Residency Specialty Spotlight: Oncology

Cancer is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for about 1 in 6 of all deaths–a total of over 8.8 million people in 2015. It’s also been the subject of considerable biomedical research in recent decades, leading to significant advances in treatment and prevention options, so if you’re a foreign medical graduate, now is one of the most exciting times to train for a career in oncology in the United States. Not only will you be making a positive difference in the lives of patients struggling with the disease, but you will also have the chance to learn about the most cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and therapies used for treating the disease. Read on to learn more about the road to a career in oncology and what you need to do to pursue this specialty area of medicine.


Oncology Residency and Fellowship Training Options for Foreign Medical Graduates


As an aspiring oncology specialist looking for residency and fellowship training in the United States, there are two training paths for you to choose from. Both offer excellent training for foreign medical graduates, so you can’t go wrong either way!



  • Option 1: Internal Medicine Residency (3 years) + Oncology Fellowship (2-3 years)


The traditional route to becoming an oncology specialist is to start by completing a three-year US medical residency program in internal medicine before completing a three-year fellowship in Hematology and Oncology or (less commonly) a two-year fellowship program in Oncology. For foreign medical graduates, this can be a great option, especially since the latest data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) indicates that internal medicine is the most common residency specialty area for foreign medical graduates, accounting for about 43.9 percent of all successful matches in 2015. Spending three years studying internal medicine can also be helpful if you’re not yet sure which area of oncology you want to focus on for your career, because an internal medicine residency will give you in-depth insight into all of the different body systems that may be affected by cancer.


Although the most common fellowship option for aspiring oncology specialists in the United States is Hematology and Oncology, many institutions have also been adding more specialized programs, including some that last only a single year and are designed for physicians who have already completed both an internal medicine residency and a general oncology fellowship. Here are a few of the more specialized topics that you might pursue in a fellowship:

  • Breast Surgical Oncology
  • Cancer Anesthesia
  • Cancer Rehabilitation
  • Gynecologic Oncology
  • Head and Neck Surgical Oncology
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma / Myeloma
  • Musculoskeletal Oncology
  • Neuro-Oncology
  • Oncologic Emergency Medicine
  • Onco-Nephrology
  • Urologic Oncology


  • Option 2: Partial Internal Medicine Residency (1 year) + Full Radiation Oncology Fellowship (4 years)


An increasingly popular option, which has become available more recently, is to spend your first year in a medical residency in a generalist subject–such as internal medicine, surgery, or a related field–before advancing to a four-year residency program in radiation oncology. One of the advantages of this option is that the total training time is only five years, and you can start practicing as an oncology specialist as soon as you finish, without completing a fellowship program beforehand. However, it is important to note that you’ll have to go through the NRMP residency matching process again after the first year of your residency, which can be challenging and time-consuming, especially considering the obligations you’ll have as a first-year resident in your generalist program.


What to Expect from Oncology Residency and Fellowship Programs


Although oncology residency and fellowship programs differ in their scheduling and organization, there are certain things you generally expect from the training. After having gained a foundation of knowledge in your full or partial internal medicine residency program, you’ll have the chance to focus more specifically on oncology care, including cancer mechanisms, diagnostic imaging, treatment planning, side effect management, recurrence prevention, and even healthcare policy, among other topics. In some programs, you may have the opportunity (or be required) to conduct either basic, translational, or clinical research. With most programs, by the time you finish, you’ll be ready to achieve subspecialty certification in Medical Oncology and/or Hematology through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).


Pre-Residency Planning for a Career in Oncology


Oncology residency and fellowship programs can be highly competitive, so as a foreign medical graduate, you need to be able to show residency programs that you are a strong candidate. One way to strengthen your candidacy is to complete a graduate externship in oncology before you try to get matched. Completing a program like this can help you show an application reviewer that you are truly committed to the specialty area, and it can give you something to talk about during your residency interviews. It will also allow you to make connections with attending physicians in the United States, who may be able to write letters of recommendation to support your application.

FMG Portal offers graduate externships for foreign medical graduates in a wide range of specialty areas, including oncology. Contact us today to learn more about our programs!

Foregoing an Observership in Favor of a Clinical Externship

As a foreign medical student, an observership in the United States might sound like a great idea. After all, an observational experience in a clinical setting might have been one of the things that initially inspired you to pursue a career in medicine. When you were in secondary school or completing your undergraduate studies, just spending a short period shadowing a physician may have really made a difference when determining your decision to pursue a medical course of study. However, the situation is much different after you’ve completed medical school. As a foreign medical graduate, you have dedicated years of your life to the study of medicine in the classroom and the clinic, so it is far less likely that you will truly gain from standing by and watching other physicians work. Therefore, if you’re looking for a US experience before applying to a US medical residency program, the best approach is to forego an observership in favor of a clinical externship. Read on for more information about why.


