Create a "Smart List"

  • IMG
  • Step 1 March 2014--- 203
  • CK Oct 2014--- 221
  • CS Jan 2015--- Pass
  • Step 3 Jun 2015 Fail—189

My Dream: Pediatric Residency

Can making a "smart list" of programs to apply to, increase your chance of getting matched at a pediatrics residency?


Dear Applicants,


I started this amazing journey in January 2013. For one year, I studied for my step 1 as hard as I could. During my preparation I had to interrupt my study twice to work and save money to continue with the plan and for some family obligation (always remember when we decide this, it's not a lonely path). In an attack of desperation, I decide to take my step 1 in March 2014, after one extension of the eligibility period, one year and 2 month after my start line. My Score arrived 3 weeks later – 203, I couldn’t believe it, I was so sad about it, and so scared.


After 2 weeks of feeling bad, I decide to continue even after a lot of people told me that wasn’t a good score!  But the dream of residency was stronger, I started to study for my step 2 CK in June 2014 and I took it in October 2014—221—Wow wasn’t that bad, not bad at all!  I saw light again. And in January of 2015 I passed my CS exam.  After this I started looking for Observerships and I found out it wasn’t that easy, a lot of closed doors. And believe me, I send an Email to every Pediatric Residency program in the US, around 210 emails. At the end I just got 2 replies, and one was from one of the Doctors from my home country and from my city and high school. But I got those two and for me was like having a Gold bar in my hand.


Because I was worried with my application I decided I would take step 3, in an attempt to get a great score and maybe compensate my step 1 score.  I prepared for 2 month and when I took the exam in June 2015.  I wasn't feeling that great during the exam and I FAILED!!!


I had one bad score, one average score, and a big "Fail" on my CV and it was 1 month before applying. I had only 2 American letters of recommendation and I was almost broke but I decided to apply this year. In September 2015, I applied to 42 programs. I couldn’t afford to do more. To choose the right programs, I sat down and called all the people of my country that applied years before me and ask which hospital send them interviews. Then I reviewed the webpage for every program to see which type of resident they had. And from this I created a “smart list”.


I received 3 interviews: 1 at a pre-match program and 2 at in-the-match programs. During my interview season I was doing an observer at a children’s hospital trying to get an interview there. With 3 weeks to go, the program director told me she wouldn’t give me the interview because of my scores and because this year there was a higher competition and if I wanted to stop going that was fine for her. But I keep going I wanted to learn more about the system and to get good experience even knowing that program wouldn’t consider me.


I started my interviews with the pre-match program and I didn’t get an offer. Then I had my second interview at one of the hospitals that I had done an observership. On my third and final interview I made a great rapport with the program director so I decided to ask for a second look and they granted it to me. When I arrived for it, the program coordinator explained to me that this was the first time they had an applicant for a second look and she asked me where I was interested in going. By the end of the end of the day the program director gave me a good feedback and she wished me good luck. I send my thank you email and never got an answer. But I remember having a good feeling about it.


By February I only had 2 programs to rank. I ranked my second interview program first because I liked the city it was in more and taking in consideration my third interview was better I decided to take a risk (I don’t know how smart was this, but the system always tells you to rank first where you want to be and not where you think you will match)


On match day in March 2016, I got my CONGRATULATION YOU HAVE MATCH EMAIL!!!  I matched on my third interview program.  WHAT AN AMAZING DAY!!!


Three years and a lot of effort, more bad days than good, I was very scared but I had a clear goal. I never looked back. I learned about each exam. I tried not to stay down and I got to the finish line!  And so can you!


S. A. 04/23/2016


#13 Raissa C 2016-10-13 23:26
You're such a great person!
#12 Dalisha Bharti 2016-10-13 06:24
Thank you DrBarone
This is an excellent motivation for me
#11 Rahma 2016-07-13 17:05
thank you Dr. Barone for sharing , it is very motivational
#10 Aadi 2016-06-28 21:59
Can we get some "smart-lists" too? I definitel could use one with my scores :sad:
on a second note, this is motivating, dr.Barone. Thank you!
#9 Jonathan O 2016-06-27 13:52
Thanks for this, Dr. Barone. Posts like this one provide hope for IMG's like myself. It is comforting to know that there is always hope, even when studying doesn't go so well.

Chin up, mes amis, it's not over yet!
#8 Dennis Hogan 2016-06-22 17:00
Thank you for sharing this. It comes as a motivation for me. I am also an IMG and I just moved to the US a little over a year ago(2015) after which I started preparing and taking the step exams scoring 231 and 223 on step 1 and CK respectively. I am currently preparing for CS and praying I'm able to participate in the 2017 match.
#7 Bharat N 2016-06-22 16:37
Thank you Dr. John Barone....that was helpful. :lol:
#6 Mercedes C 2016-06-21 22:11
Is important to read these motivational experiences to keep following your goal. Thank you Dr. John Barone for share this experience!
#5 Khaing M 2016-06-21 16:34
Thanks for sharing Dr. Barone ! A big motivation for me :-) ;-)
#4 Charu A 2016-06-21 02:06
Thank you Dr Barone! This article is A big motivation!
Category: Success

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