Wayfaring MD

I am a family medicine resident who likes to highlight the hilarious in medicine as I write about patients, medical school, residency, medical missions, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

HIPAA is for reals, folks. All of my "patient stories" have been changed to protect patient privacy. I will change any or all identifiers, including age, location, race/ethnicity, sex, medical history, and quotes. Also, I am an anonymous internet person. Why should you trust an anonymous internet person to give you medical advice? Don't ask me, ask your doctor!
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Hey, so I’m in med school right now. However, it’s getting to that point where I have to take my Step 1s and start thinking about residency. How hard is the process overall? Is it as stressful, difficult, and overcomplicated as all the people on the forums make it out to be? As a side note, I am in a foreign medical school right now, and I’m hoping to get back to the States as… something. We’ll see when I get to clinicals. - tinypasserine

The residency application process is no more painful or difficult than the med school application process. Actually, it may be a little easier.

The AAFP has a pretty decent Timeline/Checklist thingy to help you organize and plan your application process.  

I think it probably is a little more complex for foreign medical grads, but since I went to school in the US, I don’t know all the ins and outs of that process. I would check out ERAS’s page for IMGs for that info.

Also, disregard Student Doctor Network. For everything. Go with the TOADs. We will not steer you wrong. 

Are you in the end of your second year? Because that’s probably a little early to be thinking seriously about residency. But here’s what you can do at this point:

1. If you’re already really sure what specialty you’re interested in, start scoping out some programs online during your third year. If you’re super anal, make a chart comparing them all. That way you can figure out early if there are any you might be interested in doing away rotations at during your 4th year. 

2. Befriend your attendings as a third year. You will need letters of recommendation, so you need to try to form good relationships with a few attendings, especially ones in the field you’re interested in. I had letters from my school’s FM dept head and our Dean over the whole med school (who was also a family doc), as well as a community doc I had rotated with for several months and had a great relationship with. Almost every interviewer I had mentioned how good the letters were. An attending can’t write a great letter if they don’t know you well.  

3. Do away rotations at your top 2 or 3 programs. As mentioned previously, IMGs can have a harder time matching, especially in competitive specialties, and usually have to apply to many more programs than US grads do. So as an IMG, an away rotation can act as an “extended interview”. It can really help your application a ton if the program likes you.

4. Get done with Step 2 as early as possible in your 4th year. Don’t put it off because you will get dumber as your fourth year progresses. 

5. Find out which recent graduates from your school went into the field you’re interested in, and solicit their words of wisdom. Also find out about the programs they matched at and interviewed at, which ones they liked and hated. That’s a great place to start when you have no clue. Most recent grads are willing to help out folks from their alma mater, unless they’re surgeons total jerks. 

  1. cranquis said: TOADS ftw!
  2. followmekanye reblogged this from wayfaringmd and added:
    for my future use
  3. e-coli0157 reblogged this from wayfaringmd and added:
    Wow, thank you so much for the detailed reply! I honestly wasn’t expecting such a helpful and informative answer to such...
  4. nothelpingrightnow said: Uh, what? Time to take step 1 AND think about residency? Hmm…yeah no, I’m just gonna focus on step 1 for now, and think about residency NEXT year.
  5. le-bruit-noire said: Just be aware as an IMG… you pretty much have to be a standard deviation better than the American status quo. If a 220 is fine in the US, get a 240 for the same consideration.
  6. daytoday21 reblogged this from wayfaringmd
  7. wayfaringmd posted this