conair

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Dec 7, 2008
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Step 1 194/79 – first attempt
Step 2 CK 191/78 – second attempt
Step 2 CS Passed – third attempt
Non- US Citizen (need J1 Visa)
ECFMG Certified
Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree

Programs Applied to:
I.M - 72
F.M – 40
ObGyn – 31
Peds - 38

I graduated from the Caribbean (SGU). My parents indebted themselves in loans to send me to medical school hoping I’ll pay them off when I graduate. Unfortunately things didn’t go well during my medical studies. First I lost my father. I had to go back home in the middle of a semester to spend some time with the family. After a couple of weeks I returned to the Caribbean to resume my studies. This was a very difficult time of my life as I was very close to my father. My performance in school was starting to get affected by this situation. One year after my father passed away, my brother also passed. Again, I had to go home in the middle of a semester. While I was at home I started considering quitting medical school and going for a lighter and shorter career. I felt that my medical school performance was not reflecting my potential, and that I have to help my mother through the financial problems she was facing. After a careful consideration of this situation, my mother and I decided that I go back to medical school as is a career I have always wanted. After such a difficult time, I was able to finish my basic sciences and take step 1. Even though the score was rather low, I became more hopeful because it was my first attempt. My clinical rotations were fairly stable, and for the first time during my studies I enjoyed a career that I love. I worked very hard during my rotations to boost my overall GPA. I was also able to get good letters of recommendation from the Attending Physicians I worked with. During my 4th year, things took another down-turn, my other brother was diagnosed with cancer. This was around the time I was preparing for Step 2 CK and CS. This put me under a lot of pressure. I wanted to take the exams and participate in the match so that I can start helping at home when I begin residency. I decided to sit the two exams then go home afterward to see my brother for the last time.
Unfortunately I failed both the exams. I re-took the exams and passed CK on the 2nd attempt and CS on the 3rd attempt and eventually I graduated from medical school.

I have learned during medical school that each time I pushed hard enough, a door opened up somewhere. At this time I think I have pushed so hard for residency, but I still have not been offered any interview at this time. This really hurts me, especially when I consider what I went through and how much I had to sacrifice. All my friends are now in residency – people I studied and hung out with. I know my chances are very low, but I’m not ready to give up. I need residency to get on with my life and also help my mother. Can someone please help/advice me what I should do?

Thank you
 

Winged Scapula

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A couple of questions to help clarify your situation:

1) how long ago did you graduate from medical school?

2) do you realize that there are some states that will not license you based on the number of attempts it has taken you to pass Steps 1 and 2? And if so, are you only applyig to states without or with more generous limits?

3) how much do you dwell on your losses in your PS? If it is as much as you've described in the post above, it may be too much.

4) are you sure your letters, including the Dean's letter are supportive?
 

Saipan

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I'm confused. Are you from the Carribbean? If not, why did you choose to go to school there rather than the US or your native country?

Is this post really about you pursuing medicine (in which case do residency in another country) or are you just pususing a US visa (in which case Nursing will get you a visa).

If you just want a visa, you should have considered alternatives before this time. Any foreign student, especially one not studying in their home country, should have a well-thought out back-up plan BEFORE they start paying medical school tuition.

I really can't think of any good advice. You've left it a little late.
 
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bluealiendoctor

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Hello friend. Unfortunately, there is very little sympathy when it comes to getting a residency. Many programs simply look at numbers..which often can be understandable as combing through thousands of applications is just to arduous. This is why the quiet, shy, and completely socially disfunctional test master will get an interview before the globe tracking, outgoing intellectual test passer. However, there are programs out there that well, let's face it...practically beg to fill their spots. With your Step 2CK,CS trouble...you should've dumped all your peds applicationss and filled them with more FM...and I mean those programs that are mostly filled by FMG's. Peds is no walk in the park to get into anymore. Your solution at this time would be to find those underserved programs and even have one of your LOR writers make a call if willing. I do wish you the best and hope you find a solution.
 

conair

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Dec 7, 2008
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Post Doc
A couple of questions to help clarify your situation:

1) how long ago did you graduate from medical school?

2) do you realize that there are some states that will not license you based on the number of attempts it has taken you to pass Steps 1 and 2? And if so, are you only applyig to states without or with more generous limits?

3) how much do you dwell on your losses in your PS? If it is as much as you've described in the post above, it may be too much.

4) are you sure your letters, including the Dean's letter are supportive?
Winged Scapula,

1) I graduated from medical school in May 2008.

2) Thank you for alerting me on this point. I didn't know there are states that'll not license me based on the number of step attempts. In other words I threw the net across the entire country. I guess this was my first mistake.

3) I dont think I dwelt too much on my losses. It's only 4 lines of the entire personal statement. It's only here in the forum where I wanted to provide readers with more insight as to how I gotto where I amnow.

4) My LORs and DL are decent. I interviewed at only one program last year,and the Attending Physicians that interviewed me where impressed with the LORs. I also compared them with my friend's LORs which I thought were good.

