this decision is integral to successful placement in the Match. On the one hand, candidates need to consider residency programs where they feel they’d be a good fit and be able to pursue their medical career successfully. On the other hand, candidates also need to pick programs where they will be successfully matched.

A word of caution: don’t pick residency programs simply because you think you’ll be matched. There are worse things than not getting matched, and you’ll get another chance to be matched through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) where unmatched candidates fill unmatched residency program positions. The Rank Order List should reflect your best picks, not your safest.

Janurary 15th marks the opening day of the Rank Order List entry, which is located on the website of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). You should list programs in your order of preference, with those you most want to attend listed first.

Things to consider when ranking programs:

Which program did you simply like the most? This questions does not necessarily mean the program seemed the most challenging or that you would fill a provider gap in your future area of practice. It is more about where you would be a good fit. Did you get along with the people running the program? Did it seem to progress at a desired pace? Is there a good support system? Whatever you are specifically seeking in a residency program should be considered when ranking.

How was the interview? Was it amazing? Did you make connections? Did the interviewers seem receptive, or did you feel unaccepted. Especially for Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs), this can mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful Match. Those who are FMGs should also be considering how the program handles the inclusion of all residents, so an FMG is not set aside as a viewer more than a doer because of cultural or language barriers.

Is the program competitive? Can you succeed at this level of competition? This would include considerations such as your USMLE scores and any education gaps you may have experienced. Especially for FMGs who may have had a different medical school curriculum, this can really impact success.

Is the program good from a logistics standpoint? Is it located in an area that will be acceptable for you to live for a while geographically? Does it pave the path to the medical career you are seeking?

Are the current residents happy? Physician burnout is real, possibly more than ever. Make sure the current residents are satisfied with their residency program. You don’t want burnout to begin early, and a good residency can provide a resident with the tools necessary to avoid it in the future.

It is recommended that you rank around 10 residency programs, but you won’t have to pay additional fees until you reach 20. It is also recommended that you have a qualified person look at your list and discuss any opinions about questionable choices. A mentor or a current physician may be a good choice.

Once you have your Rank Order List Complete, you must certify it in the R3 system. This must be completed by 9 p.m. Eastern Time February 20th 2019.

There are two other things that should be mentioned about Rank Order Lists:

1. If you did not interview with any residency programs, you won’t be able to generate a Rank Order List because no residency programs will be considering you as a candidate. It is not the ideal situation, but don’t forget that this does not mean the end of your residency hopes for this year. There is still SOAP in March.

2. If you are having a lot of difficulty deciding whether or not you should rank a program because you aren’t sure if you’ll be Matched, you can communicate with the programs, and they can reach out to you. Letters of intent may or may not have a positive influence on the Matching process, but they are allowed. Additionally, programs may reach out to you, but it is not recommended that you let this influence your Rank Order List. There is a Communication Code of Conduct that should be followed during this time, which highlights confidentiality and eliminates unnecessary communication.

Remember, your interview days were the time to fully vet each residency program, and your choices should be made based on the positive and negative qualities of the program, not whether or not you think there is a good chance you’ll be selected.

There are differing opinions on how Rank Order Lists should be created, and each person has a different experience based on personalities and professional backgrounds. For FMGs, there may be programs that are friendlier toward foreign education, but again, this should play a minimal role in your selection.

Match week is in March with Match Day falling on March 15th, so if you are in the Match as a Foreign Medical Graduate, your journey is almost complete!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Oncology

Cancer is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for about 1 in 6 of all deaths–a total of over 8.8 million people in 2015. It’s also been the subject of considerable biomedical research in recent decades, leading to significant advances in treatment and prevention options, so if you’re a foreign medical graduate, now is one of the most exciting times to train for a career in oncology in the United States. Not only will you be making a positive difference in the lives of patients struggling with the disease, but you will also have the chance to learn about the most cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and therapies used for treating the disease. Read on to learn more about the road to a career in oncology and what you need to do to pursue this specialty area of medicine.


Oncology Residency and Fellowship Training Options for Foreign Medical Graduates


As an aspiring oncology specialist looking for residency and fellowship training in the United States, there are two training paths for you to choose from. Both offer excellent training for foreign medical graduates, so you can’t go wrong either way!



