I graduated from medical college in Pakistan. Knowing I wanted to pursue a specialty in the US, I went through the routine process of studying for and clearing the USMLE's and becoming ECFMG certified. There are plenty of online forums that help you up to that stage. What happens after that and before you land a residency is something no one prepares you for. Even knowing a person who went through the process is not enough. I found the answers to all my questions about the process, its workings and methods at the IMI Career Guidance Seminar. I learnt more in the few hours I spent there than I did in months, yes months, of thorough research online and through the measly networking I was capable of as a foreign graduate. It is literally a live 'Medical Residency for Dummies', and you get great coffee and dinner to boot. I interacted with candidates like myself along with current residents, and doctors who are involved in hiring committees at hospitals. I learnt how to choose programs, how to strengthen my resume, what to seek and where, and even what to wear. I have a month before I apply, but after the seminar - I have more confidence in the 'how' of the process. I walked in to the seminar hall a nervous wreck - armed with vague internet advice and the intimidation of an overwhelming process. I thought my average scores would filter me out of every hospital program - I left knowing I need to apply 'wisely', not 'widely'. I learnt how to identify and enhance my positives, and overcome my shortcomings. I understood how to streamline programs to apply to, how to contact them and the level of persistence to employ. I was made aware of the importance of and difference between clinical experience in the US and research experience, and how to add both to my resume. All this, and more, in just a few hours. I cannot stress enough the effects this seminar had on me. I am now realistic in my approach - versus the optimism fresh graduates tend to bring with them. You may choose not to believe me, but after the seminar I didn't just breathe a sigh of relief - I let slip a few tears as well. I knew what to do, how to do it and where to ask for assistance.
If InshAllah, I secure a residency in the upcoming match, I will owe the organizers and the speakers at the seminar more than they will take credit for.