I have been there (as a Caribbean Medical student FMG) and I now know better.
Do you ever wonder how to improve your chances of getting noticed from the pool of your non-FMG competitors?
This is for you.
After basic sciences in the Caribbean or medical school abroad, you’ll need to pursue clinical rotations. For most FMGs these are done in the mainland USA.
After you’ve aced the boards as detailed here, these are a few tips to boost your future portfolio during the 3rd and 4th year. These tips are also important for the MD/MBBS who is seeking for the required US clinical experience that is frequently requested by residency programs.
1. Set Up Some Of Your Clinical Rotations.
Do not be afraid to call up residency programs you’re interested in to ask for rotation opportunities. You can start by researching teaching hospitals in your area and beyond. Send an email or go pay them a visit – the goal is to find out how to set up clinical rotations with them. The biggest obstacle I encountered with this is most Carribean schools do not have agreements with these hospitals. These agreements are necessary for medical and legal reasons and also in a situation where profit is to be made. As a result this option may only work best for elective rotations and not core rotations. This is a great opportunity for acting internships as well. US graduates participate in « audition rotations » or « acting internships » where they spend a month at a residency training program in a specialty of their choice. The goal is to audition or « show thyself worthy » in order to get an interview. There are also third part organizations that you can pay money for them to set you up with rotations.
2. Show Your Clinical Supervisors What You’re worth
Once you are given the opportunity, work hard and let that work ethic speak for itself. I remember being offered a position in pediatrics at a reputable hospital in Chicago after a peds AI (acting internship) which I set up on my own. Evidently I declined because adult medicine had a grip on me. During your audition month you’ll have to show great enthusiasm for learning and participate during rounds. Be on time and act like you already got the job you want!
3. Select Teaching Hospital’s with an associated residency training program
One mistake I see is FMGs secure rotations in private practices which may primarily be geared towards profit and not education. Sometimes the preceptor has no affiliation with a teaching program and that may not be the ideal setting if you’re trying to audition your way into a residency program. Then there is the issue of time spent in teaching activities.
Most of the learning that I acquired in 3rd and 4th year were from resident doctors and not faculty. Residents have more time to teach. They also are closer to medical school than a lot of faculty and so they remember the struggle a lot better. They’re also more likely to spend more time with you on the wards anyways- so maximize that. Also, an acting internship will be best at a facility with the potential to invite you for a residency interview. Aren’t you after all just trying to get ranked and match into a program after all?
4. Dont Disregard Volunteer Opportunities.
These are great arenas to meet and discover opportunities and programs and providers in your area. Just pick roles that pertain to your aspirations. If you are seeking to become an OBGYN you can choose to volunteer at a women’s health event etc. It all counts towards community health.
5. Attend Conférences.
Every specialty approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties has an annual conference. At these conferences residency programs often have stations/booths where they showcase their program to attract medical students. Participating at such events will grant you exposure and you’re likely to meet members of the faculty or residents who may take interest in your direct request for observership. So take advantage of that. Such conferences include ACP for Internal Medicine, AAFP for Family Medicine etc.
During your medical school years try to participate in research. Your research may line up with the objectives of a certain program making you a good match. Or simply said; your experience with research could be an asset to a program seeking more individuals interested in pioneering projects. This is also a great “CV” booster.
Can you think of any other tips to boost your FMG/IMG/Caribbean Med student portfolio? Leave a comment below.