The Differences between an Observership and a Clinical Externship


The fundamental problem with observerships is that they are just what they sound like: the chance to observe another physician go about their daily routine. But as a foreign medical graduate, you’ve probably already spent a lot of time doing just that over the course of your education—and a few more months of doing so before you apply for a US medical residency program probably won’t make a big difference. Plus, if you try to write about an observership on your personal statement when you apply, it will be harder for you to argue that the familiar experience was truly meaningful–and the program official who is evaluating your application will be able to tell.


Moreover, the observership itself can be both frustrating and disappointing for a well-trained physician like yourself. Once you’ve been classified as an observer in a clinical setting–not as a true participant–it’s easy to get sidelined by other healthcare professionals. If observership is in a high-pressure specialty area like surgery or cardiology, it’s easy to get pushed aside by an attending physician who is (rightly) more concerned about the patient’s health than about making sure you have a good view of the procedure they are performing. As a result, there’s a high risk that you’ll end up missing out on any truly meaningful learning experience you might have had, since you’ll just feel obliged to get out of the way and let the attending physician and the other healthcare professionals do their jobs.


In contrast, if you enroll in a clinical externship program, you’ll always be in on the action. A clinical externship is a truly hands-on experience, which means that you’ll have real responsibilities from Day 1. Depending on the specialty area in which you are working, some of the tasks your attending physician may assign you include:

  • Presenting patients
  • Analyzing patient histories
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Assisting with complex procedures

Put simply, a clinical externship will truly give you a taste for what you would be doing if you chose to pursue a residency in the specialty area of the attending physician with whom you are working. Later in the medical residency application process, you will be able to draw on the experience when you write your personal statement, talk about your career goals during your interviews, and decide which programs from which specialty areas you want to include on your ROL.


Establishing a Strong Relationship with the Attending Physician


Over the course of your clinical externship, your attending physician will come to rely on you to complete the tasks discussed in the previous section. Not only can this increase your knowledge of the specialty and help you cement your decision to pursue a US medical residency program in the area, but it can also enable you to develop a strong professional relationship with your attending physician. They may be able to act as a mentor as you go through the US medical residency application and matching process, and they may agree to write you a strong letter of recommendation when you decide to apply. Since many US medical residency programs require or prefer foreign medical graduates to submit at least one letter of recommendation from a US physician, this relationship can play a major role in whether or not you get matched to the program of your choice.


When you’re just doing an observership–not a clinical externship–you won’t be working quite as closely with the attending physician, so there will be less of an opportunity for true mentorship. Also, because you were only observing clinical procedures (rather than directly participating in them), the attending physician won’t be able to speak to your technical abilities when they write you a letter of recommendation. That will make for a weaker reference that will be less convincing for the program officials who read it.


A Clinical Externship Through FMG Portal

FMG Portal recognizes the value of hands-on experience for aspiring US medical residents, so we don’t offer observerships–only hands-on clinical externships for foreign medical graduates and student electives for foreign medical students. Contact us today to learn more about our high-quality programs!

Making a Good Impression Online: Tips for Foreign Medical Graduates

As a foreign medical graduate applying for US medical residency programs, there are lots of factors that play into the determination of whether or not you end up matched. Obviously, your primary application materials–like your personal statement and letters of recommendation–play a huge role, as do your scores on the USMLE tests, especially Step 1 and Step 2. However, there are also less formal aspects of your candidacy that can play into the matching process, including your online presence.


These days, it’s simply standard practice for admissions officials at US medical residency programs to google a candidate before seeking a match. With so much information available online, most admissions admissions officials consider it wasteful–or even irresponsible–not to take a quick look at a candidate’s online presence. Therefore, as you prepare to apply for US medical residency programs, you should start thinking about how you appear on your social media and professional networking accounts. Read on for some tips that can help you make a good impression when admissions officials take a look at the available online information about you.


