PhD for IMG wanting to be a GI fellow

Discussion in 'Gastroenterology' started by Ryan Choi, Jan 18, 2012.

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  1. Ryan Choi

    Ryan Choi 5+ Year Member

    Feb 8, 2010
    Hello everyone,

    I would be very grateful if I could get some advice regarding my move to US and GI fellowship training!

    I am an UK grad currently in training in the UK (1st year resident). Due to my family circumstances it has become apparent that it would be best for me to move to US and continue my training there.

    My chosen specialty is obviously, GI, and I heard that GI is very competitive in America and that IMGs usually don't stand a chance due to limited number of spots. Now, since medical school I'd never thought about doing anything else, so I have to make this work somehow.

    I am planning to leave the training here so that I can study full time for USMLEs, but problem is, unfortunately I will have about 2 years gap in my career due to this (1st year will be spent on studying, and in 2nd year I will be attending for interviews / US externships...etc). Now I know that a gap in CV is never good, so I was thinking about doing a part time research degree (MS) while studying for USMLEs.

    Few days ago though, I have been informally offered to do a basic science PhD (not really GI related, but more GIM) here in the UK (which would take me 3-4 years max). I never thought about this option until now but thinking about it, I could finish my USMLEs while doing PhD and apply for residency 2 years later than I originally planned.

    This has pros and cons though,

    - Publications (I currently only have one with 3rd authorship, and a national poster presentation)
    - Intense research training which would be invaluable later in my career (academic faculty is my ultimate goal)
    - I will be funded so I don't need to worry about make living

    - I will be older!
    - I will have huge gap in my clinical training which could be considered big minus for PDs
    - Not ideal time to do PhD as I am yet unsure of which GI area interest me the most

    What do you guys think? Would it be better for me to focus on exams and get to IM residency asap or spend 2 more years here and get a PhD before applying? Would having a PhD will significantly improve my chance of getting into GI fellowship spot or is this just waste of time?

    Thanks so much for your time and advice - much appreciated!:D
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    ROBINHO Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2004
    Yes the PHD(in general the publications) will improve your chances for fellowship but not much for residency. I personally think u shd focus on writing all the exams and doing the requisite observerships. And isnt a PHD rigorous in the UK? for example I am doing a research fellowship in the USA and I dont have time to study for step 3. I think your continuous stay in the Uk doesnt add anything to your application.
    Disclaimer: I am just an IMG applying for residency this year
  4. Ryan Choi

    Ryan Choi 5+ Year Member

    Feb 8, 2010
    Hi, Thanks for your reply. PhD in the UK is rigorous indeed, but I think I should be able to finish all the steps before 3rd year as I've already started studying.

    Has anyone got any other thoughts? Please respond!
  5. scotchtapetest

    scotchtapetest 5+ Year Member

    Sep 23, 2007
    It depends!

    Are you a UK native and which UK school did you go to? If you are from the UK (i.e. went to high school there) and/or went to Oxford medical school, then you should have very little problem with or without a PhD as long as you have decent step scores.

    If you are not from the UK and/or went to some unknown/private UK medical school then your chances are not that great with or without a PhD.

    Moral of the story: Finish your UK training, study/take the USMLEs and apply ASAP and then publish during residency or spend the 3-4 years to get a PhD after your residency in the U.S. while you can practice/make $ and then apply for a fellowship.

    Disclaimer: I'm just a medical student!
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  6. Ryan Choi

    Ryan Choi 5+ Year Member

    Feb 8, 2010
    Thanks for your reply!

    Yes I am a UK native and wen to high school here. I didn't go to oxbridge but went to one of the prestigious London medical schools. I am not aware of any private medical school in the UK as all of the medical schools are government funded. I am not keen on finishing the training here because, unlike the US, internal medicine + gastro training will take total of 10-11 years.

    Taking the USMLEs ASAP makes sense, but realistically would there be any opportunity to do a good study and publish during 80 hours/wk - residency? Do the university based IM programs provide separate block dedicated to research?

    In the UK, if you are not a British citizen, in most cases you have to self-fund the PhD. I thought same would be true in US as well? or am I wrong here? Is it possible to get a funded PhD place when you are a foreign graduate?

    I don't quite understand what you mean by make $ during the PhD. If I am not a green card holder I thought I wouldn't be able to get a locum (moonlighting?) jobs?

    Sorry, lots of questions here. Thanks for helping!

    ROBINHO Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2004
    U cant do moonlighting during PHD.
    Some programs allow moonlighting during residency and even in that case u have to be on an H1B visa.
    U can make money during your PHD through a stipend. In US there is no discrimination in terms of nationality when it comes to funding for PHD.

    Like I said before if u get into a strong IM program now...naturally u will progress into a GI fellowship if u work very hard. Yes research experience in the field and publications will be very valuable for fellowship application....but just be careful so that 4 years from graduation doesnt end up hindering u from getting into a residency program.
    Whichever decision u take...I think u will be ok
  8. Gastrapathy

    Gastrapathy no longer apathetic Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    You are likely to be competitive for fellowship if you were an above-average performer in your UK school. I'd just go for it. Take the steps seriously, take a prep course, etc. Get into the best residency you can (university program with its own GI fellowship). If, after that, you can't get GI, do a PhD then but why waste the years now?
  9. allgastro

    allgastro 7+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2010

    I'll try to answer some of your questions. Go asap to US. It really doesn't matter much what you've done outside of US. I think your UK background will help you getting a residency position but not a fellowship. If you agree on j1 visa you can get a residency spot at university program which will help but even if you match to a community hospital, it's still possible to do research. Unfortunately nowadays GI programs care only about basic science research so if you are doing in your Phd something related to genoms, proteoms, etc. and can publish in journals with high impact factor it might help but not sure. GI is competitive even for american grads.USMLE scores matter for residency but not much for a fellowship unless you failed or have very low scores. Take the exams asap and apply for a residency next year.

    FYI: I am an IMG, did residency at good university program, have 4publications +2in process (all first author), posters at international meetings, one year of hepatology and still no chance for GI, i couldn't match three years in a row....
  10. littlealex

    littlealex little tiny alex 7+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    I agree w/ others here. Try to do research w/ a prestigious GI department in the states. It'll help you get into residency and get to know some people. If you end up staying in the same program for residency you can continue your research and be in a great spot to match fellowship in the same program. Even if you end up going somewhere else, knowing a few big names in the US GI will help when it comes time for fellowship application.

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