Eye Love

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Hi,

Im and IMG and interested in ophthalmology. With a step 1 of 205, will be taking step 2 soon.

Does anyone know what are my chances of matching?

I am going to apply this year for a PGY 1 position, does anyone know what would be better IM or surgery?

What are things that I can do to strengthen my application for next years ophthy match?

Thanks
 

indytx

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Hi,

Im and IMG and interested in ophthalmology. With a step 1 of 205, will be taking step 2 soon.

Does anyone know what are my chances of matching?

I am going to apply this year for a PGY 1 position, does anyone know what would be better IM or surgery?

What are things that I can do to strengthen my application for next years ophthy match?

Thanks
Hi friend,

Sorry to say, but you're going to have a difficult time matching at a US ophthalmology program. You should search the forums for the many threads on this topic, but in addition to that, the average Step I score for ophtho is right around 230.

The (very few) IMGs who match into US programs have typically either completed ophthalmology residency/fellowship in their home country already and have practiced for a few years, or have done extensive research in the US with many publications before applying. Many of them have done both. Part of it also depends on which country you graduated from.

Besides your IMG status, I think your Step I score will be an issue. If you still feel like giving it a shot by applying, you should take Step II and try to get over 250. In the next year get involved in research and try to publish.

Like I said, search the forums for more info - this is a pretty well discussed topic on here. Good luck to you.
 

ophthoapplicant

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I think there are no hard and fast rules as to who programs want and don't want. I've heard that IMG's and DO students have zero chance at certain top-ranked programs, but otherwise, you have a chance at many.

Things that would be important if you wanted to match:
1. Get your Step 2 up there. Maybe not 250, though 250 would obviously be great. If you could get 235 or above that should get you past the quick boards screens that some programs have, considering your step 1.

2. Do aways. Do an away at a specific program you like. Being known and liked by a program will usually make them overlook any part of your app that might worry you, including your step 1 or IMG status, at least in terms of securing an interview. Most programs will give an interview spot to visiting students.

3. Stand out. ie publish, work with a known ophthalmologist in your country, have great recs.

Overall, if you are a smart, likable person, who can prove dedication to ophthalmology, that is what programs look for. Notice nothing in that last sentence mentions boards scores, or IMG status. Get past the initial screens and have a program like you and that should give anyone a good shot of matching.
 
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indytx

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Here are the match stats for this past year:

http://www.sfmatch.org/residency/ophthalmology/about_match/match_report.pdf

When I applied, one of my deans painted a glowing picture of my potential in the ophtho match. It was nice to hear that and to see everything through those rose colored glasses, but what was much more useful was our program director's more realistic assessment of my chances at certain programs. I think it's very important to be realistic when you're getting ready to spend so much time, effort, and money applying for residency, particularly as an IMG. Again, don't take my word for it...search the forum and you'll find plenty of firsthand accounts about the experience of IMGs in the match.
 

indytx

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By the way, you should know that at the bottom right corner of the match stats, where it seems to say that 6% of IMG's matched, that's not what it means. It means that of the 449 people who matched, 6% of them were IMG's. In other words, 6% of 449, or 26.94 IMGs matched. (25 according to the stat a few lines above). Since you don't know how many total IMGs applied, you can't really derive a match rate for IMG's.
 

DOapplicant

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I think there are no hard and fast rules as to who programs want and don't want. I've heard that IMG's and DO students have zero chance at certain top-ranked programs, but otherwise, you have a chance at many. QUOTE]

Overall, I think your advise is great! I also think it's important to have a positive outlook on things.

However, I disagree that there are no hard and fast rules.

I contacted as many programs as I could, just a couple of months ago. There were many programs, including middle-tiered programs, that openly told me that they are not willing to consider D.O. students for their residency programs.

I do agree that both IMGs and DOs can match - there are, however, MANY doors that are already closed.
 

Eye Love

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To Indytx,

Thanks for your honest opinion. Yes I know that my step 1 score is not competitive and I didnt apply this year because of that and the fact that I didnt have a step 2 score.

