Thursday, 31 March 2011

On getting observerships USCE

Getting that clinical experience
US Clinical Experience (USCE) is exceptionally useful for applications. It enhances your application and lets the program know that you are not out of touch with clinical medicine. It is not an issue for fresh graduates as much as IMgs who have lost a year or more. On the plus side it also allows the candidate to be familiar with medical practices in the US


Know the kind of clinical experience you want
There are few types of USCE. Observer-ship to a university or university affiliated community hospital is the best. It can provide you opportunity to obtain LORs from the faculty. The only way to get these is to NETWORK. It takes a lot of legwork, wiriting mails and making phone calls to bag a place at a teaching hospital. If you get it, its worth it.

Find a way to get some experience
There are a few ways to wrestle an observer-ship. Many institutions do not advertise observer-ship posts. In this day and time of crunch where IMGs are already at a disadvantage from multiple causes, communication and networking go far to bag the elusive observer post.
College seniors: help in many ways
One resource is to get in touch with your seniors who have already matched. Ask them if they have seen observers at their institution. If not then does not mean you cant. Get contact information from them and you can even ask them to vouch for you.


The shotgun spam strategy
Obtain emails of the directors or senior faculty of multiple places all over the US. see this link on finding emails of faculty. Send emails to everyone on the list, requesting an opportunity to observer their clinical practice. Stress how important this opportunity will be for your future. Then follow this up with phone calls. This is more labor intensive but also has a higher yield. 


The targeted snipe approach
Target some senior high value faculty and arrange to have a meeting with them. Dont forget to forward a short resume to the them prior to the meeting. Be earnest about why you would specifically like to rotate through that institution and specifically with them (are they in psychiatry, neurology or nephrology? is it the absolute field of your interest).


Know where your chances are the best

Do not write to program director or coordinator, in my experience they don't have much power over who gets to rotate through what. Correspond with the department heads of program or senior faculty (that are usually NOT the PD).getting clOther way is to shadow a clinician in private practice. This also works but LORs may not be considered as valuable than faculty from academia. 


30 comments:

  1. HI
    i have secured a position as an observer at childrens hospital boston for two months (ranked number 1 in usa)...i have to pay 2000 us dollars for that...i just want to know is it worth paying these 2000 us dollars for this observership.... i can get an observership some where else for free...my question is that can doing an observership at childrens hospital boston is helpful in residency application?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Azra,
    2000$ is a lot of money. There are few places where you can get this experience for much less. It depends of you and your drive to get the experience. While observership at Boston children will definitely help your CV, you should still be on a look out for places offering observership and once you are done with 2 months of observing, you may still have another opportunity. There are several factors which may assist your application, observership is one of them. Year of grad, scores etc are considered first and then other things like USCE, LOR etc.

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  3. i have a few relatives doing fellowship in a non img friendly university..how can i make use of them..?

    ReplyDelete
  4. contacts. contact. contacts.
    they could find you leads into departments or programs that allow for observerships. You may not be a ideal candidate for them to match you in their program but some programs may allow for observerships. this experience will help boost your CV. Your relatives will have to do some legwork and talk to the PCs or faculty in the department.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What is your opinion of certain private companies that claim to provide observership positions. I searched various forums and got mixed responses from posters. Some said that those companies are scams, others said they had good experiences( I couldn't tell if these people were paid employees of the company). Thanks Droidor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best method is of course you find a USCE by your own research. This can be tough however, sadly I dont have first hand knowledge of these companies. One thing to try is run a background check on the companies, see if they have a business rating, also use google and type "abc company review" etc and see if you get some really good or bad hits. Finally, forums would be the best way to get in touch with folks who has done this before, like you said, it is tough to discriminate genuine from pain employees but you will get a feel atleast

      Delete
  6. Dear Dr. Droidor,
    I am an IMG from india and want to do my residency in us and observership for that. I dont have any visa for us right now.
    Can getting an observer post in us help me to get B1 visa like the hospital/university issue any letter for visa application proceedings which i can put in front of VO?
    or i should already have a visitor visa to get into us for observership.
    Please help.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to the U. miami observer program: "A foreign national wishing to participate in the Observership Program shall be responsible for obtaining a B-1 (Visitor for Business) or B-2 (Visitor for Tourism) non-immigrant visa from the appropriate authorities or for entering the United States under the VWB (Visa Waiver for Business) or VWT (Visa Waiver for Tourism) Program" So it seems like you can use the formal invitation letter in support of your application or you can apply independently of the fact that you are going for observership.

      Delete
  7. Dear Droider ...
    I'm Syrian graduate student(graduated on 12 April.2012)
    and cant do my residency in my country Syria due to violence issues happening there ... and I don't have the USMLE exams yet, but i'm preparing for, to be able to match in US...i mean the only certificates i have right now is my MD ..

    what i'm asking is can i do an observership even without any score of USMLE, in term to be involved in any medical experience better than sitting home for a year doing nothing... and as you know it affects my CV (staying a year without any medical experience contact)?


    thanks in advance...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you can do observerships with out USMLE scores. there is not mandatory stipulation that you have to have passed the exams to be eligible for observerships.

