Hello Dr. Julius, I am a foreign medical graduate in my third year of medical school and I want to apply for a radiology residency after I graduate. I wanted to know from your perspective what would make a foreign grad application stand out and prompt you to give them an interview.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question!
Want To Stand Out
Foreign Grad Categories
To begin with, not all foreign residents are equal. I like to classify foreign medical grads into a few separate categories. First, you have the foreign medical grads who are United States citizens and have passed the USMLE exams. These folks tend to have the greatest chance of acceptance because they do not have any VISA issues.
The second type of applicant is not a United States citizen but has also graduated from a foreign radiology residency in addition to an international medical school and has passed the USMLE exams. These sorts of graduates usually are a bit higher up on the totem pole because they have loads of experience that they can bring to a radiology residency program.
To categorize the rest, you then have the non-US citizen foreign grad who has successfully completed the USMLE series. And, finally, the last group are non-US citizen foreign grads that have not completed the USMLE.
Depending on which category, your chances of an interview will vary dramatically. If you are part of the first category, you have the best chance of an interview. Instead, if you are in the last group, you have almost no chance.
Of note, regardless of which category, some U.S. radiology programs will not even look at your application if you are coming from a foreign medical school. So, you cannot expect to have as many interviews as a U.S. graduate. However, if you have US citizenship, the odds are a bit higher.
Oh, and one more thing. Now that the ACGME is merging with the AOA, a D.O. graduate in the United States has the same options for residency as an MD. Separate DO residencies will no longer exist. So, in effect, unfortunately, the increased pool of these non-MD candidates decreases the chances of obtaining an interview as a foreign grad.
Now That I Know My Chances, What Should I Do?
If you are in any of these groups, what can you do as foreign grad? First, I would recommend to get to know the program director and faculty to get the “inside track”. Often, personally knowing the faculty may be the only way to get an interview as a foreign grad. So, that would be my first strategy. What else? Well, participating in research or an observership also can help the foreign grad as well. And, finally, the board scores of a foreign grad will often need to be significantly higher than an American grad to receive an interview.
Also, I receive a lot of questions about how to apply. Most programs will not even look at your application unless you go through the ERAS system. So, make sure that you are filling out ERAS application! And, unless it is a special circumstance, don’t even bother to apply to a program without going through the online system.
Hope that answers your question