By now you’ve heard the big news: the STEP 1 exam might be shifting to a pass/fail grading system. If this happens, how would the absence of a numeric score play into helping international medical graduates get the best US clinical experience with residencies that best match their desired niche of medicine?  

Many students described the previous climate as being a negative one ripe with anxiety and steep competition over matching into specialties, as well as stigmas being placed on those who wanted to avoid the stress by specializing in less competitive areas, such as primary care (the assumption was they didn’t score high enough in STEP 1 to have better options). 

However, many students and experts alike feel that even if STEP 1 goes to a pass/fail system, the competitive nature for betting the best matches will still be fierce, if not even more competitive, as more students will be fighting to get the same placements.  Regardless as to how this plays out, students whose families invest in an IMG agency to get the best US clinical experience for their family members will be enabling their loved ones to get ahead of the competition while making the process significantly easier with far less stress and headaches. 

An IMG Agency Helps You be Strategic in Getting LORs

When an IMG agency is helping you get the best placement while preparing you to have the best US clinical experience possible, obtaining strong LORs from the hospital will be paramount to your success as a future physician. With the possibility that STEP 1 could move to a pass/fail grading system, this means that more people will likely compete to get these LORs. When you partner with an IMG agency, these experts will learn about your background, needs, goals, and help you find the best place to do your residency and get sterling LORs that will actually testify to the features that matter when it comes to furthering your career. Based on your target specialty, your LORs will need t have specific features highlighted, and this requires a strategic hand guiding you through the process while fighting the clock before openings are closed. 

A Strong IMG Agency Will Make You Stand Out

If hundreds of international medical graduates all want to gain the US clinical experience within, let’s say, a good teaching hospital known for cardiac medicine, and the STEP 1 exam does indeed shift to the pass/fail grading system, then you will have a more difficult time standing out. But when partnering with an IMG agency, they can help you come across as more than just a name and a  number; they can help you stand out in a sea of other applicants. The best part is skilled IMG agencies can stay goal-focused, based on your needs, and help you gain that competitive edge. For example, applying for rotations where faculty get a chance to see you in action, applying where you can get research experience, demonstrate a desire or show past experience where you were a leader in student organizations, and medical volunteer work are all things that can make you stand out. And even if you don’t have direct experience with some of  these, knowing how to express the desire to be active in these areas throughout the US clinical experience will paint your application in a more favorable light.