Question From An Internal Medicine Resident:
I am an internal medicine resident and want to switch to radiology. I’m also a DO and didn’t take the USMLE. I realize most programs require the USMLE exams. I am thinking of taking the exams and applying to advanced or R positions or completing an internal medicine residency and applying to radiology as a 2nd residency. What are your thoughts regarding taking the USMLE while in residency and switching residencies? Any words of advice regarding how to get letters of recommendation from radiologists? Thank you
First issue For An Internal Medicine Resident
I would consider applying to radiology as soon as possible. Why? Because the longer you spend in an internal medicine residency, the more likely medicare won’t fund your entire radiology residency. That can deter residency programs from choosing you when you apply for a radiology residency. So I would not delay. After two years of other residency/internships, you lose a good chunk of funding!
It would help if you took the USMLE before applying to radiology. Most programs use this as a screening criterion. And you will be screened out of most programs. You should take the USMLE exams if you want to significantly increase your chance of getting into a radiology residency program. It would be best if you took this as soon as you can. The COMLEX just does not hold as much weight in radiology residency circles.
Letters of recommendations from radiologists are not necessary if you have great letters. Although desirable to have at least one letter from a radiologist, most programs would understand if you do not have access to a radiology program at your institution. The quality of the recommendations counts the most, not the recommending physician (unless it is some famous name somewhere!) Of course, if you can rotate through a radiology department somewhere and get a LOR, that would be good too!