Thank you
 
Last edited:

conair

10+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2008
5
0
Status
Post Doc
I'm confused. Are you from the Carribbean? If not, why did you choose to go to school there rather than the US or your native country?

Is this post really about you pursuing medicine (in which case do residency in another country) or are you just pususing a US visa (in which case Nursing will get you a visa).

If you just want a visa, you should have considered alternatives before this time. Any foreign student, especially one not studying in their home country, should have a well-thought out back-up plan BEFORE they start paying medical school tuition.

I really can't think of any good advice. You've left it a little late.
Saipan,

I'm from Africa, and I didn't do my undergrad in the U.S. Since I wanted U.S residency, the only schools I could go to at the time were Caribbean med schools.

I'm not in pursuit of a US visa, i'm in pursuit of a career/residency.

Thank you
 

conair

10+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2008
5
0
Status
Post Doc
Hello friend. Unfortunately, there is very little sympathy when it comes to getting a residency. Many programs simply look at numbers..which often can be understandable as combing through thousands of applications is just to arduous. This is why the quiet, shy, and completely socially disfunctional test master will get an interview before the globe tracking, outgoing intellectual test passer. However, there are programs out there that well, let's face it...practically beg to fill their spots. With your Step 2CK,CS trouble...you should've dumped all your peds applicationss and filled them with more FM...and I mean those programs that are mostly filled by FMG's. Peds is no walk in the park to get into anymore. Your solution at this time would be to find those underserved programs and even have one of your LOR writers make a call if willing. I do wish you the best and hope you find a solution.
bluealiendoctor,

I understand there's no sympathy when comes to getting residency. Thats why my P.S only has 4 lines talking about my losses. I just thought since I was seeking advice it might be helpful to give readers a better insight of how I got to where I am now.

I will work on getting one of my LOR writers or Dean to make a call for me.

Thank you for your help
 

conair

10+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2008
5
0
Status
Post Doc
Sorry to hear about your family situation and while I understand what happened I have to tell you you are not in the best position. Non-US Graduates who apply to residency often times have 99's on both steps and struggle to get interviews. You have very low numbers, and multiple failures. Do you have any research or anything else on your CV that would help you standout. If not, my advice would be to get ready for the scramble and try to find a FM program desperate for a resident.

wagy27,

I only have MPH and I don't know if it's adding any weight to my CV . I also think my application is screened out early on during the process because of low numbers.

Thank you
 

Winged Scapula

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Winged Scapula,

1) I graduated from medical school in May 2008.
Good...you are a recent grad, so that is a plus for you.

2) Thank you for alerting me on this point. I didn't know there are states that'll not license me based on the number of step attempts. In other words I threw the net across the entire country. I guess this was my first mistake.
Here is the link from the Federation of State Medical Boards: http://www.fsmb.org/usmle_eliinitial.html which will tell you which states have restrictions and what they are. Illinois for example only allows a total of 5 attempts at all exams combined (including Step 3).

3) I dont think I dwelt too much on my losses. It's only 4 lines of the entire personal statement. It's only here in the forum where I wanted to provide readers with more insight as to how I gotto where I amnow.
Understandable.

4) My LORs and DL are decent. I interviewed at only one program last year,and the Attending Physicians that interviewed me where impressed with the LORs. I also compared them with my friend's LORs which I thought were good.

Thank you
So you have read your LORs? Did you waive the right to see them? If not, this can hurt you.

Otherwise, I agree with the poster above that Peds is more competitive than the other specialties. In addition, with scores less than 99 on the USMLEs and multiple attempts and no US citizenship, you are fighting a MAJOR uphill battle.
 

dragonfly99

10+ Year Member
May 15, 2008
5,092
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Status
Attending Physician
Good post.
Sorry to hear about your troubles. I think this shows where taking the risk on a Caribbean school might not be the greatest idea for those not from the US or Canada.

If you just want to practice medicine, maybe you need to explore other countries' residencies. How about your home country, or somewhere else in Africa? I heard that S. Africa has a lot of residents from other African countries. Also maybe you could pursue something in Australia...I don't know but heard they are looking for folks under 30, and that some of the more rural areas/residencies might be looking for folks. Of course going to another country also entails probably taking more exams to get in, but at least you'd have a "clean slate" so to speak.

If you just want to be in the US, you could look for a job doing medical research. The pay is not really high, though, and it wouldn't necessarily help you get a residency.

Agree with the above recommendations to:
-avoid states that require passing USMLE in a small number of attempts in order to get a license
-avoid pediatrics and OB/Gyn and focus on family practice and internal medicine
-I think it's critical to try and get your med school dean and/or LOR writers to help you out here. Someone needs to go to bat for you, or your application is never going to get read. You are getting screened out based on your USMLE scores.
-You can try getting a spot in the "scramble" next spring. there are open spots every year, but it's a total free-for-all. You will need the help of St George probably to fax all the stuff around to different places all in one day, maybe make phone calls on your behalf. It's in their interest that you get a residency spot, so really they should be willing to go all out for you.
 
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