Embracing a Professional Social Media Presence


Deciding to apply for a US medical residency program doesn’t mean you have to delete all of your social media profiles and try to disappear completely from the internet. In fact, depending on your age and the country where you earned your medical degree, it might be surprising to program officials if they see that you don’t have an account on Facebook, Instagram, or another popular platform. Applying for a US medical residency just gives you the chance to review your accounts and make sure that you are presenting a professional social media presence. Here are the main things you should do:


  • Make your social media profiles private. One of the easiest ways to maintain the professionalism of your online presence is to set all of your social media accounts to “private.” For most social media platforms, it’s easy access your profile settings and make sure that only your friends can see your personal information and posts. Medical residency program officials will recognize this as a sign that you–like so many people around the world–enjoy the opportunity to connect with others on social media, but you’re responsible enough to limit your interactions to those with people you know.
  • Choose an appropriate public profile picture. On many social media websites, anyone can see your profile picture, even before you have approved them to view your full profile. Therefore, you may want to choose a profile picture that you would not mind a program official looking at. You do not need to go out and have a professional photo taken, but it is ideal to choose a photo that generally reflects well upon you–portraying you as the serious, thoughtful, motivated, passionate, hardworking person you are. Whether it’s a photo of you from in full robes at your medical school graduation or a candid shot of you hiking with your family in a scenic area, you want to choose profile photos that you think would be perceived positively by almost anyone.
  • Beef up your LinkedIn account. If you have an account on LinkedIn (or another popular professional networking website), make sure that the information on the account is accurate and up-to-date. If you don’t regularly use the account, there’s no need to spend hours trying to improve it. You just want to make sure that the information the account is consistent with the things you list on your CV and talk about in your personal statement. If you are an active user with an extensive amount of content on your account, you may want to set aside time to go through your whole profile and in order to check for discrepancies.  


Erasing Potential Red Flags


Even if your social media accounts are set to private, it’s still a good idea to get rid of any posts or photos that could raise red flags for program officials, since you never know when they might fall into the wrong hands. Take the time to untag yourself in photos from the craziest parties you attended, or get rid of the albums altogether. You may also want to delete any potentially offensive or inflammatory statements you might have made on Twitter or other platforms. There’s nothing wrong with putting up posts in support of political or social causes–in fact, truly passionate advocacy may be viewed favorably by program officials–but it’s usually best to get rid of anything that is downright rude, mean-spirited, or include any profanity. Also, if you have out-of-date accounts on platforms that you don’t use anymore, now is a great time to get rid of them.

The bottom line is, it’s not likely that your online profile will make or break your US medical residency application, but it’s never a bad idea to take every opportunity you can to make a good impression. For more tips on how you can present yourself as an excellent foreign medical residency candidate, contact FMG Portal today!

Keeping in Touch with Your Professional Mentors


After you graduate from medical school, finish a student elective, or complete a graduate externship, it can be all too easy to lose touch with your mentors. As we discussed in our last post, a mentor can have a truly significant impact on the development of your medical career, but in today’s busy world, these relationships often start to falter as time passes. If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program in the future, it is essential to do everything you can to keep this from happening. Read on for more information on why it is so important to stay in touch with your mentors, as well as some tips on how to stay in touch for the long-term.


Top Three Reasons to Keep In Touch With Your Mentors



  • Your mentors will be the ones writing your letters of recommendation for your US medical residency program.


Different US medical residency programs have different requirements for letters of recommendation, but most require you to submit at least three. For some programs, one of these must be from an attending physician with whom you have previously worked. If you continue to cultivate a positive relationship with your mentors, they can get to know you even better, which can ultimately improve the quality of the recommendations you get. It can also be helpful to keep in touch with the dean of your medical school, who is responsible for submitting your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MPSE) to any US medical residency program to which you apply.


  • A mentor can offer valuable insight on your professional decisions and residency program options.


Sometimes, in your professional life, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads, facing a crucial question that you just can’t seem to figure out. Maybe you’re not sure whether to apply to a US medical residency program now or wait another year. Maybe you’re torn between two truly divergent specialty areas and don’t know which to focus on when deciding where to apply. At times like these, you can reach out to a previous mentor for advice– but it’s a lot easier to do so if you’ve been keeping in touch about what you’ve been doing since the last time you saw them.


  • A mentor may be able to help with your personal statement.


When you’re working on your personal statement, you’ll want all the support you can get. Even though writing your personal statement is inherently an independent project–after all, you’ll want it to be reflective of your unique characteristics–it can be helpful to bounce ideas off others and get expert editing help. If you’ve kept in touch with a mentor like your medical school dean or an attending physician with whom you’ve completed a graduate externship, you may be able to set up a meeting (in-person or on the phone) to chat about your brainstorming process or go over grammatical details of your latest draft. Because your professional mentors often have a more intimate knowledge of the US medical residency program application process than your friends and family, their advice can be especially helpful when you’re working on your personal statement.


Tips for Staying In Touch with Your Previous Mentors


It can be a challenge to figure out how best to stay in touch with the professional mentors who have truly made a difference in your medical education and career. You have to weigh the amount of contact you make: noot enough, and your relationship might falter; too much, and you might end up as an annoyance. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and successfully sustain your most valuable mentorship relationships.


