Residency in the US for UK med school grads?

Well, I’ve never posted in the residency forum before, seeing as that’s so far down the road for me, but I have a question about it that I’m hoping to start researching soon, so here goes…
I’m applying to med school this cycle, and will hopefully be starting in 2005. In addition to applying to schools here in the US, one place I originally wanted to apply to is in England. It’s located in London and is called Guy’s, King’s, and St. Thomas, or GKT for short, and is part of King’s College London, which in turn is part of the British university system, the same system that includes places that are more internationally known, like Oxford. GKT takes overseas students into their four and five year programs. (The four year program is designed for people with an undergraduate degree while the five year program is for most everyone else.) All the students graduate with the British equivalent of an MD degree.
The application for UK schools allows applicants to apply to 4 different medical programs. There’s no extra charge per school, so in addition to GKT I applied to 3 other programs, 2 in England and one in Scotland. I’m especially hopeful about the school in Scotland, because they consider MCAT scores, so they’ll be something in my application that they are familiar with.
I’m also applying to 2 schools in Canada. I know this strategy sounds kind of strange, but I would really just love to live in either Britain (or Canada, if that’s where I end up). I like Europe and I’d be closer geographically to places that I’d like to work one day (such as the International Red Cross or the European World Health Organization, for example). I think the chances I’ll get into any of these schools are pretty slim, but still I’ve gone ahead with the applications up til now.
At this point though, I have to decide how serious I am, because GKT requires applicants to take an aptitude test, which I would have to travel to Ottawa, Canada in late November to take. I’ve registered and I’m still planning to go, but yikes–I’ve already shelled out a ton of money on interviews in the US, and the cost of one more trip plus the exam fee is getting much harder to justify. I’m not saying I might not choose a US school OVER a British school and still be perfectly happy that I applied to both, but just that I only want to put money into applications that I can justify taking seriously.
So anyway, my question is–what sources can I look into to start finding out how residency programs would look at an American citizen who attended medical school in the UK and then wants to enter a US residency? This is my major concern regarding attending med school overseas. I know there are threads on this pertaining to “offshore” schools, but I don’t know of much that relates to Americans attending regular British schools. I’m not SURE I’d want to return to the US for a residency, but it’s a possibility. There’s no guarantee I could work in the UK permanently, so I really have to know that my chances here in the US wouldn’t be diminished.
So should I start calling residency programs and asking them? How would I find their names and phone numbers? Is there some kind of central residency organization, comparable to AMCAS? (I guess I could find that out from the AAMC). Are there any formal regulations I could read up on, and if so where would I find them? I know I’d have to take the USMLE and study for it on my own, but that’s about all I’d know. I am not so much worried about proving my academic abilities as I am concerned about being stigmatized or given a “low” priority.
I’ve gone through a similar process in applying to med schools after attending a committee college for pre-reqs, and I don’t want to go through that exact experience again. I feel like even if the regulation books say UK grads can do residency in the US, program directors will have their own emotionally-based preferences that I should find out about NOW rather than later.
Does anyone have advice, words of wisdom, or a particular strategy to recommend as far as getting information? If you do I’d certainly appreciate it very much!

Going strictly by the numbers, only about 50% of IMGs will pass the USMLE. And of those who pass, only about 50% will get into a residency in the U.S. This amounts to a success rate of about 25% if you attend medical school in another country. To the best of my knowledge, these numbers are the same for IMG’s born in the U.S. as well as those who are foreign-born.

I would agree that you should contact the schools. The fact that you are an American citizen vs. a freign national doesn’t make a difference if you are a foreign medical graduate. In that respect, you are about equal, though your skills and language abilities might give you an advance for the clinical skills assessment that IMGs must pass. Some foreign schools, like the Carribean schools, offer US clinicals, which is helpful in getting you seen by those who will offer you a residency. However, your performance on the USMLE is still paramount to getting a residency. As you know from looking around you, obviously there are a number of foreign doctors in the US, so I doubt that blanket statement that you only have a 25% chance of getting a residency are true. My understanding is that the foreign doctors are not competent and/or do not pass the skills test, or if US citizens,didn’t do well in school. I personally contacted the various facilities that had residents from the school I’m starting at (St. Chris in England), and you should too for the schools you’re interested in. If you end up at Kings College, I may run into you!! That’s where St. Chris students do their dissection!! Good luck,

My concern at this point isn’t around the USMLE, because even at many of the US schools I’m looking I’d have to study for that largely independently. Anyway, the British schools are good! I expect I’ll get the same general academic background there that I’d get here. How well I do on the USMLE will be up to me that same way it would be anywhere. Also, as an American attending a British school by choice, as someone who’s aware of the upcoming USMLE and residency match, I think I’d be in a different situation than many IMGs, some of whom might not have thought about residency in the US until right before applying.
As far as clinical rotations, well, if I go to the UK to study medicine, then I’d expect to do all of my education there, including the rotations. I’m not really looking for a way to leave and then come back–I’m just wondering if, after studying overseas, I’d be eligible for a residency here. The schools I’m looking at don’t have a large number of American students, so from that side of things, there’s no one for me to ask. Plus I want the unbiased view of residency directors here in the states. I’m just not sure how to get in touch with them! Also, I want to know if a person’s status as an IMG is like an automatic negative during the match, or if different IMGs are looked at differently. I mean, if I go to England for med school (and to a great school), do really well there, and really well on the USMLE, and take advantage of opportunities that are unique to Europe or England, AND can explain why I went abroad–well then, would my application stand a chance of being regarded in a positive, or at least a neutral light? Or are all IMGs automatically at something of a disadvantage?
Does anyone that’s gone throught the match know how I should get started as far as contacting people? If you do, thanks!

A word of encouragement. Despite all the headaches, there are opportunities for foreign graduates, this is esp. true of the somewhat lesser known programs in primary care speciallties like Family practice and Internal medicine. Many of these programs would not fill except for foreign graduates. As a case in point, at Berkshire medical center, where I did my 3rd year rotations, the majority of the Internal medicine residents were foreign graduates.

there is so much BS about FMG this and that, that the real test is you. GKT will not train you specifically FOR the USMLE. In fact, at GKT they have one test per semester…the end of it. I know and I have seen the scores. Because of that the score for passing is 50%. Not 70%. So it is different. However, can you do just ONE exam per semester and feel good about it. You can go to GKT and get a residency, of that I have NO DOUBT. Absolutely NONE. Why? So many have gone before you AND done it. Its like the naysayers who say , well yer over 33, can’t be a doc then. Screw em. Show em what you are made of IF you opt for that.
Sure there are plenty of people who cheer you on to School X. Are they still there when you decide on Surgeons, or GKT, or anywhere else? If not, they are bandwagoners.
There is no shame in going outside the country. Medicine is not just taught inside the continental 48. BTW, I saw a patient yesterday who had Dupuytren’s contractures from panreatitis and a mild viral infxn in the RLL of the lung. SO COOL!!!

I have a book called ‘Medicine and Medical Education in Europe - The Eurodoctor’ edited by Gunther Eysenbach. (I live in Europe (already have a PhD and work in research) and thought about doing my MD over here). You might find this useful if you can get your hands on it. I think there is a website so if you do a google search maybe you can find something.