Advise from an IMG who matched in dermatology at a prestigious university program

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You know when you see them.

From the first day they start working on their application to the day of the match, you see them being methodical and inspired. They have good and bad days like everyone else, they have successes and failures like everyone else but they persists in their upward spiral of being the best.

Welcome to the world of top performer IMGs. These are the IMGs who persisted in their efforts to match at their dream residency spots despite their limitations.

You may have seen some of these applicants, may be you have read about them on the forums or heard stories. The real question is :

CAN YOU BE THE TOP PERFORMER IMG?   Can you match at your dream residency spot ?

The answer is YES.
Even if you don’t have amazing scores.
Even if you are an old graduate.
Even if you need a visa.

And one way to this is to learn from these top performer IMGs. I want to talk about studying the best. Too many people seek advise from not so successful people and walk away with vague inaccurate information that dont help them in any way.

I’d rather introduce you to amazing, successful IMGs who can show you what you all are capable of doing but never thought you could do. Being the best is never an accident. If you’re aiming to be amazing at what you do – whether it’s residency match or your career after residency– one of the best things you can do is elevate who you study from.

To do that, I have created this section for interviewing some amazing IMGs and asking them how exactly they did it.

Our first top performer IMG is someone who matched in dermatology residency at a big university program this year. She outlines exact steps she took, how long she worked for it and her credentials/scores to land a residency spot in on of the most competitive programs in the country.

Here are the questions I asked her and her replies.

1. Dermatology is PGY2 through PGY4, with pgy1 being a prelim position in medicine or surgery. Is that correct? Is there a PGY1 in dermatology?
Yes that is correct. Like some other specialties such as Ophthalmology and Anesthesia, Dermatology needs a PGY1 in medicine or surgery. Another option is to do a Transitional Year (kind of an internship where you rotate in every department for a few weeks/months). Transitional year is very competitive as they have limited spots and mostly American graduate applicants. In general, I found matching in to prelim equally taxing as derm because you are competing with candidates who are applying for derm/ophtho/radio etc.

2. What were your scores or is it necessary to have super high score 230+ for derm?
Most dermatology programs have a Step 1 cut off of around 225. The mean score for selected candidates is over 230. While a high score is vital, a high score alone is not enough to secure an interview in dermatology.

3. Did you have an advanced degree; MPH, PhD etc in US? Do you think that helps?
I did not have any advanced degree in the US. But I had completed a dermatology residency in my home country, which probably helped me secure research fellowships in the US.

4. Did you work in any capacity in dermatology in US? Volunteer, observership, externship, paid research etc. Also for how long?
I did two research fellowships in US for a total of around three years. I was on a paid research position in the last two years.

5. What other tips do you have for a dermatology IMG applicant?
I think it is not an easy path to get into derm. It is more of a marathon than a sprint race. My journey was long and stressful but persistence ultimately paid-off.Having 2-3 years of quality research experience is a must for everyone whether it is an AMG or IMG. I know many AMG’s who have done 2-3 years of research before matching in derm. Last but not the least- having a good network is indispensable. I had 4 great LOR’s from key opinion leaders in derm and reached out to all possible sources for help during the whole application process.

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7 thoughts on “Advise from an IMG who matched in dermatology at a prestigious university program

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your advice. Will this IMG who matched to dermatology be willing to answer specific questions? Dermatology has always been my dream specialty but I really don’t know how to go about it being an IMG.


  2. Hello,
    This was a very encouraging read. I am currently a premed student studying outside of the US in a 6 year medical program. I am interested in applying to dermatology, but know that it will be difficult. Any advice for what a premed student can be doing to get prepared? Also, how can one go about getting a research fellowship in the US?

    Thank you

  3. Thank you a lot for this topic! I have been looking for such for a log while. I have a lot of questions and I would appreciate it if I would be able to contact. Thank you.

  4. Hello.
    I am an IMG and I wish to know a little more in detail. Can I get the email id of this IMG who matched. Or is there any other way to contact her/him.
    I am a new graduate and I have started preparing for USMLE.
    I wish to know the cores needed for dermat.
    And how can I get research fellowship. And few more doubts.

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