I did not apply for the 2015 match because I did not have my step 2 CK results until November. It would have been too late. I could have rushed my step 2 but I wanted to get a good score and be a solid applicant. Also I would not have been able to complete my surgical electives in time to get letters of recommendation. At some point, I will be doing research at [a very well-known medical school]. I felt that for these reasons this would make me a better applicant the next year.
Since graduating I have been trying to find a medical related job (scribe) but have had no success. I have reached out to many institutions regarding research opportunities but have come up dry. I may be able to secure a volunteer research position by next month. Do you have any suggestions for me? I knew I would hate being out of the medical field for this long but this was my best bet. Does this gap hurt my chances?
I am concerned that despite your excellent USMLE scores, taking a year off from clinical medicine may cause your application to be rejected immediately. I do not know if a 9 week research elective, even at a premier med school, would be enough to offset your lack of clinical experience over the entire year. Acting as a scribe would not be considered clinical experience.
Another issue is what is the record of your school regarding matching graduates into surgical programs? Since you didn’t tell me your school’s name, I cannot give you any insight into that situation. Even if I did know the school’s name, it may not have published its match results.
To answer your specific questions:
How many gen surg programs should I apply to? I was thinking ~100. That seems reasonable. You should be able to gauge your chances better after you see if you receive any offers for interviews from the 100 programs.
During a gen surg interview, should I be open about my backup specialty? I would advise you to say that you would take a preliminary spot in general surgery if you didn’t match in a categorical position. Admitting that you would do internal medicine is often seen as a lack of commitment to surgery.
Most hospitals I am looking to apply are IMG friendly. Which means the surgery and medicine programs are both IMG friendly. Would it be a bad idea to apply to different specialties at the same hospital? I think it would be a bad idea. I suggest you wait and see if you get interviews from the general surgery programs. If you don’t, then there would be no problem applying to internal medicine at the same place. I doubt very much that the two services would talk about any specific applicants. Most surgery programs get hundreds of applications and those applicants who are not offered interviews are not remembered.
Some readers may have other opinions. I hope they will comment.