Preparing for a U.S. Medical Residency Interview

Although many U.S. allopathic seniors have a chance to complete mock interviews at their medical schools, some foreign medical graduates may not be fully prepared for the interview process. Completing all the required medical exams and meeting the basic requirements for acceptance is an important first step. However, it does not guarantee admission. Candidates must also impress the interviewer. In this article, we’ll outline how foreign medical graduates can prepare themselves for a successful interview.

Review your own background

Interviewers often ask questions about a graduate’s past experiences. While many graduates can talk confidently about past experiences, reviewing them prior to the interview can be helpful. Perhaps you had forgotten about that volunteer experience you completed three years ago. Reviewing your background can bring more memories to the surface. Then you will be prepared when the interviewer asks a question about your experience.

Research your chosen specialty

At a U.S. medical residency, you will be interviewing for a particular specialty. Having extensive knowledge of this specialty is likely to impress the interviewer. To prepare, keep up to date on the latest developments in your selected specialty. You can subscribe to journals on the specialty or even just set up a Google Alert to send you notifications of new developments. Interviewers may ask your opinion on major issues facing the specialty and this research will help you provide a valuable response.

Research your chosen program

Interviewers will likely ask why you chose the specific school program. Knowledge about the program will help you develop a good answer. For example, the program may be ranked highly. This is a somewhat generic answer, however, and greater specificity will reveal how much you researched the program. A more specific answer would be because you want to work with a specific doctor who is an expert in a procedure that you would like to learn. The second answer, which demonstrates how much research you did, is more likely to impress an interviewer.

Matching with a U.S. medical residency requires more than a stellar resume and high scores on the ECFMG examinations. While the resume and exam scores will get you in the door, you will also have to impress the interviewers. Being knowledgeable about your own experience, your chosen specialty and the interviewing program itself is likely to impress interviewers. When it comes time for the medical residency to rank possible candidates for the match, you want them to rank you toward the top.

Three Benefits of U.S. Clinical Externships for Foreign Medical Graduates

Clinical externships allow foreign medical students to test their skills at U.S. medical institutions. In a clinical externship, a foreign medical graduate (FMG) is placed with an attending at a U.S. institution. Depending on the length of the externship, FMGs may have the chance to learn from multiple attendings in different specialties. Not only is this an excellent learning opportunity, FMGs that complete clinical externships are more likely to match with a U.S. medical residency. They have more of the tools necessary to successfully interview and match.

Meet Requirements for U.S. Medical Residencies

Many U.S. residency programs require time spent working in the U.S. This is an easy requirement for U.S. allopathic seniors, who can complete clinical studies at their medical schools or neighboring institutions. Foreign medical graduates, however, must relocate to the U.S. for an extended period of time to meet these requirements. Unfortunately, every U.S. medical residency has a different requirement for the amount of U.S. clinical experience. While a 3 month externship may be enough for one program, it’s not enough for another. FMGs should review the requirements of their preferred medical residency program to determine the length of externship that is required.

Receive Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation from U.S. doctors are a great tool for foreign medical graduates during the interviewing process. The interviewing program is likely to trust known U.S. doctors more than unknown foreign doctors recommending a graduate for a program. For some schools, it is a requirement that faculty member write a letter of recommendation for a foreign medical graduate. It would not be possible for a FMG to match with this type of school unless they completed a externship with a faculty member or knew a faculty member through other means.

Learn U.S. Terminology and Common Ailments

Externships also prepare FMGs for the U.S. testing required to match with a medical residency. There is a clinical section to the exam. A foreign medical graduate who has already spent time working in a U.S. institution will not be surprised by any differences in protocol. They already learned the basics at an externship. The skills gained at the externship can immediate translate to the exam. FMGs who complete externships will also become more familiar with common U.S. ailments, which are more likely to appear on the clinical exam.

Clinical externships are not only beneficial for FMGs, but, in many cases, they are a requirement for matching with a U.S. medical residency. Selecting the right externship can make the difference between matching with a U.S. medical residency or not being able to do so.