Two physicians talking in a hallway of a hospital in New Orleans, LA

Matching with a residency program can be challenging for international medical graduates (IMGs). Choosing a specialty that is known for being IMG-friendly can significantly increase the chances of achieving a match. These are the five best specialties for IMGs to consider based on the average percentage of spots in that specialty that are typically filled by med school graduates from outside the United States.

1. Pathology (49.9 percent)

Pathologists study the origin of disease and its effects on the body. According to the Intersociety Council for Pathology Information, a shortage in pathology residents is expected for the next two decades, making this an ideal specialty for those who want solid job prospects and a good shot at a residency match. Eighty percent of pathologists practice within the community.

2. Internal Medicine (42.7 percent)

Internists practice primary care for patients over the course of the adult lifespan. These doctors have a broad education in the origin, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect adults. This field has a high percentage of matches overall, with just two percent of graduates who choose this specialty failing to secure a residency spot.

3. Neurology (34.2 percent)

This specialty deals with the structure, function, and diseases of the brain and nervous system. While it’s one of the toughest residencies and spans four full years, it also has one of the highest matching rates in medicine. Recent data indicates that less than 1 percent of grads who applied to a neurology residency failed to match.

4. Family Medicine (30.9 percent)

Family medicine doctors provide preventive and acute care to patients of all ages. With more than 400 residency programs in family medicine, it is one of the easier specialties in which to match although some programs are highly competitive.

5. General Surgery (30.4 percent)

This residency provides training in all fields of surgery and medicine. Experts recommend strong clerkships and general surgery rotations to have a successful application in this specialty.

Graduates can improve their chances of matching with a residency program by creating a supplemental video profile on MedMatchPlus+. This system helps residency candidates stand out from the crowd by bolstering their official application with video, photos, essays, and other multimedia content that provides the coordinator with a true sense of who they are as a person, beyond the black-and-white data.

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