Ill be applying for the nrmp match this year and I wanted to know what would be better to take as a prelim year, IM or surgery? My best bet is to get into a program that has a optho dept and try and get research or contacts that way.

I have been trying to get research and will continue to try..any tips on where or how to get research?

Im from India to answer you question and no ive not done ophtho residency back in india.

Thanks for your advice
Eye
 

Eye Love

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To Ophthoapplicant,

Thanks for the advice, it was very encouraging.

In it though you mentioned aways, what exactly are aways?

For the past few months ive been looking for research, and im still looking. Do you know where I could look and get lucky or do you have any tips on getting research?

Right now the only thing I think I can do is apply for a prelim year in either surgery or IM and take rotations in ophtho and get in touch with the department, try to find research or make contacts in that way.

What do you think is better a prelim year in surgery or IM?

Thanks again, im going to go for it .

Eye
 

ophthoapplicant

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Eyelove,

If you were planning on doing a PGY-1 here in the states, I'd consider a transitional year. The reason I say this is because IM and Surgery PGY-1's both offer excellent training, but not much elective time. You'll be putting in 80+ hour weeks. While being able to handle that workload should impress programs, it might hinder you from being able to rotate at local ophtho programs, from having time/energy from publishing (if that's what you wanted to do). Some PGY-1 years are so rigorous schedule-wise that even leaving for a few ophtho interviews might be challenging.

Just a thought. I'd also consider, since you're a foreign medical grad, a month or more observership at several ophthalmology programs. Be prepared to impress. If you were worried about scores, I'd make sure to have at least one observership at a smaller, less well-known place.

Good luck!
 

ophthoapplicant

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Eyelove,

As for research, here's what I'd do:

1. Figure out which program or area of the US you'd like to end up in.

2. There are only 116 residency programs. You can find out which states/cities have which programs on AMA's Freida website (google it).

3. Most medical schools that are associated with residency programs offer away electives for visiting medical students. In your case I guess it would be a visiting intern. Each school (google the specific school and "visiting medical student") has a page for students who want to rotate through their school. They usually have an elective book viewable online or the electives viewable online. Go to ophthalmology. There should be a "research experience" elective. Contact the person on that form and go from there.

Hope this helps- good luck!
 

indytx

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there are a few downsides to doing a transitional year internship instead of a prelim medicine or surgery internship.

first let's assume you get into a transitional year internship (which are more competitive for the reason that they usually, but not always, offer more elective time). now let's say that for whatever reason, when you apply for ophtho next fall, the outcome is that you don't match. you'll be finishing up your transitional year internship in spring 2009, but that's only a one-year program which you can't extend. what will you do the following year (2009-10)...research? well, most transitional year programs are at community hospitals that don't have academic ophthalmology programs for you to do research at. so, you'll have to look for research programs on your own, places that are willing to PAY you for your year of research. it's pretty tough to land a paid research fellowship at a well-known place that's going to pay you. it's do-able, but fairly tough. especially if they know you only plan to stay for a year...by the time they train you and you get to the point that you can really make a contribution to the lab, you'll want to leave...what's in it for them?

now say instead you do a prelim medicine year. let's again assume you don't match into ophtho in spring 2009, unfortunately. well, in spring 2009, you can go to your prelim med/surg program director and say, "look i didn't match, but i'd like to stay on for an extra year or two and finish my medicine residency", and you can re-apply for ophtho after that. typically this is possible, from what i've heard from several friends that have been in your exact situation. so, you reapply during your 2nd yr of medicine residency. and if you still don't make it, you can do your 3rd yr of medicine and reassess...perhaps by that point you'll decide you want to be a rich cardiologist or gastroenterologist instead, who knows...or maybe you'll decide to reapply for ophtho again. many people do an internal medicine residency in the US before applying for the specialty they ultimately end up practicing (ophtho, derm, etc). additionally, the training you get in a medicine residency will be valuable to you later in your career if you eventually end up becoming an ophthalmologist.

