Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A short post on how to apply for electives

This is a very short post.

What is electives?
Electives is hands on clinical experience in the US.

Why do I need it?
To show the residency program you are applying to that you have experienced the US clinical setting and that you are comfortable in it.
To get a letter of recommendation required for the residency application.
It also helps you know a lot of people in your field, that can help you get a research or an interview.

When can I go for electives?
In the final year of your medical school. BEFORE you graduate. Once you graduate, you can't do electives.
(Indians: Internship year is your last year. If your final year ends in December and Internship starts around March, Jan - March is the best time to go. You can also go at the end of internship. You can also delay your graduation paper work (Keep a few completion signs pending) and go for electives.)

What is the difference between an elective an observership?
Observers can not examine patients, do not have access to computer records. Visiting medical students doing electives can examine patients, have access to records so it's a better learning experience.
You can do an observership anytime. You can do an elective only when you are a student (Last year of your medical school).
Observerships are more expensive and are difficult to get.
In general, Elective > Observership, which is why I recommend that if you haven't graduated, go for an elective!

How do I apply for electives?
Go to websites of colleges you are interested in. See the requirements and make a list of documents you need. Make sure you are on time and be the first one to apply. Electives are usually allotted on first come, first serve basis.
Google: "College name visiting medical students" or "College name elective requirements"

In general, what documents are needed?
Transcripts from college: Go to the student's section of your college, they'll give it to you. It's nothing but a glorified certificate about what you did in med school.
Deans letter: It's a letter stating how awesome you are and that you are permitted to go for electives, signed by the Dean.
Letter of recommendation: It's a letter stating how awesome you are, signed by your professors.
Immunization certificate: I did not have my childhood immunization records, so I created a document on my college letter head, with dates of my immunization. I had titres and reciepts for recieving recent vaccines like Meningococcal vaccine, Influenza vaccine so my medicine department clinican had no objection signing it. If you want a sample, email me (medicowesome@gmail.com) , I'll send it to you.
Health insurance: Just a formality. People I know have used tata aig or bajaj alliance.
Malpractice insurance: Another formality. Most students use academicgroup for malpractice. It's pricey.
Police clearance certificate: To make sure you ain't a criminal. Indians, go to passportindia.gov.in (Or Google how to apply for Polic Clearance Certificate)
TOEFL: To prove you can speak English.
USMLE Step 1 score: Not all colleges require a Step 1 score. Step 1 score does open a few more options and if you're lucky, you  might get a university that has less tuition fee because of your step 1 score :)
CV: To show off your achievements.
Personal statement: To tell them why you are awesome.

Requirements vary. 

When do I apply?
6-8 months prior to the month you want to visit in.

That's all!

I know it's too brief but I hope it gives you a general idea.
I'll write more as and when I get time. Ask me questions, I'll update the post accordingly.
electives.us is a great website. It is more detailed. You guys should check it out.


Questions by readers:

Is it compulsory? 
Yes, your CV is weak without USCE.

How long are we supposed to do it? 
2 months minimum.

How many subjects?
The specialty in which you're interested in doing residency in is preferred.

If we go in between our rotatory internship, we still need to complete a total of 12 months of internship, right?
Yes, you might need to extend your intermship to complete 12 months.

Related posts: United States Clinical Experience (USCE)
Electives: How much does it cost and how to be cost effective


  1. Thank you so much for your post! Can you highlight a tad bit more on extending internship part? Say my internship gets over in March and I go for a 3 month rotation towards the end,Jan- March,I will have to extend it till June. And when will I get my degree from muhs then finally?does that entire year go waste then?Will I get to attend the convocation with my batch?:( And can you apply for a rural bond till that time?

  2. Also,you said to apply on time? When does this application time start,so that we can keep all these documents prepared from the college?


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