There are usually 2 options to get medical experience in the US to boost your CV:
1. Clerkship. It is usually an option to medical students at their last year of medical school. Some hospitals offer clerkships for international students. The price for such experience can be pretty high - but it is totally worth it.
2. Observership/shadowing. This is experience of just watching without any clinical responsibilities/patient care . You can do it as a student, as a resident or as an attending visiting from different country. Not so many hospitals offer it, so people usually find observerships through connections - networking is everything nowadays! Never hesitate to email everyone! You just send out hundreds of emails to doctors you'd like to work with - and hope someone says "YES".
3. Externship. Clinical "hands-on" experience. Usually required all USMLE passed.
One of the most frequently asked questions. Not everyone wants to be a clinician and practice medicine but still wanna be related to the medical field. So here are the options:
1. Research. Everyone has heard about it but not everyone knows what it is. Mostly office job with possibility to see patients depending on the department. Basically you are a liaison between investigators, regulatory organizations and pharm/device companies.
2. Hospital administration. Usually requires extra education, like MBA or MHA.
3. Pharm/Biotech companies. Very wide-spread sector including multiply possibilities from drug development to medical marketing.
4. Insurance companies.
Let's talk about the chances to match into the residency for IMGs,and what is depends on:
1. USMLE scores. Easy - the higher the better. Also, depends on speciality. Do not try to get into dermatology unless you have 260+ on both Steps! =) But you match into Internal Med with 220.
2. Speciality. Most IMG friendly are - family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics. Least - surgery, ob/gyn, ortho, dermatology. *varies very year*
3. Experience in the USA. Observerships, clerkships, clinical research, volunteering. Only here you get familiar with local medicine and get connections to get your LORS.
4. LORs (Letters of recommendation). All 3 preferred from American physicians.
5. Location!! Very important! Most IMGs apply to hundreds of programs hoping to get at least a few interviews. The further you go - the better the chances. Exception - NYC. It is very diverse, multinational with a lot of hospitals in all neighborhoods.
6. Money. Application process is pretty expensive. You can spend a few thousand dollars to apply to hundreds of programs.
Let's talk second option:
2. Go with school. I opted for this option. There are many great schools who prepare students. I stayed with Kaplan. They had good options for any budget: online, self-study, live lectures, center prep, etc. You can do all online, or all in the center. You chose. In my personal experience, I never hesitated about taking courses. I took center prep + live lectures. Biggest advantage of going to school is that you study with people like you, you communicate, make friends and share information about your progress. Team spirit here is everything!
*This post is no way sponsored, information above is based on my personal experience and recommendation*
The most important question is usually where to start. There are 2 options - study by yourself or go with any center that prepares you.
1. You go by yourself. That is a good option and definitely cheaper (you will buy only books). It is also most time consuming option and you have to be very self-motivated or it will be inefficient. One of the most important things is to have your preparation structured. There is always a ton of materials, and you need to learn by yourself how to spent time only on relevant topics and not to spent time on thousand books. You need to extract what is important. If you are very self-determined, you will do good! My recommendations for books - Kaplan Lecture Notes and First Aid.
For test practice I will go with uWorld only.
You asked how I ended up in the States. Let me tell you about the road that brought me to the US. I was dreaming about coming to the US sine I was a teenager (thank you, endless TV shows). And I started travelling to the US to study English every summer, then I have enrolled into Medical School in Russia, and kept dreaming about coming to my favorite country one day. I remember myself when I just found out about USMLE. I was on my 3rd year of medical school. It seemed unreal. Exams seemed to be so challenging. But I followed my dream – took USMLE courses in New York in one of the schools, and… YAY! 2.5. years later I was holding the most desired thing in the world – ECFMG certificate. Nothing is impossible if you truly want it!
P.S. While in NYC, I met my future husband :) who is now an attending-anesthesiologist.