in internal medicine residency programs, as opposed to transitional programs, there is a higher chance of affiliation with a university where you can get your research going and get to know the ophtho faculty while you are in your internship year. true, prelim medicine programs generally have less elective time, but there several that offer plenty of elective time, especially if you're willing to go to smaller cities. PM me and i can tell you about the internship program i'm at right now (no ophtho program at this university, but there are 2 of them fairly close by).

so bottom line: i'd say apply to prelim medicine programs (or surgery if you're a real sadist or have some interest in it) at university hospitals where there is an ophtho department that is known to have good research and frequent publications. this will take a bunch of homework on your part, but i think it'll be most sensible in your particular situation, where matching even next yr can't be guaranteed. again, just my opinion, but someone needs to tell it to you straight so you can make an informed decision.

indy
 

ophthoapplicant

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Indytx,

That's an excellent point I hadn't thought of regarding transitional year programs. No continuity for PGY-2 in case you don't match ophtho.

I agree then definitely IM over surgery. Definitely.
 

indytx

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also, if you're having trouble finding research, i'd start at home in india. you have a wealth of fantastic world-renowned eye institutes there - AIIMS in delhi, LV Prasad in hyderabad, Sankara Eye in coimbatore, Aravind in chennai and elsewhere in TN...start doing a research observership there, and use your contacts through those institutes to make contacts at research places here...often the research faculty at those programs will have collaborations already with research faculty here. i recently worked at LVP and the quality of research there is astounding. in fact, i think the Asia ARVO symposium this summer was held right there in hyderabad.
 
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papilledema

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Quite true.. I think its makes a lot of sense to do a Prelim Medicine year. I have noticed that some Prelim programs, like the one I am currently in, tend to have a disproportionately high number of Prelim/Transitional candidates going into Ophtho.. I believe the reason is because Ophtho is an early match, candidates have the opportunity to inform their desired Prelim/Transitional program about the match and this probably pushes them up the Program's rank list. What I am trying to say is that for the same reason, some programs may expect to hear from you about your successful Ophtho match (especially since you are an IMG) before they rank you to match..otherwise, it probably will be relatively more difficult to land a stand-alone Prelim/Transitional year without having matched into Ophtho.

there are a few downsides to doing a transitional year internship instead of a prelim medicine or surgery internship.

first let's assume you get into a transitional year internship (which are more competitive for the reason that they usually, but not always, offer more elective time). now let's say that for whatever reason, when you apply for ophtho next fall, the outcome is that you don't match. you'll be finishing up your transitional year internship in spring 2009, but that's only a one-year program which you can't extend. what will you do the following year (2009-10)...research? well, most transitional year programs are at community hospitals that don't have academic ophthalmology programs for you to do research at. so, you'll have to look for research programs on your own, places that are willing to PAY you for your year of research. it's pretty tough to land a paid research fellowship at a well-known place that's going to pay you. it's do-able, but fairly tough. especially if they know you only plan to stay for a year...by the time they train you and you get to the point that you can really make a contribution to the lab, you'll want to leave...what's in it for them?

now say instead you do a prelim medicine year. let's again assume you don't match into ophtho in spring 2009, unfortunately. well, in spring 2009, you can go to your prelim med/surg program director and say, "look i didn't match, but i'd like to stay on for an extra year or two and finish my medicine residency", and you can re-apply for ophtho after that. typically this is possible, from what i've heard from several friends that have been in your exact situation. so, you reapply during your 2nd yr of medicine residency. and if you still don't make it, you can do your 3rd yr of medicine and reassess...perhaps by that point you'll decide you want to be a rich cardiologist or gastroenterologist instead, who knows...or maybe you'll decide to reapply for ophtho again. many people do an internal medicine residency in the US before applying for the specialty they ultimately end up practicing (ophtho, derm, etc). additionally, the training you get in a medicine residency will be valuable to you later in your career if you eventually end up becoming an ophthalmologist.

in internal medicine residency programs, as opposed to transitional programs, there is a higher chance of affiliation with a university where you can get your research going and get to know the ophtho faculty while you are in your internship year. true, prelim medicine programs generally have less elective time, but there several that offer plenty of elective time, especially if you're willing to go to smaller cities. PM me and i can tell you about the internship program i'm at right now (no ophtho program at this university, but there are 2 of them fairly close by).

