Good Things Come to those who Prepare!

  • Non-US IMG
  • Step 1: 253
  • Step 2: 216
  • Step 3: 191
  • 4 year Gap
  • Didn't match last year!

Can a Here's my success story:


I was born and raised in Guatemala. So of course I went to med school there. I had some issues in my third year and failed a pre-requisite course. Finally was able to graduate in late spring 2012. I moved to the US, Texas to be more specific. My mom was supporting me financially at the time and was able to afford the Kaplan course. It helped me a lot. After 9 months of hardcore studying I finally took step 1 and all the effort paid off, I got a 253. I was so thrilled and just saw all these doors opening for me.


After that I took CS and while I was waiting for my score I started studying for CK. Honestly getting back to studying again was hard! So it took a little longer. While I was studying for it I heard from my mom and she was telling me that she could no longer support me in the US but I refused to give up. I applied and got a job in Kaplan as a student advisor and guided study session coordinator. It was great, even though I was making minimum wage I was able to study and make money while doing so. That made it virtually impossible for me to apply to the match in 2013. And I saw all my friends that had taken the course with me, apply and get interviews and go through everything. It brought me down, a lot. It took me about a month of sulking till I decided to look into getting some kind of paper published or research or something that would cover the fact that I was taking an extra year to apply.


I hit Google and thankfully found a physician in MD Anderson that accepted me for a research intern position. It seemed like I was on the right track again. So now I was researching and working and I barely had time to study and honestly couldn't afford the exam yet so I put that on the back burner.


I was finally able to save enough money to pay for CK and took it on October 2013. Unfortunately for me I got sick during the exam and left not even knowing if I'd passed. I got my score, and I passed but my score was ridiculously low compared to my step 1 score, 216.  I was very disappointed and thought I might just throw in the towel. But then I thought I'd already given it so much of my time and it was my dream, so the least I could do was give it a shot. I kept working and researching and this time I was saving up for step 3. Although that took way more because the project I was working in got kicked into high gear and I was imputing data almost 6 hours a day 7 days a week, while also working so studying was again on the... Back burner. A week before September 15 of 2014 I was called into the doctor that was mentoring me at MD Anderson, the project I worked so hard on was being cancelled! Yep you read it right!!! 


Somehow I got the money to also pay for step 3, which I thought would help since I had done so poorly on CK. I took it after cramming for a month since it was all the time I could spare. Again, not so good results. I barely passed it.... 191.


I managed to save up for applications and applied in 2014 to 77 programs, it's as all I could afford. I talked to some people I knew and I was able to get 3 interviews. In one program I knew the chief resident, another one had a graduate from my country that knew my uncle, and the third I got on my own. Interview season started and I was extremely nervous. I felt as though they were doing me this enormous favor by giving me the time of day. I felt inadequate and just plain awkward on all three of them. As the season came to an end I was in a panic, I talked to everybody and they where on the same boat with me, waiting was utter torture. Match week came... The email said "We're sorry...." That's all I read. I did the whole SOAP thing and got nothing. I was extremely disappointed my dream had evaporated before my very eyes.


I went back home to Guatemala and thought of just calling it quits. While I was thinking of quitting... I realized that I'd never given up on anything before. So I started thinking what I could do. My mom ran into a friend of hers who's son was doing GI in Washington and gave us his email. I emailed him and told him the situation, he put me in touch with a Guatemalan doctor at Mayo Clinic in Florida. He offered me an observership and of course I jumped on the opportunity. When I came to Jacksonville I started working, hard! I was at the hospital all the time, being attentive, asking, reading, and getting involved. It wasn't long before I got on everyone's good side and they started helping me with publications. So I wrote up a case report and a couple of other papers from a data base they had already had made before. All three were accepted for publication. While I was doing this I got an email from that doctor at MD Anderson. He had found a way to make the data work and we started drafting the manuscript... It too was accepted! While I was at Mayo I networked like crazy, I talked to everybody I could and let them know I was applying.


In July of last year, I started doing research on residency programs. I got the list online and looked at each and every one of their websites, emailed and got the info I needed to know if I was eligible for at least them to look at my application. It was here where I noticed I applied horribly my first time around. I didn't do my research and wasted a lot of applications because I didn't meet the requirements or the programs. I came up with a list of 205 programs that I was eligible for. I wound up crossing some out because of their low IMG percentage in their current roster and came up with 178. This time around I wasn't going to risk it. My mom was able to support me and we could afford it so I applied to all, spent around 4K on applications alone.


And then the waiting game started. I got 4 interviews in internal medicine. I feel I did great in all of them, I felt more confident this time around. I had dotted my "i's" and crossed my "t's". I did everything I could to get in. I sent thank you notes and letter of intent and kept in touch with all four programs. On Monday I was freaking out, the email came and I was elated to say the least as soon as I saw the word congratulations I burst into tears! My dream came true!!!!



So my advice.... - Don't give up! - You are the master of your future - Awesome scores or awful scores... If you want it bad enough and knock on the right doors you will get it. It might take time but GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT! - This is your dream! Nobody said it would be easy... If it were easy everybody would do it. But trust me, once that email comes and you get in.... You get to live your dream! - Also remember things don't happen when we want them to happen but when we need them to! God bless!


G.H. March 18, 2016


#14 Corneliu B 2016-03-21 19:05
Life is a chess game think and prepare next move ..
#13 Zeeshan K 2016-03-20 23:58
Thank you Sir. Needed it v badly
#12 Lisa M 2016-03-20 23:56
I hope people read our stories and really understand the take away. The application process and researching programs and where you qualify for is as important as any step. No matter your score, there is a place for you.But you have to put effort into finding them. I love love what he said.....the first time around he applied all wrong.....
#11 Lisa 2016-03-20 14:27
Awesome awesome awesome!!! Por fin alguien como yo!!! People dont understand that researching WHERE to apply to as important as any step exam.! I hope people read this and really really take that in. Felicidades y un abrazo fuerte!
#10 GH 2016-03-20 13:39
Quoting Johnny:
Id like to contact you and share my situation with you!! Your history is very similar to the situation im passing trough. If you can contact me it would be really appreciated!

Email me
#9 G 2016-03-20 04:35
My email ... Email me if you need any help
#8 Alejandro M 2016-03-20 03:01
Felicidades ! Muchísimas felicidades !!!!!
#7 Johnny 2016-03-20 02:05
Id like to contact you and share my situation with you!! Your history is very similar to the situation im passing trough. If you can contact me it would be really appreciated!
#6 Hamza M 2016-03-20 01:41
Successful story, worth reading
#5 Dina V 2016-03-20 01:35
Category: Success

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