Wednesday 20 April 2011

IMG friendly specialities

Know the Playing Field
International medical graduates start at a disadvantage. They have visa needs, they have USMLE hurdles, language barriers to overcome and if they do brave all of these obstacles they are not sure which fields will be right for them. They can apply to the speciality that they like irrespective of the match outcome, hoping they will get through or they can apply to a field that has the highest chances of making them a successful candidate.

For the Surgeons
Those who are practicing surgeons and want to start residency in US, the best specialities to apply are General surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Categorical and prelim surgery together made for 7% of all IMGs matching into a surgery residency. The number of foreign trained (IMG) applicants that matched in Ob-gyn was 135 which is considerably down from 202 back in 2006. Preliminary positions had the most match success for applicants than categorical surgery positions. 

For the Clinical Specialities

Over the course of the last several years one thing has become clearer. There are indeed IMG friendly specialities. Analysis of the IMG match data shows that Internal medicine still retains its number one position as most IMG friendly. This is evidenced by the fact that close to 39% of foreign trained (IMG) applicants matched to categorical medicine program. This correlate with 1800 IMGs matching into a medicine residency. This was closely followed by family medicine coming in second at 18%. Pediatrics and Psychiatry made a sizable chunk of IMG applicants being successful with 9 and 5.7% respectively.

For the Non A, Non B IMG viruses
Applicants who did not wish to pursue medical or surgical branches had the toughest luck. The chances of a successful match are abysmally low when it comes to rarer specialities like Genetics, Med-psych, Med-derm, urology, ophthalmology, ENT and the like. Unless you have won a Nobel prize in these branches of medicine the match rate for an IMG in these fields is close to zero and this is evidenced by '0' in the NRMP match statistic for a lot of these specialities.

Best Chances are still IM, FM, Peds and Psych
In Conclusion, the BIG-4 are  still the favorites for IMGs to successfully match. Even Neurology, Neurosurgery are tougher to get into. If you dont really care what field you want to specialize in then the best chance will be if you apply to these four. Thus these 4 are standing strong but there are some subtle variations. Categorical medicine and to lesser degree pediatrics and psychiatry are seemingly becoming 'more' IMG friendly if match data from previous five years are analyzed. On the other hand family medicine, though still number two on the IMG friendly list is slowly becoming 'less' friendly as the years go by. This may be a reflection of growing interest in american medical grads (AMGs) in family practice and changing practice patterns. 

Now that you know which are the IMG friendly specialities, check up on how step 1 score affects the chances of a residency match.


  1. the neurology is not more competitive than medicine rather than the position are less to start with, and applicants number are also lower than for IM.

  2. Why dint you mention radiology anywhere?Thnx for the information.

  3. Hi i m dr ali soomro from pakistan.i m in real trouble now a days.can u help me out by giving such valuable suggestions?i have done my graduation in december want to do usmle but i dont know the eligibility period.i am planning to give step 2ck in february 2015 before giving the step 1.the problem is that anybody told me that usmle should be done with in 5 years after completion of i late?should i go ahead for usmle or mrcp because mrcp does not have such requirement of period?

  4. Sorry one thing i missed above that my internship period completed on feb 2013.since 2013 i am doing job in medice ward continuosly.i have experience of 2 years in internal medicine including 6months period of internship in medicine.plz guide me


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