  • Option 1: Internal Medicine Residency (3 years) + Oncology Fellowship (2-3 years)


The traditional route to becoming an oncology specialist is to start by completing a three-year US medical residency program in internal medicine before completing a three-year fellowship in Hematology and Oncology or (less commonly) a two-year fellowship program in Oncology. For foreign medical graduates, this can be a great option, especially since the latest data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) indicates that internal medicine is the most common residency specialty area for foreign medical graduates, accounting for about 43.9 percent of all successful matches in 2015. Spending three years studying internal medicine can also be helpful if you’re not yet sure which area of oncology you want to focus on for your career, because an internal medicine residency will give you in-depth insight into all of the different body systems that may be affected by cancer.


Although the most common fellowship option for aspiring oncology specialists in the United States is Hematology and Oncology, many institutions have also been adding more specialized programs, including some that last only a single year and are designed for physicians who have already completed both an internal medicine residency and a general oncology fellowship. Here are a few of the more specialized topics that you might pursue in a fellowship:

  • Breast Surgical Oncology
  • Cancer Anesthesia
  • Cancer Rehabilitation
  • Gynecologic Oncology
  • Head and Neck Surgical Oncology
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma / Myeloma
  • Musculoskeletal Oncology
  • Neuro-Oncology
  • Oncologic Emergency Medicine
  • Onco-Nephrology
  • Urologic Oncology


  • Option 2: Partial Internal Medicine Residency (1 year) + Full Radiation Oncology Fellowship (4 years)


An increasingly popular option, which has become available more recently, is to spend your first year in a medical residency in a generalist subject–such as internal medicine, surgery, or a related field–before advancing to a four-year residency program in radiation oncology. One of the advantages of this option is that the total training time is only five years, and you can start practicing as an oncology specialist as soon as you finish, without completing a fellowship program beforehand. However, it is important to note that you’ll have to go through the NRMP residency matching process again after the first year of your residency, which can be challenging and time-consuming, especially considering the obligations you’ll have as a first-year resident in your generalist program.


What to Expect from Oncology Residency and Fellowship Programs


Although oncology residency and fellowship programs differ in their scheduling and organization, there are certain things you generally expect from the training. After having gained a foundation of knowledge in your full or partial internal medicine residency program, you’ll have the chance to focus more specifically on oncology care, including cancer mechanisms, diagnostic imaging, treatment planning, side effect management, recurrence prevention, and even healthcare policy, among other topics. In some programs, you may have the opportunity (or be required) to conduct either basic, translational, or clinical research. With most programs, by the time you finish, you’ll be ready to achieve subspecialty certification in Medical Oncology and/or Hematology through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).


Pre-Residency Planning for a Career in Oncology


Oncology residency and fellowship programs can be highly competitive, so as a foreign medical graduate, you need to be able to show residency programs that you are a strong candidate. One way to strengthen your candidacy is to complete a graduate externship in oncology before you try to get matched. Completing a program like this can help you show an application reviewer that you are truly committed to the specialty area, and it can give you something to talk about during your residency interviews. It will also allow you to make connections with attending physicians in the United States, who may be able to write letters of recommendation to support your application.

FMG Portal offers graduate externships for foreign medical graduates in a wide range of specialty areas, including oncology. Contact us today to learn more about our programs!

Foregoing an Observership in Favor of a Clinical Externship

As a foreign medical student, an observership in the United States might sound like a great idea. After all, an observational experience in a clinical setting might have been one of the things that initially inspired you to pursue a career in medicine. When you were in secondary school or completing your undergraduate studies, just spending a short period shadowing a physician may have really made a difference when determining your decision to pursue a medical course of study. However, the situation is much different after you’ve completed medical school. As a foreign medical graduate, you have dedicated years of your life to the study of medicine in the classroom and the clinic, so it is far less likely that you will truly gain from standing by and watching other physicians work. Therefore, if you’re looking for a US experience before applying to a US medical residency program, the best approach is to forego an observership in favor of a clinical externship. Read on for more information about why.


The Differences between an Observership and a Clinical Externship


The fundamental problem with observerships is that they are just what they sound like: the chance to observe another physician go about their daily routine. But as a foreign medical graduate, you’ve probably already spent a lot of time doing just that over the course of your education—and a few more months of doing so before you apply for a US medical residency program probably won’t make a big difference. Plus, if you try to write about an observership on your personal statement when you apply, it will be harder for you to argue that the familiar experience was truly meaningful–and the program official who is evaluating your application will be able to tell.


