What makes for a successful US residency match application? Here you’ll find answers from two AMIQT alumni who matched in US residency this spring, Dr. Karandeep Singh Bhatti and Dr. Victoria Mazo.
- Where did you Match?
Dr. Bhatti: Cooper University Hospital, NJ.
Dr. Mazo: University of South Florida, Tampa.
- Can you talk a little bit about your medical journey? How did you get where you are now?
Dr. Bhatti: I did my medical school at Common Medical College, Amritsar. I’m a 2018 graduate. Year of graduation is a big deal, so I say that for everyone to get an estimate of my profile. I decided to do the USMLE after I graduated. That is something I would say to all of you who are planning to do your USMLE – begin planning during your internship and not after you graduate. I wanted to go for neurology, so at that time, because rotations were not open, I heard of Dr. Bernad’s tele-rotation. Because of COVID I was not able to get an in-person rotation. That’s how I reached AMIQT. It’s one of very few clinical rotations which are willing to help out in terms of gaining US clinical experience.
Dr. Mazo: I’m originally from Moscow, Russia. I graduated medical school in 2017 and that’s the year I came to do my externship with Dr. Bernad. It was April so I was about to graduate, and I came to have my hands-on experience with Dr. Bernad. It was amazing. Then, I moved to the states later on that year because my family was here. Ever since then, I’ve been working on my USMLE’s. I had a baby, so that was also a holdup, and I finally got ready, took all of the steps, and applied for match 2021. That’s my journey.
- Which rotation did you do with AMIQT and was that impactful for your residency match process?
Dr. Bhatti: I did the neurology rotation with Dr. Bernad and it was immensely helpful for me. As I said there were not many opportunities because of COVID to get hands-on clinical experience. I had only two months of clinical experience on my application when I applied for neurology so I was a bit worried about how it would pan out, but luckily Dr. Bernad’s letter of recommendation was very helpful. It was brought up by interviewers many times. They were quite impressed by what he had written for me. Also, because this was the first time this tele-rotation concept had started (it was the first match cycle), they were all very intrigued to know how it all happened, how patient interactions went on, and how we learned about the subject in the first place. So it was a very unique experience and something that almost everyone was quite impressed with, how I was able to do this safely at distance in a tele-health module.
Dr. Mazo: I think so. That was the only neurology rotation I had. It was not only amazing because it was hands-on (I got the chance to talk to patients and take patient notes) but it was also out-patient, in multiple sites, and we got a chance to do in-patient and be a part of Grand Rounds at George Washington. It was the best experience. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve been telling all the people who have asked me about my journey that this is probably one of the best things I could have done for my future because I got a chance to know what a neurologist actually does in America. It was impactful also because I got an interview at George Washington University because of my connection to Dr. Bernad. I really loved the program; it was one of my top five choices.
- Do you have any advice for people applying to US Residency?
Dr. Bhatti: My first advice would be to start early because of challenges that may come in the year of graduation. Starting early helps in the process of USMLE.
Number two: definitely focus on doing well on your exams. Even if you don’t – because sometimes scores are the things that are not very well in our control (sometimes things don’t go how we plan them), then comes the most important part, which is US clinical experience. I’ve been very fortunate to have gained US clinical experience with the masters in their field, like Dr. Bernad in neurology. Choose wisely. Go with the mentors who are very willing to teach and recommend you to residency programs with all their heart. Also, be sincere in whatever you do. You can’t expect to be there and not participate and then expect a letter of recommendation at the end. You have to be very willing to learn and contribute. Dr. Bernad’s rotation was a huge learning point for me in all this whole process, so definitely plan out your US clinical experience well, even if it’s a tele-rotation, which we all know is going to be the future of medicine from here on. Apart from that, work well on your CV and personal statement, something that AMIQT helps with. Dr. Nakka helped me immensely with my CV and personal statement. These are things that we all need help with, so go to someone who you know will do their best to help you out. For me, that was definitely AMIQT.
Dr. Mazo: My advice would be to make a smart choice about where to apply. If you choose smartly, you don’t set your expectations too high or too low. You just have to know exactly where you want to apply so you don’t waste money and are not wasteful with your time, applying and waiting for programs which are probably not going to invite you. Especially for foreign medical graduates, if you go online and see that the program doesn’t have any foreign medical graduates, you probably shouldn’t apply there. Same thing with interest – if you are interested in doing research and the program doesn’t have research, maybe you should apply just for backup, but you have to understand what’s important for you and your career. What’s also important is to understand that a lot of programs are advanced. I didn’t know that before I started applying. You have to be mindful that it’s very hard to get a preliminary spot and if it’s only an advanced program, you have to prepare for that. Do your homework before you apply – before you pay money and wait for invitations.
My biggest advice would be to know your application well and the program application well. Be prepared. Go there knowing faculty – what they do, what their research is, so you can impress them by showing your interest in the program. It’s not only them choosing you; it’s also you choosing a place to work for four years, so it’s something where you can’t underestimate the importance of knowing the program well.