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Several things need to be taken into consideration when applying for a residency. Important factors to be considered include:
Clinical experience
Research experience
Transcript/Medical school – MSPE
Visa status
USMLE scores

A residency application can be strengthened or weakened depending on the included components. A good number of residency candidates have an equal distribution of strength and weakness elements in their application. Rarely, an application maximizes both categories. Majority of international medical graduates tend to follow the USMLE path following the extensive publicity about the nature of the US residency training. There is a rise in the number of available resources that helps candidates in preparing for these exams. As such, the performance of the candidates has witnessed a significant improvement, with majority scoring above average (225-230).

The number of graduates from the US is also on the rise, and they're usually given preference over others. With this, one could say that how well you score in the USMLE does not guarantee you a slot in the residency. Scoring extremely high, for instance up to 270, will make you significantly competitive. However, to stand a better chance than other candidates who may have USMLE scores similar to yours, other components of your application need to be well above average.
Generally, clinical experience is usually preferred above research experience. However, there may be variations. For instance, a candidate who has excellent publications from a well-known institution, with an accompanying recommendation letter may be preferred over another candidate with experience as an observership from an unknown institution. Three elements strengthen either observership or research experience.

These elements include:
Quality of experience
The institution
Recommendation letter

For research experience to be considered above an observership experience, it is expected that the research must have been published in a reputable Journal which boosts your Curriculum Vitae (CV) significantly. Understand that you have an edge over other candidates if you combine research experience with clinical experience. Most of your instructors are clinical researchers. As an International Medical Graduate (IMG), your goal is to get into a residency program in the US, and they know this too well. So it wouldn't be out of place if you asked them to allow you to observe them while they're practicing.

You should note that being a researcher has its own perks as well. Firstly, it boosts your CV. Also, you will gain vital experience, and with that, you get valuable information that you can share at the interview. Talking about your research work (which has been published) elevates you amongst your peers. Also, you can establish connections while collaborating with other researchers compared to clinical experiences.

Research, however, is tedious and time-consuming. 9-months of research may result in just two publications. For research to be rewarding, it must be done in the long term. As a researcher, your understanding of published works widens. You get exposed to many career fields. You also learn to strike a balance between group work and individual work. In a nutshell, research experience is highly valued by many residency programs.