Moreover, the observership itself can be both frustrating and disappointing for a well-trained physician like yourself. Once you’ve been classified as an observer in a clinical setting–not as a true participant–it’s easy to get sidelined by other healthcare professionals. If observership is in a high-pressure specialty area like surgery or cardiology, it’s easy to get pushed aside by an attending physician who is (rightly) more concerned about the patient’s health than about making sure you have a good view of the procedure they are performing. As a result, there’s a high risk that you’ll end up missing out on any truly meaningful learning experience you might have had, since you’ll just feel obliged to get out of the way and let the attending physician and the other healthcare professionals do their jobs.


In contrast, if you enroll in a clinical externship program, you’ll always be in on the action. A clinical externship is a truly hands-on experience, which means that you’ll have real responsibilities from Day 1. Depending on the specialty area in which you are working, some of the tasks your attending physician may assign you include:

  • Presenting patients
  • Analyzing patient histories
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Assisting with complex procedures

Put simply, a clinical externship will truly give you a taste for what you would be doing if you chose to pursue a residency in the specialty area of the attending physician with whom you are working. Later in the medical residency application process, you will be able to draw on the experience when you write your personal statement, talk about your career goals during your interviews, and decide which programs from which specialty areas you want to include on your ROL.


Establishing a Strong Relationship with the Attending Physician


Over the course of your clinical externship, your attending physician will come to rely on you to complete the tasks discussed in the previous section. Not only can this increase your knowledge of the specialty and help you cement your decision to pursue a US medical residency program in the area, but it can also enable you to develop a strong professional relationship with your attending physician. They may be able to act as a mentor as you go through the US medical residency application and matching process, and they may agree to write you a strong letter of recommendation when you decide to apply. Since many US medical residency programs require or prefer foreign medical graduates to submit at least one letter of recommendation from a US physician, this relationship can play a major role in whether or not you get matched to the program of your choice.


When you’re just doing an observership–not a clinical externship–you won’t be working quite as closely with the attending physician, so there will be less of an opportunity for true mentorship. Also, because you were only observing clinical procedures (rather than directly participating in them), the attending physician won’t be able to speak to your technical abilities when they write you a letter of recommendation. That will make for a weaker reference that will be less convincing for the program officials who read it.


A Clinical Externship Through FMG Portal

FMG Portal recognizes the value of hands-on experience for aspiring US medical residents, so we don’t offer observerships–only hands-on clinical externships for foreign medical graduates and student electives for foreign medical students. Contact us today to learn more about our high-quality programs!

Making a Good Impression Online: Tips for Foreign Medical Graduates

As a foreign medical graduate applying for US medical residency programs, there are lots of factors that play into the determination of whether or not you end up matched. Obviously, your primary application materials–like your personal statement and letters of recommendation–play a huge role, as do your scores on the USMLE tests, especially Step 1 and Step 2. However, there are also less formal aspects of your candidacy that can play into the matching process, including your online presence.


These days, it’s simply standard practice for admissions officials at US medical residency programs to google a candidate before seeking a match. With so much information available online, most admissions admissions officials consider it wasteful–or even irresponsible–not to take a quick look at a candidate’s online presence. Therefore, as you prepare to apply for US medical residency programs, you should start thinking about how you appear on your social media and professional networking accounts. Read on for some tips that can help you make a good impression when admissions officials take a look at the available online information about you.


Embracing a Professional Social Media Presence


Deciding to apply for a US medical residency program doesn’t mean you have to delete all of your social media profiles and try to disappear completely from the internet. In fact, depending on your age and the country where you earned your medical degree, it might be surprising to program officials if they see that you don’t have an account on Facebook, Instagram, or another popular platform. Applying for a US medical residency just gives you the chance to review your accounts and make sure that you are presenting a professional social media presence. Here are the main things you should do:


  • Make your social media profiles private. One of the easiest ways to maintain the professionalism of your online presence is to set all of your social media accounts to “private.” For most social media platforms, it’s easy access your profile settings and make sure that only your friends can see your personal information and posts. Medical residency program officials will recognize this as a sign that you–like so many people around the world–enjoy the opportunity to connect with others on social media, but you’re responsible enough to limit your interactions to those with people you know.
  • Choose an appropriate public profile picture. On many social media websites, anyone can see your profile picture, even before you have approved them to view your full profile. Therefore, you may want to choose a profile picture that you would not mind a program official looking at. You do not need to go out and have a professional photo taken, but it is ideal to choose a photo that generally reflects well upon you–portraying you as the serious, thoughtful, motivated, passionate, hardworking person you are. Whether it’s a photo of you from in full robes at your medical school graduation or a candid shot of you hiking with your family in a scenic area, you want to choose profile photos that you think would be perceived positively by almost anyone.
  • Beef up your LinkedIn account. If you have an account on LinkedIn (or another popular professional networking website), make sure that the information on the account is accurate and up-to-date. If you don’t regularly use the account, there’s no need to spend hours trying to improve it. You just want to make sure that the information the account is consistent with the things you list on your CV and talk about in your personal statement. If you are an active user with an extensive amount of content on your account, you may want to set aside time to go through your whole profile and in order to check for discrepancies.  


