Need some advice, please

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Fernando Diaz

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15+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2002
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I'm a FMG, got my MD degree in 1991 and passed the USMLE I and II in 1997. I've been working in a Pharm Company ever since as a computer programmer. However i miss practicing medicine.
What are my chances of getting into an Internal Medicine Residency ? I live in New Jersey so i was thinking of volunteering in the nearby hospitals or talking to the Residency Admission heads.
Thank you for your advice


Winged Scapula

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Apr 9, 2000
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Things in your favor:

- passed USMLE Steps I and II
- already in the US
- in New Jersey which has lots of IM programs nearby
- desire to pursue a residency in IM which has more spots than applicants

Things not in your favor:
- being an FMG (minor point)
- graduated 11 years ago
- have not practiced medicine for a number of years
- passed Step I and II over 5 years ago

To be honest, many programs will worry about the deterioration of your clinical skills after so many years out of school and clinical practice. The match statistics are worse for those who take time off than for those who attempt to match right out of medical school.

Secondly, to be licensed in the US requires that you complete and pass all 3 steps of the USMLE within 7 years. You are rapidly encroaching on this time limit. Once 7 years passes, you will have to retake all 3 steps in order to be licensed.

You don't mention whether or not you have an ECFMG certificate. This will be required for you to start residency training in the US. In addition to the USMLE Steps I and II, the English Exam and Clinical Skills OSCE are also required - check www.ecfmg.org for the latest information.

Your best bet to increase your chances is to have exposure to IM programs and PDs. You can do this by working in a research lab, or some other hospital capacity. If you are well-liked and exhibit some clinical acumen, you may well be offered a position or at least recommended for one elsewhere.

Visa status will also be an issue if you are not a US citizen or permanent resident. Many programs will shy away from people with a J-1 visa.

In the end, you will never know unless you try. I suggest investigating what you would need to do to be ECFMG certified, making steps toward that and approaching various PDs for advise about the possibility of gaining a position.

Best of luck.


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Jun 25, 2002
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IM probably gives you the best option to match, because there are so damn many IM spots available, also there were lots of unmatched spots last year.