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research or not?

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Hello IACBG,

I am final year medical student from Belgrade, Serbia. Expected time of my graduation is January 2008. I became US permanent resident in 2004. That enabled me to pursue one of the biggest goals of my life-to live and work in the United States. My husband lives in New York so I frequented the city in the past few years. After my graduation my plans are to move to New York and study for the USMLE tests (I am fully aware of terms of nostrification process) . I know that I am an alien in this country and that research experience among scientists and doctors prior to applying for the residency program is preferable. I also know that the USMLE scores are not everything and that that kind of experience would help make my personal statement more sophisticated as well as turn me into more competitive residency applicant. On the other hand, lots of my friends (who are now licensed MDs in the US) advise me not to go trough research program that will take many years, and just take the boards and do a few observerships afterwards. Is there a research program that takes less that 3 years(unlike post doc)? As the deadline of my graduation approaches (January 2008) I grow more and more indecisive. I am currently in NYC, but I am going to Serbia in one week. I would love to schedule an appointment with one of your advisers ( I tried to do in once, but it didn't work out) and talk about my situation. Is that possible?

I really appreciate your help.

Have a nice day!


Jovana Bijelic

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Dear Jovana,

Okay, I think that we can answer these questions through the forum pretty easily. Okay, first of all in terms of research programs, why not look into a two year masters degree at a graduate school that offers some research opportunities? This could have several benefits for you. First it would provide you with the experience that you desire. In addition, it would really beef up your control of the English language for the USMLE.

On the other hand, as your friends have advised you, there are some benefits in going straight to residency. In terms of finding a residency, right here within this topic is a link to a program that helps IMGs find residencies: http://www.iacbg.org/board/index.php?showtopic=838 - right below this topic as matter of fact!

I know that these are some heavy decisions that you are facing. One of the first steps that you might like to take would be to visit our library and use the Peterson's Graduate Studies volume that covers the sciences. There you can find a list of programs. I really prefer the hard copies because they are quite thorough, but there is also an online search engine that I think you will find most helpful:


Then the next step that you might want to consider, after carefully studying the various programs and reading the departmental information on research, the bios of the professors, and getting a real feel for the department so that you are able to present yourself as a person who is well informed about the deparment programs, would be to schedule a visit to the department.

I also know that there are great advantages to spending some time engaged in research. Also it can help you make some very good contacts for finding a residency. It sounds as if you are very torn between these two options and visiting the departments and engaging with the people in the department can help you decide whether the two years of research in a masters program is for you or whether you would rather head straight for a residency.

Best of luck,


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There are 2 things that are considered as a big plus in your CV during your residency interview .High Usmle score and USA clinical experience.

So try to have as high score as possible.

Regarding clinical experience the only relevant one is doing clinical elective rotation in some of the US med schools. That is possible to do only while you are still in your med school. But requirement for that is to pass USMLE step 1.So I am afraid that you will not manage to do that having in mind that you will finish your med school next year.

Observership is done by med school graduates and you are basically a shadow of a doctor and you are not allowed to touch the patient. This will not be valuable at all during interview - they might not even consider it for a clinical experience.Research is basically nothing - just wasting your time.

So finish your med school and give all the steps and you will be fine.

You are already superior to many applicants for residency because you are US permanent resident.

Good luck

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