Ask the Program Director: What advice do you have for international students attending medical schools here in the U.S. to make them competitive for residency positions?
Program Director 1 Response
International students attending U.S. medical schools are academically just as competitive as US citizens attending U.S. medical schools. Most international students are on an "F" Visa and will have to change either to a J1 or H1 visa for residency and fellowship training. Many programs do not sponsor an H1 visa. Willingness and flexibility to accept the J1 visa will make them equally competitive from the residency program perspective. Most students here on an "F" Visa, can extend that through internship so they can effectively get an extra year on their J1 Visa, which would make them more competitive for some fellowships than their IMG counterparts.
Program Director 2 Response
Besides the obvious academics, two things come to mind. First, Visa status. The H-1 is expensive to institutions and becomes an issue with obtaining fellowships (which can then reflect poorly on the program), so being flexible on visa selection is important. Next would be having meaningful clinical experience in the U.S. This does not mean working in the office of their cousin or uncle, but obtaining observerships from ACGME accredited programs which puts them under the scrutiny of faculty and perhaps the PD who can advocate and attest to their skills.
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