  • Send a brief email update when you reach a career milestone.


The best time to send an email to a mentor is when you have something to say! When you get a new job, start a graduate externship program, or land a research fellowship, let your mentor know with a brief, polite email update. In the email, you can tell them how excited you are about the new opportunity, what it means for your career, and–perhaps most importantly–you can thank them for everything they did to help you get to where you are today.


  • Hint at your possible future plans.


After letting your mentor know where you are in your career, you may want to briefly mention your future plans. For instance, if you send an email letting them know that you just landed a one-year research fellowship, you may want to say something about how you are considering applying for a US medical residency afterward. That way, your mentor won’t be surprised when you send them an inquiry about a letter of reference in the coming months.


  • Don’t rely on social media.


Friending your mentor on Facebook or following them on Twitter does not count as staying in touch, and it can even threaten your professional relationship. When it comes to staying in touch, it’s best to stick to formal channels of communication, like email (or phone, if your mentor requests a call for a more in-depth discussion).


  • Don’t blow up your mentor’s inbox.


Most of your mentors are probably busy academic and/or clinical professionals with a wide range of professional and personal responsibilities, so they don’t need a daily update on your day-to-day achievements in order to continue to provide you with professional support and eventually write you an outstanding letter of recommendation. Make sure you aren’t sending updates too often, in order to avoid becoming a thorn in your mentor’s side!
Need more help with the US medical residency application process? FMG Portal is here to help! Contact us today for more information!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Obstetrics and Gynecology


The global conversation about the importance of women’s health is more prominent than ever before. In many countries around the world, both the medical community and the public are raising awareness about reproductive issues, embracing innovative treatment strategies, and fighting to increase access for all women. If you want to dedicate your medical career to advancing women’s health, Obstetrics and Gynecology may be the residency specialty area for you. As an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), you would have the opportunity to spend every day working to support women’s health and wellness. Read on to learn more about starting your career in this challenging, dynamic field as a foreign medical graduate.

What It Means to Be an OB/GYN

The work of an OB/GYN centers on women’s reproductive health. That means much of your practice would be associated with pregnancy care. You might be involved in helping women address fertility issues as they try to get pregnant, making sure they stay healthy throughout their pregnancy, contributing to a successful labor and delivery process, and providing post-partum reproductive care to help them recover after the baby is born. However, you should also be aware that not all of your patients will be pregnant women. As a OB/GYN, you will also be prepared to diagnose and treat hormonal conditions in women across their lifespan–from early adolescence to late menopause–even in cases where the woman has no interest in getting pregnant at all.

It is important to note that work in obstetrics and gynecology can often be much more intimate than work in other specialty areas, like surgery or anesthesiology. As an OB/GYN, you will usually develop long-term relationships with your patients, and you are called to serve as a counselor for women who are making important family planning choices that shape the rest of their lives. Therefore, if your medical interests extend beyond reproductive anatomy and physiology into the field of psychology, a job as an OB/GYN may be particularly appealing.

The Road to Becoming an OB/GYN

A residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology lasts for four years. Over the course of a program, you will have the opportunity to gain extensive experience in every aspect of women’s health. In some programs, you may also have the opportunity to focus your work in a particular subspecialty area of interest, such as reproductive endocrinology, infertility, urogynecology, maternal fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology, or pediatric gynecology. Some programs also offer basic, translational, or clinical research opportunities in these and other women’s health-related topics.

Alternatively, if you are particularly interested in the genetic components of women’s reproductive health, you may start your residency in an OB/GYN residency program and complete it in Medical Genetics residency program. As genetic counseling becomes an increasingly prominent field, more US-based programs are offering this as an option for residents. In order to fulfill the requirements for a Medical Genetics residency, you would spend your first two years in an OB/GYN program and the remaining two years in a Medical Genetics program. This is an ideal track for foreign medical graduates who are particularly interested in research and/or practice related to the genetic aspects of family planning and female reproductive health.

Getting Matched to a Residency Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Given the nature of the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, you might automatically assume that you can only get matched to a residency program if you’re female. However, that may not be the case! While it is true that most residents who match to OB/GYN programs are female–about 82 percent, according to a 2017 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists–it’s largely because so few men apply. In fact, according to recent reporting from National Public Radio, some residency programs actually look for passionate, dedicated male applicants who are ready to make a contribution to the field. Having a male OB/GYN on staff gives female patients more options–and increasing patient choice is a major goal in women’s healthcare today.

