Thursday 30 June 2011

'Observership experience' for those who cannot get Observerships

It is  a well known fact, that introduction to the US system of medicine be it via an externship or observership is crucial these days for matching into a program. Though there are exceptional candidates with stellar CVs and stupendous scores who can match without the effort of observership, there are a great many candidates who are struggling. This is due to the fact that their CV is not as strong as they would like and they are planning to boost their resume with additional accomplishments. However, given the sheer number of applicants going through the motions of applying, the opportunities for observership or externship are extremely limited. There are plenty who wish to do the same but cannot because there are just not enough places which will accommodate the candidate applicants. There is a small way out for such folks. If they have not been successful as getting a full fledged observership post, then there are other avenues that they can explore. 

This would generally apply to those applicants that are already in US and are headquartered in a US city and begin their application operation from there. Narrow the list of teaching hospitals close to you and correspond with the medical residents, Chief residents, program director or faculty. The most pivotal people in this case are the PD and the chiefs. Ask if you can sit in for didactic sessions as a way to reintroduce clinical medicine back in your life. Some possible avenues are,

1. Morning report
2. Noon conference
3. Journal club
4. Grand rounds

The list above is a good place to start and you will have a better chance at getting this than a full fledged observership. 

Morning report is  usually mandatory for the residents and interns and one or few cases are discussed with the emphasis on teaching critical and clinical thinking. Noon conferences are usually powerpoint presentations or talks with specific subjects or topics. Journal club activities may not be available in all programs, but if present is another chance for exposure. One or two articles are chosen and then discussed. With enough exposure you might even manage to squeeze out a letter of recommendation (LoR) from the faculty involved! Bottom line being, use every chance to make good connections, you never know which one will pan out in the end.
Good luck!


  1. Hello, how and where do we mention journal club on our application?? thanks :)

  2. you can mention this in your work experience or volunteer experience. Glad you are looking into alternative options in addition to observerships!

  3. Thanks for replying, well actually the journal club meeting I attend has nothing to do with the exact research project I am in, however I came across it by joining a research team...hope I didnt confuse you haha. So now the real question is, should I put it under a sub heading under my research job or as a whole new entry? Thanks for all your help your site is awesome!

  4. yes, i recommend in that case you place it as a sub heading. You must document these things as they matter to a small extent when it comes to your CV.

  5. Thanks!! Also in that subheading do I mention things like Hippa trained, OSHA trained etc, like things I trained for to get my research position, and like there computer system training? Or does this not go on the cv at all, or does it go somewhere else? thanks!

  6. you can mention the HIPAA, OSHA trained etc in your work experience. I did not put computer training in my CV, but in retrospect It would have been alright if I did, especially if you are experience with some EMR or other (epic vs centricity etc)

  7. Sorry but just want to clarify, this stuff all goes under the heading of my research job right...or as another entry?? Thanks again, also how much will ACLS affect my application, is it worth it to spend time and money on it?

  8. yes, it will go under the heading of research job.
    ACLS will not affect your application in any way. Do not spend your hard earned money on ACLS/PALS/BLS at this time. IF you match the hospitals will pay for your course (very likely). before match, ACLS has no bearing on match process

  9. hi,i am planning to do an observorship in canada as i have a relative there who is a doctor in edmonton uni.will this be counted as usce???

    1. your question has been answered on the other page: residency chances calculator. Good luck

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. This term is also known as “shadowing-only” rotations in which students are allowed to follow or shadow their preceptors in their everyday work schedule in a various settings like clinics, hospitals, urgent care, ambulatory care, among others. An observerhship is a clinical experience that does not involve direct patient care. There are restrictions in handling patient care because they are not yet licensed to practice medicine in the United States therefore can be considered a malpractice. Though there is no direct interaction with patients, medical students and graduates can gain much from this experience through earning letters of recommendation, participating in research, improving their clinical skills as well as filling the gap in their medical studies.


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