Keeping in Touch with Your Professional Mentors


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!

The Value of Mentorship for Foreign Medical Graduates


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!