Preparing for a U.S. Clinical Experience (USCE) can be a very stressful time, as the opportunity is not granted to ever IMG student applying; but there are always active steps that can be taken to help your chances. Clinical clerkships for IMG students are not an easy endeavor to undergo. One of the most stressful aspects of the application process for a USCE, is the student having to consider moving to a foreign country that is not familiar to them.
Although the application process for a USCE can seem daunting at times, don’t stress too much. By following some steps outlined in this article, you can relieve some of the pressure of preparing for a USCE.
Letters of Recommendation
Start with collecting relevant letters of recommendation from past mentors, program leaders, and teachers, as these are critical assists during the application process. Networking and familiarizing yourself with U.S. customs and cultural ticks could also help IMGs show that they’re able to adapt to changing environments that are quite different from their own, an inevitable plus when it comes to placing applicants within a program.
It cannot be stressed enough that doing research into the programs you are applying for is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Making sure you know what to expect from a U.S. Clinical Experience, as well as knowing if the experience would positively bolster your skills and be a good fit for your career, emphasizing the talents you hope to specialize in.
However, don’t just focus your research on what medical specialities you are hoping to focus on during your USCE. Expand your research to include the location of each program, background information on the local culture, as well as familiarizing with the surrounding areas near the program. This to help guarantee that the overall environment, as much as the experience, would be compatible with your desired lifestyle. For example, if you are used to living in a warmer climate, you may want to seek out a USCE in a part of the country where it doesn’t snow during the winter. This may seem like an odd thing to consider, however, if you’re not comfortable in the place you are going to be living for the foreseeable future, you may not end up finishing the program. Check out our list of Top 5 Cities for Students Attending a Clinical Clerkship. This article may help you in selecting which part of the U.S. you want to live when researching USCE programs.
Especially if English is not your first language, it’s recommended to brush up on your English terminology and general understanding of U.S. practices and customs. Conducting several mock interviews to prepare for the clerkship interview process with a trusted companion or family member will greatly improve your overall confidence when going into an unknown environment. Ensuring that you’re well-versed in cultural practices and proficient in the pre-requisites will greatly improve your chances of being selected for a program of your choice. Not to mention mock interviews are a great way to improve your public speaking skills. Communication is key when it comes to many things in life, and it’s no different when preparing for a USCE.
Transportation and Housing
Moving to a new city, especially a new city in a foreign nation, can be incredibly stressful and nerve wracking for anyone; this can be made even more so by a complicated housing situation or a long commute. In order to prevent any further difficulty for yourself, it is recommended to heavily research the city the residency is taking place in (and take a trip there, if you can) in order to ensure that you’re living within your budgetary means and in an area that you feel comfortable.
Ensuring that you are living within a close proximity of your program is a suggestion that is worth considering. While a thirty minute commute may not be at the top of your list of concerns, living too far from your program might make your experience vastly more difficult. By making sure that you’re giving yourself the easiest possible adjustment period, you’ll help to ensure your own success, as well as help ease your mind from further stressful situations that may arise.
Play to Your Strengths
Playing to your strengths starts with the application process; from writing your resume and tailoring it to your experience and skill set, to gathering letters of recommendation that positively reflect your abilities, it’s important to paint yourself in the best possible light. While challenging yourself to perfecting new skills is never a bad thing, it is essential to focus on what you already know and how that can benefit your program rather than the things you could eventually be proficient in. The best way to help yourself stand out is by painting an accurate portrait of yourself and your clinical knowledge, as well as providing a plan to bolster and implement that knowledge in a new environment.
There is no better substitute for proving your worth than good ol’ fashioned hard work. In a highly selective (and competitive) environment, program leaders are looking for determined, knowledgeable, and engaged candidates who are eager to learn new aspects of their profession. By going above and beyond the minimum expectations, applicants willing to challenge themselves in a new setting, and get out of their comfort zone, have a better chance of getting ahead of the pack. Setting yourself apart by being a hard worker who is willing to take risks, will only benefit you in the long run.
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If you need help with the application process, contact us anytime. We will go above and beyond to make sure your needs are met, as well as help you get placed in the right program that is suited for you and your skill sets.