For international medical graduates (IMGs) and students (IMSs), US clinical experience is a crucial step in building a compelling residency application and starting their journey toward a medical career in the United States. Not only is it important to gain a strong letter of recommendation during their clinical experience, but also to leave a good lasting impression on your preceptors and colleagues. Here are some tips on how you can perform well during your US clinical experience:
Be Prepared: If you already have some recent US clinical experience in your back pocket, it will certainly benefit you. However, if you don't, it’s important to familiarize yourself with US medical terminologies/abbreviations and EMR systems that you may be using before the rotation starts. Additionally, make sure you know what your expectations are on your first day, such as any research you should do prior, proper dress attire, or any items you may need to bring with you (i.e. stethoscope, scrubs, iPad/laptop, otoscope).
Be Professional: Dress professionally (or in the required attire), arrive on time, and be respectful to everyone you encounter. Remember that you are representing not only yourself but also your medical school and home country. While your clinical performance and skills are important, know that you'll also be critiqued on your behavior with other team members, staff, and patients.
Take Initiative: Show initiative by volunteering for tasks and projects. This demonstrates your willingness to learn and contribute to the team. If there was an important or rare case the day before, do some research and share an article with the team the next day about that same topic. Even simple aspects such as asking the preceptor questions and practicing active listening can make a huge impact. However, be sure to check with your preceptor before taking on any new responsibilities.
Embrace Feedback: Feedback is an essential tool for learning and growth. Be open to constructive criticism, ask for feedback regularly, and take steps to improve any areas that need attention.
Stay Organized: Keep track of your patients' medical histories, test results, and treatment plans during your rotation. Outside of your rotation, organize your daily schedule. Something as simple as using a planner can help you to organize your days, especially if you're working irregular hours or days. Make sure to also set aside time for your commute to the rotation site, if necessary. Lastly, don't forget to stay on top of taking care of yourself as well! That means eating enough, exercising, getting enough sleep, and enjoying yourself through other various activities or hobbies.
Stay Focused: During your clinical experience, stay focused on your goals and objectives. Remember why you are passionate about medicine and keep that motivation in mind. While traveling to a new place can be both scary and exciting, keep in mind that this step is crucial in your medical journey. Your clinical experience should be at the center of your attention and focus.
In conclusion, US clinical experience can be both an exciting and anxious experience for IMGs and IMSs. By being prepared, being professional, taking initiative, embracing feedback, staying organized, and staying focused, you can perform highly during your clinical experiences. We hope that these small reminders can help you stay focused and, ultimately, enhance your chances of matching successfully.