One of the most time-consuming part of the residency process is making a list of IMG friendly residency programs. As an IMG you should only apply to IMG friendly residency programs whose program criteria you meet. It is very important to be selective in where you apply as there are thousands of programs. With so many programs, application fees can amount to thousands of dollars.
Narrowing down to a couple hundred programs involves determining the intersection of your profile overlapped with program criteria. Do not use the generic “IMG Friendly” Residency Program Lists floating around the internet. You want to tailor the list to your unique profile based on several other factors. The factors are scores, visa status, type of IMG, years since graduation, USCE experience – one size does not fit all. Additionally do not believe a program is IMG Friendly merely because they state so on their website.
There are a few tools online that generate lists of IMG Friendly Residency Programs claiming to also reveal percentage of residents that are IMGs. There absolutely needs to be a distinction between Caribbean vs non-Caribbean IMGs since many programs heavily favor one over the other. An example of this is Family Medicine where programs are statistically twice as Caribbean IMG friendly vs Non-Caribbean IMG friendly. These statistics provided by these tools generalize IMG types as one. All IMGs are not created equally.
How To Create an IMG Friendly Residency Programs List
I started off creating an Excel spreadsheet with tabs for each specialty I wanted to apply to such as “Internal Medicine”, “Family Medicine” etc. Next I went to Freida and searched for programs filtered by specialty and location. We only wanted to apply to certain states where there was potential for job opportunities for my spouse. Being in the IT field we restricted ourselves to California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, New York, etc.
I copied and pasted the search results from Freida to Excel into the respective specialty tab. Next I visited the website of each and every program (which was very tedious to say the least!). I tried to look for each programs application criteria whenever it was specified. I removed or kept the program in my spreadsheet based on whether I met the criteria or not. You will sometimes find this information on the FAQ page.
Distinction between Caribbean IMG vs Non-Caribbean IMG Friendly Programs
The final filter and most important one was to remove or keep programs based on whether they were non-Caribbean IMG friendly. The IMG percentages on Freida do not distinguish Caribbean IMGs from non-Caribbean IMGs. I went through the Current Residents page of each site counting number of non-Caribbean IMGs and dividing them by total number of residents. I entered this percentage in my spreadsheet. As absurd as this may sound, it is the best indicator of whether a program is TRULY IMG Friendly or not. You will come across several programs claiming they welcome IMGs but a quick look at their current residents will suggest otherwise.
Many programs do not have detailed information on their websites, so I attempted to contact them by phone and email. In most cases I was greeted with a voicemail or received a generic reply. I finally picked the top 200+ programs based on reputation and percentage of non-Caribbean IMGs and applied there.
It was relatively quick to detail the process of shortlisting IMG Friendly Residency Programs but it took several weeks to compile. In conclusion you should only apply to those program whose application criteria you meet. Otherwise its very easy to get carried away, applications = money – so apply smart!