After you graduate from medical school, finish a student elective, or complete a graduate externship, it can be all too easy to lose touch with your mentors. As we discussed in our last post, a mentor can have a truly significant impact on the development of your medical career, but in today’s busy world, these relationships often start to falter as time passes. If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program in the future, it is essential to do everything you can to keep this from happening. Read on for more information on why it is so important to stay in touch with your mentors, as well as some tips on how to stay in touch for the long-term.
Top Three Reasons to Keep In Touch With Your Mentors
- Your mentors will be the ones writing your letters of recommendation for your US medical residency program.
Different US medical residency programs have different requirements for letters of recommendation, but most require you to submit at least three. For some programs, one of these must be from an attending physician with whom you have previously worked. If you continue to cultivate a positive relationship with your mentors, they can get to know you even better, which can ultimately improve the quality of the recommendations you get. It can also be helpful to keep in touch with the dean of your medical school, who is responsible for submitting your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MPSE) to any US medical residency program to which you apply.
- A mentor can offer valuable insight on your professional decisions and residency program options.
Sometimes, in your professional life, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads, facing a crucial question that you just can’t seem to figure out. Maybe you’re not sure whether to apply to a US medical residency program now or wait another year. Maybe you’re torn between two truly divergent specialty areas and don’t know which to focus on when deciding where to apply. At times like these, you can reach out to a previous mentor for advice– but it’s a lot easier to do so if you’ve been keeping in touch about what you’ve been doing since the last time you saw them.
- A mentor may be able to help with your personal statement.
When you’re working on your personal statement, you’ll want all the support you can get. Even though writing your personal statement is inherently an independent project–after all, you’ll want it to be reflective of your unique characteristics–it can be helpful to bounce ideas off others and get expert editing help. If you’ve kept in touch with a mentor like your medical school dean or an attending physician with whom you’ve completed a graduate externship, you may be able to set up a meeting (in-person or on the phone) to chat about your brainstorming process or go over grammatical details of your latest draft. Because your professional mentors often have a more intimate knowledge of the US medical residency program application process than your friends and family, their advice can be especially helpful when you’re working on your personal statement.
Tips for Staying In Touch with Your Previous Mentors
It can be a challenge to figure out how best to stay in touch with the professional mentors who have truly made a difference in your medical education and career. You have to weigh the amount of contact you make: noot enough, and your relationship might falter; too much, and you might end up as an annoyance. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and successfully sustain your most valuable mentorship relationships.
- Send a brief email update when you reach a career milestone.
The best time to send an email to a mentor is when you have something to say! When you get a new job, start a graduate externship program, or land a research fellowship, let your mentor know with a brief, polite email update. In the email, you can tell them how excited you are about the new opportunity, what it means for your career, and–perhaps most importantly–you can thank them for everything they did to help you get to where you are today.
- Hint at your possible future plans.
After letting your mentor know where you are in your career, you may want to briefly mention your future plans. For instance, if you send an email letting them know that you just landed a one-year research fellowship, you may want to say something about how you are considering applying for a US medical residency afterward. That way, your mentor won’t be surprised when you send them an inquiry about a letter of reference in the coming months.
- Don’t rely on social media.
Friending your mentor on Facebook or following them on Twitter does not count as staying in touch, and it can even threaten your professional relationship. When it comes to staying in touch, it’s best to stick to formal channels of communication, like email (or phone, if your mentor requests a call for a more in-depth discussion).
- Don’t blow up your mentor’s inbox.
Most of your mentors are probably busy academic and/or clinical professionals with a wide range of professional and personal responsibilities, so they don’t need a daily update on your day-to-day achievements in order to continue to provide you with professional support and eventually write you an outstanding letter of recommendation. Make sure you aren’t sending updates too often, in order to avoid becoming a thorn in your mentor’s side!
Need more help with the US medical residency application process? FMG Portal is here to help! Contact us today for more information!