Sunday, October 11, 2020

About US clinical experience and tips for electives

 US Clinical Experience (USCE) is one of the most important parts of our residency application. Sometimes the application process and the rotations can get overwhelming. So here are a few tips to get you going through the whole process!

1. Plan in Advance!
There are pretty good websites that provide a comprehensive list of places that accept international students for electives. Make an excel sheet personalized to your choices from that list. Take the TOEFL test, make sure your medical school transcripts, dean’s letter, faculty LoRs, and lab titers are ready at least 6-8 months in advance.

2. Email the program coordinators
Don’t shy away from emailing coordinators for your queries. For example, My TOEFL score was decent, but one point less than the program requirements. I emailed the elective coordinator, requesting an interview and she found my English fluent enough. I ended up getting that elective. So, don’t shy away from asking and making things happen for yourself.

3. What to do before the elective starts?
 Read a little: about your attendings and their field of interest
 Read some more: about the field that you are rotating in. You want to
sound smart and reading takes you a long way
 Make sure the pre-elective requirements are fulfilled. You should
know where to go on your first day and whom to call.

4. Lodging and boarding
Usually, the place that you are going to rotate will give a list of rentals. Try different websites like Sulekha. Use the search option in USMLE groups on public forums like Facebook. Try to reach out to people who have already rotated at those places and ask them where they stayed. Airbnbs are also pretty convenient.

5. How do I create a good impression during my rotation?
 Be punctual. Arrive early, not just on day 1, but daily. You need to be
there to pre-round on your patients. This shows your dedication and
sincerity.
 Ask questions. There is so much to learn. It is a new environment, a new way of practicing medicine and surgery. Everyone is kind and eager to teach, all you need to do is show interest and speak up.
 Become a part of the team. Present cases, give your plan and assessment for the patients. Follow up on your patients. Learn how patient notes are typed and make sure you finish your notes properly and on time.
 Volunteer to give short talks or presentations on topics you find interesting. Learning by teaching is an amazing way to grow!
 Whenever you are free, go through EPIC, read the patient notes of different providers, and learn how patient care is done. Go to uptodate, increase your knowledge.
 Volunteer to assist in procedures.
 Attend the morning report, noon conferences, grand rounds, and interact with new people.
 Try to work on case reports.
 Try to reach out to the program director if you find the program interesting.

Electives help you grow as a person. Being alone in a foreign land, taking a step forward towards the ultimate goal of becoming a proficient physician begins with a US clinical experience. It is up to us to make the most of it.

Don’t forget, it is extremely important to be yourself, enjoy the experience, learn the methods, and grow both personally and professionally. Embrace the city, the people you’re staying with, their culture, and nuances. You’ll come out a stronger person!

Written by Amrin Kharawala

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