Dr Celesta Gavino-Dela Cruz match experience.

Congratulations to all those who matched, and to those who didn’t, don’t lose hope and keep working hard.

I’m posting my experience to give hope to people in similar situations.

My husband and I applied as a couple and had 1 interview together.

Here are our credentials:

YOG 2018, age 31, US IMG (studied in Croatia). It took me several additional years to complete medical school.

Step 1: 199
Step 2: 242
CS: passed 1st attempt
Studying for Step 3.
5 months USCE
No research, no publications

Applied to 118 programs, 100 IM, 10 Surgery, 10 FM.


YOG 2011, age 38, Canadian IMG, Green card pending (studied in Croatia)

Step 1: 212
Step 2: 209
CS: passed on 2nd attempt
Studying for Step 3.
1 month USCE
Has been working for Doctors Without Borders for past 8 years.
4 publications
Applied to 118 programs. 80 IM, 38FM

All in all, I had 2 interviews, he had 1.

I saw a post on this group for people with advice for people with similar credentials to mine - apply to newly accredited programs.
I researched several and we added them to our applications.

He got an invitation to an interview at a brand new IM program, but I hadn’t heard from that program yet. We had read that as a couple you can write to the program after one receives an invitation and inquire about your spouse:
"they haven’t heard back yet, could you please check the status of their application? ".

Within an hour I got an invitation to interview at the same program.

Late in the season, I emailed several program coordinators with letters of interest in programs close to where I live. I got a call on my cell in early December that there was an opening, and can I attend an interview in 3 days. be ready to interview at a moment’s notice.
I asked if they would review my husband’s application but they implied that his YOG was an issue, and he didn’t get an invite.

I attended my first interview alone, and really liked the hospital. It was bittersweet since my husband couldn’t join me. Nonetheless, attending my very first interview and taking the tour around the hospital with the other candidates was an amazing experience - we all remember seeing candidates take their tour during our rotations and hoping to be in their shoes some day.

We were excited to attend the next interview together. We loved the town and the hospital, but especially the program director and staff. It felt like a perfect match.

We composed our rank order lists so that whatever happened, we would end up in the same city even if one goes unmatched. Our first rank was obviously the hospital we both interviewed at.

Leading up to March 16th, we tried to curb our enthusiasm since our likelihood of matching (as a couple with one interview, and credentials such as ours) was very low.

Regardless, we kept the mantra “it only takes one”. It was true. We were beyond ecstatic to open that email and find out we both matched.
Thanks to God, our family and friends for supporting us.

Have hope! Don’t give up! Even bad times don’t last forever. This is a journey. Reach out to those around you for support and advice.

Even if things seem hopeless, keep a positive attitude and trust in God and yourself. You possess strength you didn’t even know could be possible. Keep kicking.