Working with an IMG residency consultant can make a huge difference for international applicants. Whether you are going to be using CaRMS to get into a residency program in Canada or navigating the ERAS application for programs in the USA, doing so as an international medical graduate comes with a few unique challenges that applicants aren't always prepared to face on their own. In this blog, we tell you everything you need to know about IMG residency consultants and how their services can help you face those unique challenges, thus helping you get into the best residency program for you.
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What is an IMG residency consultant?
What is an International Medical Graduate(IMG)?
Before we talk about IMG residency consultants and how their services can help you, we must first identify who is considered an international medical graduate for the residency match in Canada and the US and how this status affects the residency application process and chances of matching.
In the United States, there are two types of international medical graduates. One is the US IMG, which includes American citizens who completed their medical school education outside of the US. For example, an American citizen who attended and graduated from one of the medical schools in Canada would fall under this category. The other type of IMG is the non-US IMG. These are non-US citizens who completed their medical school education in one of the US or Canadian medical schools that accept international students. This means you can become a resident doctor in the United States regardless of your citizenship. Still, if you are a non-US IMG, you should be prepared to discuss your visa or citizenship status during your residency interview.
It's also important to remember that even though program directors don't care about your citizenship, they do care about your level of exposure to the healthcare system in the US. This is why IMGs are strongly encouraged to gain some clinical experience in the country in which they wish to pursue their residency. Non-US IMGs have an advantage here because they have access to these experiences through their medical training. On the other hand, US-IMGs need to figure out how to get electives and clinical experience in the US and Canada as an IMG.
The requirements in Canada are quite different. To participate in the Matching process (CaRMS), you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. Non-citizens and non-permanent residents are not eligible to participate in CaRMS. In other words, you are considered an International Medical Graduate if you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who attended medical school outside of the country - at one of the Canadian-friendly US medical schools, for example. However, if you graduated from one of the medical schools in Canada but are not a citizen or a permanent resident, then you are not eligible.
What is an IMG residency consultant?
The reality is that getting into residency programs as an IMG represents a more significant challenge than applying as a non-international graduate. This is especially true for those who are applying to highly sought-after residency programs and specialties. IMG residency consultants are admissions professionals trained to help IMGs navigate this challenging process. We will discuss the many ways in which they help applicants shortly, but ultimately, they aim to maximize international applicants' chances of getting into a residency program.
Want to know why IMGs are strongly encouraged to get clinical experience in the US or Canada? Check this out:
Who needs an IMG residency consultant?
Let's be clear, not every IMG needs an IMG residency consultant. Some international applicants are able to go through the ERAS or CaRMS application process alone without any help. Others need that additional support, and others choose to seek the guidance of a professional to increase their chances of beating the competition.
The residency matching process is already competitive, but the success rate for IMGs is even lower than that of non-international applicants. For example, according to the NRMP Match data, internal medicine is one of the most IMG-friendly residency specialties, yet only 62% of the US IMGs who identified this specialty as their only choice matched to it. Additionally, only 57% of non-US IMGs who identified it as their only choice matched internal residency. In comparison, 98% of US MD and DO graduates who identified the same specialty as their only choice matched to internal medicine.
Only you can decide if you need an IMG residency consultant or not. You should consider the following:
How do IMG residency consultants help applicants?
As mentioned earlier, an IMG residency consultant's goal is to help international applicants prepare for residency applications and the rest of the matching process. We separate those because it's important to remember that applicants must prepare their residency application and rank order lists separately. IMG residency consultants provide support and guidance through both of these processes. How? Let's take a look at some of their services in more detail:
For most traditional applicants, the process of preparing for residency starts in medical school when they are trying to figure out how to choose medical school electives that will make them more competitive for residency; and studying to ace the hardest rotations in medical school.
International applicants have to do just as much planning, if not more, to be competitive, and this is where IMG residency consultants come in. An IMG residency consultant uses their experience and knowledge as a trained admission professional to help you plan strategically so that you can be a competitive applicant. They can look at your work and volunteer experiences and tell you if you have enough experience to not only satisfy the program directors' unwritten requirements, but also be a competitive applicant. They can also help you find more opportunities, such as Pre-residency fellowships for IMGs.
Furthermore, Figuring out how to choose a medical specialty is no easy task, and IMG residency consultants can help with this. Remember that they are a trained professional who is knowledgeable about the matching process for IMGs and who also has some information about your goals, interests, and skills. This means that they can advise you on the level of competition that you'll be facing with each specialty and either help you improve your profile to make sure that you can compete or find a specialty that is better suited for you.
Additionally, some IMG consultants are also able to offer some guidance or tutoring for your licensing exams. As an international medical graduate, there are quite a few exams that you need to prepare for and depending on your background, you may not always be familiar with the format. An IMG residency consultant can refer you to the best MCCQE prep course for international students or help you study by reviewing OSCE prep cases with you and helping you improve your patient assessment skills. The approach that they use will depend on the consultant you are working with, but in a nutshell, they can ensure that you ace your licensing exams.
