How Can IMGs Match in US Residencies?

Geoffrey A. Talmon, MD


August 30, 2012

In This Article


How can I improve my chances of matching if I am an international student?

Response from Geoffrey A. Talmon, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska

For many reasons, pathology residency programs tend to garner a large number of applications each year from international medical graduates (IMGs). As assistant director of our program, I'm often asked to help IMGs increase the visibility and appeal of their applications.

IMG applicants may be former medical students and physicians trained outside the United States who are engaged in research and wish to step back into a clinical role using their translational science acumen. Applicants may also be US citizens who trained abroad.

The bitter truth is that, regardless of whether it's warranted, some program directors have negative preconceptions about the "quality" of IMG training. This stigma extends to IMGs who are US citizens.

These prejudices are usually based on anecdotal encounters or even less experience, making an already complex application process more difficult by an order of magnitude. Such roadblocks can be particularly frustrating for incredibly driven, intelligent, competent "nontraditional" applicants.

What can IMG applicants do to improve their chances of securing interviews at US training programs?

Basic strategies center on 2 principles: Provide potential program directors with as much data as possible, and market yourself aggressively to a focused group of potential residencies. The main points to address as you assemble your materials are the strong quality of your clinical knowledge/skills and familiarity with the specialty.


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