Erasing Potential Red Flags


Even if your social media accounts are set to private, it’s still a good idea to get rid of any posts or photos that could raise red flags for program officials, since you never know when they might fall into the wrong hands. Take the time to untag yourself in photos from the craziest parties you attended, or get rid of the albums altogether. You may also want to delete any potentially offensive or inflammatory statements you might have made on Twitter or other platforms. There’s nothing wrong with putting up posts in support of political or social causes–in fact, truly passionate advocacy may be viewed favorably by program officials–but it’s usually best to get rid of anything that is downright rude, mean-spirited, or include any profanity. Also, if you have out-of-date accounts on platforms that you don’t use anymore, now is a great time to get rid of them.

The bottom line is, it’s not likely that your online profile will make or break your US medical residency application, but it’s never a bad idea to take every opportunity you can to make a good impression. For more tips on how you can present yourself as an excellent foreign medical residency candidate, contact FMG Portal today!

Keeping in Touch with Your Professional Mentors


After you graduate from medical school, finish a student elective, or complete a graduate externship, it can be all too easy to lose touch with your mentors. As we discussed in our last post, a mentor can have a truly significant impact on the development of your medical career, but in today’s busy world, these relationships often start to falter as time passes. If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program in the future, it is essential to do everything you can to keep this from happening. Read on for more information on why it is so important to stay in touch with your mentors, as well as some tips on how to stay in touch for the long-term.


Top Three Reasons to Keep In Touch With Your Mentors



  • Your mentors will be the ones writing your letters of recommendation for your US medical residency program.


Different US medical residency programs have different requirements for letters of recommendation, but most require you to submit at least three. For some programs, one of these must be from an attending physician with whom you have previously worked. If you continue to cultivate a positive relationship with your mentors, they can get to know you even better, which can ultimately improve the quality of the recommendations you get. It can also be helpful to keep in touch with the dean of your medical school, who is responsible for submitting your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MPSE) to any US medical residency program to which you apply.


  • A mentor can offer valuable insight on your professional decisions and residency program options.


Sometimes, in your professional life, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads, facing a crucial question that you just can’t seem to figure out. Maybe you’re not sure whether to apply to a US medical residency program now or wait another year. Maybe you’re torn between two truly divergent specialty areas and don’t know which to focus on when deciding where to apply. At times like these, you can reach out to a previous mentor for advice– but it’s a lot easier to do so if you’ve been keeping in touch about what you’ve been doing since the last time you saw them.


  • A mentor may be able to help with your personal statement.


When you’re working on your personal statement, you’ll want all the support you can get. Even though writing your personal statement is inherently an independent project–after all, you’ll want it to be reflective of your unique characteristics–it can be helpful to bounce ideas off others and get expert editing help. If you’ve kept in touch with a mentor like your medical school dean or an attending physician with whom you’ve completed a graduate externship, you may be able to set up a meeting (in-person or on the phone) to chat about your brainstorming process or go over grammatical details of your latest draft. Because your professional mentors often have a more intimate knowledge of the US medical residency program application process than your friends and family, their advice can be especially helpful when you’re working on your personal statement.


Tips for Staying In Touch with Your Previous Mentors


It can be a challenge to figure out how best to stay in touch with the professional mentors who have truly made a difference in your medical education and career. You have to weigh the amount of contact you make: noot enough, and your relationship might falter; too much, and you might end up as an annoyance. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and successfully sustain your most valuable mentorship relationships.


  • Send a brief email update when you reach a career milestone.


The best time to send an email to a mentor is when you have something to say! When you get a new job, start a graduate externship program, or land a research fellowship, let your mentor know with a brief, polite email update. In the email, you can tell them how excited you are about the new opportunity, what it means for your career, and–perhaps most importantly–you can thank them for everything they did to help you get to where you are today.


  • Hint at your possible future plans.


