Probability of Matching as International Medical Graduates

Update – Trump Travel Plan and International Medical Graduates for 2018 National Residency Match Program.

We are getting this question more and more from our clients. Basically, will it affect me? Trump’s travel ban is unfortunate, but not something that should deter you from applying for residency. The travel is limited to citizens of these countries:

  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Syria
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Yemen

First, the ban is designed to be temporary. Second, numerous U.S. courts are questioning the legality of the ban and there are ongoing efforts to weaken the ban. Most importantly, residency program directors are unlikely to view this ban as an important factor in deciding residency applicants. Yes, there may be more challenges with VISAs in the future. But with a U.S. residency program’s sponsorship, we do not foresee problems. You are still far more likely to be evaluated by your scores, research, and interview performance rather then what country you come from.

Overall, these countries account for only a small number of IMGs applying for residency programs. For those who are citizens of India, Pakistan, China, and Nigeria are NOT affected by the ban. However, we want to make all non-U.S. citizens to be aware of the importance of staying on top of all of their VISAs and expiration dates. Please be proactive in ensuring all paperwork is up to date especially when traveling in and out of the United States.

IMGs play a hugely important role in healthcare in United States. They represent nearly 25% of all licensed physician. This will not change.

Applications are in. You may have submitted your ERAS already or are planning to in the next few weeks. You’ve gotten your personal statement done, the score reports are sent, and the LORs are in and now you’re waiting to hear back from programs. We’ll talk about a few evidence-based sources that can get you a sense of your likelihood of matching.

Based on Specialty

We’ll take a look at Family Medicine and Internal Medicine as a gauge of how IMGs are doing in the match. You may not have applied to either of these 2 specialties but the data on your respective choices would be found in the link below.

The overall match rate in 2013/14 cycle (where this data is based) for Family Medicine was 32% for an IMG and 43% for a Carribean IMG. For Internal Medicine, 48% of IMGs matched while 53% of Carribean IMGs matched.

matching international medical graduate
Based on Step Scores

Step scores are an easy-to-use predictor of success in the match, especially because getting a higher score means getting more interviews – it’s your foot in the door. With a Step 1 score of 220, you have about a 40-50% chance of matching. If you have a Step 1 score of 240, that figure is 60-70%. These statistics apply to international IMGs (not for Carribean/US IMGs).

For predictions based on Step 2, if you have a 220, that predicts a 40% chance of matching while a 240 equates to about 60% chance – very similar statistics.

matching international medical graduate Step 1 Score

matching international medical graduate Step 2 score

There are a lot of people who are dismayed with Step 1/Step 2 scores in the 220s. But based on this data, it suggests that you are approximately on track with the mean – about a 40-50% chance of matching overall. This also doesn’t take into account the number of cycles applicants have applied in the match nor the number of takes they have repeated these tests or other tests. If it is your first application cycle and you have passed on the 1st attempt for everything, then likelihoods are a little higher.

If you take the example of Internal Medicine, you can see that the majority of people who matched had a Step 1 score between 220 – 250 (the dark blue bars are those who matched).

 matching international medical graduate Average Step 1 score

I’ve seen people match successfully with a score in the 210’s into Internal Medicine. While I’m less confident they would definitely be able to, it’s not something that makes matching impossible.

In Summary

Finally, I do strongly feel that Step 1/2/3/CK scores are a relatively minor part of ranking an applicant. As many interviewers have said before to me, once they have the applicant in front of them, it’s more about how impressive they convey themselves to be during the interview. Ultimately, the committee that sits together to decide the program’s rank list goes off of the “feeling” or “impression” they get from the applicant as a whole. On the other hand, some do use a formula based system which weighs different factors like interview, LORs, scores etc. The data above was from ECFMG Charting Outcomes in the Match in 2014.

While you’re here, take a look at an example of how to effectively answer the question “Why did you choose Internal Medicine?” to see if RIQ could benefit you this season.