Be Positive

Dear Dr. Barone,

In one of the darkest moments of my life you gave me light. Your honesty in the whole match process was incredibly helpful and your words of encouragement were without a doubt invaluable. I wanted to share with you that I did retake CK and passed and had 3 interviews and just received the elating news of my match into a residency program. Thank you for your guidance, it is truly appreciated!!!!

Your help will never go forgotten, to you may seem lit a small bit of help, but surely it meant much more to me.  You are more than welcome to use my story on your website. I know when I was in my situation I felt really alone, if I can be any help to someone else who may be in the position I was in, I will do it. Thank you again for everything.  Barone Rocks!


Are you an IMG and what is your Visa status?

I am a US citizen IMG.


Any gap between medical school and the match?

Yes, I finished my last rotation in October. I additionally had some gaps throughout my medical school career for which I had to explain myself during interviews.


Tell me about your step experience?

Step 1 was by far the hardest test I have ever taken in my life. Although I studied for a long time and used every source, I did not score highly; 203.  CS was passed on the first attempt, but by no means is this an “easy” exam.  Step 2 CK was also another hardship as I failed CK the first time I attempted the exam. Truly test anxiety had gotten the best of me even though I felt confident in my preparation for the exam. I had also put myself in an interesting predicament because by the time I had received my score it was August. This meant that I had to make a decision on applying for residency that fall. Do I take the chance and apply the first day ERAS opened with an incomplete application? Or do I wait, retake the exam and apply once I get my score back? Or thirdly, do I not apply at all, get my ducks all in a row and apply the following year? This situation caused major anxiety and stress. I decided to go ahead and apply and take a chance. I did thorough investigation of programs and only applied to programs that explicitly stated they accepted applications who had failures on their board exams. I also applied to any hospital I had rotated at. I retook the exam later that fall, a couple of months later and scored a 225.


What did you do to correct your CK failure?

I believe the pressure of trying to compensate for my low step 1 score is what really drove my anxiety when I took CK. So the second time around I did my best to just stay calm and think rationally. In terms of preparation I mainly focused on questions and timing as the first time I took CK I found myself running out of time in most blocks. I was still running short on time the second time I took the exam, but not nearly as bad as the first time.  I passed the CK on my 2nd attempt .


What motivated you to continue after failing the step?

I had fallen into a deep dark hole of solitude when I had first seen my failing score report. I legitimately went through all the phases of grief. I just had to suck it up. Speaking to various people who supported me gave me the motivation to move onward. If I wanted to match into a program I had to make sure I passed this exam so that I had something to say for myself if any opportunity came my way. You have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and try again. It’s not over till it’s over.


How many interviews did you get and how many programs did you apply to?

I got 3 interviews. I applied only to Family Medicine and I applied roughly to 40 programs


Did connections or LORs help you match?

Absolutely!!! The reason I even got 2 of my interviews was because I had rotated at both of the hospitals and assume I had left a good impression with the program. People take notice of hard work, and I believe this was what happened in my case.  I showed up early, stayed late, maintained a good rapport with all the faculty, staff and residents; all of this I’m sure played a huge role in my getting of interviews.


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

I can only say that you have to be present in the moment. I showed I genuinely cared about what I was doing and where I was. I did my homework and asked relevant questions. Being myself was key, trying to be someone I’m not was only going to hurt me. I think my desire to practice medicine had shined through, also.  Attendings are people with lives just like everybody else and I tried to keep that in mind throughout my day. It didn’t hurt to throw some humor in….not so much that it seems like I can’t be serious though. It’s not about talking about the multiple talents you possess; most applicants are highly talented individuals. I actually ended up not even talking about most of my credentials that were on my CV.  Rather, my interviews were more comfortable conversations and flowed smoothly. I also smiled throughout the day out of sincere joy of even being invited to be interviewed and multiple people noticed and had commented on that.


Did your personal statement play a role in your success?

I don’t know if this had direct impact on my selection, but my personal statement was discussed during my interviews.


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

I think my confidence when I was interviewing is what got me the position. I think that if I had shown even a bit of my anxiety ridden self to the interview committee I would have screwed myself over.


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

Honestly, all it takes is one interview. Be sure to make as many connections as you can while you are a student….you never know who will come in handy in the future. Work hard when you’re on the floors and show them what you’re made of. Showing you can handle responsibility as a student will only convey that you can take on responsibility properly as a resident. Obviously board scores matter, but my story goes to show you that personality is most probably what got me the spot. Be positive. Take risks. The payout is totally worth it.

S. N.  03/18/2015




#1 Joseph 2017-09-09 21:12
I'm glad I came across your success story and although it was 2 years ago, I congratulate you on never taking no for an answer.

I unfortunately am in the same boat, my nerves got the best of me during the CK and I missed it by 4 points. I've already started my preparation to crush the retake.

I wanted to ask a question, since you were in this situation previously. I have spoken to my advisor, dean, friends, you name it but I can't seem to find a reliable answer on when I should take this exam by if I wanted to remain in this years application cycle. I know that time is not on my side, but do you have any ideas? Another concern for me was that after I take the exam, I still have to give them 3-4 weeks for a result to come out.

Thanks in advance!
Category: Success

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