Even if you are applying to the most IMG-friendly residency program, like internal or family medicine, you still have to be ready for a complicated and challenging application process. To participate in the match, you will need to prepare and submit the following application components, along with your rank order list:
The list above is not exhaustive, but these are the basic requirements for the ERAS and CaRMS application. These components can be especially tricky to prepare because they require a lot of introspection, great communication skills, a good understanding of the ERAS or CaRMS process, and strategic planning once again. For example, writing a residency personal statement may sound simple enough, but do not forget that you may be applying to two or three different specialties, and so you need to write personal statements for each of them.
An IMG residency consultant can work with you to prepare each of these residency application components. The best part of working with a consultant is that they won't prepare the application for you! Instead, they will teach you strategies and give you the tools to prepare them yourself in a way that showcases you as a strong candidate. This means that not only will it increase your chances of getting into a residency program of your choice, but you will also gain some lifelong skills that will be helpful to you long after your days as a resident doctor.
Residency interviews are very important. According to the NRMP data, 94% of programs consider an applicants' interactions with staff and faculty on interview days when they are making their ranking decisions, and 98% of programs consider your communication skills to be one of the most important factors in their decision. In other words, your residency interview performance plays a huge role in the residency matching process, and you need to be prepared for it if you want to get into a residency program.
IMG residency consultants provide residency interview coaching that allows applicants to familiarize themselves with various ERAS or CaRMS interview questions and questions specific to their chosen specialty; they also conduct mock interviews so that applicants can be more familiar with the setting and the format of residency interviews. CaRMS and ERAS interview prep can be quite challenging when you do not have the right information and strategies, but IMG residency consultants can provide that and so much more, thus giving you a better chance of acing the interview.
Check out this video for tips on how to match into a competitive program as an IMG:
Last, but certainly not least, working with an IMG residency consultant can make a huge difference when it comes to ranking. First, they help you strengthen your candidacy, which will help increase your chances of getting ranked highly by different residency programs. Secondly, and just as important, they can help you as you create your rank order lists.
The number of programs you can choose for your list will highly depend on how many residency programs you applied to and how many you interviewed. IMGs are strongly encouraged to apply to twice as many programs as non-IMG applicants to have the same chance of interviewing and matching. However, you will still be limited to the same number of entries on your Rank Order List, which means that you will have some tough decisions to make. Working with an IMG residency consultant gives you an objective and experienced third party who can help you make these decisions.
Preparing for and going through the residency matching process is no easy fit, and it is even more challenging for internal applicants. As an IMG, if you want to maximize your chances of matching to a great residency program, working with an IMG residency consultant is your best bet. We suggest looking for a consultant or a company that is experienced, has good reviews and prices or a payment plan that will not break the bank. The right consultant will be able to work one-on-one with you to help you plan, strengthen your application and give you the best chance at landing your ideal match.
1. Who is considered an IMG?
The answer depends on whether you are applying for residency in the US or Canada. In the US, an IMG is either a citizen who graduated from a medical school that is not American or a non-US citizen who graduated from an American medical school. In Canada, an IMG is a citizen or permanent resident who graduated from an international medical school.
2. How does being an IMG affect my chances of matching?
As an international applicant, you have more competition to deal with and usually fewer opportunities for clinical experience, which can reduce your chances of matching.
3. What specialties give me the best chance of matching as an IMG?
There are a few IMG-friendly residency specialties that you can consider. Internal medicine and family medicine are among the friendliest specialties for international applicants.
4. Why do IMGs need clinical experience in Canada or the US?
Residency program directors want to be sure that you are familiar with the local healthcare system and standards of care. Having experience in the country shows them that you have already had that exposure.
5. What exactly does an IMG residency consultant do?
IMG residency consultants help international applicants navigate the complex and challenging journey of the match. They help applicants research and select residency programs, prepare complicated application components and prepare for residency interviews.
6. Are IMG residency consultants expensive?
The cost of an IMG residency consultant varies greatly from one consultant to another, but generally speaking, you can definitely employ the services of a great consultant without breaking the bank. Look for consultants that offer payment plans or guarantees to make sure you get your money's worth.
7. What makes a good IMG residency consultant?
A good IMG residency consultant will be experienced, familiar with the challenges that are specific to international applicants, and have good independent reviews. They should offer personalized feedback and one on one sessions.
8. How is IMG residency consulting different from regular residency consulting?
While many of the services offered to local and international applicants may appear similar, some challenges are unique to the journey of an international applicant, and IMG residency consultants help deal with those. For example, it is more difficult to obtain clinical experience as an IMG in Canada or the US, so IMG residency consultants can help applicants find the most impactful opportunities.
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