Please take a look at part 2 in my series of expert guest blog entries on the Varsity Tutors blog. This piece (and the one prior) are a good reminder of what to target and what to avoid when writing your personal statement for medical school, residency, fellowship, and post-baccalaureate programs. Also, for “edutainment” take a look at my Guru on the Go® videos here (mid-page) on the same topic, called “Personal Statement Russian Roulette #1 and #2.”
Please take a look at my recent guest entry on the KevinMD blog exploring the disconnect between emergency medicine’s immense popularity in the Match and an Archives of Internal Medicine study documenting severe burnout among emergency physicians. (According to the research, emergency physicians experience burnout at a rate of more than three times that of the average doctor and more than anyone else inside or outside of the medical field.) Pre-meds and medical students will find useful information in my guest blog entry, as they consider their future fields and lifestyles.
How Do International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Perform in the Match and How Can that Information Guide Future Applicants?
I’ve reviewed data here in my blog regarding IMGs’ performance in the 2013 Match, but here are some graphics and additional data published by the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates). Again, the numbers are a reminder of the challenges IMGs face.
Also, for those interested in how IMGs have performed in specific specialty Matches, here is the NRMP‘s (National Residency Match Program) data for 2012. Check out page 5 for “Matches by Specialty and Applicant Type.”
One of the pieces of data I find interesting here is that a greater number (more positions) and percentage of non-US IMGs matched to Internal Medicine Categorical (IM) over Family Practice (FP), but in looking at “Charting Outcomes of the Match,” IM applicants require higher board scores and generally tougher credentials to match to their specialty versus FP. It’s hard to interpret this data, but it may mean that non-US IMGs who have higher board scores and stronger credentials have a shot at IM positions, whereas those who have lesser credentials have a better chance with FP. Something to consider.
As a resident, I spent one horrific week on my surgical rotation clocking 138 hours in the hospital…and I slept only 6 1/2 of those. By the end of the week, I had decided to quit residency. Fortunately, a good night’s sleep helped me turn that decision around.
Pauline Chen MD recently wrote a piece in the New York Times called “The Impossible Workload for Doctors in Training” in which she argued that the ACGME’s (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) work hour improvements over the last decade have not been effective. After the Libby Zion case, the ACGME started mandating fewer work hours for residents for their safety and the safety of their patients. The most recent (2011) rules do not allow interns to work more than 16 consecutive hours.
Dr. Chen’s point is that because the volume of work has increased, limiting the number of hours has not been an adequate way to address the problem of over-tired residents. In other words, even if someone is working fewer hours, if she’s managing many more patients in a shorter time period, safety is still a major concern. There are studies and anecdotes to support her assertion that are cited within the article.
Of course, the solution is not to go back to the previous work hours – nor to continue as is. More funding needs to be allotted to residency positions. Not only would this alleviate the workload problem, it would mitigate the physician shortage crisis. We have a lot of medical students; the bottle neck comes in residency positions. If we had more training spots, we could train more doctors and consequently, offer more primary and preventive care, while providing increased safety to residents and their patients. It would be a win-win-win.
That week on my surgical rotation was particularly bad, but I had many, many others that were also minimally human. We would not accept heavy or dangerous work loads for pilots or police officers. We need to reject them for doctors-in-training as well.
Every once in a while I make a book or film recommendation for those starting their medical careers. I recently found an old book that positively influenced me years ago: A Leg to Stand On by Dr. Oliver Sacks. Many of us know Sacks’ popular works (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings), but this is a lesser known book that has a lot to offer. In it, Sacks is the patient, and he describes being a physician in the uncomfortable sick role, exploring this vulnerable position. It’s worth a read.
On a different note, I am currently booking several weeks in advance for Strategy Sessions. If you are planning to schedule one with me, I would recommend you do so very soon, so you can secure an appointment time that works best for you.
It’s not infrequent that an applicant tells me that a letter of recommendation (LOR) writer has asked the candidate to draft his/her own letter because the writer is “too busy.” I notice that medical school and residency applicants are a bit sheepish as they tell me about this arrangement. Have no fear: You are not doing anything unethical. (Here is a piece by the New York Times ethicist Ariel Kaminer regarding this exact topic.)
If a faculty member asks you to write your own letter, not only should you do it, but you should do it with zeal. Make sure you showcase the accomplishments that distinguish you from other candidates and highlight traits that are important for your future career path. Use honest – but bold – adjectives to describe your best qualities.
Remember that the letter writer has final say, so even a busy faculty member might modify the letter. Keeping this fact in mind might alleviate your (unnecessary) guilt and should encourage you to write the strongest letter you can. (It’s harder to go from outstanding to mediocre than from outstanding to excellent.)
The good news is that a greater number of IMGs (International Medical Graduates) matched to first-year positions in the 2013 Match compared to last year’s. According to the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates® ), 6,311 of the 12,683 IMGs who participated matched, which was an increase of 1,425 compared to 2012. The bad news is that that number only translates into 49.8% of IMGs’ matching to first year positions.
Although international medical schools are a good option for some candidates, it is worth noting these numbers if you are a pre-med considering an international school.
This New York Times article, “Job Prospects are Dimming for Radiology Trainees” is worth reading. It’s interesting how seemingly outside forces (overused emergency departments) can lead to job losses in another specialty. It’s also worth noting (and troubling to see) that despite declining job openings for radiologists, there is even more competition for many residency slots because the number of medical school graduates continues to grow. This relative dearth of residency positions represents the so-called bottle neck in the physician supply problem.
For those of you getting butterflies in your stomach just thinking about the medical school personal statement that you’re going to have to write soon, here is a recent article I wrote on the Varsity Tutors blog.
Wow! This past week has been crazy busy. Here we go:
1) Congratulations to all of my residency applicant advisees: I am thrilled by the enormous success the Match brought to these candidates in a variety of fields. (For fun, here is a play list of Match Day videos from medical schools around the country.)
2) The AMSA national conference was a great, great success. “Interview Like a Ninja” sessions were really robust, and we had a full auditorium at my lecture. Thanks to a very engaged audience.
3) Please take a look at my headlining article on the Student Doctor Network home page, “Tales from an Insider….”
Whew! I’m ready for a rest.