      Delete
  8. Hello Sir,
    I am a MBBS grad from India. I graduated in Jan, 2013. I am planning on appearing for the Step 1 exam in October this year. what is the best time to go in for observership? Should it be before i give my Step 1 or after that?
    Thanks in Advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there is no best time per say for observerships. however, that being said the sooner you get all your credentialing done (Steps, LORs, Certificates, experience etc) the faster your application packet will be complete. you have to meet the deadline of september 15th of respective year to bolster your chances of landing interviews

      Delete
  9. hey
    i would like to know is it worth rotating in university affiliated hospital which gives an LOR on hospital letterhead? or only unversity letterheads are given importance as in case of LORs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Dr. Med student,
      It is worthwile to rotate in university affiliated hospital with university letterheads

      Delete
  10. HELLO I am a medical student from pakistan and want to know that doing electives at any hospital in UAE having strong affiliation with American uni/hospital is fruitful in getting match or increase my chances?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It may make a small difference, but I dont know if the impact will be as much as US-CE

      Delete
  11. hello guys im lost totallly , some advise wd be so valuable to me ... i expected 245 + in step 1 but messd it up on the day of my exam n got my step 1 score 205 (never ever expected this} :( :( :( ..want to finish my ck before jan 2014 and den opt fr observerships den , tho i do my observerships , will there ever be a chance for me to get in to any decent residency match ??? i just feel so hope less n worth less got my 205 score yesterday , feel so help less :( after all the hard work ...GUYS can u please advise what wd be better ?? suggestion frm any one is welcome ..
    thanks a lot lot in advance tc.guys good luk to ya'll .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. doing observership achieves 2 things
      1. small benefit is that you can say that you are familiar with the US clinical system and understand it and since you know how it operates, it may make you slightly more attractive candidate
      2. Its important goes beyond a line on your CV and the applicant must realize that - use it to get LOR and make connections.

      but all said and done, though very helpful it may not be able to overcome the drawback of poor scores in every case.

      Delete
  12. Hi , I am an Indian medical student. Just finished my 2nd prof . should I try to bag a observership at this stage.what is the best time for an observership for an undergoing MBBS student

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, it is best to bag an elective when you are still in medical school because you will be eligible for a hand on elective in US. after you finish your medical school you will only be allowed 'observerships' and shadowing which are far below desirability scale compared to real US clinical experience. Several of my colleagues did a 1-2 month elective in US in their third year.

      Delete
  13. hi droidor ....
    i have completed my mbbs and md from india .... i am planning for doing residency in USA ... i am getting confused as to where and how do i look into the same ... please suggest me on how to search for observerships in usa ...
    thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Method 1: seek help from private companies who organize and arrange for such (some risk here - given the high volume of pros and cons heard about these services on USMLE chat rooms and forums.)
      Method 2a: contact personally places that are known to have such opportunities - some are listed on my sit, others can be found online
      Method 2b: "cold calling" programs and institutions to find out if they allow observerships.

      Delete
  14. hi ,
    i would like to say u all are doin a gr88 job with providing so much information . thank you
    i am a second last year med student and i wish to pursue for clinical electives , i have short listed some universities based upon the requirements , they have asked us to submit lors from dean and faculty member i am not sure how these letters should have a format , and there is really less content so can u advise me the format for lor from dean and aproxx. how many words , it should be
    thank you for your time .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually 1 page 500 - 750 words should suffice.
      The Dean likely has a template deans letter which is a very general "not bad" kind of a letter. You want a letter that says "very good" for which you may have to draft one on your own. There are some samples on this site, or online - If you are still looking and havnt found one that you are satisfied, let me know, I may put up something. Thanks!

      Delete
  15. Hi
    I am an img graduate, i wish i could apply for a psychiatry observership. Could you tell me which hospitals offer that.
    Thank u for your help

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello

    I have gone through your website over and over again and it helps and guides tremendously.

    I am MBBS graduated from pakistan in 2011. I am ecfmg certified. green card holder. I currently reside in bayarea,California. I have no US clinical experience what so ever. I have heard USCE is illegal here in Cali.

    can you please guide me and give me advice as to how can i gain clinical experience here? Should i email doctors asking for research opportunities? and also how can i go about looking for any observerships here?

    I want to apply for match 2015. And need to boost my CV. Any kind of help and guidance will be appreciated.
    Thankyou.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Option 1: Be an observer and get familiar with US clinical practices. In California, From Medical Board of California "International graduates may be employed as medical assistants in a physician’s office if they do not represent themselves as medical doctors nor exceed the duties specified in Business and Professions Code section 2069-2071 and Title 16, California Code of Regulations, sections 1366-1366.4." http://www.mbc.ca.gov/publications/newsletters/newsletter_2010_07.pdf. Unfortunately the only true USCE "is a clinical rotation in the US at a university hospital while you are a medical student or Non-ACGME Clinical Fellowships or training programs." http://im-for-imgs.com/2011/11/05/warning-from-california-on-externships/
      So i am afraid you are stuck with the situation as far as hands of clinical experience goes.
      As to research experience, this is another ball game altogether. You should write to faculty who are involved with research to seek opportunities.

      Delete
  17. hello droidor! u are doing an amazing job! i wanted to get ab observership in Chicago in neurology. which hospitals do u think would be the best for that? and how to contact the program directors? do u have any contact IDs of Loyola or northwestern or UIC?? i have no idea how to even start on these things i m a total beginner. i was thinking of going through some companies like chicagoclerkship etc but they are asking for around 2500 for one month rotation. would it be the same even i try to do on my own? any suggestions please!! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anum, Thanks for writing. I have answered your question with a few other questions at http://www.mleresidencytips.com/2014/05/question-and-answer-session-2.html

      Delete
  18. Hi I'm an IMG graduated from India.Gave step 1 last Thursday.I'm planning to apply for observerships when I get my score.I don't have that much contacts here.I'm planning to apply for pediatrics residency. In what specialities if I do my observership it will be more useful for me.

    ReplyDelete

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