July 14, 2016
I want to take USMLE! I want to go to the USA for further training! How to proceed??
First, you need to think—why I want to go to the USA? Why do I want to do this? Which specialty I like most and can I live with this specialty for all of my life? Getting into US residency training is a long, tedious process with lot of complexity and low success rate. Clarity on these questions will help you to drive through all hurdles in your way.
High USMLE scores, US clinical experience, strong letters of recommendation, recent years of graduation (it becomes very hard after 5 years of graduation) are main ingredients of a strong resume.
Earlier the better! You should plan for Complete all USMLE examinations as soon as possible but not at the cost of USMLE step scores and attempt (low scores and attempt are fatal for your application). Completing all the steps with the completion of MBBS or within 1-2 years of graduation will give you the advantage of being recent graduate which is a very important filtering criteria for interviews by many programs.
US Medical Licensing Examinations preparation: Standard study materials and question bank are important for the preparation of USMLE step 1 and step 2CK. Be careful while choosing your study material and study it thoroughly. It is better to command over few study materials, besides of covering everything. It is very important to practice standard question banks with studying your book. NBME Self-Assessment tests are the important marker for your exam preparation assessment. The comprehensive practice of the cases available in standard practice book is the key to passing Step 2 CS. Practice with a live partner is most helpful for CS than any other method of practice. Plan for USMLE step 3 before your applications because it is an important addition to resume and makes you eligible for H1B visa which is much better than being on J visa.
US clinical experience search: US Clinical experience is not easy to get, even harder than scoring high in USMLE sometimes. Although US clinical experience and letter of recommendation are very important but it is not above the high USMLE scores (>250). You need to be proactive and persistent for finding US clinical experience opportunity. Conventional pathway of finding US clinical experience is—First choose your specialty–Look for the programs where observership/externship/sub-internship/research opportunity is available—Email to doctors who could give you this opportunity with your CV (You might have to send 100 emails or more to get this opportunity). If you have not graduated medical school yet, try hard to find US clinical experience because it allows you to get externship or sub-internship opportunity which is considered as a real hands-on experience.
Letters of recommendation: Getting observership/externship/sub-internship/research opportunity does not guarantee a strong letter of recommendation. Good interpersonal skills, thorough knowledge of the subject, proactiveness and showing the willingness to learn everything can only grant you to have strong letters of recommendation.
Each step of US residency application is difficult but you will succeed just be patient, believe in yourself and never give up!!