Medical Mondays: Overcoming the Barriers as an IMG

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone is doing well! It was amazing speaking with many of you last week during my talk. I hope the information I shared was motivating and helpful. Thank you for attending 🙂 The talk was hosted by IMG Career Counselling. Please contact Ms. Ranika Singh if you require help with both your CaRMS and ERAS applications!

Note: Thoughts and views expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the program I matched at. Additionally, I was not compensated by IMG Career Counselling.

Here are some of my slides and a summary of my discussion:

  • Scores: the bane of our existence
  • I shared my scores to show that I was not someone who scored in the 90th percentile to match. Your application is more than just scores!
  • Said that, you do need to get through the initial scoring criteria that programs will be releasing on November 23rd
  • Very disheartening to go onto forums where people boast about their high scores & matching – is this even real?
  • BC CAP exam – I took it twice, thinking I would do better on my second attempt but I dropped lower (third quartile)
  • Please don’t retake an exam unless you feel ready
  • I have provided information on how I prepared for my examinations (MTE = medical training express)
  • Applied to Canada and 100s of programs in the US, interviews in the US in 2015 & 2016 were because my friend spoke to his program for me and I got the interview
  • Decided to stop applying to the US (too much $), focused my efforts only on Canada
  • With my NAC 74 and CAP (second quartile) I got the UBC interview -> no match
  • Retook NAC and got a 78, so then I got interviews in Ontario FM!
  • Info: I moved to BC to not only pursue the clinical traineeship but to become a BC provincial resident because out of 300 spots for CAP (150 were for BC residents and 150 were for the applicants rest of Canada). My chances were better as a BC resident and I got into the CAP exam both years.
  • I thought my YOG (2011) was keeping me away from getting interviews and matching but if I matched in 2020 then most likely NOT
  • What WAS keeping me from getting interviews was likely everything else you see on the list above
  • Let’s talk about how to improve on this…
  • What do I mean by this?
  • This funnel represents all of us entering the residency process together, but as we go through this funnel more and more of us get filtered out because of various criteria
  • When programs release their information on Nov 23rd, please read it carefully and see whether you meet all the criteria
  • Scores, experience, LORs, personal statement, interview etc.
  • If you are applying again this year, make sure your application has something more added to it
  • Do not submit your application identical to last year
  • What can you change/add to your application?
  • Retaking your exams to score higher? For me it was NAC and my attempt at scoring higher at the BC CAP
  • Can you add valuable Canadian healthcare experience? For me it was moving to BC to pursue the clinical traineeship, volunteer experience, networking in the process!
  • Was your application weak? Have someone experienced review your personal statement, CV and CaRMS application. Remove unnecessary “filler” material, keep things that are valuable and should be mentioned. Your personal statement should be raw and real. Make it stand out.
  • Always always check for spelling and grammatical errors
  • You have to knock on a 1000 doors to get one yes, and that’s what I had to do! I got an opportunity on my 1001! 🙂
  • In the same hospital I got a research job, a simulation job AND observerships (also LORs!) -> One “yes” opportunity gave me many chances to speak to people and open more doors once I was in
  • (FREE) While you are applying for opportunities, please add some continuing medical education certificates to your CV via MDBriefCase.com
  • Some of the certifications I listed above are free (online), I was also provided free training through my volunteering placements
  • Family medicine programs want to see you have meaningful experiencing working with the vulnerable/marginalized populations
  • Finally, if you choose to pursue anything field (while still applying through CaRMS), choose something in the healthcare field that you can still refer to and talk about in your interview
  • **Please note Health Force Ontario is not currently providing interview practice (they used to). Please contact IMG Career Counseling
  • Practice with questions: https://med.uottawa.ca/undergraduate/sites/med.uottawa.ca.undergraduate/files/md2017_-_carms_mock_interview_guide.pdf
  • There was a lot of self reflection and improvement as I had my interviews and it could only get better
  • I practiced more, learned to speak confidently and improve on my answers
  • When you answer a question in an interview, always provide a solid example as to why you said what you said. For example: “My strength is that I work well with people…” Ok, next provide an example from your career to back this up?
  • Use “key words” from the CANMEDS Roles in your answers
  • Power pose infront of the mirror before your interview! It is supposed to increase your confidence and decrease stress! It may seem silly, but I did it…plus who is going to know? 🙂
  • Importantly, don’t appear desperate or over-eager at interviews! I have done this (especially when I was at the lowest of lows). Appear calm, cool, collected EVEN IF you are jumping & bubbling internally 🙂
All pictures from my travel.
  • For your mental health, please enjoy your life as you will never get back the time you lost
  • CaRMS/ERAS, this whole residency process is mentally, physically and financially exhausting
  • Between 2011 and the day I matched I had to make a conscious effort to not let the residency application process take over my life
  • It became an OBSESSION for me, I found myself sinking into dark hole every time it did not work out and one day I had ENOUGH
  • I got engaged, married, had a baby, traveled, spent time with my family, pursued hobbies etc. and I had no regrets. I look back with a smile.
  • Now that I am in residency I don’t have a lot of time to do things I enjoy, so I am very glad I did it when I could
  • This pic is from Instagram @soolooka
  • The main point I was making here is, even though at this very difficult period in your life, no matter what you do you feel that you are not doing anywhere and there seems to be more downs than ups…
  • Actually -> everything you are doing, you are climbing up in your goals, learning from every experience and will soon be meeting your goal!
  • Don’t give up!

Please feel free to message me with your questions, I will do my best to respond to you! I wish you good luck, you’ll do great!

Peace, Love, Health & Happiness always!

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