The 61 percent match rate for international students may underestimate the problem, say some experts, as medical students who do not receive interview offers are not considered. When these students are included, the match rate for international medical students can drop to as little as 50 percent.
The directors of the residency program said they have made increased efforts in recent years to take a holistic view of candidates. "Straight A's in college and perfect test scores aren't perfect candidates," said Dr. Susana Morales, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. "We are interested in the diversity of the background and the geographic diversity."
Stand on the edge
Some international medical students struggling to agree have sought alternative routes into medical work. Arkansas and Missouri are among the states that offer medical residency licenses to people who have completed their license exams but are not yet a resident. Unmatched doctors who wanted to use their clinical skills to help with the pandemic said they found the opportunity to serve as interns during the crisis.
After failing a first attempt at a license exam and then passing her second attempt, 30-year-old Dr. Faarina Khan excluded from the matching process. In the past five years, she has spent more than $ 30,000 on application fees. With an assistant doctor license, she was able to join the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team in the spring and help in medical facilities where employees had tested positive for coronavirus.
"Hospitals need to recognize that there are people in my position who could be in for work within the hour if someone calls us," said Dr. Khan. "I didn't go to medical school to sit on the sidelines."
Some states are considering legislation that would provide for similar licensing. This position typically pays about $ 55,000 a year – much less than a doctor could make – making it difficult to repay loans, but it allows medical school graduates to keep up with their clinical education.
Dr. Cromblin, of Prattville, Alabama, felt a similar urge to join the Covid-19 front in the spring. She'd defaulted on a loan and little in her bank account, but as soon as she got her stimulus check she bought a plane ticket to New York. She spent the month of April volunteering with the medical staff at Jamaica Medical Center in Queens.