This advice is geared towards international medical graduates (IMGs), but I’m sure it can be helpful to others. I found it hard to find specific IMG information for Ob/Gyn applicants so I hope this can be a help to someone! These are in no particular order:
Do well on your USMLE Step 1
This hands down is the most important factor in achieving a successful match. The USMLE is not like the MCAT where even if you pass, you can take it again. If you pass, even with a low score, you cannot take it again to get a higher score. You only have one chance to pass, so make it good! During medical school, we were advised that you want to score above the US average since being an IMG in itself can be a hinderance. Check out the NRMPs “Charting the Outcomes” document for the average USMLE Step 1/2CK/CS scores that are needed for Ob/Gyn.
You want to honor/high pass your Ob/Gyn clerkship. Of course you want to do well in all of your clinical rotations, especially in the field you want to match in (if you know it early on). For me, I actually started my third year interested in a completely different field than the one I finally decided I want to choose as a career. I tried to do my best in every rotation since I was unsure about what I wanted to do. Also, if I had a good relationship with an attending or clerkship director, I obtained my letter of recommendation right after the completion of the rotation. This was very helpful since I didn’t have to worry about scrambling at the last minute to obtain letters for ERAS. Also it is good to get the letters right after you finish a rotation since they remember you and can add specific information. Another tip: ask your letter writer if they can write you a “strong” letter of recommendation. The last thing you need is a generic letter!
My first rotation of third year was Ob/Gyn. I was terrified! Ob/Gyn was the last thing I’d ever thought I’d enjoy. I actually had my mind set to do emergency medicine or psychiatry. However, much to my surprise I enjoyed it so much that it changed my mind completely!
If possible, secure electives in any of the subspecialties of Ob/Gyn prior to the summer when you are applying for the match, so that if you need to obtain a letter you can get it before the first day of residency application submission (September). This is also helpful if you are still undecided if Ob/Gyn is the right choice for you. I did a Gyn Onc elective about 8 months after completing my third year rotation. This was really helpful because I didn’t have any Gyn Onc experience during my rotation, so it helped me to see another side of the field and solidify my choice to pursue Ob/Gyn. If you’re still short on letters, try to schedule a Sub-I during July/August. You want at least two letters from Ob/Gyn attendings, but i have heard of people matching with just one.
If you are undecided between Ob/Gyn and another field, choose the other field. I was given this advice by an OB resident. Ob/Gyn is a tough but rewarding field and you really have to LOVE it in order to be happy. For me the risk of malpractice and other issues that may turn others away from the field were irrelevant since no other field seemed to “fit” me like Ob/Gyn did. I was willing to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even after doing rotations in the fields I was originally interested in, none gave me that same feeling like Ob/Gyn!
If you’re interested in research, go for it. I chose to show my interest in the field of Ob/Gyn through community service, but do whatever is best for you! During my interviews, the big academic programs asked if I did any research, while the smaller community programs did not ask as much. Also do things that interest you!
Like any other field for IMGs, apply broadly to IMG friendly places. I used my schools past match lists as well as others from two major schools in the Caribbean. I also checked individual websites to see where their current residents went to school. A lot of places had old IMG matches, but nothing in the past 3-5 years, so I tried to gear my list that has a consistent history of matching IMGs. In total I applied to 104 programs, which also included some non-friendly IMG programs just due to location. I was also flexible as to not restrict my residency programs to one part of the country. Ob/Gyn programs tend to be smaller than internal medicine or family medicine programs so its important to make sure you apply to enough places to get enough interviews.
If you’re offered an interview, take it, even if you do not want to match there. Trust me, when ranking time rolls around you want to make sure you have enough programs. A program will most likely not rank you if you did not interview there, even if they offer you an interview. As with any interview, be professional and be ready to explain why Ob/Gyn. It was asked in almost every single interview. Try not to have a generic response such as, “I like to deliver babies.” Also a lot of programs were interested in my hobbies and other interests. They want to make sure you do more than stick your head in a book all day! Find some extracurricular activities that you enjoy, and it helps if they are related to Ob/Gyn!
When it comes to ranking time, rank your programs in the order of your preference.
If you’re interested in pursuing a fellowship, you would want to train at a program that has a history of its residents matching to fellowship positions, in particular, in your field of interest. Also academic institutions tend to be more research oriented compared to smaller community programs. It also helps if the hospital has a Ob/Gyn fellowship in-house.
I hope these tips are helpful! While these are not golden rules to matching, these are things that I have learned along the way and have read/heard from other people. Good luck!