Keep Improving Yourself

Here's a success story of an IMG who failed to match two years in a row but kept improving, got better LOR's, broaded his search and made it!


Hey Dr. Barone,

I am writing to you after reading your post about inspirational stories for the match. I am an IMG who graduated from a Caribbean medical school in 04/2012. I had attempted to match in 2011-2012 but it did not work out for me. After that I started an externship at a private community based clinic and tried again to match for the 2012-2013 match. Again, it did not work out for me. After being very disappointed and discouraged, I got myself back together and found a research opportunity at University of Illinois at Chicago and tried again for the 2013-2014 match and took step 3 and finally I got the good news on March 17th, 2014. I matched at a University based Family Medicine Program. I would like you to convey the message to your followers never to give up on their dream and keep working hard.

A. D.  03/24/2014

1. What do you think was the reason that you didn't match previously?

Low Step 1 and Step 2 CK Scores. 77 on both. Also, the first time around, I was very selective about applying. Second time around, I had 9 interviews but still cannot figure out what went wrong besides my scores.

2. Any gap between med school and the match?

Graduated 04/2012. Matched 03/2014. A whopping 2 year gap. But I utilized it to keep in touch with medicine by doing 2 externships and research.

3. Tell me about your step experience?

I know my stuff but I have always been a bad test taker. Low Step 1 and Step 2 CK Scores. 77 on both. Tried to take step 3 but failed it by 1 point. Did not attempt Step 3 again.

4. What motivated you to continue after not matching the first few times?

Becoming a doctor and helping people was my dream and I was willing to work as hard as I had to, achieve that dream. Also, I had a very strong support system in place.

5. What did you do differently on the second and third attempt?

After the first failure, I did an externship at a family medicine clinic and got a LOR. I had 9 interviews but still did not match the second time around. After the second failure, I found research at University level and did an externship with the same doctor at the university clinic. I also got another amazing LOR and he did call on my behalf to personally recommend me to my top 3 choices.

6. How many programs did you apply to in each specialty?

I applied to 178 Family Medicine Programs.

7. How many interviews did you get and how many did you go to each attempt?

First attempt – 2 interviews, second attempt- 9 interviews, 3rd attempt – 9 interviews. Went to all of the interviews. Each time worked harder and harder on my interview skills.

8. What did they ask about on the interview in terms of your not matching previously?

No one really asked about me not matching previously. Interview questions were mainly typical ones. A few personal questions, a few medical questions and few tricky questions with the psychologist. Also, I had a couple interviews where I had a video case that I had to understand and present. I was honest about all of the questions asked but I had worded them in a way so it overcame my weaknesses and actually worked in my favor by showing me very dedicated and persistent.

9. Did connections help you match?

My connections did not help me where I matched. I did not rotate through the program where I matched.

10. What do you think was the most important factor in your matching?

I think the most important factor was my continued effort to stay in touch with medicine and not having any big gaps without doing anything. Also, I improved my interview skills. Went to AAFP national conference and talked to programs I was interested in and gave them my CV.   4 of the 9 interviews I had were from the programs I met at AAFP conference in Kansas City.

11. What advice would you give to students in similar situations as you had?

Apply broadly. Keep looking for externship/research opportunities. Get a good LOR, a personal one not a generic one. If any doctor who gave you an LOR knows you personally and knows your work ethic and your goals, have them call the program and personally recommend you towards the end of the application season (Jan) few weeks prior to ROL submission.


Category: Success

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