Value of Dedicated Research Time for IMGs in Obtaining Surgical Residency Training Positions: A 10-Year Review of Applicants from a Medical College in Pakistan

Mohammad Raheel Jajja, Marvi Tariq, Salila Shoaib Hashmi, Thomas F. Dodson, Rashida Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: International Medical Graduates (IMGs) secured greater than 10% of all general surgery (GS) residency positions in the US during the past decade. The Match process remains competitive, with a significant number of IMGs performing dedicated research before residency application. The impact of such research remains largely unknown. We aimed to provide an objective analysis of the impact of dedicated research time on obtaining a categorical GS residency position. Design: Data for National Resident Matching Program Match results from 2008-2017 was compiled from annual Match lists of the Aga Khan University, Medical College (Karachi, Pakistan). Medical graduates provided this information voluntarily each year. Data was exported to Microsoft Excel and used for descriptive and statistical analysis using SPSS. Candidates were divided into quasi-experimental groups based on their preference for direct application (no-research group, n = 64) or research prior to Match (research group, n = 20). Results: A total of 84 IMG applicants matched into GS residency positions in the US within the past decade. Amongst these, 18 matched directly into categorical positions while 66 applicants secured preliminary spots. A total of 37 (56%) preliminary candidates eventually secured categorical GS residency positions. Research group applicants had an overall 85% (n = 17) success rate of obtaining a categorical position, while no-research group had a 59% (n = 39) success rate (chi-square test, p = 0.04). Success rate was 69% (n = 38) for male applicants and 57% (n = 17) for female applicants. Median time to a categorical position was 4 years (2-6) for the research group and 3 years (1-6) for the no-research group. Conclusions: Our quasi-experimental study demonstrated a higher success rate for Aga Khan University, Medical College applicants with significant research background in the US, compared to those who did not. Better social integration, enhanced mentorship available during research, overcoming of cultural and linguistic barriers and a perception as better qualified candidate can be some factors contributing to higher success rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • International Medical Graduates (IMGs)
  • Professionalism
  • Research
  • Residency Applications
  • Selection Criteria
  • Surgical Residency
  • Systems-Based Practice


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