so bottom line: i'd say apply to prelim medicine programs (or surgery if you're a real sadist or have some interest in it) at university hospitals where there is an ophtho department that is known to have good research and frequent publications. this will take a bunch of homework on your part, but i think it'll be most sensible in your particular situation, where matching even next yr can't be guaranteed. again, just my opinion, but someone needs to tell it to you straight so you can make an informed decision.

indy
 

MedEye

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In general, it's very hard for IMGs to match to prelem medicine spots as they are usually filled by US grads going into different specialties (ophtho, derm, neuro,...etc), plus the reason mentioned in the above post.

To be on the safe side, I'd apply for both prelem and categorical medicine, just in case you decided to finish a 3-year internal medicine residency, which is something done quite often among IMGs who are unsuccessful matching to a competitive specialty. The first time I applied to ophtho, I applied to categorical internal medicine at the same time and matched there! It wasn't until 5 years later that I finally matched in ophthalmology!!

Good luck.
 

dupuytren

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Hey y'all

I'm a Green Card holder and I want to return to the USA to do residency in ophthalmology. I'm in final yr of med school now (Cambridge Uni) - but I know it's tough. I want to apply for a PhD in the USA doing ophthalmology research to get contacts, publications...and of course to buy some time to study for the USMLEs! Would doing a PhD seem like a safer option?

Let me know so I know if I should do the GREs soon :p

Dupuytren
 

Eye Love

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Ophthoapplicant,

Thanks for the info. Although a transitional year does offer more time with your selected electives I think Indytx is right that its more tough to match into and that I would prefer going to a place which had an ophtho dept.

About the research, ive tried at some places exactly the way you described. But no luck yet.

I was wondering , do you think volunteer work in an ophtho dept might help?

Thanks
Eye
 

Eye Love

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Indytx,

Thanks for the detailed response

I agree that transitional year would be more difficult to match in.
I aslo agree to the fact that taking IM would leave more opportunities open later on.
Do you realistically think that while doing a prelim year of IM I would be able to do research with the ophtho dept.
Do they have rules for that? Like no involvement in anything but IM if youre in IM?
Im just asking because I dont really know.

About the research in India, im in the usa now...and ive heard that publications in countries other than the usa dont really count for much anyway.

What I heard is that prelim IM positions are much easier to get into than categorical IM , is that true?

About finding out about the programs with maximum publications, is and excellent point. Thanks I never thought of that.

Getting a research fellowship is virtually impossible because most programs want someone who has done their residency from their own country.

In applying for a research position , I usually express interest in the topic of research and the fact that I like the institute/university. Is there anything else I might write in the cover letter that may help me better get the position?

Thanks
Eye
 

Eye Love

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Indytx,

You asked me to PM you if I wanted to know about your internship, whats that?
 

Eye Love

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Medeye,

Thanks for the advice. Could you tell me a little more about your situtation please? Did you have research or any papers published?
Where did you do your residency. I understand if you think some of this is private info but could you tell me a few names of the ophtho programs which are img friendly?

Thanks
Eye
 

Eye Love

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Papilledema,

I understand what youre trying to say. But what ive heard is that its easier to match in a prelim IM position rather than a categorical, because a lot of people dont want the uncertainity of not being able to continue after a PGY 1 year.

Eye
 

Eye Love

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Does anyone know if a getting a job as a clinical coordinator as part of ophthalmology research is of any benefit as a step to get into an ophthal residency?

What about an ophthalmology lab technician job,or ophthalmology physicians assistant job?
 

ophthoapplicant

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Eye Love,

A PM is a private message. When someone wants to PM with you, they would love to help you but would rather not have the dialogue displayed publicly for everyone to see.

Definitely I think it would help to get in some face time in an ophthalmology department in the US. If you perform well, that's where you can get a powerful recommendation that can open doors for you. Also, oftentimes programs will extend a "courtesy interview" to people who rotate through their program.

Good luck!
 
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