This article is written as a supplement to my blog "Things to think and consider about before taking the USMLE"
. Please read that article first before reading this one so that this post will make more sense.
*Disclaimer: This blog is written based on my own personal experience and observations. Not all IMGs have the same experiences and all people will have different experiences from what I will discuss below. Please weigh the risks and the benefits when applying the events of this blog to your own situation.
We now all know that one of the reasons why US residency programs prefer AMGs is because most of them don't need a visa to stay and work legally in the US. Another is because they know the American health care system better than most IMGs (even when IMGs did have credible USCE like electives, externships or mini-residencies). What I would like to point out in this post is that the documents that AMGs submit to ERAS when applying for residency is more "credible" than the AMGs.
What do I mean by "more credible documents
I will give a situation that is currently the standard procedure in my own country.
1] Medical School Performance Evaluation or MSPE
As the name implies, this is the document that the medical school must provide their students/graduates who are to apply for a residency through the Match or via walk-in applications to hospitals. It is a document where the med school's dean should/must write and create, either by him-/her-self or with the help of the one requesting the document. Details must include the class performance and clinical performance of the student/graduate throughout his/her studies in that particular medical school.
This is what happened when you go to the dean's office to ask for an MSPE: After confirming with the dean's secretary that the med school does supply MSPEs, the secretary will tell you (in a very bored tone):
"Doctor, you must make your own MSPE. Print a draft, give us a hard copy and a soft copy of the MSPE and the dean will correct it for you. If there are mistakes in the MSPE, you will have to revise it on your own, then give the revised and corrected soft copy to us and we'll print it on the official letterhead of the dean and the med school; the dean will sign it thereafter."
You did what you were told to do - you submitted the materials then wait for two weeks; however, you're enthusiasm will turn into disappointment/disgust because you'll learn that the dean will only check the grammatical errors in the MSPE
. The dean won't
even verify anything that you wrote, won't
provide a single chart comparing any of the performances of medical students in the different subjects. Worse, the dean had no idea
what an "official" MSPE looks like.
Med school in my country usually treat an MSPE like they way they treat an article for the high school newspaper. Hey, if the dean's job was only
to correct grammatical errors, I would have done a better job
on my own. A dean's purpose is to keep track of the performances of the students, not to be an editor. Most of the local med school were not serious about the welfare of the medical students/graduates, and most (if not all) the deans dismissed the MSPE as a document "for formality's sake when entering into a residency program"
. Yeah right.
This is the exact opposite of what American medical school would do.
I've seen sample MSPEs from UCLA, UW Med, Penn State Med and other US colleges, and they really
follow the guidelines on what is stated in the guide on how to make the MSPE. I do not know if my experience with obtaining an MSPE is similar with the other IMGs, but let's remember that words travel fast, and the walls have ears
- US program directors know the documentation processes of foreign med schools
. THEY KNOW
. And because of that, I believe this is probably one of the reasons why US residency programs take foreign-made MSPEs as "less credible".
2] Letters of Recommendation or LORs
These is the easiest
document to decode. ALL US PROGRAM DIRECTORS KNOW ABOUT THIS
. When foreign graduates ask for LORs from the doctors in their own country, these doctors would say to them, "You write the letter, and I'll just sign it."
And now the complication starts here, because applicants to the Match should choose between the option of waiving
or not waving their rights
to see the LORs. Many forums outside USMLE Rockers
had mentioned that it is better to waive one's right in seeing the letter because it gives more credibility to the LORs. But what is the point of waiving the LORs when you wrote the letter, right?
One reason that precludes a foreign doctor/faculty to write an LOR for a candidate is probably the amount of medical students enrolled in the med school at a given period. As a rough estimate, the most popular med schools in my country has at least 500 students PER year level
. Can you remember all the names and performances of students from freshmen to seniors (which amounts to at least 2000 students)?
This is so unlike
American med schools where most would apply meticulous and strict screening. In contrast to a typical medical college in my country, US med schools have approximately 400 students for ALL the year levels
. The number of their graduates may be minuscule compared to the number of foreign graduates, but America's med schools were never really concerned about the quantity - it's the quality. The faculty can remember the students better, thus, give better evaluation.
So, what do you think about this? Do you have the same experience in your own country, or is it different? Leave a comment below, blog about it or discuss it with fellow IMGs! Share your thoughts!
Hope I've helped somewhat. Peace out, Girl Scout!