Regardless of your gender, one of the ways you can show a residency program that you are ready to take on a challenging career as an OB/GYN is by completing a graduate externship in the field. As a foreign medical graduate, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with women’s reproductive healthcare in the United States before you apply for your residency. Not only can the experience add weight to the enthusiasm you express in your personal statement and your interviews, but it can also help you start building a network of connections in the field, including potential reference letter-writers.
No matter what specialty area you plan to pursue, FMG Portal is here to help you get matched to the US medical residency program of your dreams! Contact us today for more information!

What to Do After Your Residency Interview: The Follow-Up Email


After you finish an interview for a US medical residency program, you’re probably ready to breathe a sigh of relief and take some time to relax. Even though most residency interviews only last one or two days, an interview can be a whirlwind experience–in which you are constantly under pressure to make a good impression, while also trying to figure out whether or not the program is the right fit for you. Successfully getting through the interview day(s) is no easy task, but when you leave, you’re not quite done yet. As soon as the interview is over, you need to start thinking about sending follow up emails to your interviewers and your other contacts at the program. Read on for more information about writing a follow-up email after a US medical residency interview.

The Basics of Residency Follow-Ups: When, Who, and How

  • When to follow up. Ideally, you should send follow-up emails within two to three days of your interview. Waiting much longer than that may suggest a lack of interest in the program, which may detract from the positive impression that you worked so hard to make during the interview itself. Plus, it’s best to write the email while the interview experience is still fresh in your mind. That way, you won’t have trouble coming up with the content of the email (see below for tips), and you won’t have to worry about getting your interview experiences at different programs mixed up.
  • Who to follow up with. The question of who to email depends largely on the nature of your interview experience. At the very least, you should send a follow-up email to the program director and anyone with whom you were in contact during the interview preparation process, such as the interview coordinator. For most programs, you will have three to five formal interviews, and it’s best to try to email each one if you can. In addition, you may want to send a follow-up thank-you email to the residents and/or other faculty members who had a meaningful impact on your interview experience. However, don’t just send the a generic email to every single person you met while you were visiting the program. Remember, they all work in the same place, and they are likely to talk to each other!
  • How to get in touch. In the past, many medical residency candidates were advised to follow up with a handwritten letter. However, in the digital age, a professional email is now considered to be acceptable–and it’s probably the preferred method of communication for most of the contacts at your program. In fact, since it can take a long time for the US Postal Service to get the letter to your program–especially if you are sending the letter from abroad–choosing to handwrite your thank-you note instead of sending an email may put you at a disadvantage, because your contacts at the program may notice how long it took you to follow up.

What to Include In Your Follow-Up Email

As a general rule, it’s best to keep your follow up email short and simple. The interviewers and program coordinators will probably be excited to hear from you, but they’re also professionals with busy schedules. Therefore, you should limit your email to two to three paragraphs. Here are a few of the most important things to include:

  • A sincere thank you. Remember, this email is primarily a thank-you note. More than anything, you should express your gratitude for the opportunity to visit the facility and learn more about the program. On the program’s side, there’s a lot of work that goes into setting up your interview, so coordinators, interviewers, and currents residents will appreciate your acknowledgement.
  • An expression of genuine interest in the program. Even though the official interview process is over, you still want to indicate your interest in the program, which can increase your likelihood of getting matched. In your email, try to point out a few specific aspects of the interview experience that stood out to you and truly shaped your perspective on the program. That way, you can clearly demonstrate that you truly appreciate what the program has to offer for you as a potential resident.
  • Any additional questions you may have. Throughout the interview days, there are lots of opportunities to ask questions, but if a question came up as you were reflecting on the experience, the follow-up email presents a great opportunity to ask. Not only does it signal to your contact that you are still seriously considering the program, but it also allows you to get the answers you need, well in advance of the deadline for your ROL.



Need more tips for medical residency interview success? FMG Portal offers everything foreign medical graduates need to successfully match to a US medical residency program. Contact us today for more information!


Asking Questions During Interview Days: What to Ask and When


In the last post, we listed and discussed some of the questions that you’re likely to be asked as a foreign medical graduate when you interview for a US medical residency program. In this post, we’re going to tackle the opposite issue–that is, the questions you should be asking during the interview days. Over the course of the one or two days that make up a program’s interview schedule, you will have lots of opportunities to find out more about the program and determine whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

Asking questions during the interview days is extremely important because it can help you when you’re preparing your Rank Order List (ROL) in the winter. By learning as much as you can about a program, you can make sure that all of the schools on your ROL offer the professional environment and life experience you’re looking for, and you can make sure that the order you choose is consistent with your preferences. Therefore, during the interview days, you need to be ready to ask the right questions of the right people at the right time. That way, you can make the most of your interview experience and come away with a strong idea of where a program might fit on your ROL.

