Do more observerships and externships, get more USCE… BUT HOW??
USCE is one of the most important pillars of your residency application. But it is becoming just as hard to get it as is residency itself. I get at least one email every day asking about how to get more USCE. A lot of IMGs have emailed many faculty members but have not received a single reply back.
If that is your problem, read this article. It will give you six ways to get observerships, externships, and research positions. I have yet to meet an IMG who was unsuccessful in getting USCE after using these 6 steps.
1. Local physician groups of your country of origin (AAPI, APPNA etc.) :
Don’t just show up at their events and ask each and every physician if they can let you shadow them in the clinic or hospital. Attend their meetings a few times. Be a friendly person in the crowd. See if you can volunteer for their events by asking the chairperson if he/she needs help. Then, when they starting knowing you a little bit since you have been going to the meetings regularly, ask them if they can let you rotate with them for a couple of weeks.
Knowing a faculty member/PD in a residency program is the highest level of contact. But most of us do not have that. Friends/neighbors in the US who know doctors, previous mates from medical college who are now residents, neighbors from back home who know someone in the US who is a doctor are contacts too. Use them. Don’t be shy now. You are going through the most decisive time of your career. Once you get into residency, you can pay them back or send them a thank you gift card.
If there is a medical conference in your city or close to where you live, try to attend that. I recently met a family medicine resident who met the program director of his residency program at once such conference, got to know him and got matched at his program. Even if you don’t meet the PD, you will meet a lot of faculty members. You don’t have to befriend everyone, but just by being present there for 2-3 days, being friendly and chatty, people will start to recognize you after a couple of days. Take contact information of those who you connect with the most and stay in touch. Registration for these conferences is not very expensive if you select a student rate.
Pro tip: Email them before you register and ask them if they will let you volunteer at the conference which provides free entry and tons of exposure to faculty members.
4. Previous rotations:
This was my go-to method to get more USCE than I can handle when I was applying. Once your current rotation comes to end, ask the attending you are working with if he has a colleague, friend or someone he knows in cardiology, GI or any other field you are interested in who you can go talk to and ask for a rotation. Repeat the process after each rotation.
5. Masters, Ph.D. programs:
I do not advocate joining one of these programs just to match but if you are in one already or have graduated, email your mentors, faculty, friends from these programs and ask them if they know someone who would let your rotate with them. This is how a lot of people get job opportunities in the US. Through their alumni circle. Again, this is no time to be shy and think “I don’t’ want to bother them, they probably don’t even remember me now”.
Pro tip: If you don’t try, you will never know. And there is nothing to lose.
6. Mass emails:
This is explained in the detail here.
These are very effective six steps that will get you into a rotation or research position. Most IMGs sent out ineffective emails for a few days and give up. That is using only one of the six methods to get USCE and that too not doing it right. No wonder they are unsuccessful. Be more aggressive in pursuing your dreams.