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USMLE - Kỳ Thi Hành Nghề Không Thể Thiếu Nếu bạn Muốn Làm Việc Tại Mỹ

My name is Gia Khanh. I recently graduated from University of Debrecen, School of Medicine in Hungary. I started medical school in 2010. I want to become a Pediatrician and work in the US so I applied for residency after I graduated and was lucky to be accepted to Pediatric Residency program of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore in Maryland, US.  Today I want to share with you about my experience applying to Residency in the United States.

Bác sỹ Trịnh Ngọc Gia Khánh - đứng giữa
This is simply a brief introduction of how the process looks like. The process of applying to Residency in the US is a long and complicated process, requiring careful advanced planning. According to regulations of the American Medical Association (AMA), any student who graduated from a medical school accredited by WHO is eligible to apply for Residency training. Students, regardless of citizenship who graduated from a medical school outside of the US are considered IMG – International Medical Graduate and are required to be certified by an organization called ECFMG – Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduate. To become ECFMG certified, an IMG must graduate from an eligible medical school and complete Step 1 and both components of Step 2 of the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination). Then candidates can apply for Residency through a process called MATCHING, in which an algorithm pairs a candidate to a hospital according to their lists of preference. If both the candidate’s and the Hospital’s names appear on the other’s list, they are “Matched” to each other. To begin the process, candidates have to send their application to programs of their choice electronically via ERAS, then programs will invite qualified candidates to interview at the hospital. After that, both will create their rank order list which will be used by the algorithm. The Match result is usually announced in the first half of March. The entire Residency application process can takes somewhere from a few months to years, mostly depends on how long it takes to complete the required USMLE steps. Below is the timeline of my application process.
So what exactly do programs look for in a candidate? First and foremost, it is the ability to learn and function as an effective member of a medical team. That is why they care so much about USMLE results. As candidates can come from all over the world, it is just impossible to judge someone based on their performance in medical school. USMLE, on the other hand, is a standardized test so it means at least on a certain level it is the fairest tool for programs to assess a candidate’s knowledge and his or her ability to use those knowledge in medical practice. Beyond knowledge, a physician in the US is expected to be able to communicate well with patients, their colleagues and other members of the society. So programs will look for evidences that the candidate can also function well and contribute the society outside of the medical world. That is where those extra-curricular experiences come in. No matter if it is medical mission or just simply playing a sport, they help show that you have a balanced live and you possess the soft skills that are critical for physicians: teamwork, leadership, communication, teaching, etc. And last but not least, residents are not advanced medical student, they are doctors, employees so programs will prefer those who can hit the ground running. They do not want to have to spend months to get you up to speed on how the US medical system actually works so clinical experience in the US plays crucial part in getting you an interview. After you successfully got an interview with the program then it all comes down to your personality and your interview skills. Believe me, program would rather take an average candidate with good interpersonal skill than a genius but socially incompetent who will most likely opens the hospital to potential lawsuits. So my point is yes you DO HAVE TO do well on USMLE but also give some thoughts for other activities, build up your CV and expand your world.
In conclusion, getting into residency in the United States is hard, especially for IMGs like us but it is not impossible. It will be painful, you will be required to sacrifice a lot but as long as you have the ambition and the determination, you can do anything that you want to do. Or as they say in the US: “The sky is the limit”.


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