The Impact of the New Requirements for Qualifying U.S. Clinical Experience

When it comes to qualifying for a residency, there are many factors that you’ll need to take into consideration, as they’ll affect your likelihood of appealing to residency program directors in the way that you want. However, none of them is as important these days as your background in regards to U.S. clinical experience (USCE for short).
The term USCE refers to your experience and working knowledge in regards to the basic elements of patient care and the functioning of a hospital. These elements include such skills as ability to interact with the patients, master patient record input protocol, and efficiently coordinate with the nurses, as well as other doctors and members of the hospital staff.

Types of U.S. Clinical Experience

There are two basic types of clinical experience to be had. The first type is non-hands on experience. This can come in either the form of research experience or – more commonly — an observership. An observership involves shadowing physicians and personnel, learning via simple observation about how the practice of medicine really works. Non-hands on clinical experience involves little to no actual patient contact.
The other type of U.S. clinical experience is hands on clinical experience. Sub-types of hands on experience include clinical electives, clerkships, sub-internships, and externships. This type of experience is considered to be the real thing, as it involves actual patient contact and plenty of it.

Which Type of USCE Is More Valuable?

Generally speaking, hands on U.S. clinical experience is considered far more valuable than non-hands on. Program directors for residency are looking for candidates that have gotten their hands dirty and have already begun to develop a rhythm for treating patients. Such candidates are considered to be more knowledgeable and more passionate about medicine than those who simply opted to observe instead.
It is also important to note that this is becoming more and more the case all the time. The standards set by residency program directors are much higher these days than they previously were. Although hands on experience has always been considered the better option over non-hands on, you’ll find that a lot of programs now require it. Many are unwilling to even accept observerships as true USCE anymore, so it’s important to keep this in mind when deciding which type of experience to choose for yourself.

A Closer Look at the New Requirements

In order to maximize your chances of turning the right heads with your U.S. clinical experience, keep the following in mind:

  • Hands On Over Hands Off: Opt for an option like a clinical elective or an externship that will allow you plenty of direct contact with patients. The sooner in your career you start really working in a “full bloom” medical capacity, the better.
  • Teaching Hospital Over Private Clinic: Program directors are also beginning to favor candidates who have gained their experience at a full-fledged teaching hospital, as opposed to a private clinic or other institution, so choose the institution where you plan to gain your USCE wisely.
  • Actual U.S. Experience Over International Experience: If you’re planning on practicing medicine in the U.S., you will stand a better chance at qualifying if you actually gain your USCE within the U.S.