Once you have earned your medical degree, you might not be sure if you really need another mentor in your life. After all, throughout your academic career and early professional experiences, you’ve probably already had countless mentors–from your kindergarten teacher to your high school sports coach to your favorite college professor to the dean of your medical school. However, as a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program, you can still benefit from the mentorship of an attending physician in a graduate externship experience. Here are a few of the top reasons why:
- A mentor can familiarize you with their particular specialty area.
When you apply for a US medical residency program, you need to be ready to show the program that you are truly committed to the specialty area that you have selected. A mentor can offer insight on specialty (and subspecialty) areas that goes far deeper than what you experienced during your rotations in medical school. As a result, when it comes time for you to apply, you’ll have a better sense of what you do (and don’t) want from your medical career. For instance, a mentor may have done a residency in internal medicine before choosing a more specific subspecialty for their fellowship, like infectious disease, and they can help you learn about both–and decide which one is right for you, or whether you want to pursue something else altogether.
- A mentor can help you with professional networking.
If you decide you want to pursue the same specialty or subspecialty as your mentor, they can help connect you with top clinicians and researchers in the field. Alternatively, if you want to go in a different direction, a mentor may already have a broad network that can help you access the resources you need.
- A mentor can help you get “back in the game” if you have taken time off after medical school.
More than ever, foreign medical graduates are choosing to take time off to work or start a family before shooting for a US medical residency. As a result, it can sometimes be challenging to jump straight back into a clinical setting. The guidance of a mentor in a graduate externship program can help smooth the transition, so you’ll be well-prepared and ready to go when you finally get matched to a US medical residency program.
- A mentor can help you understand what it means to be a true medical professional.
You might not realize it, but when it comes to professionalism, there are important differences between being a medical student and being a practicing physician. Once you’re a medical resident, you’ll have more responsibilities, which means you’ll be held to higher standards of conduct. Before you start your US medical residency program, you need to be ready for the change, and a mentor can help you rise to the challenge by modeling professional behavior and offering their honest perspective on what it means to be a professional physician. This guidance can help you smoothly make the professional transition from medical student to medical resident.
- A mentor can help you get a better idea of what your life outside of work would be like as a physician in their specialty area.
Your relationship with a mentor during your graduate externship is fundamentally a professional one, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have conversations about everyday life. In fact, a mentor can be a great source of information about what day-to-day life looks like for a professional in their specialty area. For instance, they may be able to help you understand how they make time in their schedule for family and/or recreational activities. A mentor may also be able to offer insight on lifestyle opportunities in particular regions of the United States, which can be helpful if you’re not familiar with the different parts of the country.
- A mentor can be a valuable asset in the residency application and matching process.
Today’s US medical residency application process is increasingly competitive, so you need to be ready to capitalize on your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. After spending months working with you during a graduate externship, a mentor can often offer you frank advice on the strengths you should highlight in your application and the areas you should try to improve on in the future. Depending on your relationship, a mentor may also be able to advise you on program selection, help edit your personal statement, and/or write you a letter of recommendation, all of which can be invaluable as you try to land the residency of your dreams!
FMG Portal offers graduate externships around the country for foreign medical graduates who want to get matched to a US medical residency program. We also provide assistance throughout the application and matching process. Contact us today for more information about all of the services we offer!