After letting your mentor know where you are in your career, you may want to briefly mention your future plans. For instance, if you send an email letting them know that you just landed a one-year research fellowship, you may want to say something about how you are considering applying for a US medical residency afterward. That way, your mentor won’t be surprised when you send them an inquiry about a letter of reference in the coming months.


  • Don’t rely on social media.


Friending your mentor on Facebook or following them on Twitter does not count as staying in touch, and it can even threaten your professional relationship. When it comes to staying in touch, it’s best to stick to formal channels of communication, like email (or phone, if your mentor requests a call for a more in-depth discussion).


  • Don’t blow up your mentor’s inbox.


Most of your mentors are probably busy academic and/or clinical professionals with a wide range of professional and personal responsibilities, so they don’t need a daily update on your day-to-day achievements in order to continue to provide you with professional support and eventually write you an outstanding letter of recommendation. Make sure you aren’t sending updates too often, in order to avoid becoming a thorn in your mentor’s side!
Need more help with the US medical residency application process? FMG Portal is here to help! Contact us today for more information!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Obstetrics and Gynecology


The global conversation about the importance of women’s health is more prominent than ever before. In many countries around the world, both the medical community and the public are raising awareness about reproductive issues, embracing innovative treatment strategies, and fighting to increase access for all women. If you want to dedicate your medical career to advancing women’s health, Obstetrics and Gynecology may be the residency specialty area for you. As an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), you would have the opportunity to spend every day working to support women’s health and wellness. Read on to learn more about starting your career in this challenging, dynamic field as a foreign medical graduate.

What It Means to Be an OB/GYN

The work of an OB/GYN centers on women’s reproductive health. That means much of your practice would be associated with pregnancy care. You might be involved in helping women address fertility issues as they try to get pregnant, making sure they stay healthy throughout their pregnancy, contributing to a successful labor and delivery process, and providing post-partum reproductive care to help them recover after the baby is born. However, you should also be aware that not all of your patients will be pregnant women. As a OB/GYN, you will also be prepared to diagnose and treat hormonal conditions in women across their lifespan–from early adolescence to late menopause–even in cases where the woman has no interest in getting pregnant at all.

It is important to note that work in obstetrics and gynecology can often be much more intimate than work in other specialty areas, like surgery or anesthesiology. As an OB/GYN, you will usually develop long-term relationships with your patients, and you are called to serve as a counselor for women who are making important family planning choices that shape the rest of their lives. Therefore, if your medical interests extend beyond reproductive anatomy and physiology into the field of psychology, a job as an OB/GYN may be particularly appealing.

The Road to Becoming an OB/GYN

A residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology lasts for four years. Over the course of a program, you will have the opportunity to gain extensive experience in every aspect of women’s health. In some programs, you may also have the opportunity to focus your work in a particular subspecialty area of interest, such as reproductive endocrinology, infertility, urogynecology, maternal fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology, or pediatric gynecology. Some programs also offer basic, translational, or clinical research opportunities in these and other women’s health-related topics.

Alternatively, if you are particularly interested in the genetic components of women’s reproductive health, you may start your residency in an OB/GYN residency program and complete it in Medical Genetics residency program. As genetic counseling becomes an increasingly prominent field, more US-based programs are offering this as an option for residents. In order to fulfill the requirements for a Medical Genetics residency, you would spend your first two years in an OB/GYN program and the remaining two years in a Medical Genetics program. This is an ideal track for foreign medical graduates who are particularly interested in research and/or practice related to the genetic aspects of family planning and female reproductive health.

Getting Matched to a Residency Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Given the nature of the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, you might automatically assume that you can only get matched to a residency program if you’re female. However, that may not be the case! While it is true that most residents who match to OB/GYN programs are female–about 82 percent, according to a 2017 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists–it’s largely because so few men apply. In fact, according to recent reporting from National Public Radio, some residency programs actually look for passionate, dedicated male applicants who are ready to make a contribution to the field. Having a male OB/GYN on staff gives female patients more options–and increasing patient choice is a major goal in women’s healthcare today.

Regardless of your gender, one of the ways you can show a residency program that you are ready to take on a challenging career as an OB/GYN is by completing a graduate externship in the field. As a foreign medical graduate, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with women’s reproductive healthcare in the United States before you apply for your residency. Not only can the experience add weight to the enthusiasm you express in your personal statement and your interviews, but it can also help you start building a network of connections in the field, including potential reference letter-writers.
No matter what specialty area you plan to pursue, FMG Portal is here to help you get matched to the US medical residency program of your dreams! Contact us today for more information!