I approached accomplished and highly experienced international medical graduates (IMGs) who have established their careers in the United States and Canada with a pertinent inquiry: How do unmatched IMGs enhance their CV while awaiting a match? To ensure a comprehensive perspective, I sought the counsel of these seasoned professionals currently practicing in the US and Canada. Employing a systematic approach, I devised a survey comprising eight distinct options:
- Exploring Research Roles: Involvement in research-oriented positions.
- Navigating Medical Coding & Billing: Engaging in medical coding and billing tasks.
- Venturing into Industry Sectors: Pursuing opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry.
- Assuming Medical Scribe Roles: Assisting physicians with administrative tasks and documentation.
- Contributing to Clinical Settings: Participating in non-physician roles within clinics or hospitals.
- Embarking on Medical Writing: Crafting medical-related content and documentation.
- Undertaking Non-Skilled Employment: Seeking employment in sectors such as retail, gas stations, or factories.
- Exploring Other Avenues: Remaining open to alternative avenues beyond the predefined options.
Through these distinct options, I aimed to encapsulate a wide array of potential paths for unmatched IMGs, all of which were gleaned from the firsthand experiences and knowledge shared by these accomplished IMGs. Let’s check what I found:
Experienced IMGs Say This
1. Research Jobs
The insights provided by these seasoned professionals uniformly revealed that a common route observed among unmatched IMGs is their engagement in research-oriented roles. This encompasses positions such as research fellows, research coordinators, and research associates. In certain instances, these individuals might be under a J1 visa arrangement, receiving compensation for their contributions. Alternatively, for unmatched IMGs, a promising avenue entails initiating voluntary involvement in research endeavors, eventually transitioning into a remunerated role when circumstances permit. Understanding this trend proves invaluable, particularly for unmatched IMGs seeking a strategic direction. Opting for the path of least resistance and aligning with established trajectories emerges as an optimal approach based on this collective wisdom.
2. Non-Physician Roles
The second prevalent avenue pursued by unmatched IMGs is engagement in non-physician roles within clinics. This option holds immense promise. For IMGs who have yet to secure a match, the approach involves proactively approaching local clinics, and offering assistance with various administrative tasks. This entails responsibilities such as organizing files, managing phone inquiries, and coordinating patient appointments. While these tasks might not initially demand specialized skills, the strategic advantage lies in the establishment of professional connections and collaborations with U.S. or Canadian consultants. The potential benefits extend beyond the role itself: it opens the door for obtaining valuable letters of recommendation from board-certified or Royal College-certified consultants. Notably, this arrangement typically offers compensation.
Interestingly, this trajectory is particularly prevalent among international dental graduates, who often leverage their expertise by stepping into such roles upon completing their training programs in their home countries before venturing to the U.S. or Canada. Similarly, unmatched IMGs also find this avenue appealing and viable.
3. Medical Writing
Insights gathered from 33 percent of seasoned experts underscored that medical writing stands as the third prevalent path undertaken by IMGs. In this realm, medical writing serves either educational or regulatory objectives. For IMGs, the focus predominantly veers towards educational content creation. This involves aiding in crafting diverse materials such as newsletter articles or potentially engaging in research-related endeavors where tasks encompass abstract and manuscript composition. This avenue holds dual possibilities—it might entail compensation, or it could be a voluntary undertaking.
The overarching objective here is twofold: to bolster one’s CV and to foster connections within the U.S. medical landscape. This trajectory proves instrumental in attaining both these aspirations.
4. Industry Jobs
The next pursuit adopted by IMGs revolves around striving to secure positions within the pharmaceutical industry. While this avenue might appear promising at first glance, I can personally attest to its challenges based on my own experiences. I’ve encountered instances where my efforts to assist individuals in accessing pharmaceutical roles encountered roadblocks, despite the presence of my own professional connections. This highlights the considerable difficulty in breaking into this sector, particularly for individuals who are recent graduates.
It’s crucial to understand that gaining entry into the industry job market, especially for those who are fresh graduates, is an arduous task. While possessing board certification in the U.S. or Royal College certification in Canada can potentially alter the landscape, IMGs who are concurrently navigating the journey toward residency face distinct challenges. While success stories do exist within the IMG community, it’s essential to recognize that this accomplishment remains the achievement of a minority.
How about non skilled jobs?