Questions During the Formal Interview

It’s common for US medical residency interviewers to save one of the toughest interview questions for last: “Do you have any questions for me?” Although you have a variety of options for how to answer, the correct response is definitely not “No.” When you’re asked this question, you have the chance to make a good impression and learn more about the program. Because this is part of your formal interview, you want to show that you’re well-informed about the program and eager to get your interviewer’s unique perspective. Thus, you should avoid asking for basic information about the program that you can find online or that was discussed during an information session. Instead, ask a question that has a truly meaningful answer and that reminds the interviewer of something about who you are as a candidate (without seeming too self-centered). For instance, some appropriate options include:

  • What would you say makes this program stand out the most from other programs in my chosen specialty area?
  • What do you like most about working in the [insert your specialty area] department at this institution?
  • Can you tell me more about the research opportunities in my specialty area of interest? (When asking this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific research project or group that you’ve looked into as you’ve been considering the program.)
  • How does your experience working at this institution compare to your experiences working abroad? (Of course, this question should only be asked of an interviewer if you know they have international medical experience like you do!)

Questions During Informal Meals with Residents and Faculty Members

Many programs include informal meals or coffee breaks with residents and/or faculty members. These events provide candidates with an excellent opportunity to have candid conversations about what your work in the program would really be like. In an informal setting, you can ask residents about their daily schedule and obligations, their work-life balance, the housing and transportation options in the city, and what they like to do with their time away from work. If one of the residents or faculty members is a foreign medical graduate, you might also ask them about their transition to the United States and why they chose this program and location over their other options.

No matter what, remember that it’s best to phrase all questions in a positive way, because you’re still being evaluated, and you want to make a good impression. For instance, asking the question, “What has been your greatest challenge as a medical resident?” sounds much better than, “What sucks the most about being a resident here?” In these conversations, you should also try to avoid gossipy questions about people you might have met during the interviews– especially since the answers won’t really make a difference when it comes to constructing your ROL in the winter.

Questions After Information Sessions

Most programs include an Information Session, often at the beginning of the interview schedule, to cover the basic components of the program and logistical topics like salary and program size. Often, the speaker will open up the floor for questions at the end. This gives you the opportunity to ask any clarifying questions if you are confused about something that was discussed. However, if your question could easily be found in the information packet, you might just want to jot it down and find the answer after the interview days are over. Alternatively, if the question is only pertinent to your individual situation, you may want to follow up with the speaker after the presentation is over, instead of posing your question in front of the whole group of candidates.
For more help with the interview process (or any other aspect of landing a US medical residency), contact FMG Portal today!

What If I Didn’t Match? Do’s and Don’ts for Foreign Medical Graduates


Match Week 2018 is officially over! This week, thousands of medical students found out that they had been matched to the program of their dreams, including many foreign medical graduates. If you were lucky, you found out on Monday of Match Week that you had matched to one of the programs on your Rank Order List (ROL) — in which case, congratulations! If not, you may also have participated in SOAP over the course of the week, which is another way in which you may have found a position in a US medical residency program.

However, spots are limited, and even strong candidates don’t always end up getting matched. If that is the case for you, keep in mind that about one in four US medical residency candidates aren’t matched each year, including well-qualified foreign medical graduates. By playing your cards right, you may still find yourself in a US medical residency program in the future — whether it’s in 2018, 2019, or beyond. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that you can follow if you didn’t get matched this week, but you still hope to launch your career in a US medical residency program.

What You DON’T Want to Do If You Didn’t Get Matched

When you find yourself unmatched at the end of Match Week, it is important to avoid pitfalls that have the potential to derail your dreams of a medical residency for good. Here are a few DON’Ts that you can follow in order to stay on the path to success:


  • DON’T give up on a 2018 medical residency just yet.


After SOAP ended on Thursday of Match Week at 12:00 pm, all unmatched candidates were granted access to the post-SOAP list of unfilled programs. Now is a great time to take a look at all of the programs on the list and start contacting programs about a possible offer.


  • DON’T fall out of touch with your medical school.


After not getting matched to a medical residency program, some applicants are embarrassed and don’t want to face the dean or their instructors. It’s especially easy to fall out of touch with your medical school if you have just graduated and you were hoping to enter directly into a US medical residency program. However, if you stay in contact with your medical school, they may be able to help you find research opportunities, support your search for externships, and attest to your commitment to a US medical residency program when you submit your application the next time around.


  • DON’T assume that you need to apply in 2019.


