Medical School Again or Residence

Hello. I graduated medical school 3 years ago in Russia, I don’t know what to do. Start to study again here in the U.S. and apply to a medical school, or take USMLE exams, and try to find a residence. I am interesting in cardiosurgery or OB GYN.I know it is very hard to find a residence here if you a foreign doctor. And it will take me about 2 years to pass USMLE exams. When my diploma will be 5 years old. Please tell me what do you think I should do. Do I have any chances to find a good residence in the U.S. with my Russian diploma? Thanks.

You need to attain ECFMG certification:

You’ll probably get better help about ECFMG and securing a US residency from the ValueMD website:

In addition to meeting the ECFMG requirements, many programs will want to see recent hands-on patient experience, preferably in the specialty to which you are applying. This is different than shadowing; you will need to be doing histories, supervised physicals, charting/scribing, taking vitals, etc. The length of time varies by program, from a few weeks to a year or more before you can apply.

Time is of the essence. The sooner you can get through all the requirements and do well on step exams, the better your chances are of securing a position. Cast a broad net and consider all your options. If you are set on cardiothoracic surgery by all means go for it, but understand it is a highly competitive field even for US grads. Even if you were to land a general surgery residency, it’s no guarantee that after 5 years of grueling work you could get into a cardiothoracic fellowship. OB/GYN or other primary care specialties are less competitive and more receptive to FMGs. Be open to the idea of going to a small community program in either a rural or medically underserved urban area.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Hi Everyone,

My name is Raja. I met many of you at the Conference in Orlando (which was awesome). As I mentioned then, I graduated from a Caribbean school in 2008, but haven’t matched and have decided to try to become a DO. I just got my MCAT score, which is a 31. Is that score high enough?

P.S. Rich, I don’t know if you got the e-mail I sent to you, as per your request, after the conference- since I never did hear back from you.

31 is definately high enough for DO. It seems painful for you to have to go thru 4 years of med school TWICE. However, being 4 years from your med school I can see that this may seem the best avenue. Going to DO school, you will have the opportunity to apply thru both matches, as well. Best of luck! (average score for DO schools is, I think, in the range of about 29.


Dear Kate,

Thank you very much for your advice! I have another question for you. My science gpa’s are as follows:

1999- Undergrad: 3.08 (across 86 hours)

2000- Graduate: 2.94 (across 17 hours)

What I have done in medical school- abroad- is usually ignored by admissions- here.

I would like to do an academic-enhancer (or post-bac) program, especially ones that include basic science courses/ admissions advice/ & advanced standing upon completion.

I hope my MCAT score might be useful, along with my 2010 GRE score (1440), in getting me into one of these.

So my question is: I want to raise my GPA. How do I do it and where could I go to do that?

Thanks again! Like me, it sounds like you’ve been down many roads.

Good luck with your rotations! Please get back to me when you aren’t too busy.


P.S. In future, I hope to take the COMLEX and enter the Osteopathic Match only.

Raja -

I would look into the post-bacc programs listed at the AAMC web site:

Unfortunately, having just checked there, the web site seems to be down. The one I took at UVA is the basic science prereqs, but generally “requires” a gpa of 3.25 to apply. Does not mean that you couldn’t inquire into it as you have other factors to balance that --as you said, your MCAT and GRE scores. I really don’t now much about other postbacc programs.

Regarding taking the COMLEX and applying only thru the osteopathic match - if you go to a DO school, you can only take the COMLEX and still apply thru both matches, to DO residencies (thru the DO match) and to dually accredited residencies (thru the “regular” match)…this is my plan. Definately broadens your opportunities.