About to Move On

Here's a story from the 2014 match about a Canadian citizen, IMG from a Caribbean school, a failure on Step 1 who didn't match on the first attempt and got only one interview the second attempt.... and she was ready to move on to other jobs!!!!:

Hi Dr. Barone

Hope you are well. I read your post about struggles with match and just wanted to share my experience with you. I started medical school in August 2008. I was scheduled to take step 1 in July 2010. I had all my rotations set up for me in NYC to start in August 2010. Two days before I was supposed to start rotations I found out I had failed step 1. It was the worst feeling in the world I was ready to quit medical school. Eventually I retook step one and successfully passed. Scheduling rotations became a struggle after that. I worked hard and rotated at different places to try and make a good lasting impression. I had struggles taking step two as well. Finally I graduated medical school in January 2013. That year I was invited to interview at three places that I had worked extremely hard and was able to obtain and interview at. I was so sure I would match that year but when March 2013 came along I was devastated on match day. The SOAP was a complete disaster for me and I thought this was it. My scores haunted me and this was the end of my medical career. It was hard to motivate myself to do anything else after.

After two months of complete disconnect, I slowly made my way back. I studied and scheduled myself to take step 3. I contacted every program I could to try and increase my chances. For 2014 I had one scheduled interview after all that hard work and calling and speaking with anyone I could. I honestly never thought I would match. After the disaster that had been my journey since failing step one, I was scarred, I applied for other jobs and was ready to move on . Somehow against all odds when March 2014 rolled around I had successfully matched! I had been a student at this program. This was my second application to this program. And this time they accepted me. My hard work and persistence had finally paid off ! I felt extremely grateful, and humbled, and in that moment I made a promise to help anyone I could that was in my situation. Today I am almost done my intern year, it's been a year since I matched and I am still super grateful and humbled.



Are you an IMG and what is your Visa status?

I am an IMG. Canadian citizen but went to school in the Caribbean. I’m here on an H1B visa.



Any gap between medical school and the match?

I was out of the system for a year and a half between graduating and matching. I also had a gap during medical school after I failed step 1 and was off for 6 months -the time it took to re-apply, take and pass step again and re-start rotations.



Tell me about your step experience? What scores? Any failures? If so…. What did you do to correct them? What motivated you to continue after failing the step?

I did fail step 1. The live class prep was actually not best for me and my study style. I also think I scheduled my step initially and was ready, but was so scared that I rescheduled it and messed myself up. I should've just overcame the fear and taken it when I had it scheduled the first time. Postponing it made it worse. The second time I took it, I prepped in a different way. I knew that I knew the information, I just needed the confidence to access it. I prepared in a different way the second time. Review and questions, and learning from the questions. Stimulating myself to the testing environment. Identifying my fears and why I failed the first time, really helped motive me to go on and take it again. That and I really wanted to go down this path I had chosen for myself.



If you didn’t match in a previous attempt, what do you think was the reason that you didn’t match?

I honestly thought I would match my first attempt, I had interviews at the places I had rotated at and the faculty and board knew me best. I think I was slightly overconfident in my faith that I would match due to my connections, and I truly believe it was my step scores that came back to haunt me. I contacted the programs after match and they stated that it was a very competitive match year. Also probably the interviews itself.



What motivated you to continue after not matching? What did you do differently for the next match attempts?

It was a devastating blow as I really thought I would match, or if not through the match, then I would for sure get a spot with SOAP. And after that extremely hard week, I gave up on the task all together. Like I said before, it took my close to 3 months to get my head back in the game. And it really was the fact that there were still things I could fix before my next application to improve it. I took step 3. I fixed my personal statements and got them read by credible sources. I contacted the programs themselves and asked for advice. I figured I would apply once more and give it my all, after which if I quit, I would never regret not trying my best. I met my current boyfriend during the time after I didn't match. He really inspired and motivated me to try my best, not let emotions make my decision, and exhaust all my options before moving on, so as to not have any regrets in the future.



How many interviews did you get/go to on each match attempt?

I went on three interviews on attempt #1 and one interview on attempt #2.



How many specialties did you apply to and how many programs?

My initial attempt I applied to a total of 150 programs with a mix of IM and FM. My second attempt applied to IM, FM and OB and applied close to 180 programs.



Did connections or LORs help you match?

Connections helped me match. All my interview invites were at places I worked hard to make connections at, for the programs to recognize me and believe that even though I lacked the scores, I would be a very hard working resident. I did two electives during my 4th year at the program I ended up matching. I did also have good LORs from the people I worked with.



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

So my first attempt- the interviews I was a little more desperate and I think it came across, it was my first time talking out loud about all my failure experiences and I think I spent to much time focusing the interview on it. One of my interviews had 4 sessions-one to assess my medical knowledge which was fine, the second to assess my emotional side which again I felt I did well on, one was about controversial topics in medicine which threw my off slightly, and the last session I completely faltered through as I did not expect it at all it was a series of questions asking for experiences to back u my answers. It was a very difficult interview. My second time interviewing, I was less desperate, it was more, this is a second chance, give it your best and that's all you can do. I didn't focus as much on my failures, I addressed them briefly but moved on quickly and talked about overcoming and moving forward, and what I did with my time off. I tried to connect with the house staff present during my interview as well.



Did your personal statement play a role in your success?

My personal statement was very personal. I included reasons I was motivated to become a doctor, factors and experiences that kept me wanting to do residency.  I was honest about my step failures and struggles, as I knew it would come up in the interview and wanted to address it in my personal statement beforehand.



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

I'm sure I’ve mentioned this a bunch of times, but connections are SO SO SO important. You need a foot in the door.  You need a sustained relationship with the program to succeed. And your rotations are your chance to work at this. Create opportunity for yourself, go seek it, give yourself the best chance you can. It’s  the lasting impressions on people, that will help you be remembered when it comes time for programs to rank you.



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

Work hard, give it your best, exhaust all your options, and then if you still don't succeed be able to move on as you tried your best and didn't leave things undone. Know your limitations. Be realistic. Have a backup plan, especially if you have a major red flag on your application, cause chances are things will not work out the first time, but be prepared for that and have a plan in the interim. And you will be stronger and better prepared for when things do end up working out. Listen to people’s advice. Take the positives from their experiences to encourage you. Don't assume their negatives will not affect you, so learn from their negative experiences and work to eliminate them. Always believe in yourself. Things have a way of working themselves out one way or another, all you can do it try your best. I hope this helps someone else out there!

Anonymous 03/17/15


Category: Success

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