Clinical externships allow foreign medical students to test their skills at U.S. medical institutions. In a clinical externship, a foreign medical graduate (FMG) is placed with an attending at a U.S. institution. Depending on the length of the externship, FMGs may have the chance to learn from multiple attendings in different specialties. Not only is this an excellent learning opportunity, FMGs that complete clinical externships are more likely to match with a U.S. medical residency. They have more of the tools necessary to successfully interview and match.
Meet Requirements for U.S. Medical Residencies
Many U.S. residency programs require time spent working in the U.S. This is an easy requirement for U.S. allopathic seniors, who can complete clinical studies at their medical schools or neighboring institutions. Foreign medical graduates, however, must relocate to the U.S. for an extended period of time to meet these requirements. Unfortunately, every U.S. medical residency has a different requirement for the amount of U.S. clinical experience. While a 3 month externship may be enough for one program, it’s not enough for another. FMGs should review the requirements of their preferred medical residency program to determine the length of externship that is required.
Receive Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation from U.S. doctors are a great tool for foreign medical graduates during the interviewing process. The interviewing program is likely to trust known U.S. doctors more than unknown foreign doctors recommending a graduate for a program. For some schools, it is a requirement that faculty member write a letter of recommendation for a foreign medical graduate. It would not be possible for a FMG to match with this type of school unless they completed a externship with a faculty member or knew a faculty member through other means.
Learn U.S. Terminology and Common Ailments
Externships also prepare FMGs for the U.S. testing required to match with a medical residency. There is a clinical section to the exam. A foreign medical graduate who has already spent time working in a U.S. institution will not be surprised by any differences in protocol. They already learned the basics at an externship. The skills gained at the externship can immediate translate to the exam. FMGs who complete externships will also become more familiar with common U.S. ailments, which are more likely to appear on the clinical exam. Clinical externships are not only beneficial for FMGs, but, in many cases, they are a requirement for matching with a U.S. medical residency. Selecting the right externship can make the difference between matching with a U.S. medical residency or not being able to do so.