Another common misconception among residency candidates who didn’t get matched is that the next logical step is to start polishing your application for 2019. However, you may want to consider taking a year off to strengthen your application for the 2020 NRMP Match. For example, within that year, you may be able to get a 3-month (or even longer) clinical externship in the United States, which can help you make more connections and develop a stronger application for the 2020 application cycle.

Important DO’s for Foreign Medical Graduates Who Didn’t Get Matched

As you move forward from an unsuccessful Match Week, making sure you don’t make mistakes is important — but what you DO over the next few days and months can make an even greater difference for your future attempts to get matched. Here are several DO’s that can help maximize the odds that you will eventually end up in a US medical residency program.



  • DO learn from your first application and interview experience.


Your initial inclination might be to try to forget about the 2018 Match, but you reflecting on your experience may also provide you with key insight into how you might succeed in the future. If you didn’t get any interviews, you may want to look for ways to improve your personal statement, strengthen your CV, and/or get better letters of recommendation. If you did interview, you may want to think about what you can do to improve your interview outcomes next time.  


  • DO take the USMLE Step 3 Exam before you apply again.


As we discussed in an earlier post, foreign medical graduates have the option of whether or not to take the USMLE Step 3 Exam before applying for a US medical residency program. Experts say that taking (and passing!) the USMLE can significantly improve your competitiveness if you are applying for a second time. This shows programs that you are truly committed to success within a US medical residency program.  


  • DO explore your options for future programs.


As you look ahead to your US medical residency program prospects in the future, you may want to broaden you options when it comes to specialty area and location. If you are more flexible about your choices, you may be more likely to get an offer from a less-competitive program in the future. If you are thinking about applying for programs in a different specialty area or learning more about programs in a different area of the United States, completing an externship program is a great way to explore your options.
For more information about improving your chances of getting matched in the future, contact FMG Portal today!

Residency Interview Do’s and Don’ts: Tips for Foreign Medical Graduates


If you’re a foreign medical graduate, finding out that you have been offered an interview at a US medical residency program can be an exciting moment. After all your hard work in medical school — not to mention the time you spent perfecting your personal statement and putting your application materials together — it’s great to know that a program in the United States is willing to consider you as a candidate. At the same time, it’s normal to be nervous about the medical residency interview, because it can really make a difference as to whether or not you end up getting matched to your top choice. Read on for some do’s and don’ts that can help make your US medical residency interview experience a success.

What You Need to DO During the Residency Interview Process

Everything you do during the interview can impact the impression you make on the program. Here are a few of the things to make sure you do:


  • DO dress for success. When you interview for a US medical residency program, you should plan to dress in business formal attire. Your appearance affects the first impression you make on everyone you meet, so professionalism and modesty are key. As you choose your interview outfits, you should also make sure that you feel relatively comfortable, since you don’t want to be distracted by an itchy tag or a too-tight collar when you are trying to explain your professional goals to an interviewer.
  • DO make sure you directly address the interviewer’s questions. Part of the interview is to determine how well you communicate, since effective communication is essential to your success in a residency program–not to mention your career as a physician in the future. Make sure you’re not just answering the questions you think the interviewer might ask — really pay attention to what they are saying. Also, if you’re not sure what your interviewer means when they ask you a question, don’t be afraid to clarify! An interviewer will appreciate a clarifying question much more than a confused, rambling answer that fails to truly address the question.
  • DO remember to smile! There’s no doubt that an interview for a US medical residency program is a nerve-wracking and high-pressure experience, but you have to remember that your interviewers are trying to get to know you — not trap you in “gotcha” questions or make you look silly. Remember to smile, relax, and maintain a positive attitude and upbeat demeanor. Your smile can demonstrate that you are confident, even under stressful circumstances, which is a great attribute for a future physician.

Major Don’ts: What NOT to Do During Your Medical Residency Interview

When it comes to your medical residency interview, there are important pitfalls that you should try to avoid. Here are a few major DON’Ts for foreign medical graduates who are looking to make a stellar impression:


  • DON’T speak without thinking. When you’re nervous, it can be tempting to jump right into an answer to an interview question before you’ve really decided what you want to say. Speaking without thinking can be especially problematic if you’re not a native English speaker and you find yourself midway through a sentence, unsure of where you ultimately want to go with your answer. During the interview, remember that there is nothing wrong with pausing after an interviewer has asked a question to take a deep breath and carefully consider your response.
  • DON’T spend your interviews reciting your CV or personal statement. The program has already reviewed your CV and personal statement, so your interviewers will be familiar with your background. The interview offers you the opportunity to build on these documents and show them why you truly belong in the program. While it’s okay to talk about the goals and accomplishments that you listed on your CV and discussed in your personal statement, make sure you’re speaking candidly and expanding on your ideas, not just reciting the documents from memory.
  • DON’T act unprofessionally outside of the formal interview slots. Although the interview process varies between programs, most programs include multiple events outside the interview process, like a tour of the hospital or a meal with faculty and current residents. These settings are less formal, but you should still remember that people in the program are paying attention to your behavior. You may not need to wear a business suit to a restaurant, but it’s still important to look clean and neat. It’s also best to avoid controversial topics of conversation (like politics or religion), excessive complaining, and (of course) foul language.

