In recent years, More International Medical Graduates (IMGs) have been pursuing research opportunities and applying to research-oriented specialties and programs. Research is now a highly valued part of an IMG’s profile by academic programs, as they seek physicians who can contribute significantly to the investigative field during and after training. As an IMG, I affirm that IMGs can and do make valuable contributions to research and physician-scientist pathways. Here are my top tips for pursuing research opportunities and a research pathway:

1. Find a Good Mentor

Mentoring is essential in research, and finding a mentor who aligns with your interests and goals is crucial. Your mentor will guide you for 1-2 years and advocate for you during the match application process and residency. They will also provide necessary networking opportunities. Here are some ways to connect with a mentor:
  • Apply to research programs: Look for programs like the International Research Initiative (IRI), Master’s programs in medical science/science/public health, or PhD programs.
  • Attend conferences: Participate in meetings related to your specialty of interest to meet potential mentors.
  • Reach out directly: Contact researchers through email and research communities.
  • Network with colleagues: Connect with colleagues with experience in laboratories hiring research fellows.

2. Find Financial Support

To pursue research opportunities, you might need to enroll in master’s or PhD programs. These programs provide the theoretical background, tools needed to succeed in the lab, and financial support for training, conferences, and other work-related expenses. If necessary, look for scholarships or loans to support your education and research activities.

3. Get the Right Training

To excel in your chosen laboratory, identify your lab’s specific needs and seek out courses and mentoring opportunities that will help you develop the required skills. This could include taking online courses or attending workshops to gain new competencies that will enhance your effectiveness in the lab.

4. Develop Your Focus

While working in the lab, get involved in various projects that require different skills. This will help you discover what type of research resonates with you the most. Developing your ideas and focus will be essential when you enter a residency program that expects you to advance your research interests.

5. Keep Seeking Mentorship

Even if you can’t continue working on projects with your pre-residency mentors, seeking guidance from experienced investigators remains crucial for your professional growth. Your residency program should offer resources and support to help you find a suitable mentor who can assist you in refining your research focus and achieving your goals. IMGs can successfully navigate the research landscape by following these tips and significantly contribute to the medical field.


Niezen, Sebastian, MD MMSc. (n.d.). Tips to Pursue Research as an IMG
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