Although many aspects of matching into neurosurgery are similar to those for US medical students, there are some special considerations for international medical graduate (IMG) applicants to keep in mind:
- You most likely will have to invest 1 or more years after graduation from medical school performing research in the United States. This research should be productive and meaningful. Try to publish as much of this research as you can.
- Applying to the US match is something you will be doing of your own accord. You will have to set your own goals and timelines. Be vigilant in doing so, and do not become complacent.
- Because you will be an “outsider” applying, a good idea is to become familiar with the system and to network before you actually apply. Doing a research fellowship or a number of subinternships/observerships allows for that.
- Your United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) scores are crucial. Although it is a good idea to get a score as high as possible, even more important is to not fall below the minimum scores for neurosurgery.
- If you have already completed neurosurgical training in your home country, some programs will consider it a good thing, but some will not. You can still apply, but it is a good idea to look into applying for US neurosurgery fellowship programs first.
- Work on your English proficiency if you feel it is not good enough. This study will help you later with patient interactions, exams, rotations, and everything else in the United States.
- As long as you have good scores and a substantial curriculum vitae (CV,) it does not matter which international medical college from which you graduated. Almost all medical schools outside of the United States are considered equal to each other by US programs viewing your application.
- Be open to possibilities. There is no single method of matching into the US neurosurgery match. Every IMG who matches will have a different story, a different road. They will have similarities, but you never know when an opportunity will arise. Always be on the lookout, and stay tenacious.
Ayesha Quddusi, MD
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