As an IMG Residency Match candidate, you must have a fundamental understanding of the Residency Match process. To do so, it is imperative that you understand Residency Match statistics and how to improve an application. This article will discuss both of those important issues.
According to the ECFMG, for the 16th consecutive year, the number of first-year (PGY-1) residency positions offered through the Match increased. In 2018, the number of positions was 20,232, an increase of 1,383 (4.8%) over 2017. The 2018 statistics show that as compared with 2017, the overall number of IMGs participating in the Match declined by 211. At the same time the success rate in obtaining first-year residency positions for IMGs was 56.5%, up from 53.3% in the previous year. For IMGs, a close look at the statistics is quite promising. The Match Rates for 2018 were the highest seen in over twenty-five years.
|IMGs – not US citizens
at the time of graduation
|IMGs – US citizens
|Matched||Not Matched||Matched||Not Matched|
|All specialties||Step 1||234||221||222||212|
|% of PhD||=||<|
|Internal Medicine||Step 1||236||222||225||210|
|% of PhD||=||<|
|Family Medicine||Step 1||220||212||211||207|
|% of PhD||≈||<|
However, don’t let the statistics give you a sense of complacency. The Residency Match is extremely competitive and residency programs set their own application requirements. These requirements include scores, visa status, year of graduation, and medical experience, among others. The required medical experience includes a U.S. clinical experience, which can be one of the most challenging aspects of the application process.
For applicants that matched, the USMLE written exam scores averaged 11.5 points higher than those who didn’t. Even so, the scores are 3 points less than it was in 2016. This indicates that aspects of an application- other than scores- have become more important.
Also, statistics show that IMG applicants who were not U.S. citizens at the time of graduation need to score an average of 10 points higher than U.S. citizens to be matched. What does this mean? Do this show that residency programs are trying to avoid the additional costs and time associated with sponsoring visas, or is this an indication that residency programs prefer applicants with U.S. clinical experience? While the statistics offer no certain answer, we can certainly offer a hypothesis: The numbers show that Ph.D. U.S. citizens that graduated from medical school outside the United States have no advantage in the application process. This is an indirect indication that U.S. clinical experience just before or after graduation is critical to a successful application. This is important, because non-U.S. IMGs appear to have no such distinction.
IMG applicants only have control over certain aspects of their application. For example, they cannot influence or change test scores or their year of graduation. However, an IMG applicant can still significantly improve their residency application and their chances of matching. One way to do this is to combine U.S. clinical experience, research, and for many, volunteer work.
For example, a four-week hands-on clinical externship rotation will provide extremely valuable experience. It also provides a letter of recommendation from a U.S. teaching and attending physician. However, not all letters of recommendation carry the same weight. For a letter of recommendation to make an impact, the attending physician must assess the applicant accurately. This takes experience.
To ensure a letter of recommendation truly benefits an IMGs application, IMGPrep recommends that all externship preceptors be experts in their field and maintain teaching affiliations. The more qualified the preceptor, the more weight the letter of recommendation will carry.
Our experience makes it clear that U.S. clinical experience is a minimum requirement for a successful application. At IMGPrep we provide hands-on rotations coupled with personalized, one-on-one advising. Our team can significantly improve the quality of residency applications and enhance competitiveness in the Match.
Examples of some of IMGPrep’s six-week Internal Medicine rotations:
We have rotations available in almost every specialty.