50% of FMGs Not Matching - Residents Medical Creates a Residency Pathway For 2015
By Tom Shelley
Los Angeles, CA
In America, a medical degree can only be activated by completing medical residency. No residency: no medical doctor--whether international or domestic, a physician cannot be licensed in the US. Over 30,000 medical school graduates started residency this July. They were from US Allopathic medical schools (MD), US Osteopathic (DO) schools as well as international medical schools from all over the world. But they all needed access to get into residency. Of the over 40,000 applicants competing for nearly 26,000 PGY1 first year residency positions only 50 percent of the FMGs (Foreign Medical Graduates) that applied were able to get into a coveted residency.
“This 2015 training year that started July 1 was one of the most competitive ever!” says Alec Linarte, Candidate Education Manger at Residents Medical, a 23-year-old residency guidance company based in Los Angeles that helps numerous graduate medical students from India, Pakistan and the Emirates get into residency. “It’s not hard to do the math; lots of international MDs from European, South Asian or Caribbean Schools were frantically scrambling, watching their professional aspirations slipping away,” says Linarte.
Most of the FMG applicants target FMG friendly specialties like Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics. However, according to the NRMP (National Residency Matching Program), an estimated 50,000 applicants have gone unmatched in the last five years from 2010 – 2015 along with nearly 20,000 applicants who withdrew and most likely received no interviews at all. This year, 2015, at least 850 US medical school graduates, the highest number ever, did not match even after the post-match SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program).
The point is, many of these unmatched applicants are still in the pool of candidates, but getting pushed further back by new graduates, while others have settled to be administrators in some related medical field, or choosing to become nurses or even teachers.
With numerous US medical schools opening more seats and graduating more doctors along with over 18 new US medical schools starting in the last few years, it is clear to see that residency applicants have increased but sadly not the residency positions.
“Residents Medical is very strategic about creating a pathway for medical students and graduates looking to get the competitive edge into a Residency Training Program,” says Greg Heffernan, Vice President of Student Services at Residents Medical. “We have a lot of success stories. We just put a client into a residency program who had been trying for three years with no luck. Finally, by setting her up in a top research program in Internal Medicine she was able to become part of the network medical school residency program and she started as a PGY 1 just a few weeks ago. She was in tears she was so happy. She literally couldn’t believe it until she got her contract,” says Heffernan. Linarte echoes Heffernan’s enthusiasm. “We have had recommendations of wonderful candidates from some top doctors in the community who may have a nephew or dear family friend that is struggling to find a path in. Sometimes these candidates have a USMLE attempt or scores that aren’t very competitive, but they may have talents that a Program Director just needs to see and that can change the whole dynamic,” he says, adding that he recently recommended a client to a top US medical school in the Midwest who had been trying to gain residency unsuccessfully for several years. “He had pretty much about given up and was looking at some other career options,” says Linarte. “Fortunately, we were able to get him into a research program in Family Medicine and the doctor he was working under was so impressed with his research work that he and we both advocated for him to the Program Director. The result is that he is a PGY 1 this year. Enough said,” he says.
Recent Residents Medical clients seem to agree with Linarte about the value of a supporting organization, and many of the successful candidates we interviewed claimed that without Residents Medical’s help they simply couldn’t have found a residency or even been considered for one. Many have been trying for years without much luck, often giving up their dream of being a doctor.
“I have parents calling me asking for help for their children, brothers, sisters, wives, you name it,” says Heffernan, underscoring that once a candidate gets into residency they can finally focus on their passion, a career in medicine and even having a family.
“It’s stressful until they get there. It takes a lot of commitment, but we have story after story with happy endings. You just can’t give up and we try and give a candidate the opportunity to shine because they stayed the course,” says Heffernan. “We’re actually placing our candidates into residencies up until September or even October for a 2015 spot well after the July start date, as well as educating and preparing our next batch of students and candidates for the upcoming 2016 NRMP match that is a short seven months away,” observes Heffernan, sharing that Resident Medical’s offices and website Residentsmedical.com are always humming with new prospects to vet. He states that several Program Directors or former Program Directors will often interview prospective clients and aide in the meticulous residency pathway planning for their clients.
“Residents Medical’s attention to detail, innovation and getting results for its candidates is second to none,” says Linarte, underscoring, “Our candidates must have a pedigree of dedication, there are no shortcuts in our programs.” Perhaps one of Residents Medical’s successful clients summed it up best, “Before Residents Medical, I lost hope and direction. But when I earned this residency through my hard work along with Residents Medical’s guidance and preparation—that all changed. I feel truly blessed.”