Among the experiences I’ve personally encountered, I’ve come across instances involving two IMGs that offer important lessons. The first case involves an IMG who, due to a myriad of personal reasons, found themselves unable to secure a residency position in the U.S. As time passed, they became a more seasoned graduate and found themselves employed in a retail store. I am not saying any particular job is good or bad but rather i would expect as an IMG you move out of your home country to focus on a skilled job. Although these stories are fortunately rare, they do underscore the significance of making well-informed decisions, standing out amidst competition, and seizing every opportunity available.
In this pursuit, I strongly recommend exploring www.imgsecrets.com, a platform where valuable insights can be gleaned. Furthermore, I invite you to schedule a personal appointment with me by clicking here, where we can delve into your unique journey as an IMG. During our one-on-one video call, I will attentively listen to your circumstances, review your CV, and provide tailored recommendations to guide your next steps. This ensures that your efforts are strategic and well-directed, minimizing the risk of investing considerable time and resources without achieving the desired outcomes.
As an IMG, your ultimate aspiration is undoubtedly success. Often, achieving this requires thinking outside the conventional paradigms. For instance, I recently engaged with an IMG who, while pursuing matching into a Residency program, was also contemplating a venture into the business realm. I encouraged this individual to maintain an open mind and explore unconventional paths. The truth is, success may manifest in unexpected domains, and as an IMG, diversifying your strategies could yield remarkable results.
A vivid illustration of this perspective is found in an IMG from Canada who encountered challenges in securing a Residency placement despite substantial experience. This IMG and their family embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, establishing a thriving business in Canada. Witnessing their flourishing endeavors brings me immense joy and reaffirms the notion that unconventional thinking can yield exceptional outcomes
How about medical coding & billing?
Interestingly, a notable observation stemming from the survey I conducted is the absence of IMGs engaging in medical coding and billing roles. This oversight, upon reflection, highlights an intriguing oversight on my part. Medical coding and billing present a valuable opportunity wherein individuals assist clinics and hospitals in generating bills for submission to insurance companies in the U.S. and governmental bodies in Canada. Despite its potential, several factors contribute to its underrepresentation among IMGs.
Primarily, the presence of a considerable workforce in the U.S. and Canada who are inclined towards this profession can result in challenges for IMGs breaking into the field. Barriers such as language and cultural differences might pose additional hurdles. Moreover, medical coding and billing necessitate specialized training, often requiring individuals to complete a designated course before venturing into this domain. This prerequisite could potentially act as an impediment for some IMGs.
I would welcome insights from anyone familiar with IMGs successfully pursuing medical coding and billing. Your valuable input would greatly enrich our understanding and contribute to a more comprehensive perspective.
How about IMGs working as medical scribes?
Conversely, another aspect that emerged from the survey is the notable absence of responses regarding medical scribe roles. These roles involve assisting physicians by documenting patient information within electronic health records. The lack of mentions in the survey might be attributed to the presence of graduate students and other individuals readily available to fulfill such responsibilities. The competition from this pool could potentially explain why none of the IMGs surveyed reported witnessing individuals engaged in medical scribe roles.
Such insights emphasize the importance of being attuned to nuanced dynamics within various roles and professions, as well as recognizing the impact of existing market conditions on IMG opportunities.
For IMGs who find themselves unmatched and are seeking a clear direction to navigate this interim period trying to maximize their CVs, consider focusing your efforts on the following avenues:
Exploring Research Opportunities: Look into securing research positions, which could involve roles as research fellows, coordinators, or associates. This provides a valuable way to contribute to the medical field while also enhancing your CV.
Engaging with Non-Physician Roles: Reach out to clinics and healthcare settings where you can work in non-physician capacities. This could involve administrative tasks, aiding in paperwork, or assisting with patient coordination, all of which offer valuable experience.
Offering Writing Assistance: Make connections with U.S. consultants and professionals who might benefit from your writing skills. Crafting content such as newsletter articles, abstracts, or manuscripts can not only contribute to the medical community but also establish relationships that could yield letters of recommendation.
Navigating this phase as an unmatched IMG can indeed be highly competitive. If you find yourself needing guidance and support to make informed decisions, I encourage you to explore the resources available at IMG Secrets and book an appointment by clicking here to receive specific guidance. This platform is designed to ensure that you seize every opportunity available, avoiding missed chances that could shape your future positively.
Dr. Rajeev Iyer MBBS, MD, FASA
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
The content in this article are solely the opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of University of Pennsylvania or any other organization.