Dear Dr. Julius,
Thank you, Dr. Julius, for including me in your network. I can understand how difficult it is for you to take time out of your busy schedule and I do not mean to be a pain. Here’s my question… I applied for radiology and internal medicine. Subsequently, I matched in internal medicine this year (score 247,248, pass). I have a keen interest in radiology and will be applying for the match after 6 years (3 years residency, 3 yrs J1 wavier, 10 years since graduation). Also, I am working on various research projects in radiology. Will the year of my graduation many years ago negatively affect the possibility of acceptance to radiology residency? I would be highly thankful if you can guide me and give me your insight.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
A Concerned Applicant
Dear Concerned Applicant,
With regard to your question, the number of years out does make a difference in the application process and changes the acceptance rate. Unfortunately, some programs have screening criteria that prevent graduates before a specific year from getting an interview. Why does this happen? I think many program directors don’t want to hassle with some of the issues that come with more experienced candidates. These may be unexplained gaps in time, foreign visa issues, changes in the USMLE tests, and more. That is not to say that all programs have this screening criterion.
More importantly, however, the bigger issue is not the number of years. Rather, it is the number of years that you have completed in your residency program already. Once you hit the three years mark, the government may not fund your position. And, the lack of funding translates into programs that will not grant you an acceptance due to the costs to the hospital. That being said, some residency programs have less need for funding than others due to external sources. So, it is not impossible to find a radiology residency. But, it is very difficult.
In your situation, your best bet is to get to know the radiologists and program directors in the hospital at your residency. Also, as you are doing, participating in research at an institution with a radiology residency may give you a little bit more of an inside track. Again, you will still potentially find it difficult because radiology has become more competitive in the past couple of years, especially for foreign grads. Presently, programs can select applicants more discriminately from American medical schools without a J1-status than in previous years.
My recommendation to you: Continue to pursue the possibility of trying to get into a radiology residency if you have the means to do so. On the other hand, go through the application process with a sense of realism that it is possible you may not gain acceptance. The good news: you were able to obtain a residency slot in an internal medicine program! Congratulations! As a J1 visa holder, you have achieved something that many others can only dream about. Luckily now, you have a fallback position.
Good luck with the pursuit of your goals,
Barry Julius, MD