03-19-2008, 04:31 PM
I am a 2007 american medical school graduate who has had problems with usmle exams. (I took step 1 three times and step 2 three times) In addition to poor test taking skills, i had a number of personal issues such as deaths in my family and illness of family members. Last year I did not match into an internal medicine residency program because i did not have a passing step 2 score at the time of the match. I am currently scrambling for a position in im or family medicine or obgyn(prelim). So far i have been told that programs do not consider applicants with multiple attempts on board exams. I have good letters of recommendation which speak of my strong clinical skills, and research experience with a pending publication. I feel stuck.. and wonder if I will ever have a chance or should I try to switch career. Currently I am working on a research project in chf as a volunteer.
Any advice would be appreciated.
03-20-2008, 12:23 AM
sorry i'm not contributing much - just a premed studying for my MCAT.
I just wanted to say that I'm so surprised. I had no idea that someone could finish medical school and still not get into a residency. I thought that you would at least get into "something". Yes, you didn't have a passing step 2 at that time, but what if you eventually do? is there a chance of still not getting into any residency at all even if you have all the minimum requirements completed?
this whole process is just so discouraging :(
i wish you the very best of luck:luck:
03-20-2008, 08:46 AM
Before anything else, I'd like to note that I'm a pre-med student and right now I'm trying to help in the best way I possibly can. I hope med students and interns will be replying soon.
I don't think you should give it up just yet. You have good recommendation letters and I'm sure that will make you get noticed. You have to emphasize though that the reason why you had to retake the exams is because of personal issues you can't help but get very much affected about: deaths and illnesses of loved-ones and all that. (Condolences.) Keep trying and asking for help from people who know your strong capabilities. Try to make connections to people who may help. Maybe talking to your med school professors, advisers, etc. will help.
Don't give up. Be persistent and perseverant. That will make them notice you and consider you. This is a challenge for you. I may not know you personally but I do know you can get through this because you won't be experiencing this in the first place if you couldn't. Stay strong.
Good luck and I sincerely wish you the very best. :thumbup: :)
03-22-2008, 01:08 PM
Requiring 3 attempts at each step is going to be a big red flag for programs. Although you mention personal issues as part of the cause for your problems, that's simply unlikely to hold up under scrutiny -- it might explain why someone would fail once, but it appears you failed 4 times.
The common explanation for this is "poor standardized test taker". I'm not sure I believe this -- presumably you had to take the MCAT's to get into medical school, and the SAT's to get into college. If you did well enough on those to succeed to medical school, it suggests that 1) your test taking problem is new, or 2) it's not a test taking problem and instead is a medical knowledge issue, or 3) You haven't told us the whole story.
From a practical standpoint, programs will be wary to take you as we are all measured by how well our graduates do on the board exams. If you're struggling with the USMLE's, you're likely to struggle with that also.
I am not surprised that scramble programs won't consider your application. The scramble happens very quickly, and your application isn't a quick read.
First, you need to decide what you want to do. You've applied all over the place, which may increase your chances of getting a spot but may not help you in the long run.
If IM/FP is what you're looking for, then you will need to apply very broadly. You can't afford to be limited by geography. A prelim IM year can be transitioned to a PGY-2 IM spot, and ? if you can get credit in an FP program for it also. FP is less competitive than IM, and so that might be your best long term option.
03-22-2008, 02:34 PM
Very sorry to hear your difficulties. The road can be difficult and wrought with pitfalls and disappoinments. Taking your USMLE this many times tells me something about you and that is that you don't give up easily. Sorry to hear of your family losses.
A few thoughts:
1. Prelim years are ripe for the picking (ie surgery > 30% unmatched for prelim years). Getting one year under your belt opens up a lot of doors. In my state if you complete any intern year and pass USMLE 3 (no limit to attemps) you can be licensed. Now GP's are uncommon practitioners these days but there are things you can do such as disability or work comp work even urgent care. You can make very good salary in these areas (>150 K). I'm sure that there are many other areas that need a licended physician for various reasons but don't need a board certified physician.
2. Teaching at undergrad science level such as physiology or pathophys (you are an MD afterall). I've heard there are jobs/positions which require MD but not necessarily licensed physicians. Ask around.
3. Fam Med has many spots open nation wide on a regular basis you justr have to find a way to make your case. See post above for the way prog dir's think. You can't blame them everyone wants to give someone a chance but no prog dir wants to give a spot to someone who will not make it through the program but if as you state your rotation evals are good then this shouldnt be a problem for you. I would be concerned about your ability to pass your boards at the end of your residency however. The prog dir will be concerned about this but not as concerned as he would be about losing a resident in the middle of training as this is very disruptive to the program/other residents etc. I think if you make the case that you are absolutley determined to finish your training in that specific program and that comes accross strongly you might be heard. Good luck ;)
03-23-2008, 06:26 PM
From the OP
thank you for your advice. I will give you some background about myself. I received a 4 year full scholarship to my undergrad because i had really good grades in high school in spite of just above average SATs. To get into medical school was not easy for me. I took the MCAT many times and earned around the same score each time and was accepted after performing well in a masters of biological sciences program. ( My major in undergrad was not science but my minor was.) I have spent time with a test taking expert regarding my performance on the usmles. I have been told by this person that my medical knowledge is not lacking and that I need to stop second guessing myself and to stop reading too much into the test questions. (Standardized testing difficulties are not new for me)
Attendings that I have worked with on the wards have written in my letters of recommendations and clerkship evals that i have "a good fund of knowledge" In addition to these testing issues, i have dealt with my mom getting sick and deaths in my family which have distracted me.
I wish i could change the past. I am trying to improve/correct my testing mistakes so that i can be successful with step 3 on the first attempt.
thank you for your kind words and advice. you're right i'm not a quitter. i was feeling especially discouraged when i wrote the initial post. i have decided to look all over the country for an im or fp position. i realize that i really have to sell myself and convince programs than i'm more than just a bunch of bad test scores, that i can perform on the wards, and that i am determined to be succesful on the im or fp boards.
03-23-2008, 07:18 PM
I agree that passing Step 3 on your first try would make a positive impression.
Part of your problem is statistics. Those that take the USMLE's (everyone accepted into medical school) are going to be "smarter" / better test takers / score better than those that take the MCATs (everyone applying to medical school). Hence, your scores on the MCAT could be average or just below average, and then your USMLE's are worse.
It sounds like you have a handle on the issue. Good luck.