In addition to competitive USMLE step scores and strong letters of recommendation (LORs), program directors consider US clinical experience (USCE) very highly when choosing applicants for their residency programs. Medical students begin their clinical experience journey with elective rotations. These rotations give students the opportunity to explore different specialties within the field of medicine. Upon graduating, whether you are interested in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Family Medicine, etc., further clinical experience will provide you with valuable experience to make you a better candidate for residency and thus a better doctor.
Why is US clinical experience especially important for FMGs and IMGs?
Just as medical school curriculum differs from country to country so does medical practice and protocol. International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) need U.S clinical experience to show program directors that they understand the proper procedures, protocols and the ACGME core competencies of residency programs here in the United States.
What is the best type of US clinical experience?
There are two types of USCE:
- Hands on clinical experience
- Non-hands on clinical experience
Hands-on clinical experience (externships) at university-based hospitals give students the best clinical experience prior to residency training and are therefore the most valued. However, clinical experience can also be done at community-based hospitals and private practices. These externships are typically much easier to procure but are not looked at as highly as those done at university-based programs.
The second type of USCE is non-hands on clinical experience (observerships). Hands-on externships can be very difficult to come by, especially for IMGs and FMGs. Although observerships are not as highly valued by program directors it is also important to avoid any gaps in your CV. An observership can be a great way to stay current if you are having difficulty obtaining other forms of clinical experience.
How else can I avoid gaps in my CV?
After graduating from medical school enroll in an externship or research fellowship to avoid any gaps in your CV. Although a research fellowship is not technically clinical experience it still adds a great amount of value to your residency application. Additionally, it can result in a publication and an LOR, both of which will enhance your candidacy for residency as well.
Ultimately clinical experience, no matter the form, helps bridge the gap from medical school to becoming a practicing physician. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), “Clinical experiences are your chance to learn the nitty-gritty of what it’s like to practice. Identifying extracurricular clinical opportunities early in medical school, strategically approaching scheduling your fourth year, and effectively evaluating your clinical experiences can provide significant advantages in helping you learn about and narrow your list of specialties.”
Residents Medical has over 20 years of experience helping IMGS and FMGs secure hands-on clinical externships, elective rotations, and research fellowships at university-based hospitals. Call today to make sure you are on track to match in 2016!