All you need is ONE!


 What are the chances of matching with only a single interview for an IMG with low board scores, a second attempt on CK, a seven year gap, and two prior years of not matching?  Find out....


Dear Dr. Barone,

I hope you are having a wonderful day.  In regard to your status about match experience, I'm sending this message because mine was tough. I graduated from medical school in 2008 and immigrated to the US in 2010 after I did my service with the US army as an interpreter.  I got my immigration visa & immigrated to US because there is no place for me over there since to terrorist militias I'm considered a traitor because of my service.  I had to adopt to a new life & new system & had to support myself, my mother, my younger brother & partially my fiancé.  So I had to work 2 jobs in order to make our living.  With working I had to study for USMLEs & because I missed the luxury of sufficient good time for preparation I barely passed my step1, 2 & 3 with a second try in CK.  I knew this will give me a hard time for matching so I volunteered in different clinics for many months. But for the first 2 matches I got nothing then I was lucky to volunteer as a research assistant in a university based IM program and I also did an observership in the same program. This gave me the capability to impress faculty members of the program. In my third match attempt, I got an interview from that program & now I'm matched... finally after 3 years of hard work!!!  And the most important thing is… I was able to accomplish all this while working during all these years to provide income for my family!!!

I hope my story will give others hope to match.   I heard many inspirational stories that gave me hope that with hard work & persistence the success will be mine.



Are you an IMG and what is your Visa status?

Yes I'm an IMG from Iraq. I graduated in 2008.  I was a green card holder at the time of submitting my application and now I'm US citizen.



Tell me about your experience with the Step exams?

My experience with the steps was not good.  It took me 3 years to finish all the exams (step 1,2 & 3) because most of the day I had to work & jump from my first job to the second job and study in whatever time left of that day.   I was not able to focus mainly on the exams so I got low scores (200,205 second try & 207).



What motivated you to continue after failing the step?

My motivation were the inspirational stories I kept reading in your page & other stories posted at USMLE forums gave me hope & we new immigrants always hear this saying that America is a place were dreams can come true with hard work.



What do you think was the reason that you didn’t match in your first two attempts?

The reason I didn't match in the first & second match were because of my scores.  The problem is… if you passed with a low score, then there is no way you can repeat the exams so you can improve your scores.   I had to work on things that can be improved. So I did "hands-on" training in 7 different clinics & got good LOR but no luck in the match.  After that I volunteered as a research assistant at an IM university program in a project & that project got an oral presentation at AMA annual symposium and also I did observership at the same program.



Tell me about what your interview experience in terms of what worked and what didn’t?

In the first & second match I got no interviews at all. The third match I got only 1 interview. I applied only to one specialty which is IM. I believe both connection & good LOR from vice chairmen whom I worked with as a research assistant helped me to match.  My interview experience was really good especially that at the end of the interview one of the panel members told me that I did really good on the interview and the reason I believe is because I read a book about the residency interview that helped me on how I can prepare for the interview in every aspect.



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

The most important factor in my matching was the research because I proved to the vice chairmen during the research work that I'm a hard worker person, reliable and a team player and I proved during my observership that I have good clinical knowledge.


What advice would you give to students in a similar situation?

My advice…. of course… good scores is the key to the match but if you don't have them, like in my situation, then DON'T give up whatever hard conditions you are experiencing because there is always hope! All I needed was 1 interview to achieve my goal and all I needed was to impress one program.  Also applicants need to do variety of US experience (training in clinics, observership in hospitals & research) because a lot of things will be learned from these and your gonna meet a lot of people & you don't know which one of them gonna help you in achieving your dream!!! ...

Best regards! 

A. H. A.  03/17/2015


Category: Success

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