The prospect of an interview for a US medical residency program can be daunting for foreign medical graduates, but if you approach it strategically, you can make your best impression and maximize the chances that you will get matched to the program of your dreams. FMG Portal is here to help you with a wide range of resources that can help you successfully navigate the US medical residency preparation, application, and interview processes. Contact us today to learn more!

Logistical Issues to Consider When Preparing for a Clerkship in the United States


In our last blog post, we discussed some of the benefits of a US-based clerkship for foreign medical students. If you are earning your medical degree at a school outside the United States, getting some of your elective credits through a clerkship program in the United States can offer a wide range of academic advantages, and it may also provide practical benefits if you intend to apply for a residency program in the United States in the future. While considering these opportunities is exciting, you also need to think about the clerkship options from a logistical perspective. In order to make the most of your clerkship experience, you have to make sure that all of the logistical details are in order so that it goes smoothly. Read on for more information about the logistical issues you need to consider as you prepare for a clerkship in the United States.

Setting Up a Clerkship in the United States

A clerkship in the United States is an unprecedented learning opportunity — not to mention a life-changing experience — but setting it up does require some advance planning. The first step of the process is to make sure that you are eligible for a clerkship program. In general, that means you have to meet three key criteria:

  • You are enrolled in a medical school that is accredited by your home country.
  • You are taking enough credits to qualify as a full-time student.
  • You are currently in good standing at your medical school.

If you meet these basic requirements, you are probably eligible to participate in a clerkship in the United States. There are several different clerkship scheduling options you can choose from, depending on your scheduling needs and academic interests. Before you apply, you need to examine some of the options to find one that is right for you. Here are the options offered by FMG Portal:


  • A 3-Month Clinical Elective Plan. With this plan, you will spend three months in the United States, spending each month under a different Attending Physician in a single specialty (or subspecialty) area. This is the plan for you if you have a good idea of your desired residency specialty area.
  • A “Triple Play” Clinical Elective Program. This plan also lasts for three months, but it allows you to gain experience in three different specialty or subspecialty areas. This offers a great opportunity for you to compare specialty options if you aren’t sure about which residency specialty you want to apply for after medical school.
  • A Flexible Clinical Elective Plan. This plan is best for students who are looking for an option that aligns with highly specific personal needs or institutional requirements. A flexible plan can last anywhere from one to twelve months, and you may gain experience in one or more specialty or subspecialty areas, depending on your needs.

As you consider these three options, it is also important to note that you need to get approval for your elective schedule from your medical school. While US-based clerkships are generally well-regarded by medical schools around the world, it is still important to make sure that your school will grant you the elective credits you need to continue your progress toward your medical degree.

Once you have decided on a US-based clerkship option and cleared it with your school, you are ready to start the application and enrollment process. The necessary documentation can vary depending on your country of origin, so make sure you start early! — All documentation materials need to be in at least four weeks before the deadline.


Choosing a Service that Streamlines Your Clerkship Setup Experience


There is no doubt that a US-based clerkship has the potential to enhance your education and boost your future career prospects, but if you choose a service that doesn’t offer the logistical support you need, an exciting opportunity can quickly devolve into a major headache. As a full-time medical student working hard to fulfill academic requirements and become the best physician you can be, you just don’t have time for it. Therefore, it is important to choose a service that offers assistance at every stage of the process. For instance, FMG offers visa embassy interview assistance, which can help you get your documentation in order, as well as accommodation assistance, so you won’t have to spend hours scouring the internet, trying to find an affordable place to live.

Of course, there is also the ever-present question of financing. Given the significant academic and practical benefits of a US-based clerkship, it can be a valuable investment in your future. However, in order to make sure you stay within your budget before, during, and after the clerkship, you may want to look for a service that offers a monthly payment program that is optimized for medical students who come from a wide range of economic backgrounds.
If you’re concerned about the logistical details of a US-based clerkship, take a look at the services FMG Portal has to offer. Our program’s credits are almost always recognized by foreign medical programs, and we streamline the setup process so that when you get to the United States, you can make the most of your experience. Contact us today for more information!