Profile of a Successfully Matched IMG Resident

In the recent years, applying for a US residency has become more tough, especially due to the shortage of residency programs and increasing number of applicants. Coupled with the physician shortage crisis and the need for primary care specialties in rural areas, the US residency program match is one of the most stressful times for a medical student, both for US citizens and non-US citizens. Of the 12,387 IMGs who participated in the 2015 Match, 6,302 (50.9%) matched

What exactly is the profile of a MATCHED IMG (international medical graduate)? Based on different reports from ECFMG, GAP, we have condensed the information into two simple infographics:

US Citizen International Medical Graduates (US IMG)

US IMG profile

You are more than a statistic. That is true, except when it comes to weighing your chances at being matched for a US residency program.  Everyone wants to believe that they are the outlier, the 1% who lies outside the average statistics – but that itself is a risky gamble.  Study these statistics of MATCHED applicants and aim to fit this profile because being matched is better than being unmatched and returning through the grueling process all over again.

Profile for a Matched non-US International Medical Graduates (non-US IMG)

For non-US IMGs, your statistics are slightly different from US citizens who went abroad from medical school. Both applicants matched primarily to a primary care specialty and/or internal medicine.

Advice Based on Statistics

1. Take the USMLE Step Exam ONCE. If you take the USMLE Step 1 twice, your chances of matching into your preferred specialty drop to 25% for non-US IMGs. If you are a US IMG, matching into your preferred specialty drop to 40%.

2. Your USMLE Score should be 220 or above. If you see the average scores of matched residents, the US citizens need a slightly lower score than non-US citizens.

3. Apply for residencies in internal medicine, primary care, and pediatrics. The surgery and dermatology residency positions require much higher USMLE scores and are the most competitive. Some residency programs don’t even consider applicants who are from international medical schools.

4. Rank as many residency programs as you can. The residency programs also rank you, based on your application and interview. Keep an open mind and include as many residency programs as you can.

5. Apply for residency programs in New York and the East Coast. Why? This is because according to the GAO report, 78 Percent of all matched IMGs were located east of the Mississippi River and 24% in New York alone! (3)


  3.  Report to Congressional Committees
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  1. Are there any plans to increase the number of residency spots? Considering there is such a shortage, wouldnt they increase the number of slots. I know some say quality over quantity but there are many things you can do to retain the quality.