IMG contemplating General Surgery. What are my chances??

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15+ Year Member
Sep 28, 2007
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Hey guys, I'm still a 3rd year medical student studying in Europe (in a 6 year program) and I feel like I really want to get into surgery after finishing med school (We've had a Propaedeutics in Surgery course so far and we've been introduced to all the basics and even some experience in the hospital with suturing and other surgical techniques. I loved every minute of it!) I'm actually an FMG (as I'm not an American citizen).

A little bit about me:
I grew up in the US but had to leave after high school (due to my dad's work) so I chose to study in Europe. I was actually glad that I could make it into med school because the entrance exam was rather hard (but all those advanced courses in school paid off). I know it was rather a poor decision on my part (in terms of banking a competitive residency spot in the U.S.) but I didn't really have any other choice. I'm still quite satisfied with my education here because it's still quite rigorous and I've learned a great deal of stuff.

I know I still have a lot of time to think about this but I want to make sure that I have a plan so I could stick to it (and that plan is to get into a General Surgery residency.)

I'm currently doing some research at my faculty (a surgical theme tied in with histology) and if that goes well, I'll be able to present my work at a few European symposiums around the country (and get published too of course). I'm going to do more core surgical research from the next year onwards. I'm also planning to do 2 clerkships next year -- one at Oxford, England and the other one at Maastricht University, Netherlands. I wanted to do an elective in the States but I've yet to give Step 1. I'm planning to do it by the end of the 4th year so that I'll be able to do some electives there. Unfortunately, I don't think my research will really count in the States (unless some famous doctor would be there at one of the symposiums who would be willing to write a recommendation letter --which would be highly unlikely considering I haven't worked with him in the first place.) But the only thing I can do is to try and get in touch with the Profs. in the States during my electives and then see if I can get involved in research.

So say I do quite well on the Step 1, what would be my chances? What do you think I would have to score in order to get into a general surgical residency? Secondly, do you think doing a PhD program after med school would help in any way? (because I was selected for a pre-PhD selection program at my uni. wherein one can defend his/her thesis by the end of the clinical studies - i.e. 6th year.) I'm just afraid that this would reduce my chances of getting into a surgical program (as time counts a lot). If the PhD option is not a good one, then I'm going to do a few externships like how my sister did. Do you think that would help? Or do you think doing a specialization abroad (in Europe) would be a better choice? I'm quite confused as to which would be a more ideal alternative.

I'm also open to doing an internship year or get into a categorical position if that would help in any way. I've also heard something about "pre-residency fellowships" but I'm not sure what they are.

My sister and brother both got into general surgery and orthopedic surgery resp. but they went to school in India so it's a completely different scenario for them and they can't really advise me on this matter for the very same reason.

Thanks a lot.

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Thanks, I'm sorry for not having done a search before I posted the query. My fault :)
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No problem. You've been posting here for a while so you know the drill. :)

You should also know we don't answer "what are my chances" threads here - there's just no way to answer these questions.
Indeed, it explicitly said so under Dr. Cox's post.