When it comes time to turn in your application for residency at long last, one of the most important things the program director will be looking at will be the quality level of your U.S. clinical experience (USCE). That said, making solid choices in regards to your USCE can really help you stand out from the rest of the pack in all the right ways. However, making the wrong ones can send your application soaring right for the bottom of the stack.
Knowing not only what kinds of USCE count for the most, but where you should do yours can make all the difference in the end. Opt for hands-on types of programs like elective rotations and clerkships that provide you with plenty of patient contact over non-hands on options like observerships. Observerships are more or less considered “better than nothing”, but largely not of value in comparison with more experience-based options.
Teaching Hospital Vs. Community Hospital Vs. Private Clinics
There are any different types of hospitals where you can do your elective rotation, each with its own advantages. For instance, there are major teaching hospitals that come attached to a lot of acclaim. However, there are USCE options offered by clinics and community hospitals as well.
Teaching hospitals are largely becoming the new standard in regards to valid USCE. In fact, many residency programs won’t even consider your application unless you’ve gained some experience getting your hands dirty at a teaching hospital. However, variety also comes alongside many perks.
Having worked at a mixture of different settings can really set you apart from everyone else. Doctors who are varied are ultimately going to have a wider range of knowledge in regards to how medicine is practiced. They will be more experience with different kinds of patients and will have come in contact with more different situations. This can be extremely desirable, especially in a new resident who is fresh out of medical school.
Be Sure to Choose an American Hospital
If you’re looking to obtain USCE that is truly valuable and are planning on actually practicing medicine in America, be sure that you acquire your clinical experience actually within the U.S. This is especially important if you are international. You will want to show that you are not only well-versed in medicine, biology, and physiology, but also American medicine in particular, as well as American cultural norms.
Residency program directors are looking for quick starters who will naturally fit into the existing medical team right from day one. That said, they need to know that their applicants come attached to as low a learning curve as possible. American working experience is absolutely essential for this reason. However, as is the case with the type of hospital you work at, you might find that multi-national clinical experience is a plus. Just be sure that the bulk of your USCE was undertaken in the U.S. The more experience you have that qualifies you to